Drummer Boy just finished his fourth week of “home school” since Indiana’s school buildings closed down in mid-March, a closure that has since been extended to the end of the academic year. I truly appreciate Drummer Boy’s teachers, as they were able to put together the first two weeks of physical packets with about 48 hours of notice. In a rural school district where not everyone has internet or the technology to access it, they continue to work to keep kids connected and mentally active.
Their lessons, however, are not intended to take the entire day (a fact that this particular work from home mother truly appreciates). The focus on math, reading and grammar only takes an hour or two, which means that the rest of the day is a vacuum waiting to be filled. There has been ample Lego building, baseball throwing, independent reading and more screen time than appropriate. Over the course of the last several weeks, however, a lot of organizations and companies have been putting together resources to help kids and their parents fill in that time with fun educational activities. Drummer Boy has been using several of them and, because he is my son, most of those activities have been Civil War history-related with one notable exception.
If you have a student at home who would enjoy some supplemental Civil War history, or if you suddenly find yourself with time on your hands and you wish to learn a little Civil War history yourself, check out some of these great (and free) online resources and check back here regularly for Civil War Scout’s very own educational content.
The American Battlefield Trust
The American Battlefield Trust was originally started as the Civil War Preservation Trust, and dedicated to leveraging private donations and government grants to purchase land that played an important role in the more than 3,000 Civil War battles that were fought across the country. Doing so allowed the public to experience the most important primary source from the Civil War: the land. The Trust’s new name came with an expansion of its focus and it is now preserving land from the American Revolution and the War of 1812 in addition to the Civil War, but its director of History and Education, Garry Adelman, is a bonafide Civil War geek.
Their website has a lot of great resources for students and adults alike, but beginners may want to start here:
Civil War Crash Course (choose how much time you have—from 15 minutes to a full week--and it will customize a curriculum for you)
IN4 Minutes (over 100 short videos about a variety of topics including battles, personalities, technology and even a pronunciation guide to commonly mispronounced Civil War names and places)
National Park Service Junior Ranger Programs
Most of the nation’s national parks have Junior Ranger programs to engage kids in fun and educational activities that help them understand the uniqueness of each park better. While these programs are intended to be completed (or at least started) while at the park and often include activities that require watching the park’s movie, visiting the displays in the Visitor’s Center and being in nature, several parks have made their booklets available online and once completed are offering to issue badges through the mail. Among these are:
National Park Ranger Programs
The rangers who work at our national historical parks and battlefields are true historians and have access to vast documents and artifacts that are not available for general viewing. During normal times, these rangers satisfy their educational charter by creating and delivering a wide variety of ranger programs to groups of visitors, young and old alike. With the current restrictions closing many parks entirely and enforcing social distancing where park trails and open spaces remain open mean these rangers no longer have eager groups of history geeks, students and tourists to lead around the battlefields. But for some of them, this is just a challenge, not a road block, and they are using Facebook to bring their parks and their expertise to virtual visitors everywhere. Several parks host Facebook Live videos, but don’t worry if you can’t make it when they go live…the videos will be hosted on their Facebook page and can be accessed as your schedule allows.
Check out these parks’ Facebook pages for great distance learning opportunities:
Have I missed any great Civil War educational resources you want to share? Make sure to comment below!
Toni is a wife, mom and history buff who loves bringing the Civil War to life for family members of all ages.