Pennsylvania State Study

PennsylvaniaThe Liberty Bell, steel production, and of course chocolate, it’s time for a Pennsylvania State Study.

My kids and I have just started studying the 50 states, for the second time around. There are some key things we add to our state studies to make them interesting.


  • We use books and movies from the library for some base understanding,
  • we read biographies of people who had significant impact on the state,
  • we cook something that is unique or has some significance to the state,
  • and we color maps.

We ignore for the most part things like the state bird, flower, motto and so on that teachers so dearly love to dwell on. They’re just boring and unimportant. We do examine the climate and natural world of the state though.

We just did Pennsylvania.

  • We learned about William Penn and read some books on the state from the library
  • then we did a cooking activity: chocolate brownies made with Hershey’s cocoa, from Hershey Pennsylvania. When we colored maps of Pennsylvania we made sure to include Hershey. Another possibility would be Philly cheese steak sandwiches . . . or hmmm . . . both?
This is Philadelphia. With a population of 1.5 million people it is the sixth largest city in the USA. Photo by Ed Yakovich, released to the public domain.

Map Exploration

Color and label a Pennsylvania Map.

pennsylvania web

Additional Layers

  • Learn map skills, like cardinal directions, scale, symbols and keys.
  • Learn history through biographies of famous people.
  • Use songs to memorize the 50 states. We use the CD and book set called Geography Songs: Sing Around the World by Larry and Kathy Troxel. It includes the US and the rest of the world. Just listen to it in your car or at home and the kids pick up the states quickly. Repeat every so often and they have it firmly in their heads.
  • Learn about where chocolate comes from and the history of this most delicious plant.
  • Talk about the chemistry of cooking. What does the baking soda do? What happens when you cook something to change it? What temperature do the brownies reach while they are being cooked? (They only get up to the boiling point of water, about 212 deg Fahrenheit or 100 deg Celsius. If they get hotter, we call that burning the brownies.) If you don’t know the answers research it on the Internet with your kids.
  • Learn about significant historical events that took place in Pennsylvania, like the battle of Gettysburg or the building of the Erie canal. Pennsylvania is also the home of the Quakers and the underground railroad was very active there.  And we mustn’t forget the founding of the Untied States happened mostly in Pennsylvania.

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