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Causes of the Civil War Primary Source Analysis Worksheets

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Understanding the causes of the Civil War can be a complex task for elementary-age students. This series of worksheets hooks students with primary sources and critical thinking prompts to provide an engaging introduction to the Civil War.

This is not an in-depth primary source analysis activity, but an overview of causes of the Civil War that incorporates primary sources.

Students will read background information about the causes of the Civil War and analyze related primary sources by answering critical thinking questions. Since many of the questions are subjective, I recommend concluding by having students share their thinking during a class discussion.

Topics include: the economic differences between the North and South, slavery, abolitionists, Nat Turner, John Brown, the presidential election of 1860, secession, and the creation of West Virginia.

What's Included:

  • 7 worksheets
  • 2-page review worksheet
  • PowerPoint slideshow of the primary source images (great to project during class discussions)
  • teacher notes
  • answer keys

Recommended Grade Levels: 4, 5

Number of Pages: 19

Supported Standards: Virginia Studies VS.1 and VS.7a

What Teachers Are Saying:

"Both my students and I loved this resource. The pictures and photographs were unique and intriguing and, along with the questions, allowed us to have a thought-provoking discussing on the causes of the Civil War." - Constance

"This is so thorough & very interesting for my students! What a great way to study history and incorporate meaningful writing activities!" - Irma

"This was a great resource to use with my higher readers. I was able to challenge them with the source material while engaging them with the content." - Rebecca

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