Welcome to Notebooking Across the USA, a series of unit studies covering each state in the U.S. in order of admission to the union. You can find the landing page for this series with links to each states unit study as they are published, along with tips, suggestions, and recommended resources for this series here: Notebooking Across the USA.
The most recommended resource for this series is the USA States Pack, and while I believe it will be very helpful if you will be studying all of the states, it is not required. If you do wish to purchase the pack, use the code benandmeUSA for a 25% discount.
Georgia Unit Study
Georgia was one of the original 13 colonies and became the 4th state admitted to the Union on January 2, 1788. Georgia was named after King George II of England.
Georgia is a southeastern U.S. state whose terrain spans coastal beaches, farmland and mountains. Georgia ranks 24th in size in the nation with a total area of 59,441 square miles, but is the largest state east of the Mississippi River. The capital city of Atlanta is also its largest city. The city of Savannah is famed for its 18th- and 19th-century architecture and leafy public squares. Augusta hosts the Masters golf tournament.
Population: 3,968,523 as of January, 2016 (8 largest in the U.S.)
Nickname: “The Peach State”
Georgia is best known as The Peach State. Georgia-grown peaches are recognized for their superior flavor, texture, appearance and nutritious qualities. Other nicknames for Georgia are The Goober State (goobers are an old word for peanuts), and The Empire State of the South.
Motto: Wisdom Justice Moderation (applies to the 3 branches of government — wisdom is needed by the legislative branch in making laws, justice applies to the decisions made by the judicial branch, and moderation is needed by the executive branch)
Agriculture: cotton, corn, peanuts, soybeans, broiler chickens, eggs, peaches, blueberries
Industry: tourism, textiles, transportation equipment, automotive, foods, paper products, chemicals
Mining: granite, limestone, marble
Have your students color and label an outline map of Georgia. Include the state capital and largest largest city of Atlanta, as well as Savannah, Columbus, and Augusta. Also include the Blue Ridge Mountains, Chattahoochee River, the Savannah River, and the Okefenokee Swamp.
Georgia designated a new state flag in 2003 to move away from its Confederate origins (read about the history of the Georgia flag). Georgia’s flag has three bars of equal width – two outer red bars and a white bar in the center. There is a square blue canton the width of two bars in the upper left corner.
Georgia’s coat of arms is centered on the canton with the words “In God We Trust” below (both in gold). Circling the coat of arms are thirteen white stars – symbols of Georgia and the other twelve original states that formed the United States of America.
The state seal of Georgia was adopted by the State Constitution in 1798. The obverse (main face) features the state coat of arms.
The three pillars are symbols of the legislative, judicial and executive branches of government. The man standing with drawn sword defends the Constitution and its principles of Wisdom, Justice and Moderation. 1776 is the year the United States declared independence.
Georgia State Bird: Brown Thrasher
Georgia’s governor first proclaimed the brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) as the State Bird in 1935, but it was not recognized by the Georgia legislature as the official State Bird until 1970.
Learn more about the brown thrasher, listen to its sound, and watch it on video by visiting this page.
Georgia State Flower: Cherokee Rose
Georgia designated the Cherokee rose (Rosa laevigata) as the official state flower in 1916
Georgia State Tree: Live Oak
The Southern Live Oak (Quercus virginiana) is an evergreen oak tree native to the southeastern United States. Though many other species are loosely called live oak, the southern live oak is particularly iconic of the Old South. It was designated Georgia’s state tree in 1937.
“Georgia on My Mind” by Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell, became the official state song of Georgia in 1979. It is most often associated with Ray Charles, a native of Georgia, who recorded it for his 1960 album The Genius Hits the Road.
Learn Georgia’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Common mammals in Georgia include the white-tailed deer, black bear, muskrat, raccoon, opossum, mink, common cottontail, and three species of squirrel—fox, gray, and flying. No fewer than 160 birds species breed in Georgia, including the mockingbird, brown thrasher, and numerous sparrows. The Okefenokee Swamp is home to the sandhill piper, snowy egret, and white ibis. The bobwhite quail is the most popular game bird.
Common trees growing in Georgia include white and scrub pines, chestnut, northern red oak, and buckeye in the mountain area, while loblolly and shortleaf (yellow) pines and whitebark maple are found throughout the Piedmont. Pecan trees grow densely in southern Georgia, and white oak and cypress are plentiful in the eastern part of the state. Trees found throughout the state include red cedar, scaly-bark and white hickories, red maple, sycamore, yellow poplar, sassafras, sweet and black gums, and various dogwoods and magnolias. Common flowering shrubs include yellow jasmine, flowering quince, and mountain laurel. Spanish moss grows abundantly on the coast and around the streams and swamps of the entire coastal plain. Kudzu vines are seemingly everywhere.
