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.
North Dakota Unit Study
Almost from the beginning of becoming a territory, North Dakota has been the most agricultural state in the Union. Located in the Upper Midwestern region of the U.S., North Dakota became the 39th state admitted to the union on November 2, 1889.
North Dakota is the 19th largest state among the fifty, covering 70,704 square miles. It is ranked 47th in population. Canada provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are on North Dakota’s northern border. It’s eastern border is Minnesota, southern border is South Dakota, and the western border is Montana.
The four seasons are very distinctive in North Dakota. As a whole, the state experiences a variety of weather conditions, which is typical for a continental climate. The winters tend to be cold and the summers are generally warm to hot. The eastern part of the state is typically more humid than the rest giving the east more humidity in the summer and more wind in the winter.
Population: 773,814 million
Nickname: The Peace Garden State
Adopted in 1957, the nickname “The Peace Garden State” originated from a popular garden that opened in 1932. The International Peace Garden sits in the border between North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada. It has been said that the international border between North Dakota and Canada is the longest unguarded border in the world.
Motto: Liberty and Union Now and Forever, One and Inseparable
Agriculture: Milk, beef cattle, hogs, honey, wheat, flax seed, and navy beans
Industry: Food processing, farm and construction machinery, petroleum products, and aircraft
Mining: Petroleum, coal, sand, clay, and salt
Have your students color and label an outline map of North Dakota. Include the state capital of Bismarck. Also include the largest city of Fargo. Be sure to include the Canadian border and the International Peace Garden that sits on the border. Make note of the following rivers: the Missouri, the James River, and the Red River of the North.
The state flag of North Dakota was adopted in 1911. In the center of the dark blue background is a bald eagle. In its talons it holds an olive branch and a bundle of arrows. In the eagle’s beak is a banner with the words “E Pluribus Unum.” This is Latin for “out of many, one.” The original thirteen states are symbolized by red and white stripes on a shield in the eagle’s chest. Above the eagle’s head, in a semi-circular shape are 13 stars that represent the birth of the United States.below the eagle is a larger banner that reads, “North Dakota.”
The North Dakota state seal shows the importance of agriculture that is key to the history of the state. In the center of the seal is a tree surrounded by bundles of wheat. Near the tree are an anvil, a plow, a sledge, a bow with three arrows, and a Native American hunting a buffalo. Above this scene there are forty-two stars. North Dakota was the 39th to join the union but a total of 42 joined in 1889, this is the reason for the 42 stars. The state motto, “Liberty and Union Now and Forever, One and Inseparable” is above the stars. In an outer circle around the scene are the words “Great Seal” and “State of North Dakota.” “October 1, 1889,” the day North Dakota became a state, is also on the seal.
North Dakota State Bird: Western Meadowlark
The Western Meadowlark was adopted as the official state bird in 1947.
North Dakota State Flower: Wild Prairie Rose
The Wild Prairie Rose was designated as the official state flower in 1907.
North Dakota State Tree: American Elm
The American Elm is common across North Dakota and became the official state tree in 1947.
State Song: “North Dakota Hymn” (click here to listen to the state song. Lyrics are shown as you listen)
Adopted in 1947, the state song was written by James W. Foley and arranged by Doctor C. S. Putnam
Learn about North Dakota’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Trees common across the state of North Dakota are the Quaking Aspen, Boxelder Maple, European Mountain Ash, Common Hackberry, Bur Oak, Black Walnut, Laurel Willow, Black Hills White Spruce, Colorado Spruce, Common Honeylocust, and the Scots Pine.
Common birds in North Dakota are: Ruffed Grouse, Greater-Prairie Chicken, Redhead, Common Goldeneye, Burrowing Owl, Mourning Dove, Sora, Cooper’s Hawk, Golden Eagle, Black-billed Cuckoo, Piping Plover, Sedge Wren, and Swainson’s Hawk.
