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.
Texas Unit Study
Texas, known for it’s size, being a leader in industry, and having great varieties of reptiles and flowers, became the 28th state to join the union on December 29, 1845. It covers 268,596.46 square miles, making the state second only to Alaska among the 50 United States. Texas also ranks second in population in the U.S.
The weather in Texas can vary based on the region of the state that you find yourself in. It tends to be parched and desert-like in the west and moist and humid in the east. Tropical storms and tornados are not uncommon across the state, especially in the areas near the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific Ocean. The panhandle area is more likely to see snow than other parts of the state.
The unique shape of Texas is reflected in its bordering states. To the north; New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas, make up the Texas border. To the west, it once again touches New Mexico and also the Mexican border. The the south, the international border of Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico coastline and to the east, along with Louisiana, Texas once again borders Oklahoma and Arkansas.
Population: 27,959,150 million
Nickname: The Lone Star State
Officially used in 1836, the term “The Lone Star State” was not officially adopted as the state nickname until 2015. It is believed to have gained the nickname due to the flag with the “lone star” on it when it was attempted to free Texas from Spanish rule in the early 1800’s.
The state motto comes from the Indian word “tejas,” which means friend or ally. It became the official state motto in 1930.
Agriculture: beef cattle and calves, cotton, broilers (young chickens), greenhouse and nursery products, dairy products, sheep, turkeys corn for grain, hay, watermelons, grapefruits, cantaloupes, and mushrooms.
Fishing Industry: shrimp, crabs, flounder, oysters, red snapper, red drum and sea trout.
Industry: computers and electronic equipment manufacturing, chemical production, and food processing.
Mining: oil production, natural gas, lime, salt, and gravel.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Texas. Include the state capital of Austin and Houston, their largest city. Be sure to include San Antonia, home to the Alamo and the famous river Walk. Don’t miss Amarillo and Palo Duro Canyon, known as “The Texas Grand Canyon.”
The flag that flies over Texas today is the same flag that was adopted as the official flag of the 1839 Republic of Texas. It features equal horizontal areas of white and red to the right of a vertical section of deep blue. The colors reflect the loyalty, purity, and bravery. In the middle of the blue field is a “lone” white star.
The state seal of Texas has two beautifully designed sides with historical meaning to both. The front, or obverse, side is a field of sky blue with a five-point white star in the middle. The star is the symbol adopted just a few short days after Texas was declared independent of Mexico in 1836. At that time, Texas was known as the “Republic of Texas.” At the time, the seal as simply the star and the words “The Republic of Texas” surrounding it. In 1839, the branch of a live oak tree, symbolizing strength, and an olive branch, symbolizing peace, were added to the seal. In 1845, when Texas joined the union, the phrase” Republic of Texas” was changed to read “The State of Texas.” This official design for the front of the seal was adopted in 1992.
The back, or reverse, of the seal was not designed and adopted until 1961. The Daughters of the Republic of Texas are credited for the design. Their design features a shield that is enveloped by the flags of the six nations that have flown over Texas sometime in their history. The flags are for the nations of: France, Spain, the United Mexican States, the Republic of Texas, the Confederate States of America, and the United States of America. At the top of the shield is the lone star and a banner that reads, “Remember the Alamo.” Along the bottom is another banner that reads, “Texas One and Indivisible”.
Texas State Bird: Mockingbird
The Texas Federation of Women’s Clubs requested that the Northern Mockingbird be adopted as the official state bird. Their request was granted in 1927. The Northern Mockingbird has the amazing ability to sing approximately 200 songs, many of which include insect and amphibian sounds, mechanical sounds and even the songs of other birds.
Texas State Flower: Bluebonnet
The Bluebonnet became the official state flower of Texas in 1901 as was requested by the Society of Colonial Dames in Texas. , by the 27th Legislature in 1901. The adoption was amended in 1927 to include any variety of bluebonnet.
Texas State Tree: Pecan Tree
James Stephen Hogg, 20th Governor of the state of Texas, requested that a pecan tree be planted on his grave. It is believed that his love for the pecan tree is what inspired the Legislature to designate it as the official state tree in 1919.
State Song: “Texas, Our Texas” – music by William J. Marsh and words by Marsh and Gladys Yoakum Wright. (click here to listen to the state song and here for the lyrics). The song was made the official state song in 1929.
Learn about Texas’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Mammals are found all across Texas. Here are a few that you are you most likely to see all over the state: Black Bear, Badger, American Beaver, Black-tailed Jack Rabbit, Common House Mouse, Coyote, Feral Hog, Gray Fox, Long-tailed Weasel, Nine-banded Armadillo, Opossum, and the Ringtail.
Common birds include the Brown-headed Cowbird, Carolina Wren, Cattle Egret, Eastern Meadowlark, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Killdeer, Northern Cardinal, Northern Harrier, Orange-crowned Warbler, Red-winged Blackbird, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Meadowlark, and the White-throated Sparrow.
