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. These unit studies are written with homeschool students grades 3-8 in mind.
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.
North Carolina Unit Study
England’s first official attempt to form a colony was on Roanoke Island, located in modern day Dare County, North Carolina. The colony failed to thrive and disappeared giving it the name “The Lost Colony. North Carolina, as we know it today, became the 12th state to join the union on November 21, 1789. “The Tarheel State” as it is officially known ranks 29th in size in the nation.
The total area of North Carolina is 52,672 square miles. North Carolina ranks 3rd in population of the Southeastern region states. It is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, South Carolina and Georgia to the south, and Tennessee to the west.
Although, North Carolina has three geographical regions it’s climate for the majority of the state can be described as humid subtropical. The higher elevations of the mountain region tends to have a humid continental climate.
Nicknames: “The Tarheel State” and “The Old North State”
Tar is one of the state’s greatest industrial products and North Carolina is the region that was once considered the Northern section of the Carolina colony before being divided into two states in 1710
Motto: Esse quam videri – “To be, rather than to seem”
Agriculture: tobacco, sweet potatoes, poultry, eggs, pork, cotton, soybeans, peanuts, hogs, pigs, nursery products
Fishing Industry: trout, blue crabs, clams, flounder and shrimp
Industry: tobacco products, pharmaceuticals, synthetic fibers, cleaning products, computer components
Mining: granite, traprock, limestone
Have your students color and label an outline map of North Carolina. Include the state capital of Raleigh and the largest city of Charlotte. Also include the cities of Mount Airy (the real life Mayberry), Kitty Hawk, Asheville, and Cape Hatteras – home to the tallest lighthouse in the United States
North Carolina’s original state flag, created in 1861, was carried by the North Carolina troops during the Civil War. In 1865, it was redesigned to what is flown today. The flag has a field of blue with a star in the center of the letters N and C. Above the star reads “May 20th, 1775,” referring to the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Below the star reads the inscription “April 12th, 1776,” referring to the date commemorating the Halifax Resolves, a document that places North Carolina in the front rank among those that demanded unconditional freedom and absolute independence from any foreign power. In 1991, the flag underwent minor changes and that is the flag that we see today.
The North Carolina state seal was originally created in 1663. During colonial times, four different seals were used successively. Six different seals have been used since the war for independence. The current seal, revised in 1971, shows a representation of the figures of Liberty and Plenty facing each other. Liberty holds a scroll that reads “Constitution.” Plenty holds three heads of grain in one hand; the other hand is extended towards the cornucopia at her feet. The background of the seal shows mountains and a side view of a ship on the ocean. The seal also bears the dates that appear on the state flag “May 20, 1775” and “April 12, 1176” as well as the state motto “esse quam videri.”
North Carolina State Bird: Northern Cardinal
North Carolina designated the northern cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) as the official state bird in 1943. The Northern Cardinal is one of America’s favorite backyard birds. It is known for the male’s bright red color and for it’s distinctive singing. Both the male and female sing which is unusual as most female songbirds in America do not sing.
North Carolina State Flower: Dogwood
The blossom of the dogwood tree (Cornus florida), one of the most common trees in North Carolina was declared as the official state flower in 1941. The Dogwood tree can be found in all parts of the state from the mountains to the coast.
North Carolina State Tree: Pine Tree
In 1963, North Carolina designated the pine tree as the official state tree. There are hundreds of different species of pine trees, however, North Carolina did not designate a specific type to be their state tree. Along with the production of tar, pitch, rosin, and turpentine in colonial days, the pine tree continues to be a vital part of North Carolina’s industry and economy.
State Song: “The Old North State”
Learn about North Carolina’s state government here: HERE
Flora and Fauna
Trees commonly found in North Carolina are Shortleaf Pine, Black Willow, Bitternut Hickory, Pecan, Pignut Hickory, River Birch, American Beech, Chinkapin, White Oak, American Elm, Hackberry, Yellow Poplar, Sassafras, Sweetgum, Serviceberry, Redbud, American Holly, Sugar Maple, and Sourwood
Common birds found throughout North Carolina are: Black Duck, Canada Goose, Bald Eagle, Canvasback Duck, Cardinal, Clapper Rail, Great Horned Owl, Mallard Duck, Mourning Dove, Northern Bobwhite Quail, Osprey, and Osprey
North Carolina History
The history of North Carolina begins with Native American tribes dispersed across the state. European and Spanish explorers visited North Carolina in the early to mid-1500’s. In 1584, Sir Walter Raleigh sent settlers to Roanoke Island on the coast of North Carolina to establish the first English colony. Those colonists only remained in North Carolina for about a year and a half before returning to England.
In 1587 a second English colony was established at Roanoke. In August of that same year the first English child born on American soil. Her name was Virginia Dare. Three years later, John White returned to Roanoke and found that all of the settlers were gone, without a trace. He found the word “CROATOAN” carved on a structure and “CRO” carved into a tree. Nothing else remained. The colony at Roanoke became known as “The Lost Colony.” Their fate is still a mystery today.
It was 65 years before another attempt was made to permanently settle in North Carolina. That settlement was a success and North Carolina begin to grow. In 1776, the Battle of Moores Creek Bridge was the first American Revolutionary battle to be fought on North Carolina soil. On April 12, 1776, North Carolina became the first state to vote in favor of independence. They became the 12th US state in November of 1789.
In the 1830’s the government of the United States forced Cherokee Indians from their land and homes in North Carolina causing the Cherokee Indians to join the “Trail of Tears.” On May 20, 1861, North Carolina seceded from the Union. Seven years later, on July 4th, North Carolina was readmitted to the Union. In 1878 a Cherokee reservation was formed in Western North Carolina to provide protection for the Native Americans who lived in the area. Textile and furniture industries are a large part of the economy in North Carolina. This goes back to the late 1800’s. Today, High Point, NC is known as the furniture capital of the world.
In 1903, Wilbur and Orville Wright made the first successful flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Since the early 1900’s, North Carolina has been a key part of America’s history joining the nation with giving women the right to vote and the first ever “sit-in” to protest segregation held in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Famous People from North Carolina
Andrew Jackson (7th President of the United States)
Andrew Johnson (17th President of the United States)
Andy Griffith (actor)
Billy Graham (evangelist)
Charlie Duke (Apollo 16 astronaut and the 10th man to walk on the moon)
Dale Earnhardt (NASCAR driver)
Dolly Madison (First Lady of the United States)
James Polk (11th President of the United States)
Levi Coffin (known as the “President” of the Underground Railroad)
Michael Jordan (professional athlete)
Richard Petty (NASCAR driver)
Sir Walter Raleigh (explorer)
Thomas Wolfe (author)
Virginia Dare (first English to be born on American soil)
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copy work
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip North Carolina
If you have a chance to visit the state of North Carolina, 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.
Visit America’s largest home, built by George Vanderbilt. Explore the 8000-acre beautiful and grand estate in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC.
Outstanding scenery and recreational opportunities make the Blue Ridge Parkway one of the most visited sections of the National Park System.
Split-rail fences, old farmsteads, mountain meadows and scenic overlooks with endless vistas make the Blue Ridge Parkway a popular attraction. The Parkway incorporates numerous campgrounds, picnic areas and trails.
Chimney Rock State Park is one of the few places in the world with an elevator inside a mountain!
Carl Sandburg provided a popular voice for the American people of the twentieth century and still speaks to us through his words, songs and the beauty and serenity of Carl Sandburg Home National Historic Site.
Discovery Place uis a unified organization providing STEM education to the Carolinas through Discovery Place Science, Discovery Place Nature, and Discovery Place Kids.
At the dawn of the American Civil War, the Confederacy took control of a neck of land in southern North Carolina near the mouth of the Cape Fear River and constructed what was to become the largest and most important earthwork fort in the South. Two major battles were fought there, and many Union soldiers received the Congressional Medal of Honor for their gallant participation in that fighting.
Ridge upon ridge of forest straddles the border between North Carolina and Tennessee in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. World renowned for its diversity of plant and animal life, the beauty of its ancient mountains, and the quality of its remnants of Southern Appalachian mountain culture, this is America’s most visited national park.
84-acres of curiously fun things to discover and do. With a two-story interactive science center, one of the largest butterfly houses on the East Coast, over 60 species of live animals, and more, every visit is a new adventure.
The Museum of the Waxhaws is Union County’s cultural and history learning center. The Museum showcases and demonstrates history and culture to visitors in the context of indoor and outdoor exhibits, artistic performances, historical reenactments, and group tours.
