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.
Mississippi Unit Study
Named for the second longest river in America, Mississippi became the 20th state to join the union on December 10, 1817. Covering 48,434 square miles, it is the 32nd largest state in the U.S. Mississippi is bordered by Tennessee to the north, the Gulf of Mexico to the south, Alabama to the east, and Arkansas and Louisiana, across the Mississippi River to the west.
Located in the southern region of the United States, Mississippi experiences climate typical of a humid subtropical climate with short winters and long, humid summers. The southern part of the state is typically more humid due to its border being the Gulf of Mexico. It is not unusual for Mississippi to experience severe weather from hurricanes that come across the Gulf or from the two “tornado alleys” that cross the state.
Population: 2,991,223 million – 32nd in the nation
Nickname: The Magnolia State
Even though Mississippi’s official nickname comes from the official state flower and tree, it has also been called a few other nicknames over the years. These include: The Bayou State, The Eagle State, The Border-eagle State, The Mud-cat State,The Mud-waddler State, and The Ground-hog State.
Motto: Virtute et armis (By valor and arms)
Agriculture: broilers (5 – 12 week old chickens), cotton, soybeans, aquaculture (farm raised catfish), cattle and calves, chicken eggs, rice, sweet potatoes, peaches, watermelons and muscadine grapes
Fishing: shrimp, menhaden, oysters and red snapper, buffalo fish, carp and catfish.
Industry: Meatpacking, beverages, dairy products, grain products and seasonings, furniture production, chemicals, ocean-going freighters, tankers, lighting and wiring equipment.
Mining: petroleum, natural gas, clay, limestone, lignite, sand and gravel
Have your students color and label an outline map of Mississippi. Include the state capital, and largest city, of Jackson. Be sure to include Vicksburg, home to the Vicksburg National Military Park and site of crucial “Vicksburg Battle” in the Civil War. Don’t forget the Gulf of Mexico and the Mississippi River.
The top left corner of the Mississippi state flag of Mississippi shows the Union canton. The 13 stars in the canton are symbolic for the original 13 colonies. The remaining part of the flag is made up of 3 stripes of equal size. The stripes are blue, white, and red matching the national colors of the United States.
The state seal of Mississippi was adopted in 1798. The seal features an eagle bearing a shield with stars and stripes on it. In its talons, the eagle holds an olive branch and arrows. These are the symbols of peace and strength.
Mississippi State Bird: Mockingbird
The Mockingbird, known for being able to imitate the songs of other birds, amphibian and insect sounds, was adopted as the official state bird of Mississippi in 1944. Along with those sounds, the Mockingbird also sings up to 200 songs.
Mississippi State Flower: Magnolia
In 1900, through a vote by schoolchildren, the magnolia was adopted as the official state flower.
Mississippi State Tree: Magnolia
In 1952, the Magnolia tree was designated as the official state tree of Mississippi. There are many variations of Magnolia across the state of Mississippi, however, the Southern Magnolia is the official state tree.
Go, Mississippi was written by William Houston Davis and became the state song of Mississippi in 1962.
Learn about Mississippi’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Trees commonly found in Mississippi are: White Ash, Eastern Red Cedar, Pin Oak, River Birch, Eastern Redbud, American Beech, Sweetgum, Tuliptree, Tupelo Black Gum, Sassafras, Red Buckeye, and the Downy Serviceberry
Mammals commonly found in Mississippi include: Coyote, Eastern Woodrat, Gray Fox, Eastern Mole, Nine-banded Armadillo, Northern Raccoon, Virginia Opossum, Eastern Pipistrelle, Eastern Flying Squirrel, Beaver, and the White-tail Deer
Common Mississippi birds are: Brown Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Wood Duck, Black Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Northern Bobwhite, Clapper Rail, Killdeer, Rock Dove, Barred Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Pine Warbler, Eastern Towhee, and the Brown-headed Cowbird
Prior to explorer Hernando de Soto visiting Mississippi, the land was occupied by the Chiskasaw, Cohctaw and the Natchez tribes. Despite de Soto claiming the land for Spain, in 1640 French explorer, La Salle, claimed the land for France. Mississippi was originally part of a large area known as Louisiana.
