Civil War Language Arts Unit Part I: Slave Life
Civil War Language Arts Unit Part II: Abolitionist
Civil War Language Arts Unit Part III: Civil War Poetry and Music
Civil War Language Arts Unit Part IV: Civil War Novel
8th Grade Language Arts
Civil War Unit Part I: Slave Life
As a way to prepare you to write your Civil War diary, you will be reviewing a variety of material on the Civil War. There are four parts to this unit. To access these documents and the hyperlinks on each part, click on the section link above.
Keep all of your work together per section. All written work should be typed in 12 pt. font, double-spaced, with 1-inch margins.
- The following web sites will give you some insight to what life as a slave was like in the United States prior to, during, and following the Civil War. These sites will give you information on what it was like to be a slave in four different historical settings.
Describe the life of a slave in each of the four different settings. Be sure to identify the location.
- Read several narratives in which individuals describe their life as a slave in America. Use the following website:
Briefly describe any significant differences in attitudes among the narratives you read. Identify the person and his/her situation.
Once you are on this site, make sure you scroll down to see the search results.
As a person living in the 21 st century, write your reaction to the things you saw on the web sites. (1-2 paragraphs)
- Read about the Underground Railroad on the following website:
- Read about the laws that made it illegal to educate slaves in America and teach them how to read:
- Read the entire page which highlights laws in South Carolina, Virginia, Savannah, North Carolina, Georgia, Louisiana, and Kentucky.
Make a chart that lists the laws for each state and includes the punishments for each law.
At the bottom of the chart, answer the following questions based on what your read:
- Why did people fear slaves learning to read and write?
- What impact did these laws have on the North and South, and their affect on attitudes toward slavery?
- How would your life be different if you were unable to read and write?
- Imagine it is 1859, you are from England and visiting relatives who live in the United States and own a successful plantation in Georgia. Write a letter to a friend back in England that answers the following questions:
- What is life like for a slave in America?
- What types of jobs do they perform?
- What kinds of food do they eat?
- What are the living conditions like for slaves?
- What is family life like for the slaves?
- How are slaves treated? (You decide based on the way your relatives on the plantation treat them and on what you hear from other plantation owners’ children).
- How do you think these people feel being slaves? (Be careful – not every slave was keen on leaving the familiarity of the plantation).
- What examples of racial distortion and stereotyping do you find?
8th Grade Language Arts
Civil War Unit Part II: Abolitionist
- What is an abolitionist? What do they believe?
- Use the following websites to research and extend your knowledge of Abolitionists and their movement.
- Create a character web for each of the people you read about. Include significant details of the person’s life.
- Summarize Sojourner Truth’s “Ain’t I a Woman?”
- Visit the following website to view broadsides/posters:
http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/african/afam005.html (Click on the images to enlarge them)
- Create a poster (81/2 x 11) advertising an Abolitionist meeting. The poster must include the following:
- A headline to grab the attention of the reader.
- Time and place of the meeting.
- Name (and title) of the person who will be speaking at the anti-slavery meeting.
- A biographical sketch, a drawing or picture, and a summary of what the person did to fight slavery.
8 th Grade language Arts
Civil War Unit Part III: Civil War Poetry and Music
- Compare Northern and Southern Civil War poetry and music.
Click on the link above and read some poems from both sides and then write a one-page paper comparing and contrasting the tone, feelings, emotions, and content of the poetry written by Confederate and Union soldiers.
- Listen to some of the music from both sides. Write a paragraph describing your thoughts and feelings about the Civil War conflict and its impact on human lives (based on the songs).
- Class Assignment “O, Captain! My Captain!”
8 th Grade Language Arts
Civil War Unit Part IV: Civil War Novel
You will choose an historical fiction novel set during the Civil War. As you read the novel, you will keep a reading journal that:
- Makes connections between what you have read and what you have previously learned about the Civil War period.
- Make connections between what you have read and information available in other historical accounts such as: (You must use at least 3 different sources)
(You must include a reference/bibliography page with your project)
- Internet sites
- Make connections between the characters and events in the novel and real events that occurred.
- Identify examples of distortion and stereotyping such as those associated with gender, race, culture, age, class, religion, and other individual differences.
- Upon completion of the novel, choose one of the following:
- Write a character analysis of one of the main characters; the analysis should examine the character’s background, specific actions taken and the reasons for those actions, and relationships with other characters within the novel. Finally, identify specific events in the story and how those events relate to actual historical events. Use specific quotes and information from the book. (Minimum 3 pages)
- Make a timeline of events that took place in the novel. Then, research and identify actual events that occurred at the same time. Events occurring within the novel should be placed above the timeline and those that actually happened should be placed below. Neatness counts. Make the timeline interesting so that people will want to look at it.
- Create a “Children’s Picture Book” reflecting the major ideas and events that took place within the assigned novel. Neatness counts. Make it attractive and pleasing to look at.
- Create a period newspaper. Include:
- A title and publication date.
- Headline(s) reflecting events that occurred on that date.
- At least two major events that occurred and are related to a real historical event.
- An editorial taking a stand on slavery (from the viewpoint of the main character).
- Letters to the editor
- Advertisements (specific to time and novel)
- Want ads specific to time and novel