This summer both my boys earned a Civil War Badge from the Georgia State Parks and Historic Sites. The badge was offered temporarily as a way to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the war, and, unfortunately, it’s not being offered anymore. It’s a shame because it was a great way for my boys to pay a little more attention to the historic sites. We haven’t formally studied the Civil War yet, but my son has had a nice introduction through this activity as well as conversations with us.
There were a lot of activities listed that they could do in order to get the badge, and for their age range, they only had to pick four of them. We picked the following four:
- visit a historical marker that mentioned the Civil War: These are all over the place, so it was easy to find one near our home.
- visit some civil war soldiers graves: This was also easy for us because every Memorial Day, we visit one of the cemeteries where my ancestors are buried because that was a tradition in my husband’s family. We picked Oconee Hill Cemetery where my grandmother, great-grandmother, great-grandfather and extended family is buried, and this time, we also roamed the older section of the cemetery which is very historical, and we found many Civil War soldiers buried there, including a section with unknown soldiers.
- listen to popular songs from the Civil War era: I did better than that. I had my boys listen to both Dixie and The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and we watched YouTube videos about the history and significance of the songs.
- watch one segment of Ken Burns’ The Civil War: That was a cinch too because this documentary is on Netflix. It was a little heady for my young boys, but I was surprised that my eight-year-old found some interest in it. This shows me he’s almost ready to venture into studying history, which hasn’t been a big interest of his.
We have learned about the Civil War in other ways too, but nothing too formal, and this is what we did for the badge. I’m grateful for the Parks and Historic Sites for sending my five-year-old son a badge too even though that was not a recommended age for the badge. Although he might not have understood everything as well as his big brother, he was right there doing all the activities too, and I do feel he deserved it.
Both my boys had fun earning the badge, and I found it a good motivator to get them thinking about history. :)