Posts Tagged ‘American History’

Trench Warfare Creative Writing

Friday, August 7th, 2015


One of the creative writing assignments I gave my kids was to write something about World War I. One of my kids wanted to write a letter describing trench warfare on the Western Front during World War I.

Trench Warfare Creative Writing

To my wife at home, whom I may never see again,

The sun rose into the sky. All was quiet. The sun revealed that the earth was full of cuts and gashes. They were trenches. I was in one of them. Looking around me, I could see bullets everywhere. The earth wasn’t the only thing full of cuts and gashes. There was… I won’t say. I looked out over no man’s land.

All over the ground I saw the dead. Anything out there was smashed and broken. There was a barbed wire we had set up during the night to keep the enemies from charging into our trench. This was now a big tangled heap. From where I was, I could see the enemy trenches. I wondered if they had set up a big tangled heap of their own.

Suddenly a shot was fired, directly at my face. For half an hour, I watched the bullet get bigger, and bigger, and bigger. Like a cow staring at an oncoming train, I just watched it. By the time it was so close I could see that it had a smiley face printed on it. My brain screamed, “Melvin! You idiot! What are you doing?!?”

I brought my head down into the trench, but not before the bullet cut a swath through my hair, right next to the other swath in my hair from the same thing that happened yesterday. Everyone in my trench was jealous of my awesome haircut. Frankly, I don’t know what they’re so jealous of. One of these days it will be my face. I dread the smiley face bullet.

I don’t know why I signed up for this war. I don’t know why we’re having this war in the first place. When I enlisted, I didn’t know what war was like. I didn’t even know they made smiley face bullets. Oh well, another day, another haze of shells. Tomorrow will be my next eyeball fight with my arch-nemesis.


Civil War Unit Study

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

civil-war-unit-study-hands-onThis post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

Here are fun some Civil War hands-on activities that you can do with your kids while doing a Civil War unit study:

These hands-on Civil War activities will help your students to bring this time period to life! Experiencing the Civil War first hand by tasting the food, hearing the music, and watching the re-enacted battles will be like traveling through time. Your students will have no problem remembering what you are teaching them when they are able to live and breathe the Civil War, hanging all the other information you teach into their experiential knowledge. We really enjoyed our Civil War unit study!

Civil War Hands-on Activities

Monday, July 20th, 2015


This post contains affiliate links. I was compensated for my work in writing this post.

We experienced Civil War in the graveyard by doing several hands-on activities, including searching for a gravestone of someone who lived during the time of the Civil War, doing a crayon rubbing of the gravestone, and reciting the Gettysburg Address. We are using All American History, Volume II this year for our American History studies, and searching for a headstone from the time of the Civil War was one activity mentioned in the book.

civil-war-in-the-graveyard-2It was a sunny day in the autumn, and we were scattered around the graveyard, trying to find the oldest gravestones. I told my kids to look for actual headstones instead of the modern grave markers that were flat to the ground. Soon we found a gravestone of a man who lived during the time period of the Civil War.


I had someone hold the butcher paper while doing the crayon rubbing. We used dark-colored oil pastels, with the crayon on its side. Take a look at how we did this activity:

After finishing the crayon rubbing, one of my sons recited the Gettysburg Address while dressed up as Abraham Lincoln. You need a black top hat and a brown beard. You should also wear a suit and tie. The Gettysburg Address was delivered at a cemetery, making this activity appropriate for the graveyard.

abraham-lincoln-graveyardWe had a great time doing these fun activities to re-enforce the Civil War time period!

Uncle Tom’s Cabin: A Humorous Summary

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

uncle-tom's-cabin-a-humorous-summaryMy 12-year-old son wanted to write a humorous summary of Uncle Tom’s Cabin as one of his writing assignments for his Civil War Binder. He really did a creative job, bringing in details from the story with irony and sarcasm:

Let’s say you were teleported to the time of slavery in America and turned black. Before you knew it, you would find yourself in a horse-drawn cart along with other black people meandering along a muddy road with hairy, stinky, muddy, rough white guys driving or stirring up a ruckus. You would go to a storehouse—the kind that one would keep furniture or animals in—where you would wait. Occasionally you would see other black people singing a tuneless song or just moaning and groaning on a pile of hay.

After a few days, the man in charge (who would be white) would take you out in the blazing sun and put you and the others on auction. People would bid for you as if you were a piece of furniture or art, and they would come up to you and look at your teeth to see how healthy you were and at your muscles to see how strong you were just like one would do with horses. Eventually you would be sold to a bullet-headed man named Simon Legree.

He would take you and others down a very rough road to a cotton plantation far south. The house looked vaguely like it was once a beautiful house, but it had been unimaginably mistreated. Then he would unload you all, and three or four ferocious dogs would come bounding up to you, barking and growling for all they’re worth. Legree would warn you that you were gonna be torn to pieces by the dogs if you tried to run away. You would immediately be set to work in the cotton fields along with the others that he bought, under the will of Legree’s two slave masters, Simbo and Quimbo, who were both so degraded they were like beasts.

At the end of the day, you would wait in line to grind your share of corn in the small hand mill. The stronger slaves would push the weaker ones out of the way so they would get to grind first. You would help some of the weaker women to grind their corn, so you would be last. After you ate (the meal only consisted of ground corn mixed with water baked over an open fire), you would go to your allotted shack, which was literally only one tiny room with a dirt floor and a blanket spread out.

The next day at dawn you would be forced up by either Simbo or Quimbo and set to work in the fields. You would occasionally take some cotton from your bag and put it in someone else’s bag to help them. If you were caught doing that, you would be whipped and set back to work. The days would turn into weeks and weeks into months and months into years, and you would work from dawn to dusk nonstop with only one meal a day. You would be so tired you could hardly work, but you managed to bring in a full load of cotton every time.

Then you would tell a slave girl named Cassy that she shouldn’t murder Legree to get away. Instead, she should dress up as a ghost and hide in the garret and scare him to death. She should pretend to run away, making sure she passed by the window, then go into the nearby swamp so they would have to assemble a search party. After doing that, you tell her to go into the stream and wade back to the house and stay in the “haunted” garret for months, then run away.

When she does that, it works. She and her friend successfully run away to Canada. Meanwhile, Legree beats you to death.

If you enjoyed this summary of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, you will love all the history activities inside the Unit Study Treasure Vault!

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