When Europeans first arrived in Georgia, it was already inhabited by various tribes of Native Americans. The two major tribes were the Cherokee (in the northern part of the state) and the Creek (in the southern part of the state. Both the Cherokee and the Creek were considered part of the “Five Civilized Tribes.”
The first European to explore Georgia was Hernando de Soto in 1540.
In 1733, James Oglethorpe founded the British colony of Georgia. He led 116 colonists to the coast of Georgia and established a settlement that would later become the city of Savannah.
Georgia joined the other 12 original colonies and signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776.
In 1793, Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin near Savannah.
By the 1800s, much of the land in Georgia was used to farm cotton. Plantation owners bought slaves from Africa to work the cotton fields, and by 1860, there were nearly half a million slaves living in Georgia.
The many historic sites located throughout Georgia attest to its rich Civil War history. From the bombing of Fort Pulaski in 1862 to the capture of Confederate president Jefferson Davis in 1865, Georgia played a significant role in the Civil War (1861-65). The fall of Atlanta in 1864 was pivotal in determining the war’s outcome; this important Union victory assured U.S. president Abraham Lincoln’s reelection and ultimately led to Confederate defeat. Learn about the 10 Major Civil War Sites in Georgia.
The Battle of Atlanta was fought during the American Civil War on July 22, 1864, just southeast of Atlanta. Union forces commanded by William T. Sherman, wanting to neutralize the important rail and supply hub, defeated Confederate forces defending the city under John B. Hood.
In 1968 Coretta Scott King founded the King Center in Atlanta as a memorial to her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.
In 1977, Georgia’ governor, Jimmy Carter became the 39th President of the United States.
The 1996 the Summer Olympic Games were held in Atlanta. On July 27, tragedy struck when a terrorist bomb exploded in the Centennial Olympic Park. Two people died and 110 people were injured.
Famous People from Georgia
Martin Luther King, Jr. (civil rights activist)
President Jimmy Carter (39th President of the United States)
Eli Whitney (inventor)
Jackie Robinson (baseball player)
Truett Cathy (founder of Chick-Fil-A)
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Tourism: Road Trip Georgia
If you have a chance to visit the state of Georgia, be sure you don’t miss these sites. If you won’t be visiting, take a virtual field trip by clicking on the name of the site. Have your student create Travel Journal notebooking pages to record what they learn.
Located in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, the Okefenokee Swamp Park is a convenient point of entry and a magnificent show-window for the “Land of the Trembling Earth.” The park’s lily-decked water trails, with their miraculously reflective waters mirroring the overhanging beauty, lead to all points in this vast wilderness of islands, lakes, jungles, forest and prairies. Boat tours on original Indian waterways, wilderness walkways, Pioneer Island and native animals in their own habitat, all combine to weave a spell of pioneer American life.
Located on 3,200 acres of natural beauty, Stone Mountain Park features a wide variety of fun family activities and things to do in the Atlanta, Georgia area. Amazing adventures await as you discover interactive children’s attractions. Don’t miss the skyride to the top of Stone Mountain to get an up-close look at the Stone Mountain Carving. Here’s a quick video tour of the park.
Adventures are abundant at Amicalola State Park and Lodge. From high flying on the Georgia zip line adventure to hiking Amicalola Falls.
Enjoy weekly activities like the popular Fire Pit Stories or schedule an adventure package with activities that are sure to get your adrenaline pumping. The event calendar lists both regularly scheduled activities and other special events happening at the Lodge and at the Park.
Georgia’s largest barrier island and one of the most spectacular natural habitats in the Northern Hemisphere.
If you can’t visit Cumberland Island, do a tour of their website. It is rich with education about the history and habitat of this area of Georgia. They even have feral horses!
Located on 33 acres in the heart of historic Buckhead, the Atlanta History Center invites you to explore Georgia’s past through award-winning exhibitions; two historic houses including 1928 Swan House and 1860s Smith Family Farm; Centennial Olympic Games Museum; the Goizueta Gardens, featuring 22 acres of historic gardens and trails; and the Kenan Research Center. The all-inclusive admission ticket includes tours of the Margaret Mitchell House, birthplace of Gone with the Wind, located just five miles away at our midtown campus.
A young boy grows up in a time of segregation…A dreamer is moved by destiny into leadership of the modern civil rights movement…This was Martin Luther King, Jr. Come hear his story, visit the home of his birth, and where he played as a child. Walk in his footsteps, and hear his voice in the church where he moved hearts and minds. Marvel at how he was an instrument for social change.
Experience the real stories behind the world’s most famous beverage brand.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt built the Little White House in 1932 while governor of New York, prior to being inaugurated as president in 1933. He first came to Warm Springs in 1924 hoping to find a cure for the infantile paralysis (polio) that had struck him in 1921. Swimming in the 88-degree, buoyant spring waters brought him no miracle cure, but it did bring improvement. During FDR’s presidency and the Great Depression, he developed many New Deal Programs (such as the Rural Electrification Administration) based upon his experiences in this small town.