Located in Uptown Charlotte, N.C., the 150,000-square-foot NASCAR Hall of Fame is an interactive, entertainment attraction honoring the history and heritage of NASCAR.
The wild horses of North Carolina’s Outer Banks once roamed freely along the entire length of this coastal barrier island chain, isolated from man for the most part for nearly 400 years. Descended from Spanish mustangs brought by the earliest European explorers to the Carolina coast, they have tenaciously survived this harsh and unforgiving environment.
Located just south of Asheboro, the North Carolina Zoo is seated on a 2,200-acre tract of land in the Uwharrie Mountains. Approximately 500 acres of this property have been developed into the largest “natural habitat” zoo in the United States.
Old Salem Museums & Gardens is one of America’s most comprehensive history attractions. Its museums—the Historic Town of Salem, the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts (MESDA), and the Gardens at Old Salem—engage visitors in an educational and memorable historical experience about those who lived and worked in the early South.
Moored in quiet dignity and majesty the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA, across the river from downtown Wilmington, beckons visitors to walk her decks. Envision the daily life and fierce combat her crew faced in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.
Wind, sand, and a dream of flight brought Wilbur and Orville Wright to Kitty Hawk, North Carolina where, after four years of scientific experimentation, they achieved the first successful airplane flights on December 17, 1903.
With courage and perseverance, these self-taught engineers relied on teamwork and application of the scientific process. What they achieved changed our world forever.
Arts and Crafts
Here are a few ideas to get you started as you learn about arts and crafts in North Carolina:
Make your own airplane
Make a canoe
Make a racecar
Make a star ornament
Interesting Facts about North Carolina
Biltmore Estate in Asheville is the nation’s largest private residence.
Pepsi Cola was invented in New Bern, North Carolina.
Lexington, North Carolina claims to be the BBQ Capital of the world.
Twenty of the largest emeralds ever found in the US were found in North Carolina
Pembroke State College for Indians (now UNC-Pembroke) became the nation’s first public four-year college for Native Americans in 1943
Babe Ruth hit his first professional home run in Fayetteville on March 7, 1914.
Mount Mitchell is the tallest mountain in the eastern United States.
Grandfather Mountain is home to the nation’s highest swinging bridge..
The University of North Carolina became the first public school in the United States in 1789.
The first gold nugget is found in the United States at Reed Gold Mine in Cabarrus County in 1799
North Carolina harvests over 4 billion pounds of sweet potatoes annually, making it the largest producer of the vegetable in the entire country.
Take a 2-minute virtual tour of North Carolina
Watch this movie to learn about North Carolina during the American Revolution through the eyes of 14-year-old Hugh McDonald and his friend, Anne Taylor.
Make a sweet potato dish using one of these 25 healthy recipes
Make North Carolina style bbq sauce
Bake a Pepsi cake
Learn more about the wild horses of Corolla and watch them on the beach!
Krispy Kreme donuts were first created in Winston Salem, North Carolina. Visit Krispy Kreme if there is a store near you. If not, enjoy a glazed donut from your local donut shop.
North Carolina Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
T is for Tar Heel: A North Carolina Alphabet by Carol Crane
My Great Aunt Arizona by Gloria Houston
A Picture Book of Dolley and James Madison by David A. Adler
Moonfinder by Jay Ryan
Book Basket (NonFiction)
The North Carolina Colony by Kevin Cunningham
Sir Walter Raleigh: Founding the Virginia Colony (In the Footsteps of Explorers) by
The Underground Railroad for Kids by Mary Kay Carson
If You Traveled on the Underground Railroad by Ellen Levine
How to Build a Plane by Martin Sodomka
Poetry for Kids by Carl Sanburg
NASCAR’s Greatest Drivers by Angela Roberts
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Young Andrew Jackson in the Carolinas: A Revolutionary Boy by Jennifer Hunsicker
Andrew Jackson by George E. Stanley
Wilbur and Orville Wright: Young Fliers by Augusta Stevenson
Prophet with Honor (Kids Edition): The Billy Graham Story by William C. Martin
Gold Mines of North Carolina by John Hairr
Who Comes with Cannons by Patricia Beatty (out of print but may be available from your library)
Drums by James Boyd (out of print but may be available from 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.