Slavery and the Civil War Unit (100+ Pages)
This fall we did a major unit on slavery and the Civil War. Our 100+ page packet includes notebook pages, maps, charts, review cards and some of the resources we used for this unit. It includes extensive teacher notes.
Our unit actually consisted of three parts: Slavery, Territorial Growth, and the Civil War. This is the first time we’ve covered these topics in depth (up until now, I dragged my feet because of the age of my youngest). This year, it was time to look at the sad history of our country.
We read a number of books and watched documentaries and films as we delved into these main topics (scroll down below for more information):
- Slavery – a bit about the history of West Africa, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the Middle Passage, and slavery in America (pages 4-37)
- Territorial Growth – As America acquired more territory, the issue of slavery became more divisive. We spent quite a bit of time looking as the slow growth of America — from late 1700s with the Mason-Dixon Line and Northwest Ordinance which banned slavery north of the Ohio River… through the various compromises of the 1800s Missouri Compromise, Compromise of 1850 and the War with Mexico/Mexican Cession (pages 38-67)
- Civil War – We talked about the difference between the North and South, which states joined the Confederacy, the North and South’s plans for winning the war, some of the major military and political leaders, and learned some of the highlights of the major battles. (pages 68-103)
Our Slavery and the Civil War Packet is $6.99.
This packet contains:
- Notebook pages on slavery, territorial expansion, the Civil War, Civil War Battles (and answer pages with extensive teacher notes)
- Slavery review cards (and answer cards with extensive notes)
- Maps, First-Hand Documents
- Research notebook pages (on the abolitionists and on Webster, Clay and Calhoun)
- Moving West Timeline (Territorial Growth)
- Territorial Growth Review Questions (and answer cards with extensive notes)
- North vs. South activity page and review cards
- Book and Movie suggestions
The Slavery and Civil War Packet is suitable for upper elementary, middle school or high school students. My kids were ages 8, 11 and 13 when we did this unit. That’s how it is when you homeschool! (Much of this material I covered with my A.P. American history students when I taught high school, but of course we went through the material much more quickly than I did with my kids this fall.)
This packet contains all the worksheets and activities that I talk about in the post below.
Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window). You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use) TO YOUR PAYPAL EMAIL ADDRESS, which will have a link you can click on to download the Slavery and Civil War unit. (It will say, “You can download your digital products…” with a clickable link.) Of course, if you have any issues just email me at — liesl at homeschoolden dot com. You can also reach me by using the contact form on the blog.
Be sure to check your PayPal email address for the download link!
Let me go into a bit more detail about the three main parts of the packet.
We started our unit, talking about the history of West Africa. We talked about Ghana, Mali and the Songhai Empires. We then talked about the growth of the slave trade in West Africa. I really recommend reading the children’s books: Sundiata: Lion King of Mali (affiliate link) by David Wisniewski and Mansa Musa (affiliate link) by Khephra Burns (a long picture book, some fact, some fiction).
We talked about the horrible conditions of the Middle Passage. We watched (most) of the film Amistad. (affiliate link) This is a powerful film about a group of Africans who rebelled as they left the Caribbean. Because the trans-Atlantic slave trade was now illegal, the Africans fought in court for their freedom. The most riveting (and violent) part of the film was their description of slaves being thrown overboard because they were running out of food and water. It is a powerful film, though you will need to preview it to see if it is acceptable in your family. I highly recommend this film for 13+.
We also watched the film, 12 Years a Slave (affiliate link) based on the true story of a free black man who was sold into slavery. This film highlights the dehumanization he experienced as he adjusted to life as a slave. Again, I think it is rated R, so you’ll need to preview it. There were a couple of scenes I skipped for my kids. But the film is powerful and riveting and shows the true horror of slavery.
This part of the packet also has some review question cards which covered some of the main topics we had talked about: What is triangular trade? What was the Zong Massacre? When types of jobs did slaves hold? Who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin? What impact did that novel have on slavery?
Here are some of the children’s books about slavery that we used: (These are affiliate links.)
