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.
Missouri Unit Study
The expansion of the United States into the west began in Missouri shortly after Missouri became the 24th state to join the union on August 10, 1821. The Oregon Trail, the Santa Fe Trail, The Pony Express, and the Butterfield Overland Mail Route all began in Missouri.
Bordered by a total of 9 states, Missouri ranks 21st in the United States in size covering a total of 69,706.99 sq. miles. Missouri’s borders are Iowa to the north, Illinois; Kentucky, and Tennessee to the east; Arkansas and Tennessee to the south; and Oklahoma to the west.
The climate in Missouri is known as continental. This means that it’s seasons are strong with cold winters and hot summers. It is, however, not common for the seasons of hot or cold to last very long. Humidity is common in the summer and the winters after see freezing temperatures.
Capital: Jefferson City
Population: 6,103,517 million (ranking 18th in the U.S.)
Nickname: The Show Me State
Though Missouri has no official nickname, “The Show-Me State” is on Missouri’s license plates. The reason behind this nickname is not confirmed though there are a few suspicions to where it came from. The most popular reason is credited to an 1899 speech by Missouri’s Congressman Vandiver. It describes Missouri residents as needing evidence in order to believe.
Motto: Salus Populi Suprema Lex Esto – Latin for “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law”
Agriculture: Livestock and livestock products, beef cattle, hogs, turkeys, soybeans, dairy products, corn, cotton, hay, wheat, apples, peaches, grapes and watermelons
Fishing Industry: Catfish
Industry: Transportation equipment, dairy processing plants, and the manufacturing of chemicals such as fertilizer, insecticide, paint, pharmaceuticals, and soap.
Mining: Lead, limestone, copper, silver, zinc and coal.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Missouri. Include the state capital of Jefferson City. Also include the largest city of Kansas City. Be sure to include St. Louis, home of the famous Gateway Arch. Map the three of the greatest U.S. Rivers that run through Missouri – the Mississippi River, the Missouri River, and the Ohio River.
The Missouri state flag was officially adopted in 1913. The flag contains three stripes of equal size. The red stripe signifies bravery, the white stripe – purity, and the blue stripe – justice. The state seal of Missouri is in the center of the flag and is surrounded by 24 stars.
The state seal of Missouri was adopted in 1822 and also appears on the Missouri state flag. The seal is the design of Judge Robert William Wells. Wells choose to symbolize courage and strength with two grizzly bears. The state motto, written in Latin, is on a scroll under the feet of the bears. To declare Missouri being a part of the United States, the bears are holding a shield that reads, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall.” Also on the shield is the coat-of-arms of the United States which features a bald eagle holding arrows and olive branches, a grizzly bear, and a crescent moon. Above the shield is a helmet that represents the state’s sovereignty. The stars on the shield are symbolic of the states that had already been admitted to the union.
Missouri State Bird: Eastern Bluebird
Missouri made the eastern bluebird it’s official state bird in 1927. The eastern bluebird is medium in size and makes a rich whistling sound as it sings. It is a beautiful bird with it’s blue wings and tail and reddish-orange chest. The colors on the female bird are not as bright as the male.
Missouri State Flower: White Hawthorn Blossom
In 1923, Missouri adopted the white hawthorn blossom as the official state flower. The plant is part of the rose family and is known to reach up to 20 feet in height. The Ozark Mountains, along with the rest of Missouri, are home to over 75 different species of hawthorn plants.
Missouri State Tree: Flowering Dogwood
The flowering dogwood became the official state tree for Missouri in 1955. The wood of the tree has been used for making items such as loom shuttles, handles for tools, and many other items. It blooms in the early spring and, in the fall, sees the growth of reddish colored berries. The tree loses its leaves in the winter months.
The Missouri Waltz became the official state song in 1949. The melody is by John V. Eppel, it is arranged by Frederic Knight Logan, and J.R. Shannon added the lyrics.
