Learning About The Civil War


I'm a firm believer in learning "evolving" on its own. 

Our study of the Civil War has been a beautiful example of Interest Led Learning. 

Yes, the Civil War is on our history "schedule" this year, but the specifics of studying it are not. I like to leave those specifics up to my children. My job is to provide a variety of resources, field trip opportunities, and inspiration so they can soak in as much about the subject as possible.

This is why I consider myself more of a homeschool GUIDE than a TEACHER. 

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For this week's Collage Friday I'd like to share the resources we have been using, along with a very informative field trip we took. 

*A note about the Civil War: It's such a HUGE subject to tackle, and when I look at my own understanding of the Civil War as a child it was very limited. My goal for this study was to have a broad understanding of the causes and outcomes of the war, along with dates, generals, and battles cemented into my child's memory.  I wanted us to have serious talks about slavery and the ramifications of the institution. Most of all, cultivating a LOVE of history and leaving him wanting to learn MORE are important to me as well. 

Resources for Learning About the Civil War

Our jumping off point of course is the memory work in Classical Conversations.  I gather resources based on our history sentences. Abraham Lincoln, The Civil War, and Reconstruction are big areas this year... so I planned accordingly.


The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg - This book is PERFECT for boys! I cannot tell you the laughs we have shared snuggled on the couch with this book. It's a gem, for sure!  We've not only learned about the life and times of a 12 year orphan during the Civil War, but so many interesting little facts. I never knew that hot air balloons were used in reconaissance missions in the Civil War, did you?  This book is just full of goodness.

Women in Blue or Gray: True Stories from Both Sides of the Civil War - This audio recording from Jim Weiss is very engaging and interesting. As Mr. Weiss mentions in the beginning of the recording, these stories are perfect because they are probably most representative of what REALLY happened during the Civil War... average American women doing extraordinary things. It's easy for us to learn on the go and Jim Weiss NEVER disappoints! 

Once we had finished these books (and taken a top notch field trip), I sought out a lapbook that could help Grant put his HANDS on history. We did this with The Underground Railroad just a couple of months ago, and it was wonderful! 

I chose a lapbook from CurrClick - The American Civil War Note Pack from In The Hands of a Child. We will be working. through this lapbook during the next two weeks. 


The Atlanta History Center - Our Civil War Field Trip

There is so much Civil War literally in our back yard. Atlanta was burned to the ground and reconstructed again after the war. There are battlefields, encampments, museums, and more - right at our fingertips.

Spending a day at The Atlanta History Center exploring their Civil War exhibits was so meaningful.

The Confederate Odyssey features some of the most INTERSTING Civil War artifacts. From muskets and satchels, to amputation kits and lapel pins made out of a soldier's bone -- we learned so much!

The permanent exhibit Turning Point: The American Civil War is one of America's largest Civil War collections. We were able to see the Confederate flag that flew over Atlanta when it surrendered, weapons, musical instruments, wagons, and more.  

To see that number: 670,000 dead during the Civil War. This is very sobering. 

It's sobering to think that people dismantled railroads and burned entire cities. Passions ran so deep during the Civil War - as Grant said, "It's so sad they couldn't have worked something out before all those people died."

The Swan House

The Swan House, once owned by the prominent Inman family of Atlanta, was our next stop. 

This home was a perfect example of the prosperity that returned to Atlanta after Reconstruction.

(It also happens to be where many scenes in The Hunger Games were filmed!)

This house was of great interest to Anna, because it was in its glory during the 1920s - it's kind of like a mini Downton Abbey - just in America!  (Anna and I are in love with Downton right now!) 

The kids' favorite part of the house was the children's room. There is a note in the nursery that invites children to sit down and play with the toys - and that my children did. We spent a long time playing Dominoes, Lincoln Logs, and reading books.  This was precious time. 

I loved the library, and all of the rare first edition classics. I could just imagine people relaxing in the library after dinner, talking about the books they were reading. It made me ache for a simpler time. 

The docents at The Swan House are completely in character, so we got to speak with the architect, owner, and nanny. There weren't many people touring the house, so we had a personal tour!  

Wrapping Up The Civil War Study 

Over the next two weeks we will be completing the lapbook and seeking out a few more library books about the Civil War. I just finished Candle in the Darkness (a FREE Kindle download) - a piece of historical fiction about The Civil War. 

My husband has queued up Ken Burns' The Civil War (free for Amazon Prime Members). 

Do you know about Watch Know Learn? Educational videos are cataloged here in such a simple way. We will be watching some of these, too. 

I love that our family can get immersed in a topic because we homeschool. We have the TIME and INTEREST to dig deeper into what interests us, and I consider this to be one of the greatest gifts homeschooling offers. 


How has YOUR week been?  

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