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.
Oklahoma Unit Study
Placed completely in the Mississippi River drainage basin, Oklahoma was the 46th state to join the union on November 16, 1907. The Arkansas River and the Red River, coming out of the basin, drain the state of Oklahoma. The Red River is Oklahoma’s border to the south; with Texas across the river. The state is bordered by Colorado and Kansas to the north, Missouri and Arkansas to the east; and New Mexico and Texas to the west.
As part of the Midwestern United States, Oklahoma covers 69,903 square miles, making it the 20th largest. It is 28th largest in population and is home to 55 Native American tribes. The climate in Oklahoma is affected by the Gulf of Mexico. The Gulf causes a humid subtropical climate in the southern and eastern parts of the state. To the west, the Gulf causes a more semi-arid climate. Oklahoma’s summers are generally long and hot while the winters are short and mild. It is not typical for Oklahoma to have extremely cold weather. Oklahoma is known for the dry, “dust bowl” conditions that can be very difficult on the ranchers and farmers.
Capital: Oklahoma City
Population: 3,943,066 million
Nickname: The Sooner State
Oklahoma’s nickname refers to the settlers that traveled into the territory prior April 22, 1889. On that date the border was opened to for people to claim any of the land that was not already assigned. The “sooners” managed to get into the territory first, thus the name.
Motto: Labor omnia vincit – Latin for Labor conquers all things.
Agriculture: Beef, Broilers, Sheep, Milk, Wheat, Peanuts, Watermelons, Peaches, and Nursery Products.
Fishing Industry: catfish (farm-raised)
Industry: Construction and oil field machinery, Electronic Equipment, Processed Foods, Refrigeration products, Heating Equipment, and Tires.
Mining: Iodine (Oklahoma is the only state to produce Iodine), Petroleum, Coal, Crushed Stone, and Natural Gas.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Oklahoma. Include the state capital, and largest city, of Oklahoma City. Also include the Arkansas River and the Red River. Be sure to include Chickasaw National Recreation Area, Oklahoma’s oldest national park, in Sulpher, OK. Don’t miss noting the 400 miles Route 66, known as the Main Street of America, that run through Oklahoma.
Oklahoma has had 14 “official” flags in its history. The current state flag was designated in 1925. The flag is a solid blue background that symbolizes devotion. In the center of the blue field is a Native American shield that represents Oklahoma’s strong Indian history of protective warfare. The shield has an olive branch over it, along with a peace pipe, that shows the state’s love for peace and unity among their people.
The official state seal of Oklahoma is circular with a five-pointed star as the focal point. In the center of the star are a pioneer, an Indian, and Columbia – the symbol of justice. The pioneer and Indian are shaking hands. Above the men is the state motto “Labor Omnia Vincit.” They are surrounded by olive branches as a symbol of peace. The points of the star show the five civilized Indian Nations that have lived in the eastern part of Oklahoma. The nations represented are as follows in a clockwise direction: Chickasaw Nation (top point), Choctaw Nation (upper right-right point), Seminole Nation (lower right hand point), Creek Nation (lower left-hand point), and the Cherokee Nation (upper right-hand point). There are 45 stars that surround the large star in the middle. Those 45 represent that other 45 states that were a part of the Union at the time of Oklahoma joining. The date that Oklahoma became a state, 1907, is at the bottom of the seal.
Oklahoma State Bird: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
The Scissor-tailed Flycatcher became the official state bird in 1951. The bird does not stay in Oklahoma year round, however, the state is the center of the bird’s nesting range.
Oklahoma State Flower: Oklahoma Rose
Oklahoma designated the Oklahoma Rose as the official state flower in 2007. Prior to that, they had used Indian Blanket and Mistletoe as their official flower.
Oklahoma State Tree: Redbud
The Redbud tree became the official state tree of Oklahoma in 1937.
State Song: Oklahoma! (click here to listen to the state song and to view the lyrics)
Lyrics written by Oscar Hammerstein and music by Richard Rogers “Oklahoma!” was designated as the official state song in 1953.
Learn about Oklahoma’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Baldcypress, Black Walnut, American Elm, Bur Oak, Western Soapberry, Pinyon Pine, Shumard Oak, Sawtooth Oak, Roughleaf Dogwood, Common Hackberry, Flowering Dogwood, Lacebark Elm, and Kentucky Coffeetree are tree species common to Oklahoma.
Mammals commonly found across Oklahoma include White-tailed deer, Black-Tailed Jackrabbit, Beaver, Bobcat, Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Mink, Muskrat, White-footed Mouse, Eastern Mole, Opossum, Armadillo, Striped Skunk, and the Raccoon.
Common birds include Ruddy Duck, Red-headed Woodpecker, Osprey, Bobwhite Quail, Mourning Dove, Goldfinch, Eastern Screech Owl, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Cardinal, Roadrunner, Great Blue Heron, and the American Kestrel.
