A Day in the Life


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

  • Social Studies
  • Language Arts

Minor/supporting Subject Area Connections

  • Technology


  • 2nd
  • 3rd

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:
  • 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.

Lesson Steps

  1. Introduce the students to the America the Beautiful Quarters® Program.  The program is described at www.usmint.gov/mint_programs/atb/.  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.

Common Core Standards

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.

National Standards

This lesson plan is not associated with any National Standards.