Grade Levels: 6-8, 9-12

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This lesson accompanies the BrainPOP topic Civil War Causes, and supports the standard of analyzing the causes and key events of the Civil War. Students demonstrate understanding through a variety of projects.


Ask students:

  • What do you already know about the Civil War?
  • What do you want to know more about?


  • Read the description on the Civil War Causes topic page.
  • Play the Movie, pausing to check for understanding. 
  • Assign Related Reading  and have students read one of the five articles. Partner them with someone who read a different article to share what they learned with each other.

Step 3: APPLY and ASSESS 

Assign Civil War Causes Challenge and Quiz, prompting students to apply essential literacy skills while demonstrating what they learned about this topic.


Students express what they learned about Civil War causes while practicing essential literacy skills with one or more of the following activities. Differentiate by assigning ones that meet individual student needs.

  • Make-a-Movie: Produce a documentary about the effects of the Kansas-Nebraska Act and Dred Scott decision on regional tensions, explaining how they led to the Civil War.
  • Make-a-Map: Create a concept map identifying and analyzing key causes of the Civil War.
  • Creative Coding: Code a digital museum exhibit featuring figures and artifacts to represent the causes of the Civil War.

More to Explore 

Time Zone X: Civil War Causes: Place historical events in chronological order in this interactive timeline game.

Related BrainPOP Topics: Deepen understanding of Civil War history with these topics: Slavery, Civil War, and Underground Railroad.

Teacher Support Resources:

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments