Book: The Civil War Kids 150

An Interview with Nicole Osier

The Civil War Kids 150: Fifty Fun Things to Do, See, Make, and Find for the 150th Anniversary is an activities book that encourages kids to expand their knowledge of the Civil War. In 2012, the Civil War Trust had the chance to sit down with Nicole Osier, who authored the book while she was the Senior Manager of Education Programs at the Trust.

book cover


Civil War Trust: How did this project get started?

Nicole Osier: Following the release of the Trust’s The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List for the 150th Anniversary I thought it would be great if we had one for kids. The Civil War 150 is a guide book that encouraged people to go out and “do things,” actually take trips and complete activities. There were a number of things in the book that I knew kids would love to do and there were many more I wanted to add. I also thought it was too much to ask kids to travel seeing as they don’t have the means, so we did not suggest that they take trips to specific battlefields like The Civil War 150 does. In making our list of 50 activities, we came up with things that were fun, active, and achievable.

How did you assemble the list?

NE: We came up with a list of fun things that we did as kids or would have liked to have done, like hold a Civil War bullet, eat hardtack, play capture the flag, and  make a fort.  We also looked at the goals from our Civil War Curriculum and matched each activity to a goal, this insured that each activity provided an important lesson. We then separated the activities into four sections: Create, Perform, Find, and Read/Watch, which helped us organize and cut out the unnecessary items.

You say “we” a lot, why is that?

NE: My co-editor, Sheralyn Morehouse played a big role in this project and came up with many of the activities. She’s a former 5th grade teacher and had a great understanding of what activities kids would think were cool. The contributing editors, Garry Adelman and Clayton Butler, who are also education staff members helped a great deal as well. 

Who do you recommend this book for? You say "kids" but that could mean people of all ages.

NE: There are people of all ages "kids-at-heart" who would have a ton of fun completing the activities in this book, myself and many of the "kids" at the Trust included. However, we wrote this book mainly for kids in the age range of about 8 to 12. I also recommend this book for parents who are looking to cure the summer-time boredom, anyone who is taking kids on a trip to a battlefield or Civil War site, a teachers, or a scout leader.

Do you think kids are really going to be into this? It’s not a video game.

NE: Contrary to popular belief you do not need to have a video game to get kids attention.  I think kids will like this book because it gets them involved with history and rather than telling them what they are supposed to learn, it gives them activities that will lead them to their own experiences and understanding of the war.

What are three of your favorite activities?

holding history
One activity, hold a piece of history

NE:  Because you asked here are three I really enjoy; however, this was a tough choice because I really like so many of these activities. In no particular order:

Whip up a Batch of Hardtack and Have a Try – I love to bake and eat, so this is a great activity, plus it’s really great that you can actually taste what the soldiers ate. 

Uncover Franklin Thompson’s Real Name – So secret and cool.  This is what historians really do – search, uncover, and sometimes they will discover something amazing. 

Follow Henry in The Red Badge of Courage – This is a great book.  The way that it’s written really gives you a sense of what being a solider in the Civil War (or maybe any war) is like.  Henry scared and disoriented, as the reader in his head you gain a sense of this and experience an incredible point of view.

How many have you done on the list?

NE: 38 out of 50. In my defense, there are some I just can’t do, it would be unfair for me to enter our own postcard contest! Admittedly, I still need to memorize the Gettysburg Address.

Do people get a prize if they complete all 50?

NE: Yeah! They get the satisfaction of knowing they are well on their way to becoming a great historian.

Buy the Book: "The Civil War Kids 150" is available in our Civil War Trust-Amazon Bookstore


Nicole Osier is a former elementary and special education teacher who worked for the Civil War Trust as the Senior Manager of Education Programs, fulfilling her dream of becoming a public historian. This is her first book.