Please fill in the following form to contact the author, Russel Tarr (@russeltarr)
ActiveHistory provides entertaining, educational award-winning interactive simulations, decision-making games, self-marking quizzes, high-quality worksheets and detailed lesson plans for teachers and students.
View the top 50 activities here.
You can also request a free trial.
Image at right: Unionist soldiers, 1862. Found on How to be a Retronaut
History Mystery: The Causes of the American Civil War
This unit is in the form of an ActiveHistory Mystery [more]. Through a roleplay, stimulus images and information slips, students formulate questions, speculate answers, then research for themselves to produce a report which is then peer-assessed against a standard markscheme. The full investigation takes 2 hours of classroom time and at least another hour of individual research time.
If teachers wish to deliver this unit in less time, it is easy to do so. For example:
(a) Simply give each student a complete sheet of information slips from the outset to answer the questions;
(b) Don't require students to produce a full written essay on the topic - instead, simply choose one of the Extension / Additional Activities listed below.
Discussion points to follow:
If you had to divide 100% of blame for the outbreak of the civil war between the slave states and the free states, what percentage would you allocate to each side? Explain your answer.
b. At what point did the civil war become inevitable? Explain your answer.
Timeline Challenge: The Causes of the American Civil War
Organise the class 5 teams. Display the first event by clicking the button. All the students should copy this information into their worksheet. The first team can play for up to 10 points depending on their confidence. They have to not only identify the mistake in the account, but correct it. If they do so successfully, they gain the amount of points they played for. If they fail, they lose the same amount of points. Proceed to the second event, for the second team, and continue this format until all the slips are used. The winning team is the team with the most points.
i. Classroom Worksheets
What can we learn from the songs of the Civil War?
In this activity, students analyse the lyrics (and, if possible, listen to the music) of popular Confederate and Unionist songs from the civil war. They then have to produce their own civil war song to a civil-war era tune of their choice. Their objective is to produce a song which clearly explains the causes of the war. Finally, they look at the legacy of the civil war on American popular music, using examples from The Band, Elvis Presley, Neil Young and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
What should we call the American Civil War?
Students are presented with a long list of alternative names that have been used for the American Civil War. They organise these into suggested categories, compare their ideas with a partner, and then choose what they feel is the best alternative title.
ii. Individual Project Tasks:
a. Trivia Treasure Hunt: Choose one event from the timeline of causes to research further. Find out THREE extra 'interesting facts' to share with the class about your chosen event.
b. Film Poster: Imagine you are a Hollywood film director making a film about the causes of the American Civil War. Produce a cinema poster advertising your film. Include (a) A bold title for the film; (b) A cast list outlining the main characters in the film and which actors play them; (c) 5 captioned 'stills' from the film focusing on particularly important events (you can 'cut and paste' the faces of your Hollywood star actors into these!); (d) Quotes from film reviewers highlighting why the film is so important and fantastic.
c. Speeches: Produce two brief speeches of no more than 150 words each: one from the Northern "free" states blaming the Southern "slave" states for the war, and one doing the opposite. Use as many 'bias words' (adjectives) to make your side sound innocent, and your opponents sound guilty.
d. Animation: Using a tools such as MovieMaker, Prezi, Animoto, Doink, GoAnimate or similar, produce your own creative project designed to teach people about the causes of the American Civil War.
Interactive Simulation: The Events of the American Civil War
You will take the role of an advisor to either President Davis, or President Lincoln. You will be given a series of military, economic and political problems to deal with. Your first objective is to choose the course of action which you think your President took in real life (his 'approval rating' of you will then stay high). Your second objective is to correctly answer the factual questions you are given as the game proceeds (your 'factual knowledge' score will then stay high). As you proceed through the simulation, complete the worksheet. At the end of the game there will be follow-up tasks. You can play as a Confederate, a Unionist, or against another player.
QR Code Treasure Hunt: The Events of the American Civil War
Print off these 20 QR codes and put them up around your classroom / school. Students have to answer as many questions as they can in the time available. The completed answers can be used to develop their individual research project stemming from the interactive simulation (above).
