California State Study

CaliforniaSunny skies, fertile farms, and techie central, it’s time for a California State Study.

We recently studied about California.  First we found California on a map of the United States, reviewing the North American continent for the younger kids.  Then we went over some of the state facts.

Fabulous Facts

  • Flower: California Poppy
  • Tree: Redwood
  • Song: I Love You California (every state has a song and most are as lame as this one, including my home state of Idaho)
  • Motto: Eureka
  • Nickname: Golden State
  • Bird: California Quail
  • Capital: Sacramento
  • Large Cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego
  • Major Industries: Farming vegetables and fruits, entertainment, tourism, technology, mining
  • Largest religions: Catholic, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Baptist, other Christian denominations
  • Landmarks: Golden Gate Bridge, Death Valley, Sequoia National Park, Lake Tahoe, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Coastal Ranges, Sacramento River, San Joaquin River, Colorado River, Sonoran Desert, Pacific Ocean
This is the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. The bridge was completed in 1937 and is considered one of the engineering marvels of the modern world. Photo by Rich Niewiroski Jr., CC license, Wikimedia.

As we discussed these facts we stopped and talked about what this looked like, where it was located, what it meant, and so on.  We used a state book from the library to fill in information and to see pictures of the state.  We also briefly talked about the history of California, information from the state book.

Map Exploration

Label a  California Map including the major landmarks and cities from a student atlas.

California web

Then color it as an elevation map, with the high mountains dark brown, the lower mountains and foothills light brown, the plains and coastal areas light green, and the areas below sea level dark green.

California elevation map web


We only spent about an hour and a half on California, but it could be expanded by:

  • Making a timeline of the state history
  • Reading more books about California
  • Reading books or watching movies that take place in California: Island of the Blue Dolphins, The Grapes of Wrath
  • Making a more detailed map of California.
  • Learning about the political climate.
  • Discussing the strengths and weaknesses of the state economically, socially, and politically.
  • Eating foods from California (avocados, grapes, nuts, many other fresh fruits and veggies and also fast foods, which got their start in California including McDonald’s, In ‘n Out Burger, Jack in the Box and many more).
  • Learning more about some of the famous people from California.
  • Learning more about a particular aspect of California history like the early Spanish missions, the Gold Rush, or the dot com boom.
This is the Redwood National Forest in California. Photo by Michael Schweppe, CC license, Wikimedia.

Additional Layers

  • Illegal immigration is a big problem in California, find out more about this problem.
  • San Diego has an amazing zoo, visit it online.
  • The Golden Gate Bridge is a suspension bridge, learn how suspension bridges use cables to remain strong, even during an earthquake.
  • Learn about the history of Alcatraz Prison.
  • Learn about the San Andreas fault and earthquakes.
  • Find out the story behind the California State flag.  Why does it say “California Republic”?
  • Death Valley is the source of Twenty-Mule Team Borax, the laundry aid.  Find out where it got its name.
  • How did Hollywood become the movie making capital of the U.S.?

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