Living History Lesson Plan

Please note, this lesson plan was created by as a general guide and is not specific to any particular venue listed on our site.


Two hundred thousand Civil War soldiers were boys no older than 16, and an estimated 300 women were brave enough to disguise themselves as men and fight in the war. The average soldier weighed only 145 pounds due to poor diet, long marches, disease, and tough living, and earned between $13-$16 per month. Reading about these facts is interesting, but actually living them makes the information come alive. Living History Centers can allow students to experience how people lived during important historical eras, including enlisting as a soldier during the Civil War.


– Explore students’ prior knowledge about the time period the village depicts. What was life like back then? What jobs or activities did people participate in? What did they eat? Where did they sleep? Have students use a KWL chart to record what they know (K), then have them list what they would like to know (W) about the time period. Revisit this chart after the fieldtrip and have students complete the third column about what they learned (L).

– Review any relevant vocabulary and key terms.

– Call ahead and inquire about maps or any literature they can provide for the students to get acquainted with before the trip.


Students learn about and experience everyday life during a historical time period.


Ask: How did they build these structures? What did they eat? What did they wear?

Describe how you feel in the living quarters?

Observe the buildings and structures, the clothing, the tools and equipment.

Opinion: Would you like to live here, during this time period? Why or why not?

Compare life today to that of this historical time period. Use what you’ve seen today to help you.

Challenge: Imagine you traveled back in time. What would life be like for you during this time period? Describe what would be the hardest and easiest aspects of life to acclimate to.



Discuss how life has changed since this time period. Has anything stayed the same? Why?

Project: Write a personal narrative, journal entries, or script describing life during this time period from the first person point of view.

Research photographs and historical paintings and drawings from this time period. Are the similar to what you experienced at the village? What differences do you notice?

Social Impact: History Appreciation. What can today’s generation learn from the experiences of our ancestors? What should today’s generation be grateful for? Create a public display (poster, website, etc.) that highlights the challenges AND accomplishments of those who lived during this time period, focusing on how their lives helped shape the lives of today’s generation.