Sunday, April 28, 2013

Teaching the Civil War: Using Literature to Support Student Learning

One of my favorite Social Studies unit to teach is the Civil War. The past two years I have been using literature to give some depth to my lessons.

The Underground Railroad: Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt
This is a wonderful book to read when talking about the Underground Railroad. Clara is a slave and makes a quilt that is really a map that will lead slaves to freedom.

After I read the book, I had my students make a classroom "freedom quilt." The students used geometric shapes and color to symbolize different things in nature. The students then had to write a paragraph explaining what their quilt square resembled.

The Underground Railroad: Henry's Freedom Box
Henry's Freedom Box is another great story that shows students the lengths slaves went through to get to freedom. This is a true story about how Henry Brown mailed himself to the North so he would be considered free.

Chapter Books
Whenever I start a new unit in Social Studies, I always display chapter books for the students to read during Read to Self time. 

Bull Run by Paul Fleischman
This book is told from the perspective of 16 different people who were alive during the Civil War. There are characters from the North and the South. Even the most reluctant reader will enjoy this book.

 The Civil War
This is a choose your own adventure book that is ALWAYS flying off my shelf! There is a different story every time you read it!
 Soldier's Heart by Gary Paulsen
This book is about a 15 year old Minnesota boy that lies about his age to join the Army. This is a historical fiction book that describes Charley's time spent in the Army during the Civil War.
 The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick
Twelve-year-old orphan Homer runs away from Pine Swamp, Maine, to find his older brother, Harold, who has been sold into the Union Army. Homer outwits and outruns Civil War-era thieves, scallywags, and spies as he makes his way south, following clues that finally lead him to Gettysburg.

I have also brought in from the Wright County Historical Society a trunk filled with Civil War artifacts. The students really LOVE looking at all of the belongings from the Civil War.

I hope this inspires you to add a few new things to your Civil War curriculum.


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