Civil War Soldier Backpack Gear & Hardtack Recipe. If you teach about the American Civil War in an elementary or middle school Social Studies class your students will love doing this activity and making this recipe. Even your most reluctant learners will take part!!
I teach 8th grade U.S. History and every year during our Civil War unit I give this packet to students as a homework assignment so they can have a hands-on experience the next day that they'll remember forever!
The homework assignment can be read through during class, which consists of a short story about a fictitious soldier from upstate New York who enlists in the Union Army. Upon enlistment the soldier is issued his backpack and gear. Students look through the list of gear such as a half shelter, gum blanket, and housewife and read a description what each item was used for.
Students then read that a soldier used to carry their rifle-musket, ammunition, and backpack with them everywhere they went. That totaled about 50 POUNDS!
The average soldier weighed less than 150 pounds so that was over 1/3 their body weight!
Students are then assigned to fill a backpack of their own with 50 pounds of weight (or whatever 1/3 their body weight is if they are under 50 pounds) and bring that backpack with them to school the next day. A teacher pass, which is included in this product, explaining why students are wearing their backpacks in school will be pinned to their backpack.
Finally, students are given a recipe for hardtack, which was a bread-like food many Union soldiers ate when there wasn't much else to eat. It tastes kind of like a saltine cracker and is simply made with flour, salt, and water. The recipe used is the one I received from a friend of mine who does Civil War reenactments.
The first year I did this another teacher called the local news station when she saw what our students were doing and they actually ended up on the news that night! Kids were wearing their backpacks to lunch and snacking on hardtack in the cafeteria.
Kids actively being involved in the history they are learning about. That's my favorite!
Check out my other Civil War items as well:
Cloze Reading Strategy - The American Civil War - 61 Blanks with Word Bank
32 Civil War Trading Cards of Historical Figures to be Made
Civil War - 41 Historical Fiction Book Choices with Lexile Scores
Civil War Debates - 25 Topics - Research, Writing, & Speaking in Social Studies
American Civil War Era - 15 Famous Mystery Phrases - Research, Writing/Analysis
Civil War Bundle of Activities - 8 Different Products Included
30 Civil War Bingo Boards with 95 Detailed Calling Cards
civil war, union, middle school social studies, elementary school social studies, soldier, hardtack, backpack, gear