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Civil War Activities

Compiled By: Mrs. G

These are Activities that can be used to enrich your instruction about the Civil War.

Civil War unit
Posted by: Julie

My kids did a diary as if they actually were in the Civil War. They could tell it from the point of view of a Confederate or Union person, from a civilian standpoint or a military. It was interesting to see what they came up with.

They also did election posters for Abe Lincoln, since he was elected president at the time. They did cute posters which described why people wanted to vote for Lincoln at the time. They included relevant pictures and slogans.

No title
Posted by: Mrs C

I'm assuming they're probably 8th graders?

Since this was the first war in which photography played a large part & people could actually view pictures from the front in the newspapers, that might be an intersting topic to explore as seeing an actual face makes it so much more real for the kids than seeing a painting of Washington crossing the Delaware. You could collect some examples of early daguerrotypes online & have the students research & report on what happened to the men in the pictures (in general terms, like try & match them to a battle or a prison or Sherman's March to the Sea, for example), or just have them write a fiction story about the soldier in the picture, using some basic facts you provide. I'm almost positive there is a Mathew Brady collection online at the Library of Congress site.

It was also one of the first conflicts in which the telegraph was widely utilized, so the students could learn Morse Code & write secret messages.

Also the first war in which automatic weapons were used (Gatling gun); you could have them do a timeline of developments in weaponry.

The war had a huge death toll, which might be a good topic for a graphing activity.

You could collect some Civil War soldier recipes & have the kids try some of the simpler ones out if you're brave.

Using Confederate currency, you could do a Math activity on inflation.

Mapping the Underground Railroad, making abolitionist posters, doing a skit about helping runaway slaves.

I had a quick look & ProTeacher actually has a page on this site as well :)

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I like to use music of the period.
Posted by: Sandi

I have several tapes by Civil War re-enactor string bands and also a book of lyrics from Civil War era songs. We look at how music was used to express feelings of the soldiers - sorrow, pride, patriotism, and humor on both sides.

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Posted by: musicbug

1. Research and debate the idea of Secession.
2. Heros Blue and Gray- Have the class create a pack of " trading cards" of famous people both Northern and South. A picture on the front and 2 paragraphs or 5-7 facts about the person on the back.
3. News reports on major battles from both points of view.
I hope this helps.

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Posted by: Hardtack

Hardtack was a biscuit used by the soldiers in the Civil War.
2 cups of flour
1/2-3/4 cup water
1 tablespoon vegetable fat
6 pinches of salt
Mix the ingredients together into a stiff batter, knead several times and spread out flat to a thickeness of 1/2 inch on a non-greased cookie sheet. Bake for 30 mins. at 400 degrees. Remove from the oven , cut into small squares, and punch holes in the squares. Turn dough over and bake for 30 mins. more. Turn off oven and leave the door closed. Leave the hardtack in the oven until cool. ( source
I made some hardtack years ago when I did a Columbus unit in third grade. I has no taste, it's dry and hard but give the children a chance to see what life was like for the soldiers.

civil war
Posted by: ss teacher

How about dressing up and reinacting the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. You could have a skit at Gettysburg where Lincoln gives his famous Gettysburg Address. You could have the kids create a Civil War battlefield model. A puppet show about the Civil War might be cute. There are a number of plays out there that you might look into for the Civil War, or you could have your children make up a skit.

Civil War
Posted by: Carol

I teach 5th grade and one thing I do with our class during civil war is divide my class into North and South...they then divide again into "regiments," and give those names, such as Johnny Rebs or the Unionists.They also create flags and badges to wear. I choose a diff. general everyday who is responsible for taking up homework,etc. The kids stand at attention and salute as they hand in their papers. I play Revielle as they enter the room. I also put up two pages of chart paper on the wall and give them "combat points" for good behavior, etc. When someone doesn't have homework, that side loses combat points. At the end of the week...the most combat points wins a prize of some sort. They love it.
Hope this helps..although a little late.

What about
Posted by: kt

Inviting a Civil War re-enactment group for a 1/2 day demonstration? We did this one year complete with a cannon shot - a kid pulled the cord. He was an essay contest winner. Also, we did a paper wad war. I gave the north more ammunition (paper), and the south better cover (mats to make forts, etc.). The kids really got the point.

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Posted by: Susan

I did this last year and it went over very well - and made a great bulletin board. After reading some real (duplicates) letters from Civil War soldiers, the students created their own. They could pretend they were anyone - a soldier, a nurse, etc... While they were working on their rough draft, we made tea paper for their final copy. They just dipped plain white computer paper in very strong tea - then left the paper flat to dry. The next day (or whenever they were ready for their final copy) they wrote on the tea paper. It made it antique looking. Some even used brown marker to make the edges look old, and others used a few dots of red marker to look like blood on their letter. Some also tore the edges slightly. I put the letters on brown bulletin board paper, wrote "Civil War letters" at the top, and put a poster on each end of the bulletin board (showing Civil War figures).

Something else we did was make Hard Tack. We had talked about how this was their basic food during the war, so I made some at home and brought it to them. Some thought it was nasty, but others actually liked it (very dry bland crackers). You can also make Johnny cakes (corn bread) to show what the other side was eating.

ss fun projects
Posted by: bebe

hi tiffany, one of the most fun activities i did in ss this year was to have each stud choose a famous character in history.we were studying the civil war around that time. all i did was tell them to research their person, and make notes , and prepare an oral presentation that began this way: hello, my name is______________. i am the wife of ...or i was shot, etc. they had to pretend that they were the actual person they had researched, and get up and do an oral presentation
(i let them use little notes on an index card to help them stay organized, but they could NOT read from their notes) another thing that made it so much fun was the student was to dress the part if they could. they were not to spend any money though on anything. they were to be creative with their costumes. this was a plan that came together!!it was great, and i wished i had a video of it. ( oh yes, i required no written report on the characters. you could choose to do other wise. also, you could make a big pr thing of this and invite their parents in. ) if you do this let me know how it worked if you want to.
good luck to you. email me if ya want to. smile bebe

Alphabet Book
Posted by: pteach55

I just read Pink and Say Friday, and the kids were really moved by the story. A teacher in another building in our district has the kids make an alphabet book and illustrate each letter. For instance, A is for Antietam and they draw a battle picture and write a sentence or two, or A is for Abe Lincoln, etc. She gave me a sample one from a former student, but of course it is at school. I've considered doing it this year, but the Civil War is not on our state standards other than the slavery issue, etc. We all know that the state standards are sacred!!! I really need to move on to immigration. Anyway, hope this helps. If you want, I can look more closely at the sample and get back to you.

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Posted by: jennifer

I have used PowerPoint quite often in my classroom (5th grade). The students performed a play to the school and parents about the Battle of Gettysburg. Prior to the play the audience watched a PowerPoint show of the events that led up to the battle they were about to watch. After the battle they continued to watch a PowerPoint from the battle to the end of the Civil War. The PowerPoint presentation was created by the students. It really turned out well. I hope this gives you another perspective on how to use besides inside the classroom.

Civil War Links
Posted by: Helpful


When I taught the Civil War I used to have the students make Civil War newspapers (one for the North and one for the South). They had to do a lot of research to find pertinent stories. I wanted each newspaper to reflect the times (jobs, culture, leaders, etc.)

I also had the class do debates.


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