The French settled in Mississippi and remained in control of the land until they lost to the British in the French and Indian War. Then in 1798, following the Revolutionary War, Mississippi became part of the United States. At that time, the city of Natchez was the state capital. Mississippi also played an important role in the War of 1812. Five years later, in 1817, Mississippi became the 20th state to join the union.
Cotton was the major source of income for Mississippi in the 1800s. Because of this, the plantation owners purchased slaves from Africa. The population of slaves grew and became larger than the free residents of the state. The Civil War broke out when the northern states pushed to make slavery illegal. It was the belief of the northern states that the slaves should be paid for their labor.
Mississippi joined the Confederacy during the war after they seceded from the Union. The most important battle of the war that took place in Mississippi was the Battle of Vicksburg. At Vicksburg the Confederate Army was defeated by the Union Army. The Union won control of the Mississippi River with the battle. Mississippi rejoined the Union in 1870.
Mississippi suffered greatly after the war. It took years for them to recover. In the 1920’s, the state saw prosperity. During World War II, cotton prices begin to rise and Mississippi again saw their economy begin to rise. After the war, the Civil Rights movement was very active in Mississippi. Segregation ended in the public school system but the difficulties between races continued.
In the 21st century, Mississippi has worked to improve civil rights and has increased industry in the state. Several hurricanes have had major effects on the state of Mississippi, especially Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Famous People from Mississippi
Medgar Evers (civil rights leader)
Jim Henson (puppeteer)
B.B. King (musician)
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Mississippi
If you have a chance to visit the state of Mississippi, 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.
Two statements, two Presidents, both aware of the importance of the city on the Mississippi River. President Davis knew it was vital to hold the city for the Confederacy to survive. President Lincoln wanted the key to gain control of the river and divide the South. Vicksburg National Military Park commemorates this campaign and its significance as a critical turning point of the Civil War.
The Natchez Trace Parkway is a 444-mile drive through exceptional scenery and 10,000 years of North American history. Used by American Indians, “Kaintucks,” settlers, and future presidents, the Old Trace played an important role in American history. Today, visitors can enjoy not only a scenic drive but also hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping.
Ex-Confederate President, Jefferson Davis lived here at Beauvoir in his retirement life and wrote his memoirs of the Civil War, “The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.”
Often called Mississippi’s Grandma Moses of stitchery, Ethel Wright Mohamed, was born in 1906 and died in 1992. She used beautiful and intricate stitches to tell the stories of her family’s life on fabric. Through this unique and beautiful “painting with thread” she has given us a view into the history of the Mississippi Delta’s way of life.
The Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art celebrates the innovative, independent and creative spirit of namesake Mississippi master potter George Ohr.
A truly unique array of exhibits on shrimping, oystering, recreational fishing, wetlands, managing marine resources, charter boats, marine blacksmithing, wooden boat building, net-making, catboats/Biloxi skiff, shrimp peeling machine and numerous historic photographs and objects.
The Museum of the Mississippi Delta, founded in 1969, is at the crossroads of Delta history and art. The extensive collection includes artifacts related to agriculture, Native America, regional military history and one of the Delta’s most extensive collections of regional art.
The Mississippi Entomological Museum (MEM) is located in the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology at Mississippi State University. The MEM, with its collection of more than a million pinned specimens, alcohol collection of immature insects and spiders, and photographic collections, is a valuable resource for those interested in the study of arthropods.
In July, 1864, Union forces, including men from the United States Colored Troops, marched into Tupelo, Mississippi. Disorganized Confederate soldiers fought fiercely but could not overpower the federal troops. Neither side could claim a clear victory, but Union troops had succeeded in their main goal: keeping the Confederates away from Union railroads in Tennessee.
The Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum features the history of one of the Nation’s beloved beverages, along with equipment of the type that Joseph Biedenharn used to bottle Coke for the first time anywhere in the world in 1894.
A wide variety of original Coca-Cola advertising and memorabilia is on display to allow the visitor to follow the evolution of “The Pause That Refreshes!”
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Make a Paddle-Wheel Steamboat.
Get in the kitchen with your kids and make a Mississippi Mud Pie!
Make sock puppets and put on a puppet show!
