The Home Front: Traditional Middle School Lesson Plan

Grades: Middle School

Approximate Length of Time: 50 minutes

Goal:  Students will be able to discuss what life was like for those on the home front and methods of communication between the front and civilians.


  1. Students will be able to discuss the impact of the Civil War on families and describe the challenges faced by those on the home front during the Civil War.
  2. Students will be able to describe how news traveled to the home front during the Civil War, listing communication methods of the period.
  3. Students will be able to address questions concerning what actions an individual might take in a typical Civil War era scenario.
  4. Students will be able to conduct content specific research and apply their findings to address a specific problem.

Common Core:

Write arguments focused on discipline-specific content.

Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of primary and secondary sources.

NCSS Standards for Social Studies:

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


  1. Communications
  2. The Home Front PowerPoint
  3. Civil War Letters Pack
  4. Jigsaw States
  5. Jigsaw State Activity
  6. 1860 Blank U.S. Map

Anticipatory Set/Hook:

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 group, view The Home Front PowerPoint presentation, asking discussion questions as you go. (Discussion questions can be found in the notes on the PowerPoint)
  2. The PowerPoint will direct students to read the Civil War Letters Pack on the last slide.
  3. As a group read and discuss these letters.

Activity 2

  1. Students will complete the Jigsaw State Activity
  2. Set the students up in small groups of at least 3
  3. Print-off and hand-out one of the state slides from the Jigsaw States for each group, as well as a copy of the Blank 1860 U.S. Map—all the states do not need to be completed for this activity. 

Activity 3

  1. Go back to the Communications page. 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?


Discuss the Question: Why do you think the Civil War touched the lives of every American?  Give three examples of how it affected citizens’ day-to-day lives.

Assessment in this Lesson:

  1. Completed Communications page
  2. Completed Jigsaw State Activity Sheet, informal assessment through group discussions, collected written responses, and small group presentations.
  3. Informal assessment through discussion of the closure question.