Lesson: Missouri Battles

The following lesson was created by Rachel Pitocco and Brittany Rich, Missouri educators.

Title: Missouri Battles

Recommended Grades: 5-8

Time Needed: 2, 90-minute sessions


  • Students will understand how the giant map works and how to utilize it correctly.
  • Explain Missouri’s role in Civil War, Missouri as a border state.
  • Visualize the importance of battles fought in state.
  • Describe how the Missouri Compromise affected slavery.
  • Explain why conflict arose over the issue of slavery in western territories.


  • Cones for larger battles
  • Post-it notes for medium battles
  • Bingo pieces for small battles
  • Map of battles (bingo card)
  • Index cards with battle names on it
  • PowerPoint slides with clear directions and images to help build foundation for lesson.


  • 4 groups, 4 students in each group, each student has a job in the group (explorer, navigator, historian, supplier)
  • *50 battles used with small description as teacher resource/guide
  • Each group will be assigned a home base color (red, blue, yellow, green) They then will be given a master list of battles and map that gives battle locations and description.

Job description

  • Historianreads small excerpt about battle to entire group.
  • Supplierusing map, determines whether battle was major or decisive and gives out correct object (cone or post-it) to the explorer.
  • Navigatorfinds battle on map and gives coordinates for battle location to Explorer.
  • Explorerplaces cone or post-it on location of battle.

*Every battle, students will switch roles*


  • Shoes are not allowed on the map. Please have students remove shoes before walking on the map.
  • No writing utensils on the map.


  1. Depending on prior experience with the map, have students spend some time walking around the map, looking at the different locations identified and features included. Invite questions about the map and what is on—or what is not on the map. This step can serve as an introduction or review of some of the major features that students will visit during the activity.
  2. Teacher will also utilize basic games (scavenger hunt and relay race) from Giant Map Box to have students practice finding items on map.
  3. After spending time during the class period with the map, students will begin researching battles of Missouri during the Civil War.
  4. They will work as groups to come up with as many battles as possible and provide a small description of the battle so that they can share with the rest of the class. Teacher will also provide resources for the more difficult to find battles.
  5. As a class, we will discuss and record information about the many battles that took place in Missouri.


  1. Divide the class into four teams—Red, Blue, Green, and Yellow—and give each team matching colored lanyards. Make the teams as even as possible. Instruct team to gather behind their “Base Camp,” by locating their team colored dot on one of the four corners of the map.
  2. Review the rules of the map and then job description of each role.
  3. Handing out list of battle descriptions, map of battles (decisive vs. major wars), post-its, cones and index cards with battle names on it.
  4. Each student will rotate through the different roles. The relay will be to see which team can read about battle, decide where battle took place and record it on the map.
  • For U.S. Challenge—Any students who are not working on the map, will be instructed to create editorials about the major battles in Missouri/read from textbook about Missouri Compromise.
  • Last step is to have students go back to seats and reflect on what they saw on the map or researching specific battles/reading from book.

Historianreads small excerpt about battle.

Supplierusing map, determines whether battle was major or decisive

Navigatorfinds battle on map and gives coordinates for battle location to explorer

Explorerplaces cone or post-it on location of battle


Give clear, specific instructions and give the instructions in multiple ways.


  • SS3-1.6: Missouri’s role in the Civil War, i.e, Missouri as a border state
  • Geo.2.6-8: Use maps, satellites images, photographs, and other representations to explain relationships between the locations of places and regions, and changes in their environmental characteristics.
  • National Geography Standard 1: How to use maps and other geographic representations, geospatial technologies, and spatial thinking to understand and communicate information.


  • Coordinates
  • Decisive vs. Major battle
  • Civil War
  • Fugitive Slave Act
  • Border state
  • Missouri Compromise


I have students with IEP’s that will need additional printed notes and resources for them to use in order to process the information and do well in the activity. I will also use my co-teacher to support these students throughout the lesson.


Class discussion on why certain areas have more battles. Students will also complete editorials about the battles and free write reflections after completing the activities.

Complete editorials about the battles and free write reflections after completing the activities

PDF Documents