Life at War: Traditional High School Lesson Plan

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

Grades: High School

Approximate Length of Time: 60 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.

Common Core Standards:

Write informative/explanatory texts to examine and convey complex ideas, concepts, and information clearly and accurately through the effective selection, organization, and analysis of content.

Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary describing political, social, or economic aspects of history/social science.

Integrate information from diverse sources, both primary and secondary, into a coherent understanding of an idea or event, noting discrepancies among sources.

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
8—Science, Technology, and Society
10—Civics, Ideals, and Practices


  1. Life at War PowerPoint Presentation
  2. Classroom Read/Share
  3. Writing Assignment: A Soldier’s Life Editorial
  4. Soldier’s Life Resource Pack
  5. A Soldier’s Life Editorial Rubric


Civil War soldiers lived hard lives in a world 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 will be on the printed slides, but won’t be seen by your students during the presentation.

Activity 1

  1. Whole-class instruction with the Life at War PowerPoint presentation and associated discussion questions located in the notes section of the Power Point.

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

  1. Hand out Writing Assignment: A Soldier’s Life Editorial, Soldier’s Life Resource Pack (for reference material) and A Soldier’s Life Editorial Rubric.


Have students share their editorials with the class either orally or by hanging them around the room to be read.

Assessment in This Lesson:

  1. Informal assessment through the PowerPoint discussion questions
  2. Informal assessment through the Read/Share discussion
  3. Editorial