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.
Delaware Unit Study
In 1610 explorer Samuel Argall named the Delaware River and Bay for the governor of Virginia, Thomas West, Lord De La Warr. The state of Delaware was named from the river and bay.
Delaware ranks 49th in size in the nation with a total area of 1,982 square miles. Only Rhode Island is smaller. Delaware is 96 miles long and varies from 9 to 35 miles in width. Delaware is located on the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay, and by the states of New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland. Delaware’s location allows easy access to the major cities of the Northeast. Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and Baltimore are all within a 2-hour drive.
Delaware’s climate is moderate year round. Average monthly temperatures range from 32 to 76 degrees. Average temperature during the summer is 74 degrees. About 57% of the days are sunny. Annual precipitation is approximately 45 inches. Temperatures along the Atlantic Coast are about 10 degrees warmer in winter and 10 degrees cooler in summer.
Population: 2010 estimate – 897,934; 45th among the states
Nickname: “First State” and “Diamond State”
Motto: “Liberty and Independence”
Agriculture: broilers, soybeans, corn, milk
Fishing Industry: crabs, clams
Manufacturing: chemicals, food products, paper products, rubber and plastics products, primary metals, printed materials
Mining: sand and gravel, magnesium compounds
Have your students color and label an outline map of Delaware. Include the state capital of Dover, the largest city of Wilmington, the Delaware Bay, and the Delaware River.
The state flag is colonial blue with a buff-colored diamond holding the state’s coat of arms. Below the diamond is the date December 7, 1787, the day Delaware became the first state to ratify the United States Constitution. The colors of the flag represent the uniform of General George Washington.
The state seal was first adopted on January 17, 1777, and contains the coat of arms. It also bears the inscription around it “Great Seal of the State of Delaware” and the dates 1704, 1776 and 1787.
The Wheat Sheaf — signifies the agricultural vitality of Delaware.
The Ship — is a symbol of New Castle County’s ship building industry and Delaware’s extensive coastal commerce.
The Corn — symbolizes the agricultural basis of Delaware’s economy.
The Farmer — represents the central role of farming to the state.
The Militiaman — recognizes the crucial role of the citizen-soldier to the maintenance of American liberties.
The Ox — represents the importance of animal husbandry to the state economy.
The Water — stands for the Delaware River
The Motto — was derived from the Order of Cincinnati, and approved in 1847.
The Dates — 1704, the year that Delaware established its General Assembly; 1776, the year independence from Great Britain was declared; and 1787, the year that Delaware became “the First State” by being the first colony to ratify the United States Constitution.
Delaware State Bird: Blue Hen
On April 14, 1939, the Blue Hen chicken was adopted as Delaware’s state bird, however it had been used as a symbol of the state in political campaigns and publications for many years prior. During the Revolutionary War, the men of Captain Jonathan Caldwell’s company took with them game chickens that were said to be offspring of a famous Blue Hen. Noted for their fighting ability, when not fighting the enemy, the officers and men amused themselves by pitting their Blue Hen chickens in fights against each other (now an illegal activity). The fame of these fights spread throughout the army. When in battle, the Delaware men fought so hard, they were compared to these fighting birds. Learn more about chickens here.
Delaware State Flower: Peach Blossom
The Peach Blossom became Delaware’s official state flower on May 9, 1895. The state was already known as the “Peach State,” with orchards filled with over 800,000 peach trees.
Delaware State Tree: American Holly
The American Holly ( Ilex opaca Aiton ), also known as Christmas holly or evergreen holly is one of Delaware’s most important forest trees. The tree has dark, thorny-leaved foliage and red berries, and can reach a maximum of 60 feet in height with a trunk diameter of 20 inches. It was adopted as Delaware’s state tree on May 1, 1939.
Our Delaware, written by George B. Hynson, became the official state song in 1925. The verses recognize each of Delaware’s three counties — New Castle, Kent and Sussex.