North Dakota History
There were several Native American tribes that had settled in North Dakota long before Europeans came to explore the area. The Mandan tribe specifically was key to establishing the area now known as North Dakota as profitable in agriculture. In 1738, La Vérendrye from Quebec explored the area on behalf of Europe. He was impressed with the advancements the Mandan tribe had made in agriculture and began a trade relationship with them.
The area known as North Dakota joined with present day South Dakota to form the “Dakota Territory “ in 1861. They remained a combined territory until November of 1889 when they became separate states. Once its own territory, North Dakota began efforts to build their population and economy by promoting that the “American Dream” could be had in North Dakota. It was approximately 21 years before settlers came. At that time the population was made up of German Americans, Scandinavian Americans, and Yankees, or people from the East Coast. Two of the major railroads, the Northern Pacific and the Great Northern, had great success due to the abundance of crops in areas of North Dakota. Interestingly the railroads would buy land from the federal government and then sell to farmers. Competition between the two railroads was steep but it resulted in more tracks, more people moving into North Dakota and new towns being built.
Between 1900-1950 there were approximately 100,000 German Russians that immigrated to North and South Dakota, Kansas and Nebraska. What became known as the “German-Russian Triangle” was located in the south-central part of North Dakota. There this people group became a very close community that held onto the culture, language, and religion of their heritage. They faced hardships during World War I due to the anti-German sentiment that was present in much of the world. After the War, they began to use English more, however, they did maintain German for the singing of hymns in their churches. All in all they had great influence in the culture of the early American West.
As the 20th century dawned, the larger cities in North Dakota were developing with the typical “Main Street USA” mentality that was happening across America. Stores and businesses were putting up store fronts that were attractive in order to draw in customers. In contrast, in the rural areas, general stores were still the main place for farmers and residents to purchase the items that they needed.
Tracing back to the days of the Native Americans, North Dakota has had a rich heritage in agriculture. Over the years, the farms grew larger in size and smaller in number. At one time much if the grain that was grown was for feed, now it is a cash crop. Moving forward into the 21st century, oil became a valuable resource for North Dakota. With that came an influx of residents making North Dakota one of the fastest growing states in 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 North Dakota
If you have a chance to visit the state of North Dakota, 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 International Peace Garden is at the heart – at the Center/Centre – of the Turtle Mountains. We’re at the heart and Centre of the Great Plains/the Midwest/the prairies. We are at the heart of Turtle Island of North America.
No matter how you want to describe our geographic – and spiritual – location, the International Peace Garden is a perfect place to gather, to meet, and to experience the promise of peace created more than 80 years ago. Ideas for an international garden to celebrate the peace that exists between Canada and the United States of America began bubbling up at international botanical and horticultural conferences within a decade of the end of the “War to end all wars.”
Petroglyphs carved into two granite boulders give Writing Rock State Historic Site near Grenora its name. Though their origins are obscure, the drawings probably represent the Thunderbird, a mythological figure sacred to Late Prehistoric Plains Indians. Outlines of the bird, showing its wings extended and surrounded by abstract designs, appear on both boulders.
Richardton is home to the Abbey Church a Barvarian Romanesque structure. Lofty arches, 52 stained glass windows, 24 paintings of Saints on canvas above the arches, and a huge carved crucifix delineate the impressive interior. The Visitor’s Center at Assumption Abbey is open to all guests, where we welcome you to stop in at anytime during our scheduled hours. There you can find information on self-guided tours, the monastic life, and the history of Assumption Abbey.
Sitting Bull Burial State Historic Site located on the western edge of Fort Yates marks the original grave of the Hunkpapa Sioux leader. During the Ghost Dance unrest of 1890 an attempt was made to arrest him at his home on the Grand River in South Dakota, and a skirmish ensued in which Sitting Bull was killed.
The Dakota Dinosaur Museum in Dickinson houses twelve full scale dinosaurs, thousands of rock, mineral and fossil specimens and a complete real Triceratops and Edmontosaurus.
