The Home Front: Traditional High School Lesson Plan

This image depicts two portraits of Union soldiers posing in their uniforms.

Grades: High School

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

Goal: Students will develop a concept of what life was like for those on the home front and evaluate the forms and role of Civil War era communication.


  1. Students will be able to discuss the impact of the war on families, especially women and children.
  2. Students will be able to describe how news during the war was received on the home front and list communication methods of the period.
  3. Students will be able to construct a written response in letter form addressing a typical scenario during the Civil War from the point of view of someone on the home front.

Common Core Standards:

Write informative/explanatory texts, including the narration of historical events, scientific procedures/ experiments, or technical processes.

Determine the central ideas or information of a primary or secondary source; provide an accurate summary that makes clear the relationships among the key details and ideas.

NCSS Standards for Social Studies:

2—Time, Continuity, and Change
3—People, Places, and Environment
5—Individuals, Groups, and Institutions


  1. Communications
  2. Civil War Home Front PowerPoint
  3. J. Henry Blakeman Letter
  4. Letter Writing Activity
  5. Letter Writing Rubric


Hand out a Communications page to each student. On a piece of chart paper or on the board, draw a vertical line creating two columns for lists. As a class write down ways in which we communicate or spread news today (examples: mobile phones, e-mail, newspapers, television, online news sources, Twitter, Facebook, blogs…). Leave the other side blank; this will be filled out by students later in the class.


Print out the PowerPoint with notes prior to class. There are notes included with the slides that will be on the printed slides, but won’t be seen by your students during the presentation.

Activity 1

  1. As a class, view the Civil War Home Front PowerPoint, asking discussion questions as you go (the discussion questions are included in the notes on the PowerPoint).
  2. Provide a copy of the J. Henry Blakeman Letter to each student; this will be read during the lesson.

Activity 2

  1. Place students in pairs and hand out the Letter Writing Activity. Pairs will work together to compile ideas and responses to the situation. Both students need to keep notes individually on their sheets.
  2. Hand each student a copy of the Letter Writing Rubric. Students will independently write a letter based on the scenario on their activity sheet, following the rubric criteria.

Activity 3

  1. Students can review their responses to the types of communication they have available to them today and list in the other column the types of communication methods that were available at the time of the Civil War.
  2. At the bottom of the page, students should answer the following questions: What were some of the difficulties in communication during the Civil War? How did these affect people on the home front?


We are technically on the home front of a war today. Have you or do you face challenges in your life because of a military conflict? How are these difficulties similar to or different from those of individuals on the home front during the Civil War?

Assessment in This Lesson:

  1. Informal assessment through PowerPoint presentation discussion
  2. Completion of Civil War letters
  3. Completed Communications form