Saturday, February 2, 2013

Civil War Traveling Trunk Inspires Learning

Traveling Trunk from Civil War Trust
There's nothing quite like engaging students in a lesson by building suspense. When our secretary came into the classroom wheeling behind her a 3' by 2' by 2' heavy plastic trunk you could hear a pin drop.  Immediately the questions started flying.  "What's in there?" "Where did it come from?" "Who sent it?"   "Is a blanket inside?" "Is it an animal?" "Are you going to open it now?"

Honestly, I wasn't sure where it was from or what was in the trunk either!   Checking out the label showed it was from the Civil War Trust.  I then remembered signing up during the summertime to receive the "Traveling Trunk"!

Opening the trunk with the students was so much fun!  The kids all gathered around as I popped it open.  The item sitting right on top was a replica uniform jacket made of wool with a matching hat.  Other items included a woman's apron and bonnet, a Union belt buckle, a container of real cotton, hardtack, replica bullets, confederate money, united states money, flags, a rag doll, and many other interesting items.
Dressing in Period Clothing

The most exciting and talked about artifact was the soldier's haversack.  Inside this antique backpack were replicas of contents carried by soldiers.  These included a comb, a wooden toothbrush, a prayerbook, a deck of cards, a tin cup & a fork, knife, spoon combined utensil.  There was a sewing kit, canteen and bowl as well as some coffee and sugar/salt.

Tin Cup & Salt from the Haversack
The Traveling Trunk also supplied a spiral bound curriculum for elementary, middle school and high school levels.  Included in the curriculum are objectives, lesson plans & worksheets.  Accompanying Powerpoints can be accessed from the Civil War Trust  (download here).  The elementary program is comprehensive and geared more for upper elementary. There are 9 lessons which are meant to be taught in 40-50 minute increments.  My class was able to get to about 3 of the lessons while the trunk was in our possession.  Fortunately, we can access the rest of them through the Trust at the above link.  

Haversack Replica

Using the contents of this trunk, my students have a greater understanding of the Civil War.  Hoping to sign up again next year (this time I'll know to allot more time for lessons!).

Thank you to the Civil War Trust for providing this fantastic resource!

 Pictures edited at