Fort Sumter Lesson Plan

Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Use this lesson to teach your students about the important events that happened at Fort Sumter. Students will watch two engaging videos explaining what happened there before the war and how this impacted the outcome of the war. Discussion questions, cooperative learning activities and a quiz make this lesson memorable.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • describe events at Fort Sumter
  • examine the importance and impact of Fort Sumter in relation to the Civil War


1 - 1.5 hours

Key Vocabulary

  • Fort Sumner
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Secession
  • Confederate States of America
  • Charleston, South Carolina
  • Fort Moultrie
  • Major Robert Anderson
  • Citadel
  • Confederate Brigadier General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard
  • Captain Abner Doubleday

Curriculum Standards

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.1

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

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.3

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).

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RH.6-8.4

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


  • Build background knowledge by having students watch the video lesson Battle at Fort Sumter: Summary, Facts & Map and take the accompanying quiz for homework the night before the lesson.
  • Start the lesson by dividing students into groups and having them discuss what they understood about the events at Fort Sumter from the homework, including what happened, when it happened, why it happened and the historical importance.
  • After about five minutes of discussion have students write their thoughts about Fort Sumter down.
  • Divide the board into three sections and title them:
    • Fort Sumter December 1860-February 1861
    • Fort Sumter March 1861-April 14, 1861
    • Impact of events at Fort Sumter
  • Start the video lesson The Battle of Fort Sumter & the Start of the Civil War and pause at 2:40.
  • Ask the following questions, writing information on the board as you go:
    • Why were the 87 soldiers trapped in Charleston?
    • How did they end up at Fort Sumter?
    • Why didn't the troops leave when asked?
    • Why was the Star of the West viewed as a federal violation of state sovereignty? Was it? How did the Southerners react?
  • Restart the lesson and pause again at 5:10. Instruct groups to discuss events presented during this portion of the lesson, then record relevant information on the board. Make sure students can answer:
    • What was the nuanced situation Lincoln was in with Fort Sumter when he came to office?
    • Why did Lincoln refuse to negotiate transfer of the fort?
    • What was the resolution of Fort Sumter?
  • Play the remainder of the video and record events on the board, making sure to highlight how the events at Fort Sumter affected the war.

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