The Country Goes to War: Traditional Elementary Civil War Lesson Plan

Grades: Elementary

Approximate Length of Time: 55 minutes

Goal: Students will be able to describe the state of the nation and sequence the first events of the Civil War.  


  1. Students will be able to create a timeline of events from the election of Lincoln to the First Battle of Manassas.
  2. Students will be able to complete a map identifying the Southern states, Northern states, and border states.
  3. Students will be able to read and summarize portions of Abraham Lincoln’s and Jefferson Davis’s first inaugural addresses.

Common Core Standards:

Integrate information from two texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

Explain the relationships or interactions between two or more individuals, events, ideas, or concepts in a historical, scientific, or technical text based on specific information in the text.

NCSS Standards for Social Studies:

2—Time, Continuity, and Change
3—People, Places, and Environment
5—Individuals, Groups, and Institutions
6—Power, Authority, and Governance
10—Civics, Ideals, and Practices


  1. The Country Goes to War PowerPoint
  2. Timeline Activity Sheet
  3. Blank Map of the U.S. in 1860
  4. Labeled Map of U.S. in 1860 (for teacher use)
  5. Presidential Inaugural Addresses


Review the PowerPoint before class. 

Activity 1

  1. Using The Country Goes to War PowerPoint, review events leading up to the bombardment of Fort Sumter.
  2. Have students complete the Timeline Activity Sheet, filling in events as they appear in the PowerPoint.

Activity 2

  1. Using the Blank Map of the U.S. in 1860, project the blank map for classroom viewing.
  2. Hand out the Blank Map of U.S. in 1860.
  3. As a group, color the Union states blue, the Confederate states grey, and the border states green.
  4. Draw in or highlight major physical features such as the Mississippi River and the Appalachian Mountain Range.


  1. Hand out the Presidential Inaugural Addresses to each student.
  2. Read through the excerpts as a class.
  3. Go over the questions as a group, and have students answer independently or as a group.

Assessment in This Lesson:

  1. A completed timeline of the events leading up to the Civil War.
  2. The presidential inaugural addresses have been read and summarized and the related questions are answered.