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.
Arkansas Unit Study
Originally part of the Mississippi Territory, Arkansas became the 25th state to join the union on June 15, 1836. Geographically, the state has five land regions; the Arkansas Valley, the Mississippi Alluvial Plain, the Ouachita Mountains, the Ozark Plateau, and the West Gulf Coastal Plain.
The climate is not dependent on the geography and is generally pleasant throughout the year. All four seasons are distinctive in Arkansas and the state as a whole experiences mild winters and hot summers. However, the Ouachita Mountains tend to be wetter and the Ozark Plateau is drier than other parts of the state. Keeping all of this in mind, it is possible to see thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail, snow and ice storms in Arkansas depending on the season of the year.
Arkansas is the 29th largest state in area in the United States covering 53,182 square miles. It is bordered by Missouri to the north, Louisiana to south. The eastern border is shared with Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi; however the state line for all of three states lies under the Mississippi River. Texas and Oklahoma border Arkansas to the west.
Capital: Little Rock
Population: 2,989,573 million (ranks 33rd in the U.S.)
Nickname: The Natural State
Arkansas gained the nickname “the natural state” because of the beauty, such as clear lakes, wildlife, and beautiful forests, that have always, “naturally” been a part of the state.
Motto: Regnat populus – Latin for “The People Rule”
Agriculture: broilers (young chickens), rice, soybeans, cattle and calves, and cotton
Fishing Industry: baitfish, largemouth bass, hybrid striped bass fry, chinese carp, and catfish. An interesting note is that catfish farming had its start in Arkansas in the 1950’s.
Industry: Food products, paper products, electrical products and wood products
Mining: Natural gas, Petroleum, Bromine, crushed stone and diamonds
Have your students color and label an outline map of Arkansas. Include the state capital and largest city of Little Rock. Be sure to include Crater of Diamonds State Park in Murfreesboro – the only active diamond mine in the U.S., the Ouachita National Forest and the Ozark Mountains.
The state flag of Arkansas is a field of red with a horizontal diamond shape of white surrounded by blue in the center. The colors were chosen to align with the national colors of the United States. The diamond shape was selected signifying Arkansas’s diamond production. There are 25 white stars in the blue border representing the 25 states in the Union at the time that Arkansas joined. The word “Arkansas” is the middle of the white diamond. Above it is a blue star representing the time when Arkansas was part of the Confederate States of America. Spain, France, and the United States are represented by three blue stars below the word “Arkansas.” These three countries have had rule over Arkansas at some point in the history of the state. The three stars also signify that Arkansas was the third state created out of the Louisiana Purchase.
The state seal of Arkansas was originally based on the territorial seal used prior to Arkansas becoming the 25th state to join the Union. Once they became a state, the seal design was changed. The seal contains the words, “Great Seal of the State of Arkansas” around the outside edge. Inside the circle, from top to bottom, are the Goddess of Liberty. She is holding a wreath in her right hand and a pole in her left hand. She is wearing a liberty cap and is encircled by stars and rays. Directly below her, is an eagle. The eagle is holding a scroll that reads “Regnat populus,” the state motto. In it’s claws are arrows and an olive branch. Covering the eagle is a shield that shows a steamboat, a beehive, a plow and a sheaf of wheat. An angel with the word “mercy” is on the left of the shield and a sword with the work “justice” inscribed on it is on the right.
Arkansas State Bird: Mockingbird
In 1929, Arkansas designated the Mockingbird as the official state bird. Mockingbirds have the capability of singing up to 200 songs, some of which are the songs of other birds or sounds from other forms of wildlife.
Arkansas State Flower: Apple Blossom
Once a primary apple producing state, Arkansas adopted the Apple Blossom as it’s official flower in 1901.
Arkansas State Tree: Pine (Loblolly pine is feature because of its abundant use in the state)
Arkansas is the native home to four species of pine trees – the shortleaf pine, loblolly pine, longleaf pine, and slash pine. In 1939, Arkansas made the pine the official state tree in an effort to bring attention to the resources available through the species in the state.
State Songs: “Arkansas (You Run Deep in Me)” by Wayland Holyfield (click here to listen to the state song and here for the lyrics) AND “Oh, Arkansas” by Terry Rose and Gary Klaff (click here to listen and here for the lyrics)
Note: Arkansas also has an official state anthem – “Arkansas” by Eva Ware Barnett and an official historical song – “The Arkansas Traveler” by the Arkansas State Song Selection Committee and Colonel Sanford Faulkner.
Learn about Arkansas’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Birds are common across the state, however, it depends on the season as to what birds you might see. By season, common birds are as follows:
- Winter: Mallard Duck, Short-eared Owl, Harris’s Sparrow, Lapland Longspur, Smith’s Longspur, and the Rusty Blackbird
- Spring: Painted Bunting, Mississippi Kite, Swainson’s Warbler, and the Least Tern
- Summer: Roseate Spoonbill, Wood Stork, and the Glossy Ibis.