Interesting Facts about Mississippi
In 1902 while on a hunting expedition in Sharkey County, President Theodore (Teddy) Roosevelt refused to shoot a captured bear. This act resulted in the creation of the world-famous teddy bear.
The world’s largest shrimp is on display at the Old Spanish Fort Museum in Pascagoula.
The world’s largest cactus plantation is in Edwards.
The first nuclear submarine built in the south was produced in Mississippi.
The rarest of North American cranes lives in Mississippi in the grassy savannas of Jackson County. The Mississippi Sandhill Crane stands about 44 inches tall and has an eight-foot wingspan.
Friendship Cemetery in Columbus has been called Where Flowers Healed a Nation. It was April 25, 1866, and the Civil War had been over for a year when the ladies of Columbus decided to decorate both Confederate and Union soldiers’ graves with beautiful bouquets and garlands of flowers. As a direct result of this kind gesture, Americans celebrate what has come to be called Memorial Day each year, an annual observance of recognition of war dead.
The largest Bible-binding plant in the nation is Norris Bookbinding Company in Greenwood.
In 1834 Captain Isaac Ross, whose plantation was in Lorman, freed his slaves and arranged for them to be sent to Africa, where they founded the country of Liberia. Recently, representatives of Liberia visited Lorman and placed a stone at the Captain’s gravesite in honor of his kindness.
Greenwood is the home of Cotton Row, which is the second largest cotton exchange in the nation and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Greenwood is called the Cotton Capital of the World and the Towboat Capital of the World.
Belzoni is called the Catfish Capital of the World.
Vardaman is called the Sweet Potato Capital of the World.
The oldest game in America is stickball. The Choctaw Indians of Mississippi played the game. Demonstrations can be seen every July at the Choctaw Indian Fair in Philadelphia.
Natchez was settled by the French in 1716 and is the oldest permanent settlement on the Mississippi River. Natchez once had 500 millionaires, more than any other city except New York City. Natchez now has more than 500 buildings that are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Natchez Trace Parkway, named an All American Road by the federal government, extends from Natchez to just south of Nashville, Tennessee. The Trace began as an Indian trail more than 8,000 years ago.
Mississippi suffered the largest percentage of people who died in the Civil War of any Confederate State. 78,000 Mississippians entered the Confederate military. By the end of the war 59,000 were either dead or wounded.
Root beer was invented in Biloxi in 1898 by Edward Adolf Barq, Sr.
The Mississippi River is the largest in the United States and is the nation’s chief waterway. Its nickname is Old Man River.
Enjoy this documentary on The World of Jim Henson.
Learn more about the Battle for Vicksburg with this animated video.
Make root beer floats!
Learn how to play stickball.
Mississippi Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
M is for Mississippi: A Mississippi Alphabet by Michael Shoulders
Mississippi: The Magnolia State by Miriam Coleman
Everywhere is Mississippi by Laurie Parker
Steamboats: The Story of Lakers, Ferries, and Majestic Paddle-Wheelers by Karl Zimmermann
Monday on the Mississippi by Marilyn Singer
Jim Henson: The Guy Who Played with Puppets by Kathleen Krull
The Storm: Students of Biloxi, Mississippi Remember Hurricane Katrina by Barbara McGrath
One Shoe Blues by Sandra Boynton
Book Basket (NonFiction)
Mississippi Fact and Symbols by Karen Bush Gibson (out of print but may be available from your library)
Mississippi: The Magnolia State by Jill Foran
Mississippi: The Magnolia State by Blake Hoena
Mississippi: The Magnolia State by Acton Figueroa
Vicksburg: The Battle That Won The Civil War by Mary Ann Fraser
The Mississippi: America’s Mighty River by Robin Johnson
Mississippi Escapade: Reliving the Grand Excursion of 1854 by Paul Clifford Larson
Medgar Evers by Genevieve St. Lawrence (out of print but may be available from your library)
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Steamboats to the West by Edith McCall (out of print by may be available at your library)
Mississippi Bridge by Mildred Taylor
Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling
Mississippi Cotton by Paul Yarbrough
Love, Ruby Lavender by Deborah Wiles
A Thousand Never Evers by Shana Burg
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!