Matters of Education

Learning Happens Everywhere

The American Civil War

Length of Time:   6-10 Class periods


We hope you will use these lessons to supplement topics you are already teaching in Grades 3-5 as well as explore some new subjects. You will find lesson on the following: GEOGRAPHY, BIOGRAPHY, SLAVERY, and MASSACHUSETTS HISTORY.  We have thought a great deal about the important skills and ideas that students learn in these grades. We know how valuable it is for students to have a strong foundation of concepts that cross disciplines and can be developed over the years.  We hope that these lessons will enable you to explore concepts such as CHOICE and PERSPECTIVE, as well as the different ways to TELL A STORY. There is also overlap among both topics and ideas as well a many enrichment opportunities built into these lessons.

Each lesson may be used independently or in combination with other portions of these materials.


Geography Focus: Lessons One and Two
Tab 1- Lesson One: The Growth of the United States
Tab 2 – Lesson Two: The Geography of the North and South

Slavery Focus: Lessons Three, Four and Five
Tab 3- Lesson Three: All About Choices
Tab 4 – Lesson Four: The Slave Economy
Tab 5 – Lesson Five: Fighting Against Slavery

Massachusetts History Focus:
Tab 6 – Lesson Six: Massachusetts and the Civil War

Biography: Lessons Seven and Eight
Tab 7 – Lesson Seven: Different Ways to Tell a Story
Tab 8 – Lesson Eight: How Do We Remember?

Essential Questions

How can this essential topic be made relevant and useful to our youngest students by developing skills and concepts that are timeless in nature?

Common Core Standards

Mathematics: Measurement and Data: Grades K-4

Represent and Interpret Data

English Language Arts: Reading: Informational Text: Grades 3-4

RI.3.7. Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a  text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur). RI.3.9. Compare and contrast the most important points and key details presented in two texts on the same topic.

RI.4.7. Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

English Language Arts: Reading: Integration of Ideas and Information, Grades 3-5

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  1. Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.

English/Language Arts: Knowledge of Language

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.3 Apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.

Vocabulary Acquisition and Use

  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.4 Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple- meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.L.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.

English/Language Arts: Anchor Standards: CCSR for Writing

  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.1 Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.
  • ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.2 Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complexmideas and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

CCSS.ELA-Literacy.CCRA.W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.


Content Standards

National Geography Standards

Standard 1: How to Use Maps and Other Geographic Representations, Tools, and Technologies to Acquire, Process, and Report Information From a Spatial Perspective

Standard 17: How to Apply Geography to Interpret the Past

Please see individual lessons for specific MA Social Studies Standards