Civil War Projects for Middle School

Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

The American Civil War was a tumultuous time in our country's history. Teaching middle school students about this period can be challenging. Use these project ideas to diversify and broaden instruction.

Civil War Projects

Most students love projects. They allow for fun and creativity while reinforcing important content. These fun Civil War project ideas are designed to keep middle schoolers engaged and excited about learning.

Civil War Uniforms Project

There were many differences between Union and Confederate soldiers in terms of uniforms. This project has students recreate one with paper.

Materials

  • White butcher paper
  • Pens or pencils
  • Scissors
  • Crayons
  • Markers

Instructions

  1. Begin by asking students to choose either the Confederate or the Union side of the war.
  2. Now, have them research the uniforms of their selected side.
  3. Have students take turns laying down on a length of the butcher paper while another student traces around them.
  4. Cut out the body shapes using the scissors.
  5. Allow students to draw the appropriate uniforms on the cut outs according to their research on the actual uniforms of the civil war. They may also want to use the scraps of paper to fashion weapons, hats, shoes, and any other common accessories.

Mapping the Key Battles Project

The Civil War was wrought with conflict and warfare. This meaningful project asks students to map each battle along with key facts.

Materials

  • Photocopies of blank maps of North America
  • Gray and blue fine tipped markers
  • Pens or pencils

Instructions

  1. Begin by passing out the photocopies of the map and the writing elements.
  2. Walk students through the key battles of the Civil War, one by one, including the following information: location, date, casualties, victors, and any other essential facts.
  3. After the presentation of each of the battles, have the students mark it in the appropriate location on their maps using the gray marker if it had been a Confederate victory and a blue marker if the Union soldiers prevailed. They should then use the pens/pencils to write key facts about the battle on the map as well.
  4. Repeat this for each significant battle of the Civil War.

Civil War Headlines Project

Newspapers were a significant factor in the Civil War. This projects allows students to analyze the headlines of the time.

Materials

  • Assorted examples of Civil War headlines
  • Newsprint paper
  • Black markers

Instructions

  1. Begin by discussing the significance of the newspaper during the Civil War, highlighting the fact that most newspapers had a particular political affiliation.
  2. Review the examples of the actual headlines one at a time and ask students to try to guess which side of the war the headline seemed to reflect.
  3. Finally, have students create their own headline, that would have been representative of the time, using the newsprint and black markers.

Battlefield Diorama Project

Dioramas demonstrate a scene or a place. This project gives students a chance to create a diorama of a Civil War battlefield.

Materials

  • Shoeboxes
  • Construction paper
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Markers in assorted colors

Instructions

  1. Begin by asking students to gather information on one specific battle of the Civil War.
  2. Now, have them recreate that battle in the form of a diorama using the shoe box, construction paper, scissors, glue, and markers. They should include topographical information, scenery, soldiers, and weaponry in their scenes

Civil War Arsenal Project

The Civil War brought the advent of many new types of weaponry. This project gives students a chance to learn the ins and outs of weapons of the time.

Materials

  • Assorted images of Civil War weaponry
  • Cardboard
  • Scissors
  • Aluminum foil
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint brushes

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