If you had lived during the Civil War, it's probable that you would have sent a letter to a loved one in the field. In response, soldiers wrote as often as possible, using it as a time to reflect and connect with home. This activity asks your child to put himself in the shoes of a Civil War soldier. It's the perfect activity for either Veterans Day or Memorial Day and will help your kid reflect on the harsh nature of war and the effects it has on the lives of those who have served, as well as their family members.
What You Do:
- Print out the attached worksheet. The letter in the worksheet was written to Sarah Ballou in Rhode Island from her husband, Sullivan, at Camp Clark in Washington, DC, on July 14, 1861. Read it and try to put yourself in Sullivan’s shoes.
- If the language is too tough for your kid to slog through, help him to break it down – tell him to read each sentence, think about what it means, and rewrite it in his own words.
- Next, ask him to think about the following questions: How would you respond if you were Sarah? If you were Sullivan’s son, what would you say to him in a letter?
- Ask your child to write a response to Sullivan either as his wife or his son.
- When he’s finished he can take the activity further. Ask your child to think about modern times. How would a soldier communicate with his loved ones today?
This activity adapted from The Civil War Kids 150: Fifty Fun Things to Do, See, Make and Find for the 150th Anniversary. Find out more about The Civil War Trust and their education programs at http://www.civilwar.org/education/.