When Theodore Roosevelt came to Dakota Territory to hunt bison in 1883, he was a skinny, young, spectacled dude from New York. He could not have imagined how his adventure in this remote and unfamiliar place would forever alter the course of the nation. The rugged landscape and strenuous life that TR experienced here would help shape a conservation policy that we still benefit from today. Don’t miss these 8 Things to See and Do in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Since 1969, Fort Seward, Inc. holds an annual family oriented (bring the kids!) covered wagon train adventure, history talks, camping, nature lore, saddle horses permitted. The wagon train is usually held during the month of June and starts at Jamestown, North Dakota USA. We welcome families and individuals from all walks of life and it is not required to own or to ride a horse to participate.
“We commence building our cabins.”
– William Clark, November 3, 1804
This simple journal entry marked the construction of Fort Mandan, the Corps of Discovery’s winter home from 1804-1805. Through the winter, Lewis & Clark interviewed members of the nearby Mandan-Hidatsa villages to plot maps and plan the next phase of their journey to the Pacific Ocean. They also had the good fortune to meet a remarkable young woman named Sacagawea.
Today, we have a newly-remodeled Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center with state-of-the-art interactive exhibits and a new collection of artifacts, a new exhibit honoring North Dakota’s family farms, and much more. We also welcome you to step back in time and visit the reconstructed Fort Mandan.
Whether you’re a first-time visitor or an experienced explorer, you’ll have an unforgettable new adventure when you Join the Discovery!
Located in West Fargo, North Dakota Bonanzaville is a pioneer village with 12 acres, 43 historic buildings, 400,000 artifacts, and millions of memories. Bonanzaville is operated by the Cass County Historical Society, with a mission to collect, display and interpret artifacts relevant to the history and cultural heritage of the Red River Valley. It is the region’s largest historical attraction with something for everyone to see.
North Dakota’s premiere aviation destination, the Fargo Air Museum’s dual hangars are home to aircraft of all eras – from the modern Global Hawk unmanned reconnaissance drone to the “most accurate recreation of a Wright Brothers’ flyer the Smithsonian Institute has ever seen.” A “flying” museum, many of the airplanes occasionally take to the sky, a unique feature not found in the vast majority of the nation’s static-display air museums.
When approached with the idea of creating a museum in his honor, Roger Eugene Maris (September 10, 1934 – December 14, 1985) – who hit a Major League Baseball record 61 home runs during the 1961 season for the New York Yankees, breaking Babe Ruth’s single-season record of 60 home runs in 1927 – declined. An incredibly humble man, he eventually relented but requested that the museum be “put where people will see it.” He also requested that the museum be open to the public free of charge.
The North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame (NDCHF) strives to preserve the history and promote the culture of North Dakota’s Native American, Ranching, & Rodeo communities by informing and educating people of all nations and cultures about the state’s rich and colorful western heritage.
The character and legacy of the American West comes to life inside the organization’s Center of Western Heritage & Cultures: Native American, Ranching and Rodeo located in Medora, North Dakota.
Famous People from North Dakota
Sitting Bull (Hunkpapa Lakota chief )
Lawrence Welk (bandleader)
Theodore Roosevelt (26th President of the U.S.)
Roger Maris (baseball player)
Interesting Facts about North Dakota
The town of Rugby is the geographical center of North America. A rock obelisk about 15 feet tall, flanked by poles flying the United States and Canadian flags marks the location.
Milk is the official state beverage.
Westhope located on U.S. Highway 83 is a Port-of-Entry into Canada. Each year more than 72,000 vehicles cross the border at this point.
When Dakota Territory was created in 1861 it was named for the Dakota Indian tribe. Dakota is a Sioux word meaning friends or allies.
Devils Lake is the largest natural body of water in North Dakota. Devils Lake derives its name from the Native American name Miniwaukan. Early explorers incorrectly translated the word to mean Bad Spirit. Bolstered by the many legends of drowned warriors and lake monsters the name evolved into Devils Lake. This very fertile prairie lake grows large numbers of the fish known as walleye, northern pike, and white bass. The lake has earned the reputation of being the Perch Capital of the World.
The North Dakota State University research experiment station in Hettinger is the largest state owned sheep research center in the United States.
