U.S. Civil War Lesson Plan for Elementary 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 Civil War was a time of great division in America's history. This lesson plan uses a text lesson to summarize the causes, conflicts, and resolution to the war. An activity reinforces key facts and creates a visual representation of the conflict.

Learning Objectives

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

  • discuss the causes of the American Civil War
  • explain Abraham Lincoln's role in the war
  • distinguish between the Union and Confederate states during the war
  • analyze the advantages held by each side in the war
  • summarize the Emancipation Proclamation


30 to 45 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Ask and answer questions to demonstrate understanding of a text, referring explicitly to the text as the basis for the answers.


Determine the main idea of a text; recount the key details and explain how they support the main idea.


Describe the relationship between a series of historical events, scientific ideas or concepts, or steps in technical procedures in a text, using language that pertains to time, sequence, and cause/effect.


Determine the meaning of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases in a text relevant to a grade 3 topic or subject area.


Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text (e.g., where, when, why, and how key events occur).


  • Paper copies of the text lesson The Civil War Lesson for Kids: Summary & Facts
  • Photocopies of the worksheet from the associated text lesson
  • Small squares of blue construction paper
  • Small circles of gray construction paper
  • A list of 'I statement' facts about the American Civil War (e.g. 'I am opposed to slavery.', 'I attend a military academy in Georgia.', 'I work for a company that manufactures guns.' and so on)
  • A map of the United States of America
  • Push pins

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