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Lesson Ideas for the Civil War Gallery
The study of the Civil War can provide lessons across the curriculum:
"Child of the Underground Railroad" includes suggestions for activities from map work to writing original historical fiction. It all begins with a short memorial (obituary) written about a St. Clair resident in 1893.
Students can learn to do field work and find out if Civil War soldiers came from their community. By visiting a cemetery, the downtown area of your community, and the local library, historical society or archives, reading old journals and records, interviewing older relatives and friends, students can learn about family histories, the origins of their community, tombstones, causes of death and much more. Following their investigation, they will prepare a group report including text and visuals based on their discoveries.
In art or music or science class, help students make a Civil War drum with an empty food container from home such as an oatmeal box, coffee tin or peanut can. Discuss with students about what it would be like for children to serve in the regiments by playing a musical instrument. What would it have been like during the Civil War? in a contemporary war? What would it be like to wake soldiers in the morning and call them for activities? What would it have been like to be away from family and friends?
Combine science and history. Have students read aloud the excerpts from the Michigan doctor's diary from the Civil War. Discuss what it must have been like to be a doctor traveling with troops during the Civil War. What were the conditions and atmosphere like in the Civil War camps? What was sanitation like? What must it have felt like to be a doctor in the camps when soldiers were sick and dying from both injury and disease? How would it compare to being a physician on a battlefield today or in an emergency room caring for the sick, injured and dying? Immunizations were first discovered in the late 19th century and most antibiotics were developed between 1928 and 1940. How would antibiotics and immunizations have changed the Civil War?
Contact the Michigan Historical Museum.