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Lesson Plans
Memorials and Meaning
Overview Procedures for Teachers Organizers for Students


Inspired by Thirteen's AMERICAN VISIONS' online content, students will explore the historical and cultural meaning of memorials, our country's "organs of social memory," with a focus on works and structures eulogizing the American Civil War. Using a variety of online, multimedia, and community resources, students will also investigate how the Civil War impacted their community and how the War and its veterans are remembered locally. This lesson is especially appropriate as part of a unit on the Civil War, or as an excellent way to honor and give meaning to the Memorial Day holiday in May. Doing field research, students will learn about the lives of local Civil War soldiers firsthand, and will gain confidence in their ability to discover the past for themselves.
Grade Level:

5 - 8

Subject Matter:

Social Studies

Curricular Uses:

American History, Civil War, English, Art History, Art, Math


Learning Objectives



  • Students will learn how to locate and use historic and primary source materials.

  • Students will investigate past connections to the present by researching family names to locate photographs and biographical and historical information.

  • Students will define and describe the concept of memorials and learn about several of our nation's prominent war memorials -- particularly those honoring Civil War veterans.

  • Students will examine the work of Matthew Brady and other photographers of the period.

  • Students will use a number of video, text, and online resources to learn more about the experience of soldiers and civilians during the Civil War period -- and particularly about how the Civil War impacted their own ancestors or local community members.

  • Students will apply written and artistic skills to create (and possibly publish) their own memorials.