The Top 6 Civil War Activities for the 5th Grade!

5th grade history civil war curriculum & lesson plans
Civil War Classroom Activity Ideas for 5th Graders!!

As a 5th grade social studies teacher, you have the unique opportunity to bring the American Civil War to life for your students!


This pivotal event in U.S. history is an important part of the fifth grade curriculum lessons, but as you may already know, it can be quite challenging to incorporate fun and interactive activities into any Civil War unit. In this article, we'll explore some exciting Civil War activities that will captivate your 5th grade students and make learning about this important time period in American history a memorable experience!


ALL of the activities and Civil War projects I've outlined below are a GREAT way to teach your 5th graders all about the key Civil War battles, major events, and the effects of the Civil War!


Civil War Newspaper

Create a class newspaper that covers the historical events of the Civil War. Assign different students to write articles with informational text and key facts, create problem solving editorials that offer greater insight, draw political cartoons that aim to answer difficult questions, and make persuasive advertisements! Have students present their newspaper to the class, acting as if they were newscasters, editorialists, or reporters. This activity helps students understand the events of the Civil War in a fun and interactive way while also promoting critical thinking and creativity!


This activity is a great choice for your classroom because it allows students to use their imagination and creativity to bring the events of the Civil War to life. By assigning different roles, students are able to work together as a team, which can help foster a sense of community in the classroom. Additionally, presenting their work to the class can help build confidence and public speaking skills!



Civil War Letters Activity

Writing letters from the perspective of a Civil War leader, say President Abraham Lincoln, Jefferson Davis, Ulysses S. Grant, or Robert E. Lee, or perhaps a soldier from either the northern states or southern states, a Confederate or Union soldier, or maybe a civilian during the Civil War, is a creative and engaging activity that allows students to connect with the people who lived through the war. Students can research and write their letters based on actual accounts from the time period, which they can then share with the class! This activity is perfect because it helps students develop empathy and writing skills while gaining a better understanding of the experiences of those who lived through the war.


For some added inspiration, check out my article all about my top Civil War essay topics! 



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Civil War Reenactment Activity

Participating in a Civil War reenactment of one of the many important battles of the Civil War is an exciting and immersive activity that allows students to experience the sights and sounds of the war. Students can dress up in period costumes and participate in a simulated battle or other activities, such as camp life or medical demonstrations. This activity is perfect because it helps students develop teamwork and social skills while gaining a better understanding of the military tactics and strategies of the time period. For example, students can participate in a reenactment of the Battle of Bull Run, re-creating the chaos and confusion of the actual battle.


Another suggestion is to have your class reenact one of the most important speeches in our nation's history, the Gettysburg Address! Have one of your students assume the role of President Lincoln, a few others as some of the local dignitaries in attendance, a few of the others as Union soldiers, and the rest as everyday local citizens of Gettysburg.



Civil War Museum Exhibit Activity

Creating a Civil War museum exhibit is a creative and informative activity that allows students to showcase their knowledge of the war. Students can work individually or in small groups to research and create exhibits that focus on different aspects of the war, such as weapons, one or more of the famous battles, Civil War medicine, or daily life in the United States back then. This activity is perfect because it helps students develop research and presentation skills while gaining a better understanding of the various facets of the war. For example, students can create exhibits that showcase the various types of weapons used during the war, including the various types of firearms and cannons!


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Civil War Music Activity

Learning and performing music from the Civil War era is a fun and engaging activity that allows students to connect with the culture and traditions of the time period. Students can learn and perform songs such as "Dixie," "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and "When Johnny Comes Marching Home." I love this activity because it helps students develop musical skills and an appreciation for the music of the time period while gaining a better understanding of the emotions and experiences of those who lived through the war. For example, students can perform a choral rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner," which was written during the War of 1812 but became a popular patriotic song during the Civil War.



Civil War Debates

Divide the class into two groups, each representing either the Union or Confederate side of the Civil War. Have each group research primary sources and prepare arguments for their side, including reasons for going to war, key battles, and important figures. Have a debate in the classroom, with each group presenting their arguments and trying to persuade the "judge" (you, the teacher), or simply have no judge at all. This activity helps students understand different perspectives and arguments surrounding the Civil War, as well as improve their research and public speaking skills.


This activity is a great choice because it allows students to engage with the material in a hands-on and interactive way. By researching and preparing arguments for different sides, students are able to better understand the complexities of the Civil War and the different perspectives that existed at the time. Additionally, the debate format promotes critical thinking, communication, and teamwork skills!



These activities are PERFECT for 5th graders when teaching them about the Civil War


They provide hands-on and interactive ways for students to engage with the material and can easily be implemented into your lesson plans!



The activities I mentioned above include elements of research, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and collaboration, allowing students to build a variety of valuable skills! Additionally, all of these activities are designed to make the events of the Civil War more personal and memorable for students, helping them connect with the material in a meaningful way. The use of role-playing, debates, reenactments, quilts, music, and simulations allows students to see the events of the Civil War from different perspectives, understand the motivations and beliefs of those involved, and develop a deeper understanding of the important events and complexity of the issues surrounding the Civil War.



  • Spending more time on teaching and less on lesson plans

  • More time on nights and weekends to share with friends and loved ones

  • No longer endlessly searching for amazing lesson plans and resources  


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I hope you enjoyed this article!

-Jillian (a.k.a. the "Lesson Plan Guru")  











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