Learn about Missouri’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Eastern Redbud, White Oak, Eastern Red Cedar, Ginkgo, River birch, Hackberry, Honey locust, Black gum, American Elm, American Hazelnut, Amur Corktree, Austrian Pine, Bald Cypress,, Callery Bradford Pear, Dwarf Chestnut Oak , and Multiflora Rose are some of the most common tree species in Missouri.
Common birds include the American golden-plover, American Kestrel, American redstart, Bald eagle, Baltimore oriole, Canada Goose, Cliff Swallow, Dickcissel, Fox Sparrow, Gadwall, Northern Pintail, Red-Tailed Hawk, Short-Eared Owl, and the Turkey vulture.
For more information about trees, mammals, birds, and more in Missouri, take a look at the wildlife field guide on the Missouri Department of Conservation’s website.
In the late 1600’s, Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first to explore Missouri as they sailed down the Mississippi River. Not long after that, the land that is known today as Missouri was the part of the Louisiana Territory that was possessed by France. Eighty-two years later, with Spain in control of the Louisiana Territory, the city of St. Louis was founded.
In the late 1800’s, France again gained control of the Louisiana Territory. And on April 30, 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was signed. A little more than a year later, Lewis and Clark set out from St. Louis on their famous Expedition to explore and gather information for America’s expansion west.
The purpose was to search out a land route to the Pacific, to strengthen American claims to Oregon territory, and to gather information about the indigenous inhabitants and the country of the Far West. In 1805, St. Louis was established as the seat of government for the Territory of Louisiana. In 1812, a section of the Territory of Louisiana became the Territory of Missouri.
In 1820, Missouri entered the Union as a slave state under the “Missouri Compromise.” The other part of the “compromise” was allowing Maine to enter the Union as a free state. This allowed for a balance in Congress between free and slave states. On August 10, 1821, President James Monroe admitted Missouri as the 24th state. Less than a month later, The Santa Fe Trail opened in Missouri as a gateway for trading to Santa Fe.
With the discovery of gold in California, the Missouri towns of St. Louis, Independence, Westport, and St. Joseph became points of departure for travelers headed west. The name “Gateway to the West” was given to Missouri because of this. The Pacific Railroad originated from St. Louis in 1851, eventually taking travelers west. In keeping with Missouri’s reputation for being a “gateway,” the Pony Express and the Butterfield Overland Mail Company, originated out of Missouri delivering mail, messages, and newspapers westward.
Missouri, along with Virginia and Tennessee, saw the greatest number of Civil War Battles on their soil. In 1861, the Civil War touched Missouri when the Confederacy took control of the state when the Union Army retreated after the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. Seven months later, at the Battle of Pea Ridge, the Confederates lost their hold on Missouri and the Union took over. Missouri was the first state to abolish slavery in 1865. Though Missouri was a leader in abolishing slavery, segregation of blacks and whites was prevalent for many years. It was not until the 1980’s that Missouri became a truly desegregated state.
Being the “Gateway to the West” poised Missouri to be in the forefront of transportation. Today they are considered a leader in industry related to the production of airplanes, railroad cars, automobiles, and even barges. Tourism in areas of Missouri such as Branson and the Ozark Mountains have added to the Missouri economy in the 20th and 21st centuries.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Missouri
If you have a chance to visit the state of Missouri, 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.
Here you’ll find the most comprehensive collection of Ingalls/Wilder memorabilia in the world. The museum exhibits include artifacts spanning over a century of the lives of the pioneering history described in the “Little House” books. Visitors can see Pa’s fiddle, handwritten manuscripts for the “Little House” books, keepsakes of the Ingalls and Wilder families, tools and articles made by Almanzo, needlework made by Laura and many other items familiar to her loyal readers.
At an astounding 630-feet tall, the magnificent Gateway Arch remains the tallest man-made national monument in the United States. Its unique shape and stainless steel facade remarkably represent the history made in the city of St. Louis. An enclosed tram inside the Arch takes you to the top, where you will experience breathtaking views of modern St. Louis – up to 30 miles in each direction on a clear day. Along with the surrounding Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, the Gateway Arch opens up a world of history about how St. Louis served as the Gateway to the West for early settlers.
