Lesson Plan for Social Studies Class Grades 9-12


Social Studies:  The Civil War — Emancipation Experience


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 1. Given a particular situation, recognize the period of history portrayed following the inquiry period.

 2.  Given a particular scenario, distinguish groups after the inquiry period.

 3.  Study and come into contact with changeable emotions of every group.

 4.  Examine and differentiate the differences in the lifestyle of every group.

 5.  Assume/imagine and identify with what life was like for Americans during that period.


Hardly any event in mankind can measure up to the damage and destruction of war.  However, nearly every generation of man cannot break away from its ongoing reality. Our country has also had its won share of experiences of war. Ever since our origin, with the American Revolutionary War, our country has already been at war.  In addition, in our 200 plus years of survival there was one war that cannot be matched up to to any other war when measured in terms of devastation and American loss of lives — the American Civil War.  Just like any civil war there is no winner- just a loser, as losses on both sides make up the entire loss of that nation.  This lesson will try to look at the changes that occurred in the lives of Americans that were the outcome of this catastrophic war.

Therefore, the rationale of this inquiry lesson is to provide students an affective encounter of the pre and post American Civil War incident on Americans- both Whites and Blacks (or northerners and southerners).


Group activity using charts and internalizing the role of each groups involved in the Civil War.


1.  By means of random, divide class into three (3) groups- A, B, C according to size.

Group A (Slaves)       1/4 of class

Group B (S. Whites)  1/4 of class

Group C (N. Whites)  1/2 of class

Note:  Don’t inform the class what every group stand for.

2.  Then instruct every member to name themselves utilizing a marker and a piece of tape.  It must be visible.

3.  Move desks apart from each other and split the classroom in half.  Break up the room by means of putting tape on the floor.  Area I will be shared by Groups A and B.  Next, move desks so that 1/4 of area I is free of desks and chairs and then put newspapers on the floor.  This area must be surrounded with tape.

 4.  Next, show Chart I to all the groups and inform them regarding each group’s location, food allotment, and movement as shown below:

Chart I

Group   Location                    Food Allotted                         Movement

A    Sit on newspapers                     Plate of broken crackers         None

B     Sit on chair in area I or II       Plate of whole crackers             Full (everywhere in the    classroom

C     Sit on chair in area I or II       Plate of whole crackers             Full (everywhere in the classroom)

 5.  Start conducting Part I for a period of 5-10 minutes.  Guide groups to their own location, their capability to move without restraint or none at all, and provide every group either whole or broken crackers on a plate to be shared with that group.  Allow member of just groups B and C speak without restraint to one another.  But let every group speak to each other.

 6.  End Part I.  Show Chart II to the class, which contain as follows:

Chart II

Group   Location Food Allotted    Movement

A     Chairs    Plate of broken crackers         Shaded area

B     Chairs     Plate of broken crackers         Area I only

C     Chairs     Plate of whole crackers          Area II only

7.  After showing Chart II, direct the class to start conducting Part II for a period of five (5) minutes. At this time, movement or talking between groups B and C is prohibited since they should stay put in their particular areas (I or II). Then, take out 1/2 the members from group B and put them into a neutral corner where they would not be able to eat, speak, or move from their chairs.

8.  End Part II.  After the Part II activity, show Chart III explain to the class as follows:

Chart III

Group   Location      Food Allotted                        Movement

A     Chairs            Plate of whole crackers          Full

B     Chairs            None                                     Full

C     Chairs            Plate of whole crackers          Full

9.  After showing chart III, you can start conducting Part III for a period of five (5) minutes.  Guide students just like what was done in Part I and Part II consistent with what is instructed in Chart III.  Remove the shaded area.  Do away with all tape placed on the floor.  The groups can now freely move.  But, Group B merely receives broken crackers.

10.   End Part III and the whole activity.  Arrange the room to bring it back to its original order.


Masking tape, pen markers, chart paper/chalk board, newspapers, 5 packages saltines/crackers, and 3 paper plates.


At the end of the activity, ask the students the following questions to assess their feelings and reactions about the activity:

1.   What can you say about this activity? Did you like it? If yes, why? If no, why not?

2.  How did you feel about being in Group A, B, or C?

3.  In your opinion, how did the groups differ from each other?

4.  What do you think was the best group to be in?  How about the worst group to be in?

5.  What primary event in American History did this simulation describe?

Answer:  The American Civil War.

 6.  Who do you think did each group stand for?

Answer:  Group A. represented the Black Slaves

Group B symbolized the White Southerners

Group C stood for the White Northerners

7.  What do you think did the headings in the charts symbolized?

Answer:  Location (floor or chairs) represented social status

Food Alloted (either whole or broken crackers) symbolized economic status

Movement (either full or restrained) symbolized political status

8.  In your opinion, what did Parts I, II, III stood for?

Answer:  Part I stood for the Pre Civil War period

Part II. represented the Civil War era

 Part III represented the Post Civil War period

9.  Consistent with the headings of the charts and what they symbolized, what can you say or notice about every group?

Example:  Compared to Groups B & C, Group A was instructed to sit on the floor    symbolizing a lower social status, they also had to eat broken crackers representing a lower economic status, and were just limited to move in a particular area. Thus, Group A stood for the Black Slaves of the South.  The, take note of the change in Group’s A status from Part I to Part III depicting the changes from the Pre to the Post Civil War period.

Meanwhile, for Group B, in Part I, they were instructed to sit on chairs and eat whole crackers and also to move freely. Hence, it can be said that these activities symbolized good, economic, social, and political status.  Nevertheless, in Part II they had be restricted to move outside of Area I since battle lines were established between the North and South. .Moreover, the South survived extreme devastation and destruction since most of the war happened there.  This was represented when half of the group was pulled out and placed into a neutral area.  Then, in Part III, social and political status were recovered as movement was not restricted and chairs were utilized.  But their economic status turned negative, as symbolized by broken crackers because it experienced devastation and destruction of its factories and cities.  Moreover, due to the closure of plantations and freedom of slaves, agriculture transformed and changed drastically.

Then for Group C, all throughout the three parts (I, II, & III), they enjoyed good economic, political, and social status since the war happened on southern soil thus the northern property was not destroyed.


Group Learning Activity

Rubric A: Process

Exceptional Admirable Acceptable Amateur

Group Participation
Every member actively participate
At least ¾ of the members enthusiastically participate
At least half of the members share their ideas
Only one or two members enthusiastically participate
Shared Responsibility
Responsibility for task is equally shared among members
Most group members share the responsibility
Only ½ of the group members share the responsibility
The members depend only one member
Quality of Interaction
Members display excellent leadership and listening skills;  in their discussions, members display awareness  and knowledge of other’s ideas and opinions s
During interaction, members exhibit  adeptness; active discussion and interaction focuses on the task Members display some capability to interact; members listen attentively; there is some proof of discourse or alternative

There is only little interaction; members converse briefly; some students show disinterest
Roles within the Group every member was assigned a distinctly specified role; the group members execute roles successfully and effectively every member was assigned a role, however, roles are not clearly specified or systematically followed.

Members were given roles to perform, however, roles were not consistently followed. No effort was shown to assign roles to every group member

Commager, H.  (1982). The Story of the Civil War as Told by Participants.  Fairfax Press,     1982.

Jasmine, J. (1993) Portfolios and Other Assessments. California: Teacher Created      Materials.

Rubistar.  Create Your Rubric.  Retrieved April 29, 2006 from           http://rubistar.4teachers.org

Sass, E.  Social Studies Lesson Plans and Resources.  Retrieved April 29, 2006 from             http://www.cloudnet.com/~edrbsass/edsoc.htm

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