Research and Activity Ideas

The following research and activity ideas are intended to offer suggestions for complementing social studies and history curricula, to trigger additional ideas for enhancing learning, and to suggest cross-disciplinary projects for library and classroom use.

Imagine yourself as a slave on the Underground Railroad. Keep a diary of your imaginary experiences as you make your way to the North. Create a map showing your progress each day.

Divide into two groups of at least four. Assign one group to defend the South's right to secede from the Union, emphasizing the philosophy of "states' rights." The other group, meanwhile, will argue against secession from the North's point of view.

Give an oral presentation to the class in which you deliver an actual speech given by a Civil War figure. Other options include reciting a Civil War poem or singing a Civil War song.

Create a three-dimensional panoramic scene from the Civil War era using any materials that you wish. Scenes can range from a specific event like the Battle of Mobile Bay or the Richmond Bread Riots to an everyday scene of the South (slaves toiling on a plantation) or the North (workers building a railroad or a busy harbor).

Divide the class into several groups. Give each group an assignment to deliver an oral presentation on one of the Civil War's major battles. Encourage group members to explain the battle while playing the role of leading generals and politicians. Have each group conclude with a report on how people can visit the battlefield today.

Imagine how America would be different today if the Confederacy had won the Civil War. Write a report explaining what life might be like in either the North or the South for white and black people. Remember to consider how much the world has changed in terms of technology, medical knowledge, etc., when writing your paper.

Create a collage of images on a significant Civil War event such as the Battle of Gettysburg, the Emancipation Proclamation, the Union decision to use black soldiers, or Lee's surrender at Appomattox.

Divide the class into three groups, and have each group perform a skit in which a family is reunited after the war is over. In one skit, brothers who fought on opposite sides of the war see each other for the first time. In another skit, members of a Southern family gather at their Atlanta home, which has been destroyed by Sherman's troops. And in a last skit, have the group pretend that it has just learned that a family member died in one of the war's last battles.

Select one Confederate state and create a timeline of important events that took place in that state during the Reconstruction period. Include events that had an impact on all Southern states as well as events that only affected the state you selected.

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