In The Classroom

Fighting on the Border

Gettysburg National Military Park – “Civil War Perspectives”

The Gettysburg National Military Park website offers a variety of educational materials for teachers. Four themed programs entitled “Civil War Perspectives,” at the middle school and high school levels, provide a glimpse into the lives of soldiers, civilians, and medical personnel during the Civil War. The programs are built around a ranger-led talk and therefore most effective when taught in conjunction with a field-trip to the battlefield, but modifications could be made to eliminate the need for an on-site visit.

-          Care of the Wounded (Grades 5-8)

The Battle of Gettysburg is told from the perspective of medical personnel and situated in the context of medical progress. Students are asked to role-play as nurses, doctors, and wounded soldiers, and in the process gain a basic understanding of Civil War medicine.

-          Impact of War: The Slyder Family Farm (Grades 5-8)

Through a visit to Slyder Farm, students will learn about the Gettysburg campaign, the impact of the war on civilians, and 19th century farming procedures.

-          The Life of a Civil War Soldier (Grades 5-8)

Students learn about the day-to-day challenges of soldiers’ lives through a battlefield visit, role-playing, and group activities.

-          Unfinished Work: The Creation and Dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery (Grades 8-12)

Students learn about the lasting significance of the Gettysburg Address and the Soldiers’ National Cemetery.


Battlefield Footsteps: Pickett’s Charge

Gettysburg National Military Park

Built around a visit to the battlefield, this lesson plan focuses on Pickett’s Charge as an emotionally representative event of the war. Students role-play soldiers to personalize the experience.

Antietam National Military Park

The Antietam National Military Park website provides pre- and post-visit teacher packets for educators at the elementary, middle school and high school levels. Each packet includes overview materials for teachers and a variety of educational activities that can be completed on- and off-site. Also featured are Antietam-specific primary sources, materials for self-guided driving tours, and battlefield scavenger hunts.

-          Teacher’s Packet (K-4)

-          Teacher’s Packet (5-8)

-          Teacher’s Packet (9-12)


The Battle of Antietam (Grades 7-12)


In this activity, students will analyze primary historic sources relating to the battle as well as maps of the battle. They will make conclusions about the impact of the battle on the North and South, as well as investigate why the battle allowed President Lincoln to announce and sign the Emancipation Proclamation.


Conflicting Newspaper Accounts


In this lesson students write Civil War newspapers about the Battle of Antietam from the opposing perspectives of North and South.


Choices and Commitments:The Soldiers at Gettysburg – Middle School

National Park Service – Teaching With Historic Places

Students learn about the Battle of Gettysburg, its causes and outcomes, and the difficult choices soldiers faced.


Life at War – Elementary

Civil War Preservation Trust

Elementary school students learn about the day-to-day lives of Civil War soldiers: their possessions, living conditions, and motivations.


Life at War – Middle School

Civil War Preservation Trust

Middle school students learn about the day-to-day lives of Civil War soldiers: their possessions, living conditions, and motivations.


Civil War Slang (Grades 5-7)

Civil War Preservation Trust

Students learn different examples of Civil War slang, allowing them to better interpret soldiers’ letters.


The Life of a Civil War Soldier (Grades 5-8)

Gettysburg National Military Park

Students learn about the sacrifices and challenges of soldiers’ lives. Part of the Gettysburg National Military Park’s “Civil War Perspectives” program, this lesson plan is built around a ranger-led battlefield visit.


Life at War – High School

Civil War Preservation Trust

High school students assume the role of investigative reporters to learn about the day-to-day lives of Civil War soldiers.