Using Historical Fiction to Learn About the Civil War

This lesson uses the book Meet Addy by Connie Porter to teach the characteristics of historical fiction, making inferences and using visualization, and Civil War history. The book tells the story of a young girl who escapes from slavery during the war. Students learn how to visualize and infer events from the author's choice of words, and then refine their comprehension by questioning the text together. In this lesson, students will: *Access historical information from a variety of sources *Examine the characteristics of historical fiction *Interpret the author's craft of visualization through writing and drawing *Formulate inferences to explain the author's word choices *Analyze the author's message of discrimination using group think-aloud discussions to develop and refine comprehension of the text ***This lesson provides integration into 5th grade social studies standards. The use of historical fiction about the Civil War will help students better understand life during this time period.

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
GLE 0501.5.1
Refine logic skills to facilitate learning and to enhance thoughtful reasoning.
GLE 0501.5.2
Use logic to make inferences and to draw conclusions in a variety of oral and written contexts.
GLE 0501.8.2
Experience various literary genres, including fiction and nonfiction, poetry, drama, chapter books, biography/autobiography, short stories, folk tales, myths,...
GLE 0706.2.3
Develop an understanding of and apply proportionality.
Alignment of this item to academic standards is based on recommendations from content creators, resource curators, and visitors to this website. It is the responsibility of each educator to verify that the materials are appropriate for your content area, aligned to current academic standards, and will be beneficial to your specific students.
Learning objectives: 

Students will:

  • Access historical information from a variety of sources
  • Examine the characteristics of historical fiction
  • Interpret the author's craft of visualization through writing and drawing
  • Formulate inferences to explain the author's word choices
  • Analyze the author's message of discrimination using group think-aloud discussions to develop and refine comprehension of the text

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: 
Extension suggestions: 
  • Divide students into groups of five. Have each student in the group select and read a different Addy book from the series:
    • Addy Learns a Lesson
    • Addy's Surprise
    • Happy Birthday, Addy!
    • Addy Saves the Day
    • Changes for Addy
  • While reading their selections, students should summarize the major events in each chapter and draw an illustration to go along with their writing. After reading the entire book, students can then use their writing and drawings to retell their Addy stories to the other members in their small group. You can determine students' comprehension of the stories by assessing their drawings and their abilities to retell the beginning, middle, and ending of the stories.
  • Invite students to research the Civil Rights Movement from Addy's time in 1864 to the present, noting significant laws and changes that were made. Students can record their findings on a timeline that shows how slavery began in the United States and was prevalent until the late 1960s. Depending on the age and ability of students, the amount of information and level of detail will vary.
  • Have students reread Meet Addy to gain and clarify information. Ask them to respond to the following statements made by characters in the story:
    • Addy's father: "She [Addy] go out in the morning, her eyes all bright and shining with hope. By night she come stumbling in here so tired, she can hardly eat. . . . Addy getting beat down every day. I can't stand back and watch it no more. We can't wait for our freedom. We gonna have to take it" (8).
      • Why is it important to stand up for what you believe in?
    • Addy's mother: "But Addy, people can do wrong for such a long time, they don't even know it's wrong no more" (25).
      • Tell of a situation in today's world where you feel something is wrong, but people may not realize it because it's been done that way for such a long time. 
    • Uncle Solomon: "It's magic. You hold on to that dime. You gonna need it where you going. Freedom cost, you hear me? Freedom's got its cost" (34).
      • Why does freedom cost? Does it always mean money?
  • Have students write in their journals about their personal experiences with discrimination or how they would cope with being discriminated against.
  • Have students write about a time when they were faced with a difficult situation and needed to show courage. Do they feel they have as much courage as Addy? 

Helpful Hints

Materials and Technology:

  • Meet Addie by Connie Porter
  • Civil Was Booklist Printout
  • Brain POP: Civil War (Website)
  • Images of the Civil War