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.
Michigan Unit Study
On January 26, 1837, Michigan – the only state made up of two peninsulas, became the 26th state to join the union. The peninsulas are connected by the Mackinac Bridge. The northern border of the Upper Peninsula is Lake Superior and the southern border is comprised of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. The western border of the Upper Peninsula is the state of Wisconsin. Along with Lake Erie, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron also serve as borders for the Lower Peninsula – Lake Michigan to the west, Lake Huron and Lake Erie to the east. Indiana and Ohio make up the southern border of the Lower Peninsula.
Michigan is 96,810 square miles, ranking it as the 11th largest state in the U.S., and touches four of the Great Lakes. Results of the water vapor from the Great Lakes commonly give Michigan cloudy days. The overall climate of the state is humid continental with two distinct regions. The Upper Peninsula and the northern section of the Lower Peninsula have short but warm summers and long, cold winters. The central and southern Lower Peninsula has an overall warmer climate with hot summers and cold, but not severe, winters. Thunderstorms are common across the state and tornados are not unusual, except in the far north portion of the Upper Peninsula.
Population: 9,928,846 million (ranking it 10th in the United States)
Nickname: “The Great Lakes State”
Michigan gained this nickname due to the fact that the state that touches four of the five Great Lakes.
Motto: Si quaeris peninsulam amoenam, circumspice – Latin for “If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look about you”
Agriculture: milk, cheese, cattle, calves, hogs, chicken eggs, and turkeys, Christmas trees, corn, apples, blueberries and cherries.
Fishing Industry: catfish, chubs, lake herring, lake trout, salmon, whitefish and yellow perch
Industry: transportation equipment, machinery production, fabricated metal products, and sporting goods.
Mining: natural gas, iron ore, petroleum, iron oxide pigments and magnesium compounds.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Michigan. Include the state capital of Lansing. Also include the largest city of Detroit. Be sure to include the Great Lakes; Mackinac Bridge, the 26,372′ suspension bridge that joins the Upper and Lower Peninsulas of Michigan; Keweenaw National Historical Park, a place that highlights the copper-mining legacy; and Mount Arvon, Michigan’s highest point.
Michigan has had three state flags. In 1911 they adopted the third and current flag. The flag, a field of blue, features the state coat of arm which features an eagle holding an olive branch and arrows sitting above a shield. The shield is being held by an elk and a moose. The shield shows a man man standing on land beside a body of water. Three mottos are featured on the coat of arms: E Pluribus Unum – latin for “From Many, One”, Tuebor – latin for “I Will Defend”, Si Quaeris Peninsulam Amoenam Circumspice – latin for “If You Seek a Pleasant Peninsula, Look About You.”
The Michigan State Seal features the state coat of arms, which also appears on the state flag. The coat of arms is surrounded by a circle that states, “The Great Seal of the State of Michigan” around the top and “A.D. MDCCCXXXV” which translates to 1835, the year that the seal was presented to the Constitutional Convention.
Michigan State Bird: American Robin
Often called “the best known and best-loved of all the birds in the state of Michigan,” the American Robin became the official state bird of Michigan in 1931. Robins are commonplace to backyards across America. Their songs are vibrant “whinny” and “tut” calls.
Michigan State Flower: Apple Blossom
Native to the state of Michigan, the Apple Blossom became the official state flower in 1897. It was chosen because of it’s fragrance and beauty, and due to Michigan being a leading source of apples and apple products since it’s early days of statehood.
Michigan State Tree: White Pine
The White Pine was designated the state tree of Michigan in 1955 commemorating the success of the lumber industry in the state’s early days.
State Song: “My Michigan” – lyrics by Giles Kavanagh and music by H. O’Reilly Clint.
Although “My Michigan” was named the official song in 1936, it is rarely sung or used. It is believed that the copyright to the song was never acquired by the state nor was the song released for public use.
*Please note: Due to the rights being privately held, we are not able to provide you with a link to listen to the song or to read the lyrics.
Learn about Michigan’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Trees common to Michigan are American Beech, Basswood, Black Cherry, Eastern Cottonwood, Green Ash, Hemlock, Quaking Aspen, Red Maple, Red Pine, Sugar Maple, Silver Maple, Tamarack, White Oak, White Pine, White Spruce, and the Yellow Birch.
Mammals native to Michigan include Water Shrew, Meadow Vole, Flying Squirrel, Eastern moles, Elk, moose, Cougar, Red Fox, Coyote, Black Bear, White-tailed Deer, Little Brown Bat, Evening Bat, Hoary Bat, and the Big Brown Bat.
Birds common to Michigan include: Piping Plover, Sandhill Crane, Great Blue Heron, Black Tern, Upland Sandpiper, Trumpeter Swan, Common Loon, Osprey, Northern Harrier, Mourning Dove, American Goldfinch, Brown-headed Cowbird, Common Crow, Spruce Grouse Black-backed Woodpecker, Red crossbill, Loggerhead Shrike, Scarlet Tanager, and the Kirtland’s Warbler.