Learn about Delaware’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Mammals native to Delaware include the white-tailed deer, red and gray foxes, eastern gray squirrel, muskrat, raccoon, woodcock, and common cottontail. Common birds include quail, robin, wood thrush, cardinal, and eastern meadowlark along with waterfowl like Canada geese.
The first known inhabitants of Delaware were two tribes of Native Americans, the Lenni Lenape (also known as Delaware) and the Nanticoke, who settled along the Delaware in 1400. Learn more here: Lenape Indian Fact Sheet for Kids
In 1609, Henry Hudson, an Englishman sailing for the Dutch East India Company, discovered Delaware Bay and River. In 1610, Captain Samuel Argall, an English sea captain, named the bay and river after Lord De La Warr, the governor of Virginia.
In 1638, Peter Minuet led a group of Swedes to the Delaware and established Fort Christina (now Wilmington), the first permanent settlement on the Delaware.
The first log cabins in North America were built in 1683 by Swedish and Finnish immigrants in Delaware. One is still on display in Dover at the Delaware Agricultural Museum.
Delaware soldiers fought throughout the American Revolution, but only one battle took place on Delaware soil. In 1777, British troops landed in Maryland and marched across Delaware toward Philadelphia. On September 3, 1777, American troops met the British redcoats at Cooch’s Bridge near Newark. The outnumbered Americans retreated while the British went on to Pennsylvania to defeat General Washington’s forces at the Battle of Brandywine on September 11. Read more about Delaware in the American Revolution.
The Methodist Church of America first organized in Barratt’s Chapel in 1784.
Delaware was one of the original 13 colonies and became the first state admitted to the Union on December 7, 1787 when it was the first to ratify the U.S. Constitution. The signing of the Constitution took place at The Old State House.
DuPont was originally founded in 1802 near Wilmington as a gunpowder mill.
Fort Delaware, the Union fortress dating back to 1859, once housed Confederate prisoners of war. It was originally built to protect the ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.
The Fenwick Island Lighthouse was first lit in 1859.
In 1880 the first “Bathing Beauty Pageant” took place as part of a summer festival to promote business in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. Inventor Thomas Edison was a judge.
Famous People from Delaware
Howard Pyle (author of The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, also known as “The Father of American Illustration”)
Henry Heimlich (inventer of the Heimlich maneuver)
Annie Jump Cannon (astronomer)
Oliver Evans (American inventor)
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Tourism: Road Trip Delaware
If you have a chance to visit the state of Delaware, 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.
Founded by Henry Francis du Pont, Winterthur (pronounced “winter-tour”) is the premier museum of American decorative arts, reflecting both early America and the du Pont family’s life here. Its 60-acre naturalistic garden is among the country’s best, and its research library serves scholars from around the world.
Pea Patch Island is a summer home to herons, egrets and ibis. The remote marshes provide an outstanding habitat for one of the largest wading bird nesting areas on the East Coast. A hiking trail and its observation platform provide opportunities for photography and nature study.
Bombay Hook was established in 1937 as a link in the chain of refuges extending from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. It is primarily a refuge and breeding ground for migrating birds and other wildlife. The value and importance of Bombay Hook for migratory bird protection and conservation has increased through the years, primarily due to the management of the refuge and the loss of high quality habitat along the Atlantic Flyway.
The original Kalmar Nyckel served as Governor Peter Minuit’s flagship for the 1638 expedition that founded the colony of New Sweden, establishing the first permanent European settlement in the Delaware Valley, Fort Christina, in present-day Wilmington, Delaware. She would make a total of four roundtrip crossings of the Atlantic, more than any other documented ship of the American colonial era.
For more about the ship, click here to read KALMAR NYCKEL: A Guide to the Ship and Her History
Located on 235 acres along the banks of the Brandywine in Wilmington, Delaware, Hagley is the site of the gunpowder works founded by E. I. du Pont in 1802. This example of early American industry includes restored mills, a workers’ community, and the ancestral home and gardens of the du Pont family.
