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.
Nevada Unit Study
Located in the Southwestern, Mountain West, and Western regions of the U.S., Nevada was the 36th state to join the union on October 31, 1864. Statehood was gained after the Constitution of Nevada was sent via telegraph so that Nevada would become a state and Abraham Lincoln would gain three electoral votes for his reelection. Nevada becoming a state helped gain a Republican majority in Congress.
Covering 110,567 square miles, Nevada is the 7th largest state among the 50 United States and is the driest state in the union. The majority of the land is desert and the climate is mostly semi-arid. Temperatures across Nevada can vary drastically with the northern most tip getting a hefty amount of snow and the central and southern portions getting no precipitation at all. Flooding is rare, although, it can happen when the snow melts rapidly in the north.
The borders of Nevada are: Oregon and Idaho to the north, Utah and Arizona to the east, California to the south and the west. Nevada’s state capital, Carson City, is unique in that it is the only state capital that sits on the border of the state.
Capital: Carson City
Carson City is positioned at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains on the border of Nevada and California. Named for Kit Carson, a frontiersman, It was originally a place for pioneers on their was to California to stop and rest.
Population: 2,943,409 (making it the 34th most populous state in the U.S.)
Nickname: The Silver State
Nevada gained the nickname “The Silver State” in the 1800’s when silver was in abundance across the state. It is said that at that time, silver could be shoveled right off the ground. It only took approximately 20 years for all the silver to be taken from the land, but the nickname remained. Nevada is also often called “The Battle Born State” due to it becoming an official state during the Civil War.
Motto: All for Our Country
The Nevada state motto has been part of the official state seal since July of 1964.
Agriculture: Cattle and sheep ranching, hay, alfalfa seed, barley, garlic, mint, onions, potatoes, and wheat.
Industry: Tourism, construction, gambling, publishing, food products, and chemical processing.
Mining: Gold, silver, copper, gypsum, limestone, oil, and salt
Have your students color and label an outline map of Nevada. Include the state capital of Carson City. Also include the largest city of Las Vegas. Be sure to include the Mojave Desert, Lake Tahoe, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, and Death Valley where you can find the lowest point in the western hemisphere. Don’t forget to include Hoover Dam and Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the United States.
The Nevada state flag is a field of solid blue with symbols meaningful to the history of the state in the upper right hand corner. The symbols featured are Sagebrush sprays that cross at the bottom. Above the Sagebrush is a banner with the words “Battle Born” symbolizing Nevada becoming a state during the Civil War. In the middle of the “circle” formed by the Sagebrush and banner is a 5-pointed silver star. The word “Nevada” is under the star.
The Nevada state seal was designed in 1864, the same year that Nevada became a state. The symbols that make up the state seal give a picture of the rich history of the state. Nevada is rich in minerals and natural resources. This is represented by a miner driving a team of ore from the mine. A quartz mill is also shown. The transportation and communication industries are symbolized with telegraph poles and a train. Wheat, a plow, and a sickle represent the agriculture in the state. Nevada’s snow topped mountains with the sun behind them symbolize the natural beauty of the state. There are two circles around the seal. The inner circle has 36 stars representing that Nevada was the 36th state to join the union. The state motto is also in the inner circle. The outer circle has the words “The Great State of Nevada.”
Nevada State Bird: Mountain Bluebird
The Mountain Bluebird became the official state bird of Nevada in 1967. The Mountain Bluebird is typically found in the high country of Nevada.
Nevada State Flower: Sagebrush
Nevada officially adopted the Sagebrush as its official state flower in 1917.
Nevada adopted the Single-Leaf Piñon as it’s official tree in 1953. In 1987, it added the Bristlecone Pine to the list of official state trees.
Mrs. Bertha Raffetto wrote “Home Means Nevada” to sing at the Nevada Native Daughters annual pic-nic in 1932. The song was adopted as the official state song in 1933.
Learn about Nevada’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Douglas-fir, Incense Cedar, White Fir, Mountain Hemlock, California Red Fir, White Alder, Quaking Aspen, Water Birch, Mountain Mahogany, and the Bitter Cherry are the most common tree species in Nevada.
