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 ben&meUSA for a 25% discount.
Louisiana Unit Study
Once a French, and also a Spanish colony, Louisiana became the 18th state to join the union on April 30, 1812. Louisiana is located in the southeastern part of the United states and covers 50,000 square miles, ranking it as 31st in size of the U.S. states. Arkansas to the north, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Mississippi to the east, and Texas to the west make up the borders of Louisiana. The climate in Louisiana, greatly influenced by the Gulf of Mexico, can be described as humid subtropical giving them long, hot summers and short, mild winters.
Capital: Baton Rouge
Population: 4,692,458 million – 25th in the nation
Nickname: The Pelican State
The “Pelican State” is the official nickname, however, Louisiana has also been referred to by a few other nicknames over the years. They are as follows: Bayou State, Child of the Mississippi, Creole State, Sportsman’s Paradise, Sugar State, and The Boot.
Motto: Union, Justice, and Confidence
Agriculture: cane for sugar, rice, cattle and calves, soybeans, cotton, dairy products, aquaculture (farm raised catfish and crayfish), chicken eggs, hogs, corn for grain, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, peaches, strawberries and melons
Fishing Industry: shrimp , catfish, crayfish, menhaden and oysters
Industry: production of chemicals including, but not limited to, pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, and paint; petroleum and coal processing, paper production; and ship, aircraft and automobile manufacturing.
Mining: petroleum, natural gas, sulfur, salt, coal, sand, and gravel.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Louisiana. Include the state capital of Baton Rouge. Also include the largest city of New Orleans. Be sure to include Natchitoches, the first permanent settlement in Louisiana; Lake Pontchartrain, Louisiana’s largest inland body of water; and the Gulf of Mexico.
The state flag of Louisiana feature a few symbols of the state on a field of blue. The Brown Pelican, Louisiana’s official state bird, is shown in the center of the flag. The pelican is shown caring its young. There are three drops of blood indicating that the bird is tearing at its own flesh. Under the pelican is a white banner containing the state motto, “Union, Justice, and Confidence.” An interesting fact is that Louisiana has had ten very different flags to fly over the state since the time that it was a Spanish colony. The flag described above has been the official flag since 1912.
The state seal of Louisiana, like the state flag, features the Brown Pelican. The image of the pelican is identical to the image on the flag. The seal is circular with the pelican shown on a field of blue, also like the flag. Around the pelican and its young is the state motto, “Union, Justice, and Confidence.” A circle of white is around the blue field that simply says, “State of Louisiana.
Louisiana State Bird: Brown Pelican
The Brown Pelican is an important symbol for the state of Louisiana. When settlers first came to the territory of Louisiana, they were so drawn to how the pelican cared for its young that they declared the Brown Pelican a symbol of the state. This declaration was made official in 1966 when the Brown Pelican became the state bird. The importance of the bird to the state is reflected by its use as part of the state nickname and it’s appearing on the state flag and state seal.
Louisiana State Flower: Magnolia
The abundance of magnolia blossoms across the state of Louisiana was the suspected reasoning for naming that Magnolia as the official state flower on July 12, 1900. At the time of the declaration, it was not clear of the species that was the official flower, however, several years later it was noted that the Southern Magnolia is the type that was designated.
Louisiana State Tree: Bald Cypress
The Bald Cypress tree has been important to the residents of Louisiana since the first settlers came to the territory. Not only is the wood of the tree excellent to use to build furniture, ships, homes, and more; the tree has served to protect the state of Louisiana from storms and coastline erosion. The Bald Cypress officially became the state tree of Louisiana on May 26, 1963 when a fourth grade class in Baton Rouge appealed to the state legislators to add the tree to Louisiana’s list of state symbols. The reason the class gave to the legislator was that the Bald Cypress not only provided beauty but that it had historical and economic significance to Louisiana.
State Song: Louisiana has two official state songs:
You Are My Sunshine (click here to listen to the state song and here for the lyrics), written by Charles Mitchell & former Louisiana governor Jimmie H. Davis, was also designated as an official state song in 1977.
Learn about Louisiana’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Trees most commonly found in Louisiana are: Longleaf pine, Loblolly pine, Shumard Oak, American Beech, Green Ash, River Birch, Cedar Elm, Sweetgum, Hackberry, Pignut Hickory, Honey Locust, Sweetbay Magnolia,Red Maple, Silver Maple, Mexican Plum, Bur Oak, Willow Oak, Pecan, Slash Pine, Redbud,Western Soapberry, Sourwood, Tuliptree, and Black Walnut.
