Civil War Slang Lesson Plan

Instructor: Kerry Gray

Kerry has been a teacher and an administrator for more than twenty years. She has a Master of Education degree.

This lesson plan is a tool for helping students learn about slang that was used during Civil War times. Students will be able to define and use Civil War slang when writing letters.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on Civil War slang, students will be able to:

  • Define slang words that were used during this time.
  • Use slang words to write a letter between a soldier and his family.


60 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.


Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience. (Grade-specific expectations for writing types are defined in standards 1-3 above.)


  • Copies of the worksheet, one for each student
  • Copies of the lesson, one for each student
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Chart paper
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils


  • acknowledge the corn
  • Arkansas toothpick
  • bad egg
  • bark juice
  • beehive
  • Billy Yank
  • bluebellies
  • Bonnie Blue Flag
  • butternut
  • contraband
  • copperhead
  • fit as a fiddle
  • fit to be tied
  • fresh fish
  • goober peas
  • grab a root
  • grayback
  • heard through the grapevine
  • hornets
  • Johnny Reb
  • loaded for bear
  • possum
  • put the kibosh
  • rio
  • sawbones
  • scarce as hen's teeth
  • see the elephant
  • sheet iron crackers
  • toe the mark
  • wallpapered

Reading & Discussion

  • Pass out copies of Civil War Slang Terms & Their Meanings to the students.
  • Read the section 'Civil War Slang' with students. Discuss some of the common slang people use today and how slang changes from generation to generation.
  • Have students partner read the 'Behaviors' section of the lesson.
  • Discuss the slang from this section. Have students list and define each of these words. Create a chart on chart paper of the words and their definitions.
  • Read the 'Things' section of the lesson to student. Have students identify and define the slang. Add to the chart.
  • Read the 'People' section of the lesson with students.
  • Add additional words and definitions to the chart.
  • Have students read the 'Lesson Summary' section of the lesson silently.
  • Pass out the printable worksheet. Have students complete the questions independently; then check the answers together.

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