Across Five Aprils Unit Study

Chapter by chapter activities to accompany the Civil War story by Irene Hunt.

Across Five Aprils Unit Study

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Chapter by Chapter Activities

Chapter One

In the first chapter our activities will allow students to do the following:

Character Analysis:

What does these quotes tell you about Jethro's understanding?
Adults were always troubled. There were chinch bugs and grasshoppers, months of drought, elections, slavery, secession, talk of war - the adult world of trouble, though was not real enough to dim the goodness of an April morning.

...he was one with Tom and Eb when they hoped war would come soon. War meant loud brass music and shining horses ridden by men wearing uniforms finer than any suit in the stores at Newton; it meant men riding like kings, looking neither to the right nor the left, while less men in perfect lines strode along with guns across their shoulders, their heads held high like horses with short reins.

Social Issues: The Burdow Clan

We are introduced to the entire Burdow family and their shadowy history before settling in this community and the impact of their son’s actions on Jethro’s family. The author states:
The shot that Travis Burdow fired over Rob Nelson’s team that night was a shot fired at a society that had kicked a boy from childhood on because he bore his grandfather’s name.
Discuss the Burdows, how they were treated by their community, and the impact it had.


This is a story about decisions. One of the first decisions discussed is not Jethro's decisions but the presidents. Ellen describes President Lincoln’s decision like this:
He’s like a man standin’ where two road meets, Jeth, and one road is as dark and fearsome as the other; there ain’t a choice between the two, and yet a choice has to be made.
Contrast the two choices the president had, according to Ellen.

Chapter Two

In this chapter students will:

Chapter Three

The war has started, and Jethro finds it is affecting his home and family. What is happening at home and the community? The war has divided not only the nation, but Jethro's family.

Chapter Four

After some Northern victories, the Creighton's get a letter from Tom. Jethro takes the letter to Shad and spends the night with him. The two review the impact of the war on the nation and family. Shad tells Jethro he should continue studying after he leaves.

Chapter Five

After his mother suffers a serious headache for lack of coffee, Jethro has the honor of going into town for supplies by himself for the first time. His adventurous day includes being accosted by men in the general store because his brother Bill joined the Southern army, being befriended by the local newspaper editor who gives him a book and buys him dinner, and being attacked by thugs on the way home but saved by Dave Burdow. Readers assess these issues in the chapter activites:

Chapter Six

The anxiety about their problems causes Matt Creighton to have a heart attack. With his father's illness and all his brothers away fighting in the war, Jethro becomes the man in the family and takes over running the farm. At first he and Jenny become closer, but her reticence to share Shad's letter upsets Jethro. Attackers who are angry that Bill has joined the South come at night and burn their barn and destroy their farm. Chapter themes include

Chapter Seven

While the community comes to the aid of the Creighton family, Guy Wortman suffers a public humiliation. Jethro learns that Tom was killed in the Battle of Shiloh. He watches Jenny add the date of his death in the large Bible as he ponders the history of his family, including siblings he never met. With this chapter, readers can contemplate:

Chapter Eight

As the last months of 1862 come, the war drags on. The community helps the Creightons as farm life continues and Jethro continues to study to the battles. But there are changes in attitudes both at home and away. Readers consider:

Chapter Nine

Danger increases for the Creighton's and the community as army deserters flee their units. The problem becomes personal when Jethro discovers Eb is a deserter. Should he turn his sick cousin over to the officials or harbor him at risk to his family? Unsure of who to turn to for advice, Jethro makes a bold decision which leads to a dramatic scene for his family when a letter arrives.

Chapter Ten

The war continues into the spring and summer of the 1863. General Lee becomes a legend in both the South and the North. The battles of Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Vicksburg fill the papers. The Creighton's get word that Shad was seriously injured at Gettysburg and her father gave Jenny permission to go see him. Shad recovers and he and Jenny marry. Chapter activities include:

Chapter Eleven

In 1864 after a highly contested election, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected. As students read of a war that continued to drag on, they consider: The chapter ends with a reunion between John and Bill, who has been captured and is a southern rebel prisoner in a northern camp.

Chapter Twelve

The story ends with the end of the war, and the realization that neither the nation or its families will be the same. Issues raised include


Students can follow the Across Five Aprils Timeline of major battles and key events. Our chart presents them in the chapter and order they occur.

The timeline includes the major battles as Jethro reads about them: Other events included in the timeline include:


Our vocabulary lists for Across Five Aprils lists the words and their definitions in the order they appear in the text. Our chapter by chapter lists make it easy for students to follow along. Our handy vocabulary lists make great bookmarks as well as study guides.


Across Five Aprils Map

It's always easier to understand the story if you can visualize the geography. Our Across Five April's map locates the battles, rivers, and other events mentioned in the unit study.

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