Michigan, as we know it today, was originally inhabited by Native Americans that took advantage of the vast river and lake system in Michigan for transportation. It was those waterways that brought French explorers, who were originally looking for the Orient, to Michigan. Conflicts between the French and Native American tribes hindered settlement in the Lower Peninsula, however, the Upper Peninsula did begin to see settlements developing in the early 1600’s. Missionaries came and attempted to convert the Indians to their faith and forts were built in response to the conflicts arising between the French and English or due to the British increasing interest in the territory. In 1694, approval was given for a fort to be built. The fort, called “place du detroit,” became a key location for trading in the area. The French and Indian War ended the French hold on Michigan and in 1760, the British gained control. The British were more stringent in their dealings with the Indians than the French had been, however, they did form alliances that would be beneficial for many years. Fur trade was growing and the British wanted to reap the benefits of the trade.
In the mid 1800’s, Michigan was part of the advancement of the medical and transportation industries. In 1822, strides were made for medical history at Fort Mackinac when an Army surgeon studied digestion and made great discoveries. After several years of study, Dr. Beaumont an article on the subject that was considered to be a major contribution to the medical field. In 1825, steam transportation and the Erie Canal gave way to Michigan growing in population. Construction for three railroad systems, roads, and canals were started though some were never completed. Michigan also became a leading state for reforms in areas such as education, slavery, women’s suffrage and more. Iron ore production, copper mining, lumbering, furniture manufacturing, paperworks, and farming have all played a key role in the economic success of the state of Michigan.
Industry in Michigan was paused more than once for war. Michigan was the first state to respond to President Lincoln’s request for troops to fight in the Civil War. Those troops fought in almost all of the battles that took place in the war. During World War II, Michigan played an important part with both soldiers who fought and in the manufacturing of materials for war such as aircraft, tanks, etc. After the end of the War, the auto industry regained momentum and contributed to its success worldwide. Today Michigan continues to be a leader in industry for the U.S.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Michigan
If you have a chance to visit the state of Michigan, 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.
The Gerald R. Ford Library collects, preserves, and makes accessible to the public a rich body of archival materials on U.S. domestic issues, foreign relations, and political affairs during the Cold War era, focusing on the Ford administration. It also offers a wide variety of special events, speakers, book signings, forums, educational workshops, films, and other programs. And, in addition to the permanent timeline exhibit on the lives of Gerald and Betty Ford, the Library mounts several small temporary exhibits each year.
At the core of the Museum is the permanent exhibit, which allows visitors to experience highlights from President and Mrs. Ford’s lives. The exhibit teaches democratic citizenship and allows for quiet reflection. In addition to the permanent exhibits, changing temporary exhibits draw artifacts from Museums all over the country.
The Henry Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, is an internationally recognized cultural destination that brings the past forward by immersing visitors in the stories of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation that helped shape America. A national historic landmark with an unparalleled collection of artifacts from 300 years of American history, The Henry Ford is a force for sparking curiosity and inspiring tomorrow’s innovators. More than 1.7 million visitors annually experience its four venues: Henry Ford Museum, Greenfield Village, Ford Rouge Factory Tour and the Benson Ford Research Center.
The Michigan History Museum offers you Michigan’s rich past, from the time of the state’s earliest peoples to the late 20th century.
Explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization. Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Here, amid stunning scenic beauty, you’ll find opportunities for reflection and discovery, and make memories that last a lifetime.
Mackinac State Historic Parks is a family of living history museums and nature parks in northern Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac and is an agency within the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Its sites—which are accredited by the American Alliance of Museums—include Fort Mackinac, Mackinac Island State Park, Historic Downtown Mackinac, and The Richard and Jane Manoogian Mackinac Art Museum on Mackinac Island, and Michilimackinac State Park, Colonial Michilimackinac, Historic Mill Creek Discovery Park, and Old Mackinac Point Lighthouse in Mackinaw City.
The Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum has become one of Michigan’s most popular destinations in the cultural tourism industry, attracting over 75,000 visitors each season. Museum patrons learn about the perils of maritime transport on the Great Lakes at the Whitefish Point Light Station, an Historic Site on the National Register of Historic Places. See the Whitefish Point Light Tower, in continuous operation for 155 years, the oldest operating lighthouse on Lake Superior.
Sandstone cliffs, beaches, sand dunes, waterfalls, lakes, forest, and shoreline beckon you to visit Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Hiking, camping, sightseeing, and four season outdoor opportunities abound. The lakeshore hugs the Lake Superior shoreline for more than 40 miles. Lake Superior is the largest, deepest, coldest, and most pristine of all the Great Lakes.
In spring, summer and fall, swim and picnic at sugar sand beaches; canoe, kayak or tube on crystal-clear streams; or, simply let the day slip away with a late summer sunset. Wintertime provides a much different view. Snowshoe, cross country or downhill ski, snowboard or venture into the wilderness. Your only company will be the Dunes’ year-round residents – its natural wildlife.
