As we delve into the Civil War, we have been analyzing what life was like for soldiers during the Civil War through many different activities. First, we began our novel study on "Soldier's Heart" by Gary Paulson. Through this piece of historical fiction, which is based on a real character, Charley Goddard, we see the horrors of war through the eyes of a 15 year old. We studied characterization, setting, plot elements, figurative language, theme, and created higher order thinking questions to spur discussion in small groups.
We researched the involvement of Irish immigrants and their role during the Civil War on both the Union and Confederate sides. Using a unique primary source, Irish music and lyrics, we learned about what life was like for soldier's on the battle field as well as the long days at camp. Great songs to study include "Irish Volunteer" "Boys in Blue" "Paddy's Lamentation". Recognizing the importance of music to humans throughout time, students then created a "modern playlist" for different characters during the Civil War. You snag this great activity from High Mountain History HERE on tpt.
**Using electronic devices and headphones in the classroom went down as a win for the kids :)
To learn more about everyday life, students role-played as Civil War soldier. Part of the game was choice, part of the game was luck. This AMAZING game can be purchased from Brainy Apples HERE on tpt.
This game allowed students to realize that a soldier's life consisted mainly of waiting in camp for the next battle. During this time, soldiers had different methods of helping keep the boredom at bay including singing, whittling, gambling/smoking/drinking, patrolling, "Farming" for food and supplies in local towns, writing letters, and getting SICK. Over half of the casualties from the Civil War came from infection and sickness than they did from combat.
Writing letters was not only important for the soldier's and their families during the war, it is also one of the reasons that we know so much about the war today. We annotated one of the most famous, AND MY FAVORITE! Civil War letters, written by Sullivan Balou to his wife. Afterward, students got into character and wrote a letter home to either a sweetheart, wife/husband, son/daughter, mom/dad. For a great letter activity check out Instructomania's lesson HERE on tpt.
I was SO proud of these 7th and 8th grade kiddos, they really took these characters to heart and wrote beautiful words! Teacher heart full.