President Harry S Truman took America from its traditional isolationism into the age of international involvement. Despite his power, he never forgot where he came from. Today, visitors can experience the surroundings Truman knew as a young man of modest ambition through his political career and final years as a former president.
It is hard to believe that young men once rode horses to carry mail from Missouri to California in the unprecedented time of only 10 days. This relay system along the Pony Express National Historic Trail in eight states was the most direct and practical means of east-west communications before the telegraph.
Nothing says “Missouri literature” like Mark Twain. And nothing says “Mark Twain was here” like the state historic site that bears his name. Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site has the two-room rented cabin Samuel Clemens – Twain’s real name – was born in, first editions of many of the author’s works, a handwritten manuscript of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and many of the furnishings from Twain’s Connecticut home. The site also has a public reading room for personal study and research.
The Mark Twain Cave Complex boasts America’s oldest and newest show caves! Mark Twain Cave is Missouri’s first show cave. The first organized guided tour was in 1886. We proudly became a National Natural Landmark in 1972. We are located approximately one mile south of Hannibal on scenic Highway 79.
The Missouri State Museum is where visitors go to immerse themselves in the history of the Show-Me State. The museum, located in the State Capitol, houses an impressive collection of exhibits portraying the state’s natural and cultural history. Museum staff provide tours of the Capitol.
Lake of the Ozarks State Park has a little bit of something for everyone. Crave water adventure? Lake of the Ozarks has a full complement of boating options. Want a quiet place to hike or mountain bike? The park’s thousands of wooded acres have lots of places to get away from it all, with 12 trails that wind through the park. Cabins and yurts make the park a welcome place for families looking to enjoy the lake but escape the hustle and bustle of some of the nearby towns. And Ozark Caverns – complete with its lantern-light cave tour – presents an unforgettable experience.
People called Oliver Anderson’s house “the best arranged dwelling house west of St. Louis.” But it became more famous as the center of a bloody three-day Civil War battle in 1861. Walk through the Anderson House at Battle of Lexington Historic Site and marvel at the bullet holes still in the walls and evidence of the cannon shots.
The economy. We hear about it every day, but how much do we actually know about it? The award-winning Inside the Economy® Museum inside the historic Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis will immerse you in a one-of-a-kind experience that explains the economy, and your role in it, in a fun and interactive way.
As the whole world remembers the world’s most famous luxury liner, Titanic Museum Attraction in Branson. MO. will continue to open the door to the past in it’s one-of-a-kind way – letting “passengers” experience what it was like to walk the hallways, parlors, cabins and Grand Staircase of the Titanic while surrounded by more than 400 artifacts directly from the ship and its passengers. As visitors touch a real iceberg, walk the Grand Staircase and third class hallways, reach their hands into 28-degree water, and try to stand on the sloping decks, they learn what it was like on the RMS Titanic by experiencing it first-hand.
Famous People from Missouri
Mark Twain (writer)
George Washington Carver (botanist)
Laura Ingalls Wilder (writer)
Harry S. Truman (33rd President of the U.S.)
Langston Hughes (poet)
Harriett Robinson Scott (slave)
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Food Collage: Have your child make a collage using the plants George Washington Carver studied (peanuts, sweet potatoes, and soybeans). Encourage your child to use all parts of the plant, such as the sweet potato skin, peanut shells, and the paper covering that surrounds the peanut.
Have your students begin keeping a nature journal. Take sketch books to a local garden or park and draw together. Encourage your child to observe and draw details about different plants.
Eat ice cream in a waffle cone!
Interesting Facts about Missouri
The Gateway Arch in St. Louis is the tallest man-made national monument in the United States. It is 630 feet wide at its base and stands 630 feet tall.
Missouri is home to more than 6,100 known caves. Missouri is known as “the cave state.” Richland, Missouri, is the only city in the U.S. with a cave restaurant.
