One of the biggest misconceptions I have heard in the educational community is that history is boring. I have always loved history and, as an educator, I am passionate about finding ways to make history engaging and fun for students. In the next post in my hands-on history series, I am sharing some of my favorite Civil War projects and activities that your students are sure to love!
Confederacy and Union Profiles
An important part of any Civil War unit is making sure students understand the key ideological differences between the Confederacy and the Union. To help students gain an understanding of each side, I have them complete profiles for the Confederacy and the Union. Then, I assign each student to either the Confederacy side or the Union side. Students must use the profile they created a write a paragraph explaining why their side declares war. Not only does this help students learn important information about the Civil War, but it also allows them to practice writing skills.
Civil War PDF Map Activities
One of my favorite Civil War projects allows students to practice map and math skills. First, I have students create a color-coded map of the United States to show free and slave states. Next, students use the information from the map to create a bar graph that compares the number of free states to the number of slave states.
After students have had time to compare and analyze free versus slave states, I have them make predictions about which states will secede by completing a chart. When students have finished making their predictions, they lookup which states seceded and record that information in the chart. These map, graphing, and chart activities have been a fun way for students to investigate Civil War facts and information.
Civil War Leaders
My Civil War unit includes a whole day of Civil War projects to help students learn about important leaders of the Civil War. Students begin by rotating through centers. Each center has a different puzzle. When a puzzle is assembled, it reveals a picture and information about one Civil War leader. As students rotate through the centers, they collect information by completing the puzzles. Then, they create a book of Civil War leaders with the information they discover.
Civil War Strategies and Battles
When teaching about any war, students always seem to have a difficult time remembering facts about different battles. It is easy to forget the order or the outcomes of various battles. To help students learn and recall this information, I have them research key battles that are a part of the standards and record their findings in a chart. They keep this chart in their history binder throughout the Civil War unit. If students need something to fill time during the remaining minutes of class, they quiz a partner on the information from the chart.
Civil War Task Cards
Every U.S. History unit needs fun review activities. I love using task cards to help students review U.S. History skills. Task cards are great because they are easy to set up, students enjoy them, and you can use them in a variety of different ways. I wrote another blog post all about the different ways to use task cards. I also created the following video with lots of task card games and review activities.
My Civil War task cards include 28 task cards. Questions are modeled to resemble what students will see on state testing, so they are also a good test prep activity at the end of the school year.
Civil War Escape Room
Over the past year, I have found that students LOVE escape rooms. Classroom escape rooms are a great way for students to review information through critical thinking activities, so they are perfect for a U.S. History review.
In my Civil War escape room, students pretend to travel back in time to investigate the Civil War. While time traveling, their time machine breaks. The only way to fix the time machine and return to the present is by completing six activities that require students to assemble puzzles, decode hidden messages, and match people and events to descriptions. This Civil War review activity is always a huge hit in any classroom.
There are lots of fun Civil War projects and activities you can implement in your classroom. The activities listed above are sure to engage students and get them up and moving while they learn about important Civil War leaders and events. Most of these activities are easy to replicate in your classroom but, if you are short on time, I can help you out! I have created the following Civil War teaching resources:
If you are looking for even more engaging U.S. History activities for your students, be sure to check out the Hands-On History page on my blog. I have fun activities for teaching most American History units and suggestions for teaching social studies remotely.