Life in the South After the Civil War 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 life in the South after the American Civil War. Students will watch a video and answer questions, as well as describe the challenges faced by Southerners after the war.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this lesson on life in the South after the Civil War, students will be able to:

  • Cite evidence when answering questions about a video.
  • Describe the challenges faced by Southerners following the American Civil War.
  • Understand and use domain-specific vocabulary related to rebuilding after the war.


90 minutes

Common Core Curriculum Standards


Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources, connecting insights gained from specific details to an understanding of the text as a whole.


Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including analyzing how an author uses and refines the meaning of a key term over the course of a text (e.g., how Madison defines faction in Federalist No. 10).


  • 13th Amendment
  • amnesty
  • black codes
  • carpetbaggers
  • Confederates
  • convict leasing
  • disenfranchisement
  • freedmen
  • infrastructure
  • Jim Crow laws
  • Ku Klux Klan (KKK)
  • paramilitary
  • Reconstruction
  • refugees
  • Redeemers
  • scalawags
  • segregation
  • sharecroppers
  • tenant farming
  • vagrancy


  • Copies of quiz
  • Copies of the lesson
  • Access to computer/internet
  • Paper
  • Pens
  • Sticky notes

Video & Discussion Questions

  • Preview vocabulary words.
  • Watch Life in the South After the Civil War as a class, and discuss the following questions:
    • What challenges did African Americans face immediately following the war?
    • What did Confederate soldiers find waiting for them when they returned home after the war?
    • Describe Reconstruction.
    • What is the difference between sharecroppers and tenant farmers?
    • How did landowners legally oppress former slaves?
    • Describe convict leasing.
    • What types of crimes did people commit who were forced into labor?
    • Who benefited from convict leasing?
    • What did the Redeemers want to do?
    • What are carpetbaggers and scalawags?
    • What did the Presidents hope to accomplish through amnesty?
    • What was the outcome of amnesty?
    • What are some black codes and Jim Crow laws that were passed in the South to disenfranchise black citizens?
    • Describe Plessy v. Ferguson. What was the outcome?
    • Name some paramilitary groups that emerged during this time. What was their goal?
    • How did President Grant quell the terrorist activity of white supremacist groups?
  • Pass out the printable worksheet. Have students complete the questions independently, then check the answers together.


Materials: Copies of lesson, paper, pens, sticky notes

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