Charles Lindbergh’s flight from Long Island to Paris May 20-21, 1927, took 33 and one half hours to complete and was the first nonstop solo transatlantic flight in history. Named The Spirit of St. Louis in recognition of the St. Louis, Missouri, businessmen who funded its construction, Lindbergh’s single-engine plane had a 46-foot wingspan and weighed 2,150 pounds when empty.
St. Louis, Missouri hosted the the first Olympic Games ever held in the United States. It was the first time that the Olympic Games were held in a majority English language nation, and the first time that they were held outside of Europe. Almost half of the marathon runners got heat stroke, and the first-place winner cheated by hitching a car ride for 10 miles.
At the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, the ice cream cone was invented. An ice cream vendor ran out of cups and asked a waffle vendor to help by rolling up waffles to hold ice cream. Also introduced at the fair were cotton candy, iced tea, and Dr Pepper.
The first successful parachute jump from a moving plane was made above the Jefferson Barracks military post, near St. Louis, on March 1, 1912.
Kansas City, Missouri has more fountains than any city in the world except Rome.
Branson is the number one tour-bus destination in the United States. Known as the “Live Music Show Capital of the World,” Branson offers more than 50 live performance theaters.
Big Spring, located in the Ozark National Scenic Riverways system, is the nation’s largest single-outlet spring; one of the largest in the world. On average, it gushes 278 million gallons a day; with a maximum daily flow of 846 million gallons.
St. Joseph, Missouri was the starting point of the famed Pony Express.
Missouri ties Tennessee as the U.S. state bordering the most other states. Eight different states (Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska) border Missouri, sharing the title for the most with Tennessee.
Missouri is also home to the most destructive tornado in U.S. history. The Tri-State tornado, which set down on March 18, 1925, killed 695 people, injured 2027 people, and demolished an estimated 15,000 homes throughout Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Annapolis, Missouri, was 90 percent destroyed.
The most powerful earthquake to strike the United States occurred in 1811, centered in New Madrid. It shook more than one million square miles and was felt 1,000 miles away.
The tallest man in documented medical history was Robert Pershing Wadlow from St. Louis. He was 8 feet, 11.1 inches tall
Take a virtual tour of Missouri:
Watch this documentary about the Gateway Arch.
Thomas Jefferson required members of the Lewis and Clark Expedition to keep detailed journals. Have your students keep a journal recording their daily activities.
Discuss pseudonyms or “pen names” and then learn how Mark Twain chose his own pen name.
Book Basket (Picture Books)
S is for Show Me: A Missouri Alphabet by Judy Young
River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain by William Anderson
They’re Off!: The Story of the Pony Express by Cheryl Harness
Off Like the Wind: The First Ride of the Pony Express by Michael P. Spradlin
Meet Me in St. Louis: A Trip to the 1904 World’s Fair by Robert Jackson
A Picture Book of George Washington Carver by David A. Adler
George Washington Carver: The Peanut Wizard by Laura Driscoll
Visiting Langston by Willie Perdomo
To the Top!: A Gateway Arch Story by Amanda E. Doyle
Book Basket (NonFiction)
The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker
My Little House Crafts Book: 18 Projects from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House Stories by Carolyn Strom Collins
How We Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
Caves and Caverns by Gail Gibbons
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins
What Was the Lewis & Clark Expedition? by Judith
Who Was Mark Twain by April Jones Prince
Mark Twain: Young Writer by Miriam E. Mason
Dred and Harriet Scott: A Family’s Struggle for Freedom by Gwyneth Swain
Freedom’s Price by Michaela MacColl
Who Was George Washington Carver by Jim Gigliotti
George Washington Carver: Man’s Slave Becomes God’s Scientist by David Collins
Harry S. Truman: Thirty-Third President of the United States by George E. Stanley
Harry and Eddie: The Friendship That Changed the World by Beverly Joan Boulware
Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder by Patricia Brennan Demuth
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!