The World’s Largest Buffalo monument is located at Frontier Village in Jamestown. The structure is 26 feet high, 46 feet long, and weighs 60 ton.
North Dakota grows more sunflowers than any other state.
Flickertail refers to the Richardson ground squirrels which are abundant in North Dakota. The animal flicks or jerks its tail in a characteristic manner while running or just before entering its burrow.
Killdeer Mountain Roundup Rodeo is the home of North Dakota’s oldest PRCA rodeo.
President Theodore Roosevelt first came to Dakota Territory in September 1883 to hunt bison. Before returning home to New York, he became interested in the cattle business and established the Maltese Cross Ranch and the Elkhorn Ranch.
Named after Henry D. Minot, a young entrepreneurial visionary from the east, the town of Minot was conceived in the late 1800s. With the impending arrival of the Great Northern Railroad the town site was actually selected in November of 1886. Its phenomenal growth led to the early nickname Magic City.
Only one word is needed to describe Lake Sakakawea country – big. From the massive two-mile long Garrison Dam near Riverdale to the end of Lake Sakakawea near Williston, Lake Sakakawea is nearly 200 miles long with a shoreline of countless bays and inlets that cover 1,600 miles.
In 1982 Rutland hosted what was considered the grand daddy of all celebrations when the town went into the “Guinness Book of World Records” with the cooking and eating of the World’s Largest Hamburger. That year, between 8 and 10 thousand people came to sample the tasty 3591 pound burger.
The rich heritage of Grand Forks is preserved at the Myra Museum featuring an 1890’s home dedicated to pioneer women, a one-room school, carriage house, and the city’s original log Post Office.
Turtle Lake celebrates turtles, hard-shelled reptiles often found in the water. Turtle Lake has erected a two-ton sculpture of a turtle near the entrance to the city. The town is the home of the annual United States Turtle Racing Championship.
Lawrence Welk left his home in Strasburg on his birthday in 1924 to pursue his musical career. On July 2, 1955, he made his debut on national television. The Lawrence Welk Show was produced for 26 years and today reruns of the popular program air weekly throughout the United States and foreign countries.
The Lewis and Clark expedition encountered their first grizzly (brown) bears in North Dakota.
The piles of rock on White Butte, North Dakota’s highest point, are known of as rock johnnies or sheepherder’s monuments and according to legend were piled there by sheepherders as a way to pass the time while they tended their flocks.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Get in the kitchen with your kids a make Knoephla Soup-A Favorite Among North Dakota Residents for dinner.
Plant sunflower seeds and watch them grow tall!
Visit a farm where sheep or bison are raised.
Take a virtual tour of the International Peace Garden.
Take a virtual tour of the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center.
North Dakota Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
P is for Peace Garden: A North Dakota Alphabet by Roxane B. Salonen
North Dakota: The Peace Garden State by Blake Hoena
North Dakota Facts and Symbols by Karen Bush Gibson
The Buffalo Are Back by Jean Craighead George
A Boy Called Slow by Joseph Bruchac
The Star People by S.D. Nelson
River Friendly, River Wild by Jean Kurtzdie’s Dakota Winter by Laurie Lawlor (out of print but may be available at your libraryaa0
Addie’s Dakota Winter by Laurie Lawlor (out of print but may be available at your library)
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
North Dakota by Tyler Maine
North Dakota by Robin Landew Silverman
What’s So Great About North Dakota by Darice Bailer
If You Lived with the Sioux Indians by Ann McGovern
Theodore Roosevelt for Kids: His Life and Times, 21 Activities by Kerrie Logan Hollihan
Buffalos: Amazing Pictures and Facts About Buffalos by Breanne Sartori
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Sitting Bull: Dakota Boy by Augusta Stevenson
Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt by Jean Fritz
Buffalo Before Breakfast by Mary Pope Osborne
Lucky: Maris, Mantle, and My Best Summer Ever by Wes Tooke
Roger Maris by Anne M. Todd (out of print but may be available at your library)
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.
Enjoy this short video introduction to North Dakota:
Watch Safe at Home, a baseball story with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!