Bull Run Simulation Lesson First Name: Mary Last Name: Ledbetter Email Address

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Bull Run Simulation Lesson

First Name: Mary

Last Name: Ledbetter

Email Address: meledbetter@austin.utexas.edu or meledbetter@gmail.com


Title: Bull Run, Civil War Simulation


TSW be able to identify events leading up to the Battle of Bull Run, the importance of this battle in the Civil War, how Union and Confederate soldiers and citizens felt, and how different points of view impact the actions and beliefs through the eyes and ears of fictional characters in Paul Fleischman’s novel, Bull Run.


5th Grade Social Studies Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills:

(4) History. The student understands political, economic, and social changes that occurred in the United States during the 19th century. The student is expected to:

(E) identify the causes of the Civil War, including sectionalism, states' rights, and slavery, and the effects of the Civil War, including Reconstruction and the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the U.S. Constitution;

(G) identify the challenges, opportunities, and contributions of people from various American Indian and immigrant groups.

(22) Culture. The student understands the contributions of people of various racial, ethnic, and religious groups to the United States. The student is expected to:

(A) identify the similarities and differences within and among various racial, ethnic, and religious groups in the United States;

(B) describe customs and traditions of various racial, ethnic, and religious groups in the United States; and

(C) summarize the contributions of people of various racial, ethnic, and religious groups to our national identity.

(24) Social studies skills. The student applies critical-thinking skills to organize and use information acquired from a variety of valid sources, including electronic technology. The student is expected to:

(D) identify different points of view about an issue, topic, or current event; and

(E) identify the historical context of an event.

(26) Social studies skills. The student uses problem-solving and decision-making skills, working independently and with others, in a variety of settings. The student is expected to:

(A) use a problem-solving process to identify a problem, gather information, list and consider options, consider advantages and disadvantages, choose and implement a solution, and evaluate the effectiveness of the solution; and

(B) use a decision-making process to identify a situation that requires a decision, gather information, identify options, predict consequences, and take action to implement a decision.

Grade Level: 5th

Subject: Social Studies Sub-Subject: Language Arts and Social Emotional Learning

Instructional Strategy: Activity – Historical Simulation

Learning Styles: Visual, Auditory, Verbal, Physical, Logical, Social

Specialized Instructional Needs: ELL, SPED, GT, Extension

Teacher Materials:


Bull Run, by Paul Fleischman and other related Civil War storybooks including Pink and Say, Patricia Polacco.

Lesson Plans and Teacher Support Materials:

Shared Class Reading and Discussion of: Bull Run

Explain: Ss will experience what it was like be in and around the Battle of Bull Run during the Civil War.


• Each student will reenact one of the fictional characters from Bull Run.

• Each student will use Bull Run to create a readers’ theatre script and present that script in a classroom performance as the character they portray.

Materials Needed:

• 5-10 copies of Bull Run for students to use during shared readings.

• 5-7 days for reading and discussion of book, and assignment of characters that students choose to portray.

• 1-2 days during language arts station time to create a readers’ theatre script for their character.

• Large mural-size butcher paper for students to create backdrops for Union and Confederate sides.

  • Simple student-created costumes and props and a LA/SS day for students to present their simulations.

Related urls, materials, blogs, slideshows, and videos:

UTES/Ledbetter/Professional Development webpage for lesson materials:


UTES Social Studies blog:


UTES School Educator Resource blog:


UTES/5th grade/videos:



Depending on your scope and sequence, this will fall whenever your Civil War unit takes place. I have taught American History from current day backwards these past 2 years and our Civil War unit takes place in March. Other years it has taken place in the November or there about.

Finishing Up:

After everyone finishes their simulation, talk to them about what it felt like to take another person’s point of view. Make connections to SEL traits like empathy, courage, and tenacity. If possible, record performances and let the kids watch them. They enjoy seeing themselves perform and learn a lot about speaking up and presenting to an audience.

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