- Fall: Gray-cheeked Thrush, Green-tailed Towhee, Ash-throated Flycatcher, and the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.
- Please note that most birds in Arkansas in the Fall are migrating through. Some visit for a short time and some reside in the state for the duration of the season).
Arkansas was first explored by Hernando de Soto in 1541, however, it was not until the late 1600’s that a settlement came to Arkansas. The Arkansas Post, a significant site for fur trapping and trade in the area, was established in 1686. This post later became the capital of the Mississippi Territory of which Arkansas was a part of as a result of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.
In 1819, Arkansas became a separate territory and two years later, Little Rock became the capital of that territory. On June 15, 1836, Arkansas joined the union as a slave state. When the Civil War broke out, Arkansas sided with the union for a short period of time but in May of 1861, they seceded from the union and joined the Confederate States of America. Several Civil War battles took place in Arkansas with residents of the state divided; some fought for the Confederacy and some fought for the Union. The Confederacy lost the war and Arkansas was readmitted to the union in 1868. The state was devastated by the war and it took many years for the economy of Arkansas to recover. Farming, mining, and improved transportation were three of the avenues that helped to aid the economic recovery, however, it was a slow process.
In 1891, segregation came to Arkansas. The law separating blacks and whites on trains and trams was known as “The Separate Coach Law.” Issues over segregation remained in Arkansas well into the 1900’s. It was not until 1972 that complete integration was achieved across the state of Arkansas. During the time that they were dealing with segregation, Arkansas played a part in World War I and World War II. Thousands of men and women from Arkansas were involved in the war efforts in some way. There were six wartime production plants in Arkansas that produced items for the U.S. military, however, these plants did not pay top wages and many residents left the state in order to find work in other places. Many of those who moved away never returned to Arkansas. Today, Arkansas is home to several worldwide corporations, however, the economy continues to rely on the prosperity of farming, mining, forestry, and tourism.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Arkansas
If you have a chance to visit the state of Arkansas, 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.
Crater of Diamonds offers park visitors a one-of-a-kind experience—the adventure of hunting for real diamonds. You’ll search over a 37 ½-acre plowed field that is the eroded surface of the world’s eighth largest diamond-bearing volcanic crater. If you find a diamond, it is yours to keep.
The Walmart Museum is as much a part of Walmart’s history as the exhibits and artifacts that it houses. First opened in 1990, the museum was known as the Walmart Visitor Center. But as times changed and the term “Visitor Center” came to refer more to regional, state, and local tourism offices, it became apparent that a name change was needed. And so, today, The Walmart Museum carries on the mission it always has; to educate, engage, and inspire visitors about the heritage of Walmart.
The incredible preservation of more than 30 carefully restored Arkansas landmarks and historic structures – including classic examples of Southern Greek Revival and Federal architecture, Gothic Revival, Italianate, and hand-hewn timber framing or brace-frame cottage construction – stand as a legacy to life in Washington from 1824 to 1900. Tour a number of fascinating public buildings and homes; see the remarkable collections of antique exhibits and collections of guns and knives; visit with the guides in period attire, hand dip candles and ride the surrey on a tour of the various Arkansas historical sites in town to share an unforgettable experience that will teach you all about The Natural State’s heritage.
Water. That’s what first attracted people, and they have been coming here ever since to use these soothing thermal waters to heal and relax. Rich and poor alike came for the baths, and a thriving city built up around the hot springs. Together nicknamed “The American Spa,” Hot Springs National Park today surrounds the north end of the city of Hot Springs, Arkansas. Come discover it for yourself. Take a virtual tour.
Experience the history, beauty, and charm of this Victorian Village. With over 100 unique shops & galleries, Eureka Springs is a shopper’s paradise. Relax at one of the numerous spas around the city or visit a 500-acre wildlife refuge for abused, abandoned, and neglected big cats. Take a 2-hour zip line tour through an Ozark Mountain forest, ride a steam train, or explore an area cavern. In the evening take in a music or magic show or The Great Passion Play.
Follow the colorful history of aviation in Arkansas and American military conflicts through numerous displays of original artifacts and aviation memorabilia! The historic aircraft in the Arkansas Air & Military Museum are unusual among museum exhibits, because many of them still fly. Static displays at the museum range from the golden age of aviation to the jet age, including Vietnam-era Army helicopters and a Navy carrier fighter.
The Governor Mike Huckabee Delta Rivers Nature Center was designed as if it were a waterfowl hunting lodge set among Pine Bluff Regional Park’s Delta bottomland, Lake Langhofer and Black Dog Bayou. The Delta and its rivers are the star attractions, and exhibits vividly describe how meandering waterways have changed this land and why swamps are incredibly valuable ecosystems. A model of the Arkansas River reveals how oxbow lakes form. A simulated crop duster flight buzzes fertile fields. A short film follows Hernando De Soto’s early trek through forbidding land. Hides and bones are part of a hands-on laboratory.