The land that we now know as Texas was once inhabited by Native American tribes who were known for skills such as being excellent farmers, fishing and making canoes, hunting, being excellent horseman, and even their ability in battle. These tribes lived and worked the land until approximately 1685 when Europeans made the decision to establish settlements in Texas. The French were the first to come to Texas. Soon after, the Spanish came and took over the territory. The Spanish were responsible for teaching the Native Americans about Christianity in an establish mission called the Alamo.
Mexico became independent from Spain in 1821 and Texas was included with that. Tension was high between the colony that was established in Texas and Mexico and in 1836, at the Battle of the Alamo, Texas was defeated but still claimed their independence from Mexico and became the Republic of Texas. Nine years later, in 1845, Texas joined the United States of America in hopes of gaining added protection from Mexico. Texas joining the U.S. caused the Mexican-American War to break out. Mexico did not want to lose their claim to the Texas land. The U.S. was victorious under General Zachary Taylor. Texas was one of eleven states to secede from the Union between 1860 – 1861 when the Civil War broke out. No significant battles for the Civil War were fought in Texas. The War ended in 1865 and Texas was readmitted to the Union in 1870.
Industry took hold of Texas in the early 1900’s. Oil, or “black gold” as it was called, was discovered and Texas became a hub for oil discovery, the electronic industry, and space travel. Banking and insurance also become major sources for the Texas economy. The U.S. Stock market flourished and was sustained in Texas until the 1930’s when the market crashed and prices for two of the most lucrative industries in Texas, cotton and livestock, fell almost beyond recovery. There was also severe drought that had a double impact of disaster on the crops and livestock. Many residents left Texas in search of something reliable in order to care for their families. As World War II began, the economy of Texas began to be revived with military bases and war equipment factories building up in the state. Also during the War, Texas was home to several POW camps housing prisoners from Germany. The prisoners were used as labor on the farms that were still attempting to rebuild from the Great Depression and drought that took place prior to the War. Another drought, lasting nearly eight years, hit in 1949. This drove many residents to the city and white-collar industry. Higher education took on a new focus during this time and grew at an unprecedented rate. Once known for their heritage of cattle herding, Texas is now well known for the advancement of agricultural wealth, natural gas and oil production, advancement in space travel through the NASA facility in Houston, insurance and financial industries.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Texas
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 Alamo. Heroes died here fighting for freedom. Travis… Bowie… Crockett… Esparza. Their call for aid and refusal to surrender in the face of overwhelming odds stirred America and the world. Their sacrifice helped give birth to Texas. Today the Alamo is the heart of San Antonio and it is Texas’ most visited historic landmark.
Home of the famous 1836 battle and to living history demonstrations and special events throughout the year, the beautiful 300-year-old former Spanish mission turned fortress is open year-round and is free for families, school groups and everyone to visit, experience the battlefield first hand, and “remember the Alamo.” Take a virtual tour.
Sam Houston Memorial Museum is a fifteen acre complex located on the site of the homestead of General Sam Houston, and dedicated to preserving the memory of Sam Houston (1793-1863) and his times.
Located on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum serves as a resource for the study of the life and career of George W. Bush, while also promoting a better understanding of the Presidency, American history, and important issues of public policy.
Situated on a 30-acre site on The University of Texas campus in Austin, Texas, the Library houses 45 million pages of historical documents, 650,000 photos and 5,000 hours of recordings from President Johnson’s political career, including about 643 hours of his recorded telephone conversations. The iconic ten-story building was designed by award-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft and features a Great Hall with a stunning four-story, glass-encased view of the archives collection.
Take a journey on El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro National Historic Trail to savor 300 years of heritage and culture in the Southwest. This Spanish colonial “royal road” in New Mexico and Texas originally extended to Mexico City, Mexico.
After 10,000 years, the people of South Texas found their cultures, their very lives under attack. In the early 1700s Apache raided from the north, deadly diseases traveled from Mexico, and drought lingered. Survival lay in the missions. By entering a mission, they foreswore their traditional life to become Spanish, accepting a new religion and pledging fealty to a distant and unseen king.
Commissioned in 1914 as the most powerful weapon in the world, the Battleship TEXAS is credited with the introduction and innovation of advances in gunnery, aviation, and radar. She is the last surviving Dreadnought as well as the only battleship in existence today that fought in both World War I and World War II.
Step through the doors of historic homes and inns, and imagine the lives of the people who inhabited these places. Explore the frontier forts that protected early Texans, and walk along the paths where the Buffalo Soldiers served. Or visit the birthplace of Texas liberty, or battlegrounds, and imagine what Texas soldiers must have felt as they fought for and won independence.
The spirit of Texas awaits you. Remember The Alamo, Remember Goliad! All our history and today’s attractions beckon you to find Your Independence in southeast Texas.