Interactive Quizzes from www.classtools.net
a. Fakebook: choose one person from the timeline of causes to research further. Produce a 'Fakebook' profile about your chosen character's life and career. Include at least one video clip. Teachers could provide a list of suggested characters, focusing especially perhaps on women.
1. Did Abraham Lincoln Pioneer Emoticons? 1862 Speech May Offer Clues Was Abraham Lincoln one of the first people to use the playful ;) emoticon? Though the text symbol for "winking," used in our emails, tweets, texts and instant messages, was officially introduced in 1982, the ;) appears in a copy of a speech President Lincoln delivered way back in 1862.2. Civil War Reenvisioned - Battlefield Art - Pictures, More From National Geographic Magazine Every year thousands of Americans keep the memory alive by reenacting Civil War campaigns and battles. Photographer Richard Barnes used period techniques to make authentic-looking images that include glimpses of the modern world.3. Bobble head dolls of Abraham Lincoln's assassin pulled from Gettysburg gift shop 4. Check that President Abraham Lincoln wrote the day before he was killed is discovered in bank vault #historyteacher The Lincoln check had been made out to 'self' for $800. It is one of 70 found in a vault at Huntington Bank's Columbus headquarters in Ohio.
1. Poignant pioneers of photography: the American civil war - in pictures
A landmark exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York of rare photographs details some of the horrors of America's civil war2. The Inconvenient Truth About 'Lincoln'
The Inconvenient Truth About 'Lincoln'3. Abraham Lincoln: Portrait of a Crazy Badass | Cracked.com
Abraham Lincoln: Portrait of a Crazy Badass4. 6 Civil War Myths Everyone Believes (That Are Total B.S.) | Cracked.com
6 Civil War Myths Everyone Believes5. The American Civil War | EDSITEment
6. The Road to Civil War, 1860-61 (Interactive Timeline)
Timeline: The Road to Civil War7. The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar
8. Africans in America/Part 4/Narrative
9. ClicksyPics » civil war
10. Civil War Technology — History.com Articles, Video, Pictures and Facts
11. VQR » Why the Confederacy Failed
the hay crop of the North was worth more than all the staple crops of the South. This hay crop, it is significant to note, was worth more than the Northern cattle that ate it. How could any South defeat any North that had such hay and cattle ?12. American Civil War Videos
13. Major Civil War Battles
14. American Traumas - The American Civil War
15. The Civil War . In the Classroom . Classroom Activities . Lesson Plan | PBS
16. Women of the American Civil War Era
17. Civil War Events - Top Events that led to the Civil War
18. Civil War Poetry And Music - zZounds.com
19. Seven Civil War stories your teacher never told you (via activehistory.co.uk / classtools.net)
Events (100 years ago today): 1917 - The United States pays Denmark $25 million for the Virgin Islands.
Births (150 years ago today): 1867 - Carl Laemmle, German-born American film producer, co-founded Universal Studios (d. 1939)
Births (100 years ago today): 1917 - M. G. Ramachandran, Indian actor, director, and politician, 5th Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu (d. 1987)
Births (50 years ago today): 1967 - Richard Hawley, English singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer
Deaths (400 years ago today): 1617 - Fausto Veranzio, Croatian bishop and lexicographer (b. 1551)
RSS Feed | Full week | Get Widget
What is Politics? Why are so many people not interested in it and why is this worrying?
Communism and Fascism: Whats the difference?
Design your ideal state
LBJ and the Great Society
Hexagons Activity: Impact of the Industrial Revolution
Sourcework Exercise: The Sharpeville Massacre Teacher model answers
50 Essential Songs for the History Classroom
Sourcework Exercise: The Sharpeville Massacre
Model answers for sourcework exercise on rise of Apartheid
Slave Trade Simulation: Updated and improved
Model Essay Compare and contrast the role of ideology in causing two 20th-century wars, each chosen from a different region
Model Essay What were the most frequent causes of 20th-century wars?
Vietnam veteran John Kerrys statement at the Senate hearings of 1971
Why, and with what degree of justification, did Nixon refuse to immediately withdraw from Vietnam?
Compare and contrast the policy of Johnson and Nixon with regard to Vietnam