I am working with a 5th grade student with a language disorder and she is studying the Civil War. I checked out a few books to use to work on her goals that I thought were interesting and helpful:
Allen Jay and the Underground Railroad by Marlene Targ Brill. This true story takes us back to 1842, when Allen Jay’s family becomes part of the Underground Railroad. This story can be used to teach inference as you question your student about “Why?” Allen’s father doesn’t want to know what he is doing or why the slave points a gun at him at their first meeting. Talk about what the risks and rewards were of helping a slave escape to freedom. In addition, here are some lesson plans from the National Geographic site.
When Harriet Met Sojourner by Catherine Clinton is the story of Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth and how their lives intersected. Every other page picks up the story of the two women whose life paths finally cross. You can use the book to make comparisons–how the women were alike and different–they both were given a new name by their masters, they both broke through to freedom, etc.–or talk about how they felt and why. Figurative language can be explained using such examples from the book as “So like the quilt she worked on, one square at a time, she pieced together her plans for running off to the North.” How are a quilt and plans alike?
In our search to understand the Underground Railroad, we found a wonderful site by National Geographic that puts you in the mind of a slave and asks you to make decisions based on risks and situations. Kids loved it!
Let me know any other resources you find helpful in teaching about the Civil War.,