Space Center Houston features more than 400 space artifacts, permanent and traveling exhibits, attractions and theaters related to the exciting future and remarkable past of America’s human space-flight program – all for one admission price. The experience is designed to engage adults and children alike.
Listen to Onion Creek flowing over limestone ledges and splashing into pools. Follow trails winding through the Hill Country woods. Explore the remains of an early Texas homestead and a very old rock shelter. All of this lies within Austin’s city limits at McKinney Falls State Park
Famous People from Texas
Dwight D. Eisenhower (34th President of the U.S.)
Lyndon B. Johnson (36th President of the U.S.)
Sandra Day O’Connor (U.S. Supreme Court Justice
Sam Houston (American politician and soldier)
Stephen F. Austin (the “Father of Texas”)
James Bowie (pioneer)
Quanah Parker (Comanche leader)
Bill Pickett (rodeo cowboy)
Interesting Facts about Texas
The Alamo is located in San Antonio. It is where Texas defenders fell to Mexican General Santa Anna and the phrase Remember the Alamo originated. The Alamo is considered the cradle of Texas liberty and the state’s most popular historic site.
Texas is the only state to have the flags of 6 different nations fly over it. They are: Spain, France, Mexico, Republic of Texas, Confederate States, and the United States.
The King Ranch in Texas is bigger than the state of Rhode Island.
Edwards Plateau in west central Texas is the top sheep growing area in the country. More wool comes from the state of Texas than any other state in the United States.
Texas is the only state to enter the United States by treaty instead of territorial annexation.
A Coastal Live Oak located near Fulton is the oldest tree in the state. The tree has an estimated age of more than 1,500 years.
Austin is considered the live music capital of the world.
Dr Pepper was invented in Waco in 1885. The Dublin Dr Pepper, 85 miles west of Waco, still uses pure imperial cane sugar in its product. There is no period after the Dr in Dr Pepper.
The first suspension bridge in the United States was the Waco Bridge. Built in 1870 and still in use today as a pedestrian crossing of the Brazos River.
The capitol in Austin opened May 16, 1888. The dome of the building stands seven feet higher than that of the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C.
The worst natural disaster in United States history was caused by a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900. Over 8000 deaths were recorded.
Three of the top ten most populous cities in the United States are in Texas. These towns are Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio.
Texas includes 267,339 square miles, or 7.4%, of the nation’s total area.
The state’s cattle population is estimated to be near 16 million.
More species of bats live in Texas than in any other part of the United States.
The world’s first rodeo was held in Pecos on July 4, 1883.
The Heisman trophy is named for John William Heisman the first full-time coach and athletic director at Rice University in Houston.
The Aransas Wildlife Refuge is the winter home of North America’s only remaining flock of whooping cranes.
Jalapeno pepper jelly originated in Lake Jackson and was first marketed in 1978.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Learn how to paint bluebonnets with this video:
Make a Chuck Wagon meal. Don’t forget to make a chuck wagon, too!
Make a fun rodeo craft!
Learn how oil is made into plastic
Take a virtual tour of the Texas state capitol
Texas Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
L is for Lone Star: A Texas Alphabet by Carol Crane
T is for Texas: Written for Kids by Kids by Michelle McCann
Voices of the Alamo by Sherry Garland
The Battle of the Alamo by Rod Espinosa
B is for Buckaroo: A Cowboy Alphabet by Louise Doak Whitney
Cowboys and Cowgirls: Yippee Yay! by Gail Gibbons
Armadillo Rodeo by Jan Brett
Bill Pickett: Rodeo-Ridin’ Cowboy by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Legend of the Bluebonnet by Tomie de Paola
Bluebonnet at the East Texas Oil Museum by Mary Brooke Casad
Susanna of the Alamo by John Jakes
Hurricanes by Gail Gibbons
The Armadillo from Amarillo by Lynne Cherry
Book Basket (NonFiction)
Texas: The Lone Star State by Kristen Schuetz
The Story of Texas by John Edward Reems
Spindletop Gusher: The Story of the Texas Oil Boom by Carmen Bredeson
Indians Who Lived in Texas by Betsy Warren
Buried Treasures of Texas by W. C. Jameson
Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America’s Presidents by David Stabler
Our Supreme Court: A History with 14 Activities by Richard Panchyk
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Make Way for Sam Houston by Jean Fritz
Stephen F. Austin: The Father of Texas by Harriet Isecke
What Was the Alamo? by Meg Belviso
Jim Bowie: Legendary Hero of the Alamo by Ann Graham Gaines
Bold Women in Texas History by Don Blevins
Where the Broken Heart Still Beats: The Story of Cynthia Ann Parker by Carolyn Meyer (subject matter is preferable for middle school aged children)
Between Two Worlds: The Legend of Quanah Parker by Cynthia Kay Rhodes
Trail Fever: The Life of a Texas Cowboy by D. J. Lightfoot
The Great Storm: The Hurricane Diary of J. T. King by Lisa Waller Rogers
Enjoy this video introduction to Texas
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!