Michigan State Study

MichiganMichigan, shaped like a mitten, headquarters of the US auto industry, and bordered by the Great Lakes.  It’s time for a Michigan state study.

History of Michigan

Join us for a Michigan State Study.  The Algonquin were the inhabitants of the state of Michigan before Europeans arrived. the French were the first to explore and make contact with the tribes in this area. The Indians traded furs for beads and metal tools to the satisfaction of everyone.  The French Catholic missionaries followed right on the heel of the traders, setting up the first permanent European settlements.  The territorial boundaries in this area were not well defined until the treaty following the War of 1812, which gave the territory to the Americans.  Michigan became a state in 1835.

The economy of Michigan is based mostly on manufacturing with a big emphasis on the auto industry. The auto industry has in recent years taken a dive and the city of Detroit has suffered greatly.  Agriculture, in particular, fruit farming is another big industry in Michigan.

Michigan is nearly completely surrounded by freshwater lakes.  It has two separate peninsulas jutting out into Lake Erie, Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior.  The Upper Peninsula (U.P.) is heavily forested and relatively mountainous.  It is also less densely populated.  The Lower Peninsula (L.P.) is mostly level and has the population to make Michigan the 8th most populous state in the USA.  From time to time the U.P. has called for succession from the L.P., as they have a distinct cultural bent and not enough influence in Lansing due to their smaller population.  On the flip side though they get money from the more populated parts of the state to fund their roads, parks, schools and libraries.

This is downtown Detroit with the GM headquarters. Image in the public domain.

Fabulous Facts

  • Michigan is called “The Wolverine State” even though Wolverines are so rare in the state that the only one spotted in the last 200 years was found dead.
  • State Motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam circumspice (Latin: If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you)
  • The state song is disputed, but it’s either Michigan, My Michigan or My Michigan.
  • The U of Michigan was the first state university established in the United States, previously all universities were private.
  • Michigan State University was the US’s first land-grant college.
  • The Mackinac bridge connects the U.P. and the L.P., spanning more than 5 miles across the Great Lakes, one of the longest suspension bridges in the world.
  • Stuff invented in Michigan: Kelloggs cereal and ginger ale.
  • Michigan operates a floating post office, a boat that delivers to ships underway on the Great Lakes, the only one of its kind in the world.


  • Color a Michigan Map.  Include the major cities and color a population map to show where most of the people in Michigan live.

Michigan Map web

  • Make a Michigan style recipe.
  • Listen to some Mo-town music from Detroit.
  • Color the Michigan Flag
  • Make a tourist brochure for Michigan.

Additional Layers

  • Other states who have had secession (from the US or from the rest of their state) more or less on their minds include Hawaii, Texas, Idaho, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Maine, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin.  Whew!!! Would have been easier to name the ones that are satisfied with their borders.
  • Most portions of states that want to secede desire this for political reasons.  Often one sector of a state is more liberal or conservative than another.  No one likes to be forced to live under laws they disagree with.  Do you think secession is a good answer or there are other solutions?
  • What is a land grant college?  How do they work?
  • Learn about the history of the auto industry in America.  Why is/was Detroit the center of that industry?

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