Mammals common to Nevada include the Coyote (found throughout the state), the Wyoming Ground Squirrel (Northeastern Region), Pronghorn Antelope (Central Region), the Sierra Mountain Beaver (Central Region), the Desert Cottontail Rabbit (Central Region), the Desert Bighorn Sheep (Southern Region), the Broad-footed Mole (Western Region), the Pygmy Rabbit, (Great Basin Region) and the Paiute Squirrel (Lake Mead Region)
Birds commonly found in Nevada include the Northern Goshawk (found throughout the state), the Phainopepla (southern Nevada), Mountain Quail (western Nevada), Greater Sage-grouse (South-central Nevada), Sandhill Crane ( Eastern Nevada), and the Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Western and Southern Nevada)
Spain was the first country to send an explorer into the area that is now known as Nevada. In the 1700s Francisco Garcés came to the area and Spain claimed the land. The Spanish gave the land the name “Nevada” which meant “snowy” because of the snow capped mountains.
The land remained part of Spain for several years and then became part of Mexico until 1848 when the territory became part of the United States. The U.S. added it to the Utah territory in 1850. In 1859, the largest silver deposit known as the Comstock Lode was discovered. This brought many people to Nevada looking for wealth. Las Vegas began to grow during this period as it was a resting place for those traveling to California and those looking for their fortune in silver. The silver mining continued until 1898 when the silver ran out.
In 1861, it became the territory of Nevada and then in 1864, during the Civil War, it became the 36th state to join the union. Nevada sent troops into battle during the Civil War and also participated in the American Indian Wars. As the 20th century began the economy of Nevada was suffering from the end of the silver boom. Population across the state was declining. In 1931, in the midst of the Great Depression, gambling was legalized as a means to enhance the economy. The legalization of gambling was originally intended to be short term, however, it proved to be a great source of income and has remained legal for decades.
Also in 1931, construction began on the Hoover Dam. At the time it was the largest public works project in the United States. It became a symbol of hope for the American people who were discouraged because of the Great Depression. In the 1950s, due to its scarce population, Nevada become the site for government testing of nuclear weapons. Today the U. S. government owns approximately 86% of the land in Nevada. It is also the largest gold producing state in the U.S. and the second largest in the world.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Nevada
If you have a chance to visit the state of Nevada, 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 Mojave Desert approximately 58 miles Northeast of Las Vegas, Valley of Fire is the oldest State Park in Nevada. It got it’s name for the beautiful red sandstone formations that are there. When the sun’s rays shine on the formations they can appear to be on fire.
With the purpose of taming the Colorado River, Hoover Dam was constructed and was at that time, the largest dam in the world. Preventing flooding was not the only purpose; the dam would also provide electricity to cities such as Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
Lake Mead Cruises welcome you for a relaxing tour aboard the famed Desert Princess—just minutes from the glitter and glamour of the Las Vegas strip. Built especially to cruise the clean, blue waters of picturesque Lake Mead and tour the Hoover Dam, the authentic, three-level, Mississippi-style paddlewheeler offers an unrivaled sightseeing experience. Whether you choose a brunch tour, mid-day tour or evening dinner tour, you’ll enjoy the wind in your hair, the sun on your face, or the absolute comfort of the climate-controlled enclosed decks—surrounded by breathtaking scenery.
Las Vegas, Nevada is home to the National Atomic Testing Museum. Here visitors are able to see the history of nuclear testing that took place in Nevada for many years.
The conservation area of Red Rock Canyon showcases a set of large red rock formations: a set of sandstone peaks and walls called the Keystone Thrust. The walls are up to 3,000 feet (910 m) high, making them a popular hiking and rock climbing destination. The highest point is La Madre Mountain, at 8,154 feet (2,485 m).
From the 13,000-foot summit of Wheeler Peak, to the sage-covered foothills, Great Basin National Park is a place to sample the stunning diversity of the larger Great Basin region. Come and partake of the solitude of the wilderness, walk among ancient bristlecone pines, bask in the darkest of night skies, and explore mysterious subterranean passages. There’s a whole lot more than just desert here!
Mammoths, lions and camels once roamed along wetlands just north of what is now known as Las Vegas, Nevada. Their history is preserved at Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument and is ready to be discovered.
A Land of Extremes: Hottest, Driest, Lowest: A superlative desert of streaming sand dunes, snow-capped mountains, multicolored rock layers, water-fluted canyons and three million acres of stone wilderness. Home to the Timbisha Shoshone and to plants and animals unique to the harshest deserts. A place of legend and a place of trial.