Historic Arkansas Museum invites you to come in and step back into Arkansas frontier history. Tour the museum’s historic grounds and visit a pre-civil war neighborhood, including the oldest home still standing in Little Rock and the site where William Woodruff once printed the Arkansas Gazette. Interact with a living history character and see first-hand how early residents lived. Inside the Museum Center, explore Arkansas made art and artifacts in four exhibit galleries, see contemporary Arkansas art in the Trinity Gallery, and watch kids having fun in the interactive children’s gallery. Shop for quilts and other contemporary crafts in the Museum Store, and see the award-winning introductory video in the theater.
The Chaffee Crossing Historic District is a walkable showcase of history that echoes the vital role that Fort Chaffee played in American military history beginning in WWII. Visitors are able to walk the grounds and tour original buildings where thousands of soldiers have lived and trained for battles like WWII and Vietnam.
National U.S. Marshalls Museum (coming in 2019)
The mission of the U.S. Marshals Museum is to become a national center for the dissemination of the history, legacy, and importance of the U.S. Marshals Service, inspiring appreciation, respect and support for their ongoing service to the nation.
Famous People from Arkansas
William Clinton (42nd President of the U.S.)
General Douglas MacArthur (World War II officer)
Judge Isaac C. Parker (the “hanging judge”)
Sam Walton (founder of Walmart)
The Little Rock Nine (civil rights activists)
Scott Joplin (composer)
Maya Angelou (poet)
Interesting Facts about Arkansas
Arkansas contains over 600,000 acres of lakes and 9,700 miles of streams and rivers, six national park sites, two-and-a half million acres of national forests, seven national scenic byways, three state scenic byways, and 50 state parks.
Mountain View is home to one of the largest producers of handmade dulcimers in the world. Listen to this Civil War Medley played on a mountain dulcimer.
Since the 1830s the area now known as Hot Springs National Park has bathed notables as diverse as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, and Al Capone. The park is entirely surrounded by the city of Hot Springs, the boyhood home of President Bill Clinton.
The Crater of Diamonds is the only active diamond mine in the United States and the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public.
Clark Bluff overlooking the St. Francis River contains chalk to supply the nation for years.
The World’s Championship Duck Calling Contest is held annually in Stuttgart.
Pine Bluff is known as the world center of archery bow production.
Little River County Courthouse is world famous for it’s Christmas lights display.
Eureka Springs, Arkansas has no traffic lights and the streets wind around the town, and no two intersect at a 90-degree angle.
The largest freestanding rock formation, Pivot Rock, is located in Eureka Springs has a base circumference of about 10 inches and the top measures almost 10 feet across.
Hattie Caraway, the first woman elected to serve a full term as a United States Senator, represented Arkansas.
Lake Chicot in Lake Village is the biggest oxbow lake in North America.
The future U.S. Marshals Museum will be located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the banks of the Arkansas River. Opening date will coincide with the 230th anniversary of the U.S. Marshals Service in September 24, 2019.
Arkansas is the largest producer of rice in the United States.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Use these video instructions to make origami diamonds.
Listen to the music of Scott Joplin (download the free music app first).
Enjoy this brief introduction to Arkansas.
Take a virtual tour of Sam Walton’s office.
Read Sam Walton’s 10 Rules for Building a Business. Write your own 10 Rules in a similar style (ie: 10 Rules for Loving Your Family, 10 Rules for Being a Good Friend, 10 Rules to a Successful Homeschool . . . )
Arkansas Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
N Is for Natural State: An Arkansas Alphabet by Michael Shoulders
Arkansas by Jason Kirchner
Arkansas by Ellen Macaulay
Big Red’s Journey Through the Razorback State by Aimee Aryal
Cookie Boy: Travelin’ Arkansas by Cheryl Davis
Sarah Campbell: Tale of a Civil War Orphan by Nancy Dane
Cracking the Wall: The Struggles of the Little Rock Nine by Eileen Lucas
Fiddlin’ Sam by Marianna Dengler (out of print but may be available at your library)
Poetry for Young People: Maya Angelou by Dr. Edwin Graves Wilson
Book Basket (NonFiction)
Arkansas Native Americans by Carole Marsh
Arkansas Indians by Berna Love
What’s So Great About Arkansas? by Darice Bailer
Arkansas by Julie Murray
Sam Walton: Rethinking Retail by Wil Mara
World War II for Kids: A History with 21 Activities by Richard Panchyk
Bill Clinton: Forty-Second President by Mike Venezia
Bill Clinton by Grace Hansen
Birds of Arkansas Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Scott Joplin: King of Ragtime by Mary Ann Hoffman
Mr. Sam: How Sam Walton Built Walmart and Became America’s Richest Man by Karen Blumenthal
Douglas MacArthur: What Greater Honor by Geoff and Janet Benge
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!