Old Swedes Church, in Wilmington, Delaware, is the oldest church in the United States standing as originally built and still in use as a house of worship. It was erected in 1698–1699 by descendants of the Swedish colonists who crossed the Atlantic aboard the Kalmar Nyckel in 1638.
Arts and Crafts
Studying states lends itself easily to opportunities for arts and crafts activities. The ideas are endless, but here are a few to get your started:
Learn about the painting, Washington Crossing the Delaware, by Emanuel Leutze
Make a salt dough map of Delaware
Interesting Facts about Delaware
Thanks to E.I. du Pont, Delaware is known as the “chemical capital of the world.”
According to legend, Delaware was nicknamed “The Diamond State” because Thomas Jefferson referred to it as a “jewel among the states” due to its prime location on the Eastern Seaboard.
Delaware has only 3 counties:
New Castle (northern Delaware)
Kent (center of Delaware, 11 miles south of Dover)
Sussex (downstate, the largest county, measuring 950 square miles)
Delaware Bay is home to more horseshoe crabs than anywhere else in the world. Horseshoe crabs were collected by Native American Indians for food and used as fertilizer—a practice that was passed along to early colonial settlers and continued until the 1960s. Currently used in biomedical research, horseshoe crabs have played an invaluable role in studying the human eye and detecting bacteria in drugs. Learn more about the horseshoe crab here.
On August 20, 2013, the world’s largest Lego tower was built in Wilmington, standing 11 stories tall and made of more than 500,000 bricks. This 112 foot masterpiece beat out the previous 106 foot champion in Prague and was entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.
Delaware is home to the “Punkin Chunkin” world championship, a sport in which people hurl pumpkins as far as they can. The devices used include slingshots, catapults, centrifugals, trebuchets, and pneumatic cannons. The record is 5,545 feet.
Delaware is one of 5 states that does not charge its residents a sales tax on purchases.
Have your students take this 2-Minute Tour of Delaware.
Ask your students to find Delaware on your wall map. Then ask them to give you their observations about it’s location (what states border it, what ocean borders it, in what part of the U.S. is it located, etc.)
Listen to the Delaware state song. The song is a simple one to catch on to. Sing along with the words found here.
Delaware was the first state to ratify the U. S. Constitution. Read the U.S. Constitution with your students, and then memorize the preamble.
Take an online tour of the The Old State House, where the U.S. Constitution was signed.
Learn the Heimlich maneuver.
Delaware Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
F is for First State: A Delaware Alphabet by Carol Crane
Delaware (Hello U.S.A.) by Dottie Brown (out of print, but may be available at your library)
Delaware (From Sea to Shining Sea) by Amy Miller
If You Lived in Colonial Times by Ann McGovern
When Washington Crossed the Delaware by Lynne Cheney
Annie Jump Cannon, Astronomer by Carole Gerber
High Tide for Horseshoe Crabs by Lisa Kahn Schnell
Book Basket (NonFiction)
How to Draw Delaware’s Sights and Symbols by Jennifer Quasha
Delaware (Land of Liberty) by Anne Welsbacher
Delaware Facts and Symbols by Elaine A. Kule (out of print, but may be available at your library)
Delaware Native Americans by Carole Marsh
The Delaware Colony by Kevin Cunningham
National Geographic Field Guide to Birds of North America by Jon L. Dunn
Gunpowder (Inventions That Shaped the World) by Trudi Strain Trueit
Chemicals and Reactions (Science Factory) by Jon Richards
Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build, and Test by Carole A. Johmann
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
Dear America: Standing in the Light by Mary Pope Osborne
A Man and His Ship: Peter Minuit and the Kalmar Nyckel by C. A. Weslager
The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle
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.
Teaching Delaware History with Primary Sources — a collection of lessons plans from the Delaware state website
Delaware Estuary — this site offers great information and several free printable activities for students to learn about the tidal Delaware River and Bay
Delaware Facts and Symbols — the official website for the state of Delaware.