The Dangberg Home Ranch Historic Park is one of Carson Valley’s first and largest ranches. The ranch was home to German immigrant Heinrich Friedrich Dangberg who founded the site in 1857. A local businessman, rancher and politician, Dangberg started his ranch with just a log cabin. The county and state are restoring the original buildings, including a main house, a stone cellar, a laundry building, a carriage house, a garage and a bunkhouse. These buildings and original artifacts are on display.
Fort Churchill was once an active U.S. Army fort built to protect early settlers. A visitor center displays information and artifacts of the fort’s history. Facilities include: trails, a campground, picnic area, group-use area and access to the Carson River. Visitors can enjoy hiking, historic and environmental education, camping, picnicking, photography and canoeing.
Famous People from Nevada
Samuel Clemens – author (he is better known as Mark Twain)
George Ferris Jr. – engineer, inventor of the Ferris Wheel
Wyatt Earp – lawman
Dat So La Lee – celebrated Native American basket weaver
Interesting Facts about Nevada
Blue jeans (Levis) were invented by Reno-based tailor Jacob Davis.
Lake Tahoe is the third deepest lake in the U.S.
Mark Twain’s writing career began with a position as a reporter at the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise.
The Federal Government owns approximately 87% of Nevada’s land.
Construction worker “hard hats” were first invented in 1933 specifically for the workers on Hoover Dam.
The Las Vegas Strip may only be 4.2 miles long, but it has over 75,000 miles of neon.
Nevada has more mountain ranges than any other state with a total of 314 mountain ranges.
Nevada is the largest gold-producing state in the nation. It is second in the world behind South Africa.
The only Nevada lake with an outlet to the sea is man made Lake Mead
The largest, and costliest morse code telegram ever sent was the Nevada state constitution. Sent from Carson City to Washington D.C. in 1864.
Death Valley is the lowest point in the western hemisphere at 282 feet below sea level. Being so low also makes it one of the hottest places on earth with ground-level temperatures that have reached 200 degrees during the summer months. In 2005 it rained 6 inches in Death Valley, which resulted in a burst of plant life and wildflowers that no one expected. It has come to be known as, “The Great Bloom of 2005.”
An estimated 28,000 wild horses roam free in the state.
Legendary man of the Wild West, Wyatt Earp, actually got his law enforcement start in the mining town of Tonopah.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Make a mini ferris wheel out of straws.
Learn how to make a basket.
Create neon (glow in the dark) projects as a way to commemorate the miles and miles of neon lights that flank the Las Vegas Boulevard.
Make a buffet dinner for your family, or visit a buffet-style restaurant.
Take a Virtual Tour of Hoover Dam
Take a “Birds-eye-view” Virtual Tour of Las Vegas at night from the air
Learn about the history of the Comstock Lode – the greatest silver find in U.S. history
Nevada Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
The Hoover Dam (Lightning Bolt Books: Famous Places) by Jeffrey Zuehlke
Mojave by Diane Siebert
S is for Silver: A Nevada Alphabet (Discover America State by State) by Eleanor Coerr
What’s Great About Nevada? (Our Great States) by Rebecca Felix
Sierra (Trophy Picture Books) by Diane Siebert
Mr. Ferris and His Wheel by Kathryn Gibbs Davis
The Fantastic Ferris Wheel: The Story of Inventor George Ferris by Betsy Harvey Kraft
Snowshoe Thompson by National Geographic
Sierra by Diane Siebert
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
A Walking Tour of Virginia City, Nevada (Look Up, America!) (Kindle Edition) by Doug Gelbert
The Great Basin for Kids by Gretchen M Baker
The Mojave Desert (Deserts Around the World) by Molly Aloian
You Wouldn’t Want to Work on the Hoover Dam! By Ian Graham
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Jim Smiley and his Jumping Frog and Other Stories by Mark Twain
Roughing It by Mark Twain
Who Was Mark Twain by April Jones Prince
The Great Wheel by Robert Lawson
Ferris Wheel!: George Ferris and His Amazing Invention by Dani Sneed
Mustang: Wild Spirit of the West by Marguerite Henry
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.
Mining Videos from the Nevada Mining Association
Check out this website dedicated to Basket Weaving with Kids
Want to learn more about the Sierra Nevada Valley? Take a look at this interactive website
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!