We are deep into the Civil War – our last Social Studies unit of the year. There are so many resources online to make our investigation of those war years interesting, engaging, and meaningful. But here are some resources I could never do without:
1. Ken Burns’ brilliant documentary, The Civil War.
I use the scene by scene guide
to show just the footage I need for my lessons. I could not imagine teaching the Civil War without this.
2. James McPherson’s Fields of Fury:The American Civil War. Pulitzer prize-winning author James M. McPherson covers the events leading to the War, the soldiers and generals who fought, and key battles of the Civil War. Written for a middle school audience, with many photographs, maps, and paintings, this is an excellent source for readings and discussions.
3. The Boys’ War by Jim Murphy is my go -to resource for information about the role of children in the Civil War. Boys served in both the Union and Confederate armies as soldiers, drummers, buglers, spies and telegraphers. Murphy’s book uses letters and diaries to illuminate what this active participation felt like for children – some of whom were as young as 9!
4. Delia Ray’s Behind the Blue and Gray is a wonderful resource for learning about the life or ordinary soldiers – what they felt and did and hoped for during those long and often terrifying campaigns.
5. Paul Fleishman’s Bull Run is a Civil War drama told in sixteen voices – each representing a segment of the population. Northern and Southern, these sixteen voices capture the complexity of issues and emotions that ran deeply on both sides. We read the play as a class, with students taking different voices, and then we use what we’ve learned as the basis for rich discussions.