- From Slave Ship to Freedom Road by Julius Lester — incredible painting, thought provoking text.
- Now Let Me Fly: The Story of a Slave Family by Dolores Johnson wonderful story that traces a family from Africa to slavery in the USA and forced separation.
- The Old African by Julius Lester a very haunting tale that expresses the horrors of slavery.
- The Kidnapped Prince: The Life of Olaudah Equiano by Olaudah Equiano Adapted By Ann Cameron — This is the true story of an African boy who was kidnapped and sold into slavery. The descriptions of the middle passage and of slavery are powerful. We read this aloud in our homeschool and it is one of the best books we’ve ever read!
- My older two kids read Day of Tears by Julius Lester, which was based on the true event, the largest slave auction in American History. More than 400 slaves were sold. This was a moving book. Both my 10 year old and 13 year old thought the book was really good.
- We read the first 100 page of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (past the exciting scene where Eliza dashes across the Ohio River from floating ice block to floating block! The kids were riveted.
You can’t really understand why the Civil War broke out, unless you look at the long history of territorial growth. Beginning in the late 1700s, the U.S. government took steps both to expand its territory, but also to define slavery in the territories. The Northwest Ordinance, for example, banned slavery in the territories north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi. Through the years sectional tensions grew as new territories applied for admission into the United States. We looked at the Missouri Compromise, Gag Rule, Compromise of 1850 & Fugitive Slave Law, Kansas-Nebraska Act and talked a lot about the tensions that ran high in the 1800s.
For this part of our unit, we used an American history textbook that I had from my teaching days and selections from America’s Civil War. (affiliate link) I used a book from this series when we read about the American colonies and decided to purchase this thin book as well. There is a one-page write up on the major topics related to the Civil War. For example, we read the one-page accounts of the Missouri Compromise, the Abolitionist Movement, Popular Sovereignty, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act and the Dred Scot case. It has some simple black and white drawings, but does not include maps or photos. For us, that wasn’t an issue because we used history notebook pages.
The last part of our unit was on the Civil War, itself.
We spent quite a bit of time talking about why the South seceded from the Union. Then we talked about how each side planned to win the war and some of the advantages and disadvantages faced by the North and the South.
Finally, we talked about some of the major battles of the Civil War.
We read a fictional book called Bull Run by Paul Fleischman. This followed 16 people and their involvement in this first battle of the Civil War. It includes people from the North and the South, blacks, soldiers, observers (this was the battle where people brought picnics to watch the events unfold). My kids really enjoyed this book.
This fall we took a couple of road trips! We spent a weekend at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Before we left, we watched the movie, Gettysburg. (affiliate link). That movie really brought to life the defense of Little Round Top by Colonel Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine (see the monument top left in the collage below) and also Pickett’s Charge across the flat open ground (see bottom middle photo and the painting on the right). We did the auto tour over two days. We all learned SO much!
We also watched the movie Glory, (affiliate link) about the first black regiment to fight in the Civil War.
And, we watched 3 (of the 5) discs of the Civil War documentary (affiliate link) by Ken Burns. You can probably borrow this from your library.
Highlights from our trip to Gettysburg:
As the unit came to a close, the kids did a sorting activity… Who were some of the famous leaders on each side? What advantages did each side have? Which states fought for the North? Which states fought for the South?
Our Slavery and the Civil War Packet is currently available for $4.50. The price will be going up to $6.99 in the New Year.
Once you pay for this packet, you will immediately receive a link to download this file (which will open in a browser window). You will also receive an email from Sendowl (the service I use) TO YOUR PAYPAL EMAIL ADDRESS, which will have a link you can click on to download the Slavery and Civil War unit. (It will say, “You can download your digital products…” with a clickable link.) Of course, if you have any issues just email me at — liesl at homeschoolden dot com. You can also reach me by using the contact form on the blog or can reach me over at our Homeschool Den Facebook Page.
Be sure to check your PayPal email address for the download link!
Disclosure: Please note that some of the links to books above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase.