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.
Washington Unit Study
When joining the union on November 11, 1889, Washington became the 42nd U.S. state and Washington is the only state named after a president. Located in the Pacific Northwest, Washington is bordered by Canada on the north, Oregon to the south, Idaho to the east, and the Pacific Ocean to the west.
Washington is the 18th largest state in the U.S. covering 71,303 square miles. The climate of Washington varies depending on where you are in the state. In the western portion of the state, you will find a humid climate with lots of fog and light rain. To the east, the weather is drier and cooler.
Population: 7,277,536 million (13th largest in the U.S.)
Nickname: The Evergreen State
Washington’s nickname comes from its abundance of pine and fir trees across the state. It was adopted as the official state nickname in 1893.
Motto: Alki (Native American word for “bye and bye”)
The motto of Washington has never been officially adopted and made official. It is derived from Native American’s and means “bye and bye.” Over the years, the meaning has evolved to mean “into the future.”
Agriculture: Milk and other dairy products, beef cattle, chicken eggs, mint, apples, potatoes, Kentucky bluegrass, and greenhouse products.
Fishing Industry: Chinook Salmon, clams, cod, flounder, tuna, halibut, and oysters.
Industry: Shipbuilding, aircraft, electronic products, navigational instruments, food processing, and items for the space industry.
Mining: Silver, coal, gold, clay, and gypsum.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Washington. Include the state capital of Olympia. Also include the largest city of Seattle. Be sure to include Mt. Rainier – the highest point in Washington, Olympic National Park, Puget Sound, and the Cascade Mountain Range. Mt. Saint Helens is a must to label on your map, along with major cities in Washington: Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, Bellevue, and Kent.
The state flag of Washington was adopted in 1923. It’s green background represents the vast amount of forestry in the state. In the center of the flag is the state seal. Washington’s flag is the only state flag that has the image of an actual person on it.
The state seal of Washington was adopted in 1889. The seal features a portrait of George Washington, the first President of the United States. Around the outside of the seal are the words “The Seal Of The State Of Washington” and the date “1889.”
Washington State Bird: Willow Goldfinch
The willow goldfinch was adopted as Washington’s state bird in 1951. It is also known as the American goldfinch.
Washington State Flower: Coast Rhododendron
The Coast Rhododendron was chosen to be the flower that would represent Washington state for the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and was adopted as the official state flower of Washington in 1959.
Washington State Tree: Western Hemlock
The Western Hemlock became the official state tree of Washington in 1947.
State Song: “Washington, My Home” (click here to listen to the state song. Read the lyrics as you listen to the song.)
“Washington, My Home” was written by Helen Davis and became the state song in 1959.
Learn about Washington’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
In 1774, Juan Perez from Spain is the first to document exploring the coast of Washington. In 1805, Lewis and Clark entered the territory during the expedition that President Thomas Jefferson sent them on. It was not until 1819 that more Americans began to come to the territory with the intent of settling the land. The Oregon Territory, that included modern-day Washington, was established in 1848. In 1853, the territory lines were revised and Washington along with small portions of Idaho and Wyoming became the Washington Territory.
Prior to the Spanish and Americans exploring the area, Indians had lived and worked the land. Conflicts between the Indians and Americans grew and in 1858, after a battle for the land, the Americans won and the Indians were given portions of land that they were essentially confined to. Gold was discovered and more people came into Washington to live and to mine for gold. The state has had a long history of industry that includes farming, fishing, lumber, and mining. During World War I and World War II, military equipment was built in Washington.
Perhaps one of the most famous events that happened in Washington was the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980. Much of the land surrounding Mount St. Helens was destroyed and 57 people lost their lives. On the political front, Washington has always been considered progressive meaning that they are often ahead of other states in passing laws on difficult issues.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Washington
If you have a chance to visit the state of Washington, 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.
Lewis and Clark – National Historical Park
Explore the timeless rainforests and majestic coastal vistas. Discover the rich heritage of the native people. Unfold the dramatic stories of America’s most famous explorers. The park encompasses sites along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast. Follow in the footsteps of the explorers and have an adventure in history.
Lewis and Clark – National Historic Trail
Between May 1804 and September 1806, 31 men, one woman, and a baby traveled from the plains of the Midwest to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. They called themselves the Corps of Discovery. In their search for a water route to the Pacific Ocean, they opened a window into the west for the young United States.
Manhattan Project National Historic Park
This site tells the story about the people, events, science, and engineering that led to the creation of the atomic bomb, which helped end World War II.
Minidoka National Historic Site
The Pearl Harbor attack intensified existing hostility towards Japanese Americans. As wartime hysteria mounted, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 forcing over 120,000 West Coast persons of Japanese ancestry (Nikkei) to leave their homes, jobs, and lives behind and move to one of ten Relocation Centers. This single largest forced relocation in U.S. history is Minidoka’s story.
Klondike Gold Rush – Seattle Unit National Historical Park
The Seattle unit of the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park preserves the story of the stampede to the Yukon gold fields and Seattle’s crucial role in this event. The headlines of a Seattle newspaper on July 17, 1897, Gold! Gold! Gold! Gold! ignited dreams of easy riches in the minds of thousands as word of a rich gold strike in northwestern Canada. A dream that would prove all but dream.
Whitman Mission National Historic Site
The 1847 attack on the Whitmans horrified Americans and impacted the lives of the peoples of the Columbia Plateau for decades afterwards. Was killing the Whitmans justified legal retribution, an act of revenge, or some combination of both? The circumstances that surround this tragic event resonate with modern issues of cultural interaction and differing perspectives.
San Juan Island National Historic Park
San Juan Island is well known for splendid vistas, saltwater shore, quiet woodlands, orca whales and one of the last remaining native prairies in the Puget Sound/Northern Straits region. But it was also here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over possession of the island, the crisis ignited by the death of a pig.
Olympic Nationa Park
With its incredible range of precipitation and elevation, diversity is the hallmark of Olympic National Park. Encompassing nearly a million acres, the park protects a vast wilderness, thousands of years of human history, and several distinctly different ecosystems, including glacier-capped mountains, old-growth temperate rain forests, and over 70 miles of wild coastline. Come explore!
North Cascades National Park
Less than three hours from Seattle, an alpine landscape beckons. Discover communities of life adapted to moisture in the west and recurring fire in the east. Explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers. Listen to cascading waters in forested valleys. Witness a landscape sensitive to the Earth’s changing climate. Help steward the ecological heart of the Cascades.
Nez Perce National Historical Park
For thousands of years the valleys, prairies, mountains, and plateaus of the inland northwest have been home to the Nimiipuu or Nez Perce people. Extremely resilient they have adapted and survived the settling of the United States. Explore these places. Learn their stories.
Mount Rainier National Park
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an icon in the Washington landscape. An active volcano, Mount Rainier is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous U.S.A., spawning six major rivers. Subalpine wildflower meadows ring the icy volcano while ancient forest cloaks Mount Rainier’s lower slopes. Wildlife abounds in the park’s ecosystems. A lifetime of discovery awaits.
Fort Columbia State Park
A 593-acre day-use historical park with 6,400 feet of freshwater shoreline on the Columbia River. The park celebrates a military site that constituted the harbor defense of the Columbia River from 1896 to 1947. The fort was fully manned and operational through three wars. The area was also home for the Chinook Indians and their famed Chief Comcomly. Fort Columbia is one of the few intact coastal defense sites in the U.S. The park provides beautiful views of the Columbia River estuary. An interpretive center, an observation station and five miles of hiking trail through mature forest are additional features of this park. Two historic buildings are available for vacation rental.
Goldendale Observatory State Park
A five-acre educational facility on a 2,100-foot-high hilltop. The observatory houses one of the nation’s largest public telescopes and has attracted sky-watchers since its opening in 1973. The observatory is open to anyone who wants to view the universe.
Cape Disappointment State Park
Cape Disappointment is a 1,882-acre camping park on the Long Beach Peninsula, fronted by the Pacific Ocean and looking into the mouth of the Columbia River. Lighthouses stand sentinel atop windswept cliffs, sea smells waft up through the air and waves collide with a crash where the Pacific Ocean meets the Columbia River below. Named for Captain John Meares’ first thwarted voyage to find the Columbia, Cape Disappointment is steeped in Northwest history. This is the place to explore U.S. military and maritime legacies and to experience the story of Lewis & Clark and the effect of their Corps of Discovery Expedition on Native American tribes. Step into the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center for interactive exhibits. Find overgrown ruins of military bunkers and coast defense batteries, and hear tales of two lighthouses and the first attempts to reach the Columbia River by ocean.
Famous People from Washington
Interesting Facts about Washington
The state of Washington is the only state to be named after a United States president.
Seattle is home to the first revolving restaurant in the 48 contiguous United States (and the second revolving restaurant in the world). Located atop the Space Needle, at a height of 500 feet above sea level, the restaurant was opened in 1961.
Washington state produces more apples than any other state in the union.
Everett is the site of the world’s largest building, Boeing’s final assembly plant
The highest point in Washington is Mount Rainier. It was named after Peter Rainier, a British soldier who fought against the Americans in the Revolutionary War.
Starbucks, the biggest coffee chain in the world was founded in Seattle.
Puget Sound’s many islands are served by the largest ferry fleet in the United States.
The forests of the Olympic Peninsula are among the rainiest places in the world and the only rainforests in the continental United States.
The region around eastern Puget Sound developed heavy industry during World War I and World War II, and the Boeing company became an established icon in the area.
During the Great Depression, a series of hydroelectric dams were constructed along the Columbia river as part of a project to increase the production of electricity. This culminated in 1941 with the completion of the Grand Coulee Dam, the largest dam in the United States.
In 1980, the northeast face of Mount St. Helens exploded outward, destroying a large part of the top of the volcano.
The percentage of non-religious people in Washington is the highest of any state, and church membership is among the lowest of all states.
Washington is home to four of the five longest floating bridges in the world: the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge, Lacey V. Murrow Memorial Bridge and Homer M. Hadley Bridge over Lake Washington, and the Hood Canal Bridge connecting the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas.
Popular games Pictionary, Pickle-ball, and Cranium were all invented in Washington.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Have fun with one or more of these 42 Apple Crafts
Learn more about flight with Paper Airplane Science
Learn how floating bridges are built.
Washington Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
W Is for Washington: An Evergreen State ABC Primer by Trish Madson
Good Night Washington State by Adam Gamble (Author), Mark Jasper
Washington: The Evergreen State by Kristin Schuetz (out of print but may be available from your library)
Rescue on the Oregon Trail (Ranger in Time #1) by Kate Messner
Larry Loves Seattle!: A Larry Gets Lost Book by John Skewes
Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest by Gerald McDermott (Author, Illustrator)
How Do Apples Grow by Betsy Maestro
Apples by Gail Gibbons
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
William Boeing (Community Builders) by Sharlene P. Nelson
Who Is Bill Gates? by Patricia Brennan Demuth
How We Crossed The West: The Adventures Of Lewis And Clark by Rosalyn Schanzer
National Geographic Readers: Sacagawea by Kitson Jazynka
Fylling’s Illustrated Guide to Pacific Coast Tide Pools by Marni Fylling
If You Lived With The Indians Of The Northwest Coast by Anne Kamma
Washington and Oregon Nature Guide by Erin McCloskey
Volcano: The Eruption and Healing of Mount St. Helens by Patricia Lauber
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
What Was the Lewis and Clark Expedition? (What Was?) by Judith St. George
Louisiana Purchase (Ready-for-Chapters) by Peter Roop
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.
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!