Overview: Combining Social Studies and Literature through Drama, this lesson captures the story of the major generals that had an impact on the Civil War.

This lesson plan uses some of the drama techniques we’ve shared previously and extends and engages students within their social studies curriculum.  This particular lesson celebrates the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  It provides students with the opportunities to research this event, as well as the generals who were instrumental in that event.  They conclude with interviews of these generals.


Step 1. Students read several archived newspapers on the current world unrest (Ghadaffi, Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq) to gain understanding of current world events. Discuss the Civil Wars that are currently going on in the world. What does Civil War mean? How is this different than a war between countries? Create a Venn Diagram comparing Civil War to War among countries.

Step 2. Then show students some pictures from the American Civil War. Narrate the pictures as you show them to create a personal history for each person (either real or imagined). Bring in pieces of what caused the Civil War into each narrative story. Example: “My name was Billy and my father owns a textile mill in Massachusetts, though now we produce boots for the North.”

Step 3. Then, have students look at each picture, notice things about each person, background, or setting in the picture and create a narrative for what the people were thinking as the picture was being taken. Have students write these down.

Step 4. Have students conduct research on the causes of the American Civil War and the similarities and differences between that and the Civil Wars of today.

Step 5. Show students the picture of Lee and Grant at Appomattox Courthouse and repeat step 3 for only one of the men.

Step 6. Students get into pairs with one who wrote down what Lee was thinking and one who wrote down what Grant was thinking. Students then can compare their commentary. Finally, the teacher discusses what was really going on in the photograph and compares that to students’ answers.