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A Day in the Life

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The teacher will introduce the way of life of soldiers during the Civil War. The teacher will review compare, contrast, and point of view. Students will then research how soldiers lived during the Civil War. Students will compare their own lives to those of the soldiers. Students will share findings through a project of their choice.

Coin Type(s)

  • Quarter

Coin Program(s)

  • America The Beautiful Quarters


  • The students will compare and contrast their lives and the lives of Civil War soldiers to understand similarities and differences.
  • Students will create a product to demonstrate knowledge of life as a Civil War soldier.

Major Subject Area Connections

  • Language Arts
  • Social Studies

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Technology


  • Second grade
  • Third grade

Class Time

Sessions: Four
Session Length: 30-45 minutes
Total Length: 91-120 minutes


  • Whole group
  • Individual work

Terms and Concepts

  • Obverse
  • Reverse
  • Venn diagram
  • Compare
  • Contrast
  • Gettysburg
  • Vicksburg
  • Civil War
  • National battlefield
  • National military park
  • National site


  • 1 copy of the following worksheets:
    • “Comparing Our Lives” worksheet
    • “I Am” worksheet
    • "A Day in the Life" project guide and rubric
  • 1 class map of the United States
  • Images of the five 2011 quarter designs
  • Copies of texts that give information about the Civil War and its soldiers, such as:
    • B is for Battle Cry:  A Civil War Alphabet by Patricia Bauer
    • If You Lived At The Time of the Civil War by Kay Moore
    • Civil War on Sunday by Mary Pope Osborne
    • Kids During the American Civil War by Lisa A. Wroble
  • Chart paper
  • Writing and drawing materials


  • Make copies of necessary materials.
  • Bookmark Web sites to guide students to exactly where you want them to research (preview the Web sites for age appropriateness and bookmark certain pages for your students), such as:
  • Make a large Venn diagram on chart paper and post for later reference.
  • Use texts and resources available to provide background information to the students about the Civil War.  Make the texts available for the students to look through or bookmark areas for additional reading aloud.
  • Review the completed worksheets with the students, either on the overhead or on chart paper, for later reference.

Worksheets and Files

  1. Introduce the students to the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.  The program is described at  Tell the students that the back of a coin is called the reverse, and “obverse” is another name for the front.  With the students, examine each of the five 2011 quarter designs.   Locate each of the 2011 sites on a class map.  Answer any student questions.
  2. Ask the students what they know about national sites such as Gettysburg National Military Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Vicksburg National Military Park, and Chickasaw National Recreational Area.  Ask them to identify where these sites are located.
  3. Point out that both Gettysburg and Vicksburg are national military parks.  Discuss the parks specifically, explaining that Civil War battles are the focus of these parks.
  4. Introduce the students to the portions of the selected text about the Civil War.  After the brief reading, using chart paper, discuss key points (5 Ws) of Gettysburg and Vicksburg with the students.  Address and highlight any unfamiliar or new vocabulary and record on a chart.
  5. Have the students complete the section of the “Comparing Our Lives” worksheet that is about themselves.  Discuss student responses as a class.  Using Web sites and texts, point out some details about the lives the soldiers led.  Add the information to a large Venn diagram on chart paper.
  6. Have the students complete the soldier's section of the “Comparing Our Lives” worksheet.   Discuss point of view and how the soldiers may have felt during this time.
  7. Tell the students they will research the lives of the soldiers from the Civil War battles at Gettysburg and Vicksburg.  Have the students record their findings on the “I Am” worksheet.  Have the students discuss the results from the worksheets with each other and make a final copy, adding colorful illustrations to the “I Am” worksheet.  The students should decide which project to complete on Civil War soldiers.
  8. Have the students work independently on their selected projects from the project plan and present them to the class.

Differentiated Learning Options

  • Allow students to work in pairs or small groups.
  • Allow students to use a scribe to complete their worksheets.
  • Take anecdotal notes about the students' participation in class discussions.
  • Evaluate the students' worksheets and projects to see whether they have met the lesson objectives.
  • Use the rubric to evaluate performance on the final product.
There are no related resources for this lesson plan.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.2 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Range of Writing

  • W.2.10. begins in grade 3.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: W.2 Writing
Grade(s): Grade 2
Cluster: Production and Distribution of Writing

  • W.2.4. begins in grade 3.
  • W.2.5. With guidance and support from adults and peers, focus on a topic and strengthen writing as needed by revising and editing.
  • W.2.6. With guidance and support from adults, use a variety of digital tools to produce and publish writing, including in collaboration with peers.

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Use of Spoken, Written, and Visual Language
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students use spoken, written, and visual language to accomplish their own purposes (e.g., for learning, enjoyment, persuasion, and the exchange of information).

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: Time, Continuity, and Change
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • assist learners to understand that historical knowledge and the concept of time are socially influenced constructions that lead historians to be selective in the questions they seek to answer and the evidence they use
  • help learners apply key concepts such as time, chronology, causality, change, conflict, and complexity to explain, analyze, and show connections among patterns of historical change and continuity
  • enable learners to identify and describe significant historical periods and patterns of change within and across cultures, including but not limited to, the development of ancient cultures and civilizations, the emergence of religious belief systems, the rise of nation-states, and social, economic, and political revolutions
  • guide learners in using such processes of critical historical inquiry to reconstruct and interpret the past, such as using a variety of sources and checking their credibility, validating and weighing evidence for claims, searching for causality, and distinguishing between events and developments that are significant and those that are inconsequential
  • provide learners with opportunities to investigate, interpret, and analyze multiple historical and contemporary viewpoints within and across cultures related to important events, recurring dilemmas, and persistent issues, while employing empathy, skepticism, and critical judgment; and enable learners to apply ideas, theories, and modes of historical inquiry to analyze historical and contemporary developments, and to inform and evaluate actions concerning public policy issues.

Discipline: Technology
Domain: All Research and Information Fluency
Cluster: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Plan strategies to guide inquiry
  • Locate, organize, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and ethically use information from a variety of sources and media
  • Evaluate and select information sources and digital tools based on the appropriateness to specific tasks
  • Process data and report results

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Research
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience. 

Discipline: Language Arts
Domain: All Language Arts Standards
Cluster: Applying Strategies to Writing
Grade(s): Grades K–12

  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes.

Discipline: Social Studies
Domain: All Thematic Standards
Cluster: People, Places, and Environment
Grade(s): Grades K–12

Teachers should:

  • Enable learners to use, interpret, and distinguish various representations of Earth such as maps, globes, and photographs, and to use appropriate geographic tools
  • Encourage learners to construct, use, and refine maps and mental maps, calculate distance, scale, area, and density, and organize information about people, places, regions, and environments in a spatial context
  • Help learners to locate, distinguish, and describe the relationships among varying regional and global patterns of physical systems such as landforms, climate, and natural resources, and explain changes in the physical systems
  • Guide learners in exploring characteristics, distribution, and migration of human populations on Earth’s surface
  • Have learners describe how people create places that reflect culture, human needs, current values and ideals, and government policies
  • Provide opportunities for learners to examine, interpret, and analyze interactions of human beings and their physical environments, and to observe and analyze social and economic effects of environmental changes, both positive and negative
  • Challenge learners to consider, compare, and evaluate existing uses of resources and land in communities, regions, countries, and the world
  • Direct learners to explore ways in which Earth’s physical features have changed over time, and describe and assess ways historical events have influenced and been influenced by physical and human geographic features