Here are a few more sites in Atlanta:
Arts and Crafts
Studying states lends itself easily to opportunities for arts and crafts activities. The ideas are endless, but here are a few to get your started:
Civil War 3D Photography lesson plans for grades 4-7. The Civil War was the first major war to be documented using photography. This activity teaches students how to learn history from studying original photographs.
Create a replica of Stone Mountain with salt dough.
Tell a story with stones.
Make real arrows.
Make a Cherokee rattle.
Interesting Facts about Georgia
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is the “world’s busiest airport”. It sees more than 96 million passengers in one year.
The Okefenokee Swamp is home to hundreds of species of birds and wildlife. Covering more than 600 square miles along the Georgia/Florida border, it is the largest freshwater swamp in the world.
Georgia grows nearly half of the nation’s peanut harvest (more than 2 billion pounds) every year. Peanuts have been grown in the state since colonial times. Sylvester, Georgia is known as the “peanut capital of the world” and is the host of the annual Georgia Peanut Festival.
Atlanta is known as the “economic capital of the Southeast.” It has a metropolitan area of more than 4 million people.
Born in Plains, GA, President Jimmy Carter was first a peanut farmer.
Vidalia Onions are only grown in Georiga.
Watch this video about harvesting peanut crops: Georgia Peanut Harvest
One of the most common food allergies is to peanuts. Learn about peanut allergies, including a printable about how to read labels to see if a food is peanut-free.
Make a homemade “bloomin’ onion” but be sure to use a Vidalia onion!
Take a video tour of Atlanta, the largest and capital city of Georgia, and the 39th largest state in the United States.
Take a peek at the world’s largest peanut.
In this study of Sherman’s March to the Sea, students learn how the Union’s “March to the Sea” was one of the more controversial aspects of the later phases of the Civil War. Sent by Ulysses S. Grant to “create havoc and destruction of all resources that would be beneficial to the enemy,” Sherman began his “Atlanta Campaign” in May 1864. Target: grades 5-8
Music. Listen to these popular civil war songs and discuss their origins:
Have lunch at Chick-Fil-A
Complete a Trail of Tears lapbook
Learn about the boll weevil’s effects on Georgia’s cotton crops
Georgia Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
P is for Peach by Carol Crane
The Gift of the Tree by Alvin Tresselt
And the Tide Comes In: Exploring a Georgia Salt Marsh by Merryl Alber
Martin’s Big Words: The Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by Doreen Rappaport
If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
The Life and Times of the Peanut by Charles Micucci
From Peanut to Peanut Butter by Robin Nelson
A Picture Book of Jackie Robinson by David Adler
If You Lived with the Cherokees by Peter Roop
Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac
Book Basket (NonFiction)
What’s Great About Georgia? by Andrea Wang
The Big Georgia Reproducible Activity Book! by Carole Marsh
GEORGIA What’s So Great About This State by Kate Boehm Jerome
It Happened In Georgia by James Crutchfield
Atlanta, GA: Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know by Kate Boehm Jerome
The Peachy Georgia Coloring Book! by Carole Marsh
Birds of Georgia Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
Mammals of Georgia by Stan Tekiela
Georgia Native Americans by Carole Marsh
The Underground Railroad for Kids by Mary Kay Carson
Jimmy Carter: Thirty-Ninth President 1977-1981 (Getting to Know the U.S. Presidents) by Mike Venezia (no longer in print, but may be available at your library)
Time For Kids: Jackie Robinson: Strong Inside and Out by Editors of Time
Kudzu in America by Juanita Baldwin
The Trail of Tears: A History Just for Kids! by KidCaps
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Turn Homeward, Hannalee by Patricia Beatty
The Story of Eli Whitney by Jean Lee Latham
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Jimmy Carter: Beyond the Presidency by Mellonee Carrigan (no longer in print, but may be available at your library)
Jimmy Carter by Tim O’Shei
Who Was Martin Luther King, Jr.? by Bonnie Bader
Who Was Jackie Robinson by Gail Herman
Untamed: The Wildest Woman in America and the Fight for Cumberland Island by Will Harlan (moms — please pre-read this book; it looks fascinating but I am unsure if it is appropriate for children)
Cherokee Sister by Debbie Dadey
The Trail of Tears by Alan Pierce (no longer in print, but may be available at your library)
I suggest creating a “unit study book basket” (a laundry basket will do) to fill with books from the book basket lists. You can use these books in your instructional time, for reading aloud, or for reading time for your students. Some of the nonfiction books have activities, experiments, and other hands-on learning opportunities to enrich your unit study.