Lesson Plan - Life at War
Civil War
Lesson Plan

Life At War

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A Civil War Curriculum Lesson

Grades: High School

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

Goal: Students will be able to discuss the life of a Civil War soldier, analyzing his role within society and the military.


  1. Assuming the role of an investigative reporter, students will be able to write an article through which they will describe the daily life of a Civil War soldier, discuss the challenges soldiers faced, and describe a soldier’s role within the military.
  2. Students will be able to describe the effects of weapons technology on soldiers and medical treatments used for wounded and sick soldiers.
  3. Students will be able to discuss the African American soldier’s experience.


Download the lesson plan, along with the following materials and PowerPoint, at the bottom of this page.

  • Life at War Power Point Presentation
  • Classroom Read/Share
  • Writing Assignment: A Soldier’s Life Editorial
  • The Civil War Soldier
  • A Soldier’s Life Editorial Rubric
  • Watch the Soldier Life During the Civil War in4 video

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

Civil War soldiers lived hard lives in a world very different from the world of the 21st century.
Ask students what they think soldiers’ lives were like.  What did they eat and wear?  What did they do for fun?  What kind of help was available to them if they got sick? 


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

Activity 1

Whole-class instruction with the Life at War PowerPoint presentation and associated discussion questions.

Activity 2

  1. Place students into several small groups.
  2. Provide each group with a Classroom Read/Share sheet.  Students will read the information on their sheet and then construct a brief answer to the question at the top of that page.
  3. Call on each group to share their question and answer with the class. 

Activity 3

Hand out Writing Assignment: A Soldier’s Life Editorial, The Civil War Soldier (for reference material) and A Soldier’s Life Editorial Rubric. 


  1. What role did the average Civil War soldier play during the war?
  2. Do you think soldiers were thought of as individuals?
  3. What were common challenges that soldiers faced during the war?
  4. How do you think technology affected a soldier’s experience?

Assessment in this Lesson

  • Informal assessment through the PowerPoint discussion questions
  • Informal assessment through the Read/Share discussion
  • Editorial
  • Informal assessment through the closure questions