Lesson Plan

Conflict on the Coast and Lighthouse Technology

Coast Guardsman patrolling beaches during WWII

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Grade Level:
Fifth Grade
Engineering, Maritime History, Military and Wartime History, Science and Technology, World War II
2 on-site session of 60 minutes
Group Size:
Up to 24 (4-8 breakout groups)
National/State Standards:
5.H.1.3, 5.G.1.3, 5.E.1.2, and 5.C.1.3


Students will look at lighthouse concepts, the need for lighthouses on the NC coast, and interactively look at the “Lighthouse Technology Timeline”.  Students will engage in an activity that will examine the role of NC coastal lighthouses during the Civil War and World War II.


The learner will be able to:

  • Understand how the technology of the lighthouses and lanterns has changed over the past several hundred years. 
  • Understand how Cape Lookout's lighthouse has changed since the first lighthouse of 1812 was built.
  • Be able to build a timeline of the lighthouse and lantern technology and understand how timelines function.


Pre-Site Visit Activities: TEACHER COMPLETED

Knowledge Assessment (in post-site materials)

Light House Technology Introduction

• Give each student a copy of "A Brief History of Lighthouses" and have them read it
• Split the class into groups of 4-5
• Have each group create a list of important terms from the reading
• Create a combined list of terms and definitions for the class
• Distribute two (2) copies of the "Traffic Signs of the Sea Glossary" to each group
• Ask the students to tell you one thing about lighthouses they did not know before reading the handout.

On-Site Visit Activities: RANGER COMPLETED

Day 1

Lighthouses: Where and Why?
The Shapes and Sizes of Lighthouses
Lighthouse Technology Timeline Activity

Day 2

Coastal lights during the Civil War
The Atlantic Turkey Shoot
Civil War Along the NC Coast Activity
World War II Along the NC Coast Activity

Post-Site Visit Activities: TEACHER COMPLETED

Knowledge Assessment

Design a Lighthouse Activity

• Break the class up into two teams and break each group into three sub-groups
• Each sub-group will take 15 minutes to design and color a portion of their team's lighthouse
• Assemble each team's lighthouse
• Use the discussion points below to guide students through the materials

Discussion Points

• Working on lighthouses has always been a team project.
o What are some of the jobs which might be required to complete a lighthouse?
(Examples: masons, painters, carpenters, iron workers, engineers, etc.)
• What type of lighthouse did you use for inspiration?
o Why did you pick that style of lighthouse?
o Does it match the style chosen by your teammates?
• What would happen to lighthouses built on the coast if the workers didn't communicate?
o Would they be able to build a better lighthouse?