A palette of color awaits you as you wind along the entrance to Holland’s treasured island. Tour five stories of the DeZwaan windmill, the only authentic Dutch windmill operating in the United States. From the top, you can survey 36 acres of manicured gardens, dikes, and canals. Costumed guides, an Amsterdam street organ, a hand-painted Dutch carousel, a beautiful children’s garden and playground for families, and gift shops will complete your visit.
The Zoo encompasses over 20 acres and features more than 500 individual animals representing approximately 160 different species. As an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and participant in its Species Survival Plan (SSP) programs, the Zoo is committed to the preservation of endangered animals and is actively developing strategies that will help protect species and preserve their wild habitats. Through education, conservation, research and recreation, Potter Park Zoo provides a wonderfully wild experience for students and families.
Famous People from Michigan
Sojourner Truth (civil rights activist)
Henry Ford (founder of Ford Motor Co.)
Charles Lindbergh (aviator)
Gerald Ford (38th President of the U.S.)
Interesting Facts about Michigan
Although Michigan is often called the “Wolverine State” there are no longer any wolverines in Michigan.
The Packard Motor Car Company in Detroit manufactured the first air-conditioned car in 1939.
Sault Ste. Marie was founded by Father Jacques Marquette. Sault Ste. Marie was established in 1668 making it the oldest town between the Alleghenies and the Rockies and the third oldest remaining settlement in the United States.
In 1817 the University of Michigan was the first university established by any of the states. Originally named Cathelepistemian and located in Detroit the name was changed in 1821. The university moved to Ann Arbor in 1841.
The Mackinac Bridge is one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. Connecting the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan, it spans 5 miles over the Straits of Mackinac, which is where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. The Mighty Mac took 3 years to complete and was opened to traffic in 1957.
Gerald R. Ford grew up in Grand Rapids and became the 38th president of the United States He attended the University of Michigan where he was a football star. He served on a World War II aircraft carrier and afterward represented Michigan in Congress for 24 years. He was also was an Eagle Scout, the highest rank in Boy Scouts.
The Kellogg Company has made Battle Creek the Cereal Capital of the World. The Kellogg brothers accidentally discovered the process for producing flaked cereal products and sparked the beginning of the dry cereal industry. Learn more about cereal with Cereal: The Complete Story
Vernors ginger ale was created in Detroit and became one of the first soft drinks made in the United States. In 1862, pharmacist James Vernor was trying to create a new beverage when he was called away to serve our country in the Civil War. When he returned, 4 years later, the drink he had stored in an oak case had acquired a delicious gingery flavor.
Michigan is the only place in the world with a floating post office. The J.W. Westcott II is the only boat in the world that delivers mail to ships while they are still underway. They have been operating for 125 years.
Michigan has 116 lighthouses and navigational lights. Seul Choix Point Lighthouse in Gulliver has been guiding ships since 1895. The working light also functions as a museum, which houses early 1900s furnishings and maritime artifacts.
Forty of the state’s 83 counties adjoin at least one of the Great Lakes. Michigan is the only state that touches four of the five Great Lakes. Standing anywhere in the state a person is within 85 miles of one of the Great Lakes.
Isle Royal Park shelters one of the largest moose herds remaining in the United States.
The Upper Michigan Copper Country is the largest commercial deposit of native copper in the world.
In 1879 Detroit telephone customers were first in the nation to be assigned phone numbers to facilitate handling calls.
Grand Rapids is home to the 24-foot Leonardo da Vinci horse, called Il Gavallo, it is the largest equestrian bronze sculpture in the Western Hemisphere.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Get in the kitchen with your students and make Coney Dogs for lunch! Wash them down with Vernors ginger ale.
Try your hand at making Michigan Pasties (Meat Hand Pie) for dinner.
Build a replica of the Mackinac Bridge
Enjoy this video introduction to Michigan:
Michigan Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
M is for Mitten: A Michigan Alphabet by Annie Appleford
Mackinac Bridge: The Story of the Five Mile Poem by Gloria Whelan
Leonardo’s Horse by Jean Fritz
Mail by the Pail by Colin Bergel
A Place Called Home: Michigan’s Mill Creek Story by (out of print but may be available at your library)
Only Passing Through: The Story of Sojourner Truth by Anne Rockwell
The Edmund Fitzgerald: Song of the Bell by Kathy-Jo Wargin
The Legend of Sleeping Bear by Kathy-Jo Wargin
Book Basket (NonFiction)
Lake Michigan by Anne Ylvisaker
Henry Ford for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities by Ronald A. Reis
Gerald Ford by Paul Joseph
Mighty Mac: The Official Picture History of the Mackinac Bridge by Lawrence A. Rubin
Michigan Native Americans by Carole Marsh
Bridges: Amazing Structures to Design, Build & Test by Carol A. Johmann
Under Michigan: The Story of Michigan’s Rocks and Fossils by Charles Ferguson Barker
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Who Was Henry Ford by Michael Burgan
The Birchbark House by Louise Erdrich
A Pitch in Time by Robert Lytle
Once on This Island by Gloria Whelan
Next Spring an Oriole by Gloria Whelan
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!