Civil War Simulation Lesson Plan

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 Civil War in America brought immense conflict to the United States. This lesson plan divides students into Union and Confederate forces. An activity reinforces strategy and the outcomes of key battles.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson, students will be able to:

  • create a timeline of the Civil War in the United States
  • summarize key battles of the war
  • discuss the outcome of the war


60 to 90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary of the source distinct from prior knowledge or opinions.


Identify key steps in a text's description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).


Integrate visual information (e.g., in charts, graphs, photographs, videos, or maps) with other information in print and digital texts.


  • A six-foot length of white butcher paper
  • Twenty small slips of paper, each labeled with one of the following battles: 'Battle of Bull Run', 'Battle of Wilson's Creek', 'Battle of Ball's Bluff', 'Battle of Mill Springs', 'Battle of Roanoke Island', 'Battle of Pea Ridge', 'Battle of Shiloh', 'Battle of Seven Pines', 'Battle of Memphis', 'The Seven Days Battles', 'Battle of Second Bull Run', Battle of Antietam', 'Battle of Fredericksburg', 'Battle of Stones River', 'Battle of Chancellorsville', 'Battle of Gettysburg', 'Battle of Chikamauga', 'Battle of Cedar Creek', 'Battle of Five Forks', and 'Battle of Appomattox Court House'
  • A large map of the United States
  • Plastic army men in gray and blue
  • Civil War resource materials (e.g. textbooks, encyclopedias, internet resources and so on)


  • Begin by hanging the butcher paper lengthwise on a wall of the class room.
  • Use a marker to list the following at the top of the paper: 'April 12, 1861 - The Civil War begins'.
  • Summarize the events that led up to the initial shots being fired on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter.
  • Hang the map on the wall adjacent to the butcher paper and illustrate the division of the North and South by pointing out the Mason-Dixon line.

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