Mammals native to Louisiana include the big brown bat, coyote, red fox, black bear, virginia opossum, nine-banded armadillo, least shrew, eastern mole, American beaver, woodland vole, hispid cotton rat, and the southern flying squirrel
Birds common to Louisiana are White Ibis, Snowy Egret, Cooper’s hawk, Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, Greater White-fronted Goose, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, Belted Kingfisher, Greater Roadrunner, Buff-bellied Hummingbird, Chuck-will’s-widow, Sandhill Crane, Upland Sandpiper, American Oystercatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Seaside Sparrow, and the Summer Tanager
Before the Spanish and the French laid claim to what is now Louisiana, Native Americans lived off of the land and made their homes there. Many towns, streets, rivers, and more find Native American influence in their names. In 1682, twelve years after discovering the Ohio River in Ohio, Rene Robert Cavelier Sieur de La Salle, entered into the territory and named it in honor of Louis XIV who was King of France at the time. As a colony of France, the tract of land that was Louisiana covered 13 modern-day states; from what is now Mobile Bay to just over the present-day U.S. – Canadian border. It is believed that La Salle flew a flag with the Fleur-de-lis symbol on it when he claimed the land. The Fleur-de-lis was the emblem for the French monarchy. The Fleur-de-lis remains as an image seen in Louisiana today reminding residents and visitors of their French heritage.
Connections to the Spanish were not severed as the inhabitants of Louisiana continued trading with the Spaniards who were living in Texas. The oldest French settlement was called Natchitoches, and was established specifically for the trade that they continued with Texas. The secondary reason for the settlement was to hinder an advancement that the Spanish might try to make into Louisiana. The French quickly realized the importance of having a port city to enable them to receive goods from countries across the ocean. They established the city of New Orleans, named for Philipe II, Duke of Orleans, in 1718.
Like many other states, the Louisiana territory was affected by the French-Indian War. The British won the land east of the Mississippi and the Spanish won what is now the state of Louisiana. During the time of the Spanish rule, residents of modern-day Nova Scotia, left their home and settled in the southwestern part of Louisiana. Their ancestors still live there today and call these emigrants “Cajuns.” Their culture, especially their cuisine, has made Louisiana a popular destination for tourist from all over the world. Not only did the Spanish welcome the “Cajun,” the French Quarter in New Orleans was developed while they were in control.
Napoleon obtained Louisiana from Spanish control in 1800 with the goal of reinstituting French presence in New Orleans. This acquisition hindered access to the Mississippi that the United States needed for trading opportunities. President Thomas Jefferson made the decision to purchase portions of the Mississippi and New Orleans so that trading, and travel, could continue for the colonists. The price offered for the purchase was $2 million dollars. The Spanish were very unhappy about the possibility of the U.S. purchase and quickly closed the port in New Orleans. Jefferson then increased his offer to $10 million dollars. Napoleon had set his sights on a war against England and needed the money. Because of his greed, Napoleon ended up selling the entirety of the Louisiana territory, 530,000,000 acres – 15 present-day states, for $15 million dollars. With the new land, the United States immediately become a powerful country.
Slave trade grew and New Orleans became one of the most prosperous cities in the U.S. The port city was key in the export of cotton, sugar, and tobacco. In January of 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union. The city of New Orleans became a vital part of the Civil War with her port being used to bring soldiers and supplies to the Confederate States Army. Because of this, New Orleans became a target for the Union Army and eventually was taken into Union control.
The influence of African Americans in Louisiana, and specifically in New Orleans, give the state a culture all its own. Jazz music was born in New Orleans and continues today to be a popular music genre. With the music and culture came a celebration known as Mardi Gras. This festival was introduced by the French in the late 1600’s. It has grown and become one of the largest, most visited festivals in the United States.
After the Civil War, Louisiana suffered politically and economically. Income through the ports in Louisiana, as well as steamboat traffic, was being replaced by the building of the railroad system. The discovery of natural gas and oil in the early 1900’s boosted the economy in the state. In the 20th century, Louisiana has struggled through the Civil Rights movement as well as several natural disasters. No matter the challenges that the state of Louisiana faces, it remains to be a strong part of American culture and history.
Famous People from Louisiana
Louis Armstrong (musician)
John James Audubon (ornithologist)
Jean Lafitte (pirate and privateer)
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Louisiana
If you have a chance to visit the state of Louisiana, 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.
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve contains Barataria, located south of New Orleans and featuring trails and canoe tours; Chalmette Battlefield, the scene of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans; the New Orleans Unit, interpreting the ethnic population of the Delta; and the Acadian Unit, which interprets Acadian culture and history.
The National WWII Museum, formerly known as the D-Day Museum, is a military history museum. The museum focuses on the contribution made by the United States to Allied victory in World War II. Founded in 2000, it was later designated by the U.S. Congress as America’s official National World War II Museum in 2003. The Museum maintains an affiliation with the Smithsonian Institution. The mission statement of the Museum emphasizes the American experience in World War II.
LARC’s Acadian Village Lafayette’s oldest authentic vision of life in 19th century Southwest Louisiana and a showcase of historic homes alongside winding bayous depicting the unique Acadian architecture of the time. A blacksmith shop, general store and two event venues are also located in the village.
The Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis, King of France, also called St. Louis Cathedral, is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.
