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Kansas, Missouri, and the Civil War, 1854-1865

Lesson Author
Required Time Frame
Three Weeks
Grade Level(s)
Lesson Abstract
Students will utilize Google Earth to build a route map of a participant in the Border War between Missouri and Kansas, noting stops and events along their path in the war.

Students will utilize Google Earth to build a route map of a participant in the Border War between Missouri and Kansas, noting stops and events along their path in the war.

Rationale (why are you doing this?)

Much of the beginning of the Civil War can be attributed to the Border War between Missouri and Kansas.  Students will identify with a participant in the border war by following their path in the controversy.  Bringing a personal identification with history will increase interest and retention in the history.

Lesson Objectives - the student will
  • Develop research skills.
  • Analyze primary sources.
  • Synthesize causes of the Civil War and the role of the Missouri-Kansas Border War.
District, state, or national performance and knowledge standards/goals/skills met

2A: Explain the importance of the following principles of government within the context of US History:  majority rule and minority rights, constitution and civil rights, and checks and balances.

3A: Describe the migrations of people from many regions of the world and the interactions of cultures and religious traditions that have contributed to America’s history:  motivations for immigration and challenges to immigrants.

3K: Explain the importance of the following principles of government:  majority rule and minority rights and constitution and civil rights

checks and balances.

3T: Describe the physical characteristics and human characteristics that make places unique:  Explain how and why places change and explain how and why different people may perceive the same place in varied ways throughout the United States.

3U: Distinguish major patterns and issues with regard to population distribution, demographics, settlements, migrations, and cultures in the US.

3Z: Analyze Missouri History as it relates to major developments of US History including:  Exploration and settlement, Mid 1800s (conflict and war),  and urbanization, industrialization, post-industrial societies.

6L:  Analyze how the roles of class, ethnic, racial, gender and age groups have changed in society, including causes and effects.

6O: Determine the causes, consequences and possible resolutions of cultural conflicts.

7A: Distinguish between and analyze primary sources and secondary sources.

7B: Create maps, charts, diagrams, graphs, timelines and political cartoons to assist in analyzing and visualizing concepts in social studies.

7C: Distinguish between fact and opinion and analyze sources to recognize bias and points of view.

7E: Develop a research plan and identify appropri­ate resources for investigating social studies topics.

7F: Interpret maps, statistics, charts, diagrams, graphs, timelines, pictures, political cartoons, audiovisual materials, continua, written resources, art and artifacts.

Secondary materials (book, article, video documentary, etc.) needed

A variety of primary and secondary sources will be utilized.  Students will be responsible for producing their own sources.  However, websites highlighted during the Truman Library Border War Conference will be suggested sources for students.  These include:

Fully describe the activity or assignment in detail. What will both the teacher and the students do?

Students will select one of the individuals listed below or find another participant in Border War with teacher’s approval to follow throughout their participation in the time surrounding the Civil War.  Students must find at least 8 locations that were significant in the development of the war with the participation of their individual and report on them.  Students must map the course of their journey in Google Earth.  PowerPoint or other software is acceptable as an alternative if there are difficulties with Google Earth.  Students must also include at least one historical map and use at least 3 primary sources in doing their research.  In addition, students will also be graded on historical accuracy, clarity, and presenting the project to the class.

     Possible Border War participants include:

David Rice Atchison

John Brown

John Calhoun (not C. from SC)

James Denver

Stephen Douglas

Thomas Ewing

Claiborne Fox Jackson

James Lane

Nathanial Lyon

James Montgomery

Sterling Price

William Quantrill

Charles Robinson

Wilson Shannon

Assessment: fully explain the assessment method in detail or create and attach a scoring guide

Scoring Guide



     Students will utilize Google Earth to build a route map of a participant in the Border War between Missouri and Kansas, noting stops and events along their path in the war.


Evaluation Checklist:                                Points    Points

                                                     Possible  Received


Historical Map:

At least one historical map pasted on Google Earth

which encompasses the majority of the area involved in

the participant’s area of conflict.  Extra credit will

be given for additional maps.                               10               


Pit Stops:

Minimum of 8 stops along the route.  Each stop will

have an information bubble.  Bonus points awarded for

including pictures.                                    10               


Historical Accuracy:

Must have historically accurate and hopefully detailed

information.  This information will be recorded at

each of the stops.  Each stop bubble must have at least

a paragraph (3 to 5 sentences) of information.         50               



Entries will be clear of grammatical and spelling

errors.  Project will be expected to have appropriate

neatness.  Projects will have a clear title.                10               



A bibliography in Turabian style will accompany the

project.  At least 3 primary sources are required.     10               



Each student will present their Google Earth project in

class.                                                 10               



                                           Total         Total

                                           Points        Points

                                           Possible: 100 Received: