How to Build a Civil War Cannon Replica

Updated April 17, 2017

An easy way to bring history alive and make the study of the Civil War in American history more fun is to build a Civil War Cannon Replica. This project makes history more than an auditory story from a book and reaches both visual learners and kinesthetic learners. The artistic element of modelling building reaches students with a preference for art, and the exercise of scaling down a model to create an accurate to scale cannon replica uses mathematics in a relevant way. To reach the auditory learners with this project too, add a requirement for a short essay or poem to the assignment about the Civil War or about cannons.

Download and print diagrams of cannons used in the Civil War. See References to get the model of "The Six Pounder, " one of the most commonly used in the mid 1800s. Record important data such as the actual size and measurements of a real cannon as well as some detailed pictures and illustrations of these piece of artillery.

Select the artist media--the material or art supplies--that will be used to build the Civil War Cannon Replica. Civil War cannon replicas can be created out of paper mache, modelling clay, playdough, salt clay, sand clay, potter's clay, or carved wood as well as other raw materials available to the students.

Decide on the length desired for the final Civil War Cannon Replica model. If you are making a cannon replica that is life-size, you can skip this step. To make a life-size replica consider using lightweight and paintable craft foam. Take the final size, for example 5 inches long and divide 5 inches by the actual size of the cannon in inches (6 feet is 72 inches, 7 feet is 84 inches, 8 feet is 96 inches). The decimal you get is the percentage that will be used to create a "to scale" Civil War Cannon replica.

Create and prepare the Civil War cannon replica base. Use a cardboard base from a cardboard box for your lightweight clay model. The base needs to be strong enough to remain stable and fully support the cannon replica when the replica is lifted on the base.

Create the cannon wheels, cannon, and cannon balls by taking the measurement of each piece in real life--"actual size"--and multiply that by the decimal for scaling down the model to make a "to scale" cannon replica. Make the wheels and cannon body separate and then attach the cannon to the wheels when the wheels are firm, dry, or leather hard (for pottery), or make the cannon with the wheels attached.

Paint the cannon and add final details to it--include background images or add a soldier or grass to the display--to complete the "to scale" Civil War Cannon replica scene.


Get an audio feed of a cannon exploding sound to play in the background of the Civil War Cannon Replica when displayed or while the essay or poem is being read. Or get an audio file of some patriotic music like the Star Spangled Banner to play with the project.

Things You'll Need

  • Printer
  • Cardboard
  • Clay
  • Salt clay
  • Playdough
  • Paper mache
  • Wood
  • Paint
  • Paint brushes
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About the Author

Heather Inks is a social entrepreneur who educates on improving communities and the world. She is an educator, writer, photographer, artist and model who has taught K6-12th grade and public educators. Inks is a life coach specializing in personal, career, educational, dating, health and fitness, and gifted children issues. She has been educated at fine universities including graduate work at Stetson University.