Civil War Resources & Activities
Terrific Civil War Websites
- American Experience: Ulysses S. Grant
- Appomattox Court House National Historic Park
- Gettysburg National Military Park's Civil War Page for Kids
- National Civil War Association
- National Civil War Museum
- Virginia Historical Society
- Virginia Military Institute Archives
Great Picture Books about the Civil War
- Tin Heart by Karen Ackerman
- Thunder at Gettysburg by Patricia Gauch
- Adventure of Charlie and His Wheat-Straw Hat by Berniece Hiser
- Mountain Boy by Anna Catherine Josephs
- Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco
- Promise Quilt by Candice Ransom
- Selina and the Bear Paw Quilt by Barbara Clausen Smucker
- Drummer Boy by Ann Turner
Wonderful Novels about the Civil War
- Brothers at War by Margaret Whitman Blair
- With Every Drop of Blood by James Lincoln Collier
- Behind the Lines by Isabelle Holland
- Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
- My Brother's Keeper by Nancy Johnson
- Journal of James Edmond Pease by Jim Murphy
- Soldier’s Heart by Gary Paulsen
- Amelia's War by Ann Rinaldi
- Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi
- Brill's Diary of a Drummer Boy by Marlene Targ
- Drummer Boy of Vicksburg by G. Clifton Wisler
Other Fabulous Civil War Books
- Beyond Their Years: Stories of Sixteen Civil War Children by Scotti Cohn
- Civil War Cooking: The Confederacy and Civil War Cooking: The Union by Susan Dosier
- Food and Recipes of the Civil War by George Erdosh
- Going to School During the Civil War: The Confederacy by Kerry A. Graves
- The Civil War for Kids by Janis Herbert
- Civil War Days by David C. King
- Children of the Civil War by Candice Ransom
- Charley Waters Goes to Gettysburg by Susan Sinnott
Cool Civil War Activities
Because telephones, email, and fax machines didn’t exist in the 1800s, business was conducted by mail. Letters were written by hand, because typewriters and computers hadn’t been invented yet either. Instead, letter-writers used quills and ink, because ballpoint pens weren’t around too!
This recipe is from Helping Your Child Learn History, a publication of the U.S. Department of Education, by Elaine Wrisley Reed.
MATERIALS FOR QUILL PEN: feather, scissors, paper clip.
MATERIALS FOR BERRY INK: ½ cup ripe berries, ½ teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon vinegar, food strainer, bowl, wooden spoon, small jar with tight-fitting lid.
MATERIALS FOR WRITING: paper, paper towels.
HOW TO MAKE INK: Blueberries, cherries, blackberries, strawberries, or raspberries work well. Fill strainer with berries and hold over bowl. Crush berries against strainer with wooden spoon. When all the juice is out of the berries, throw away the pulp. Add salt and vinegar to juice and stir well. If ink is too thick, add a teaspoon or two of water. Don’t add too much, however, or you’ll lose the color. Store ink in a small jar with tight-fitting lid. Make only as much as you think you’ll use at one time, because it dries up quickly.
HOW TO MAKE PEN: Find a feather. Cut the fat end of the quill on an angle, curving the cut slightly. A good pair of scissors is safer than a knife. Clean the inside of the quill with a paper clip to make ink flow to the point you cut. You may want to cut a center slit in the point. If you press too hard on the pen when you write, however, it may split.
HOW TO WRITE WITH PEN: Dip just the pen’s tip in the ink. Keep a paper towel handy to use as a blotter. Experiment by holding the pen at different angles. Most people press too hard or stop too long in one spot.
WHAT TO WRITE WITH PEN: Sign your name. Then sign with a pen or pencil. Compare the results. Imagine what it would be like to do all your writing with a quill.