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A Day in the Life

Grades 2 and 3
Language Arts, Social Studies, and Technology

Lesson Plan


The teacher will introduce the students to the soldiers' way of life 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 their findings and results through a project of their choice.


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.


  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.  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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Have the students work independently on their selected projects from the project plan and present them to the class.


  • 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.

Differentiated Learning

  • Allow students to work in pairs or small groups.
  • Allow students to use a scribe to complete their worksheets.

Connection to

Print Me

Worksheets associated with this lesson plan



You will learn about the life of a Civil War soldier and compare it to your own. You will research details about Civil War soldiers to complete a project.

Step-By-Step Directions

  1. Your teacher will introduce your class to national sites and the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.
  2. Our country has many beautiful national parks and forests. What do you know about some of our national parks, such as: Gettysburg National Military Park, Glacier National Park, Olympic National Park, Vicksburg National Military Park, and Chickasaw National Recreational Area?.  Use the links on to learn more about the five national sites for 2011.  Think about the following questions as you research:

    • Where are these sites located?
    • What do you think you would see at these sites?
  3. You may notice something that Gettysburg and Vicksburg have in common: They are both national military parks.  Think about what you know about the Civil War and why groups of people would be in a war.  Think about how a soldier may be similar to or different from you.  Complete the “Comparing our Lives” worksheet.
  4. Using resources available to you, find out more about how soldiers lived during the Civil War.  What kinds of things were going on around them? What did they see and hear?
  5. Record your findings on the “I Am” worksheet.  Talk about your findings with others in your class.
  6. Choose one of the projects listed in the Project Guide to demonstrate your understanding about the lives of Civil War soldiers.  Carefully read the Project Guide and make sure you understand all of the directions, then create your project.
  7. Present your project to the class.



National Council of Teachers of English ( and International Reading Association (

  • Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 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.
  • 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 non-print texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.

Social Studies

National Council for the Social Studies (

  • Time, Continuity and Change
  • People, Places, and Environments


International Society for Technology in Education (

  • Research and Informational Fluency: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.

Side Box


Four 30- to 45-minute sessions

Materials List

  • 1 photocopy of the following worksheets:

    • “Comparing Our Lives” worksheet
    • “I Am” worksheet
  • 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


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

Helpful Hints

  1. Make a large Venn diagram on chart paper and post for later reference.
  2. Use texts and resources available to provide background information to the students about the Civil War.
  3. Make the texts available for the students to look through or bookmark areas for additional reading aloud.
  4. Review the completed worksheets with the students, either on the overhead or on chart paper, for later reference.
  5. Address and highlight any unfamiliar or new vocabulary and record on a chart.
  6. Make copies of necessary materials.
  7. Bookmark Web sites to guide students to exactly where you want them to research.
  8. Preview the Web sites for age appropriateness and bookmark certain pagesyou’re your students.

Student Side Box

What You Need

  • “Print Me” worksheets
  • Internet access
  • Project materials

Related Materials

  • Comparing Our Lives (worksheet)
  • I Am (worksheet)
  • A Day in the Life (Project Guide)

Related Links

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