The self-guided, 10-stop TABASCO® Tour will take you through the TABASCO® Museum, the greenhouse, the barrel warehouse and the factory building. Save your appetite and be ready to shop and taste your way through the last two stops on the tour, the TABASCO® Country Store and Restaurant 1868.
Located in historic Uptown New Orleans Audubon Zoo offers an exotic mix of animals from around the globe, engaging educational programs, hands-on animal encounters and lush gardens. Unique natural habitat exhibits—such as the award-winning Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle—showcase the relationship between people and nature.
The Global Wildlife Center seeks to be a center of excellence in education; to create a perfect place in which threatened and endangered wildlife, from around the world, live and flourish in a free-roaming natural environment. A place where children, adults, students, and teachers embrace the values of active conservation and wildlife preservation through hands-on education and first-person sensory experience.
Sci-Port Discovery Center is a 92,000 square-foot science and entertainment center in Shreveport-Bossier, featuring over 290 science, math and space exhibits, daily changing programs, an IMAX Dome Theatre, open-access, interactive, laser Space Dome Planetarium, gift shop and cafe.
Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, a Gothic architectural treasure, stands high on a bluff overlooking the Mississippi River. The 165-year-old statehouse has withstood war, fire, scandal, bitter debate, abandonment and an occasional fistfight. Today, the building stands as a testament to bold, inspired leadership and active citizenship.
The time was eight centuries after Egyptian laborers dragged huge stones across the desert to build the Great Pyramids, and before the great Mayan pyramids were constructed. The place was a site in what is now northeastern Louisiana. The people were a sophisticated group who left behind one of the most important archaeological sites in North America.
The Original Cafe Du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. Its menu consists of dark roasted Coffee and Chicory, Beignets, White and Chocolate Milk, and fresh squeezed Orange Juice. The coffee is served Black or Au Lait. Au Lait means that it is mixed half and half with hot milk. Beignets are square French -style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar. In 1988 Iced Coffee was introduced to the cafe. Soft drinks also made their debut that year.
Arts and Crafts
Celebrate Mardi Gras with fun activities your little ones will love, using this list of Mardi Gras crafts, recipes and activities for kids.
Whether or not you have a Mardi Gras celebration, your kids will enjoy getting in the kitchen to make King Cake (or you can probably buy one at your local bakery).
Interesting Facts about Louisiana
The world famous “Mardi Gras” is celebrated in New Orleans. Mardi Gras is an ancient custom that originated in southern Europe. It celebrates food and fun just before the 40 days of Lent.
The Battle of New Orleans, which made Andrew Jackson a national hero, was fought two weeks after the War of 1812 had ended and more than a month before the news of the war’s end had reached Louisiana.
Louisiana is the only state in the union that does not have counties. Its political subdivisions are called parishes.
Louisiana is the only state with a large population of Cajuns, descendants of the Acadians who were driven out of Canada in the 1700s because they wouldn’t pledge allegiance to the King of England.
Metairie is home to the longest bridge over water in the world, the Lake Pontchartrain causeway. The causeway connects Metairie with St. Tammany Parish on the North Shore. The causeway is 24 miles long.
The first American army to have African American officers was the confederate Louisiana Native Guards. The Corps d’Afrique at Port Hudson was sworn into service on September 27, 1862.
Between April 17,1862 and May 18, 1864 20 major Civil War battles and engagements were fought on Louisiana soil.
In 1803 the United States paid France $15 million for the Louisiana Territory. 828,000 square miles of land west of the Mississippi River. The lands acquired stretched from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains and from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. Thirteen states were carved from the Louisiana Territory. The Louisiana Purchase nearly doubled the size of the United States.
Gueydan is known as the “Duck Capital of America” in recognition of its abundance of waterfowl.
Watch this video to learn about how the floats are made for the Mardi Gras parade.
Enjoy an episode of Swamp People.
Make a hurricane.
Louisiana Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
The Runaway Beignet by Connie Morgan
This is Monday in Louisiana by Johnette Downing
Little Louisiana by Anita C. Prieto
The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles
If Only I Had a Horn: Young Louis Armstrong by Roxanne Orgill
The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon by Jacqueline Davies
Book Basket (NonFiction)
Louisiana (America the Beautiful) by Allison Lassieur
North American Pelicans by Lynn M. Stone
Hurricanes by Gail Gibbons
Birds of Louisiana and Mississippi Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
The Louisiana Purchase: What a Deal by Carole Marsh
The Big Louisiana Reproducible Activity Book by Carole Marsh
If You Lived at the Time of the Civil War by Kay Moore
The Civil War for Kids : A History with 21 Activities by Janis Herbert
Jazz and Its History by Giuseppe Vigna (out of print, but may be available at your library)
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Louisiana Purchase by Peter Roop
Who Was Louis Armstrong by Yona Zeldis McDonough
Jean Lafitte: The Pirate Who Saved America by Susan Goldman Rubin
The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans by Robert Tallant
First Steamboat Down the Mississippi by George Fichter
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!