What is now known as Oklahoma was once controlled by France as part of the Louisiana Territory, however, the French were not interested in settling the land that was Oklahoma. As a result of the French and Indian War, France was forced to give up their rights to the Oklahoma area in 1763. The interesting thing about this was that in 1762, France had discretely given the eastern territory to Spain. In 1800, France took back the control of the territory but soon after the land was sold to the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase. Now owned by the U.S., Oklahoma became part of the Arkansas Territory. In the 1840s, the panhandle area of Oklahoma was ceded back to Spain as part of the Adams–Onís Treaty.
As the U.S. was establishing itself as a nation, American Indian Tribes were being relocated from the southeastern part of the U.S. to land in the west. The relocation is known as the Trail of Tears. Five Indian tribes made their way west on the Trail of Tears to the Arkansas Territory with Five Civilized Tribes settling in what is now known as Oklahoma.
There was much change that went on in the 1850s and 1860s are the Five Civilized Tribes settled in Oklahoma. Railroads crossed the Indian land, slavery was outlawed and much of the land was ceded over to the U.S. government. There were tribes that sided with the Confederacy during the Civil War. In 1866, those tribes were moved to other land in Oklahoma by the government by act of treaties that set up the boundaries for the Indian Territory. In 1890, the U.S. made the effort for the Indian Territory and the land of Oklahoma to join and become one single state. The Indian tribes were not as eager to be unified with Oklahoma. In 1902, they sought to set up their own state. This effort went on for a number of years before the U.S. government dismissed the plea and on November 16, 1907 Oklahoma became the 46th state to join the United States.
Entering into World War I, Oklahoma had a large Socialist population, mostly among farmers who were struggling to keep their farms going. As in many of the U.S. states, the war caused food prices to go up across the nation. This allowed for the farmers to increase their production, helped them financially, and the farmers moved away from socialism. Soon after the economy of Oklahoma improved with agriculture and oil drilling. Oil became a great economic boost with the first oil well in the U.S. near Okemah, Oklahoma. The Great Depression changed that with oil prices dropping to just a few pennies per gallon. As a result of the Great Depression and the dust bowl conditions in the plains, many people from Oklahoma moved to California in search of a better life. On a positive note, more people remained in Oklahoma than those that moved and with the government’s help, they were able to get back on their feet and the economy of Oklahoma slowly turned around. In an effort to boost the economy further, the federal government added facilities in Oklahoma for the production of military equipment just before World War II. After World War II, the Native Americans have been recognized and reservations were set up for them to live. The history of the Indian tribes is rich in Oklahoma and continues to be part of Oklahoma’s current history.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Oklahoma
If you have a chance to visit the state of Oklahoma, 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 land that is now Chickasaw National Recreation Area was purchased from the Chickasaw Nation by the U.S. government in 1902. The purchase was an effort to protect the mineral and freshwater springs. Visitors to the area can enjoy boating, fishing, horseback riding, and more.
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum houses an extensive collection of artifacts that give visitors a glimpse of the history of the American cowboy, the American West, Native American culture, and more.
The Museum of Osteology is a unique opportunity to learn about bones and skeletons. Inside the museum, visitors can view – and learn more about – more than 350 skeletons from animal species found around the world.
As the oldest managed wildlife refuge in the U.S., Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge protects species that are in danger of extinction. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and over 800 plant species call the Refuge home. The goal is to revitalize each group of eliminated plant or animal so that they thrive.
A unique form of gypsum known as alabaster forms the caves that can be explored at Alabaster Caverns State Park. The park is home to the largest gypsum cave in the world.
The Marland story is fascinating and his home is an architectural wonder. It was designed and constructed as a showplace for pieces of fine art and in the process, it became a masterpiece in its own right. As you tour through this site, we’ll show you the mansion and tell you the Marland story. You’ll learn about the Marland family, the industry that made it all possible, and the “oil boom-town” that rose from it all, Ponca City, Oklahoma.
From the first hours after the April 19, 1995 bombing, Oklahomans began to create small makeshift memorials around the perimeter of the bomb site – mounds of flowers, stuffed animals, personal notes, cards and prayers. Almost immediately after the bombing, a chain link fence was erected to protect the site of the bombing. The Fence became Oklahoma’s – and America’s – memorial.
Thousands of “soddies” once dotted the prairies of Oklahoma, but only this sod house built in 1894 by Marshal McCully remains. McCully took part in the largest of Oklahoma’s land runs when the Cherokee Outlet opened for settlement at noon on September 16, 1893. McCully first lived in a one-room dugout, hollowed out of a ravine bank. He built the two-room sod house in August 1894 using blocks of the thick buffalo grass blanketing Oklahoma’s prairies.
The museum covers the history of the Civil War in Oklahoma as well as the history of Atoka County. From a complete baby dinosaur skeleton, the 1830s Choctaw removal, a shootout between local lawmen and Clyde Barrow, to homegrown talents 1987 World Champion Bullrider Lane Frost whose life was portrayed in the movie “8 Seconds,” and international entertainer Reba McEntire, the museum is a unique and welcome stop on State Highway 69.
The Engagement at Honey Springs (called The Affair at Elk Creek by the Confederates) was the largest of more than 107 documented hostile encounters in the Indian Territory. The 1,100 acre site has six walking trails with a total of 55 interpretive signs.
The site protects and interprets the setting along the Washita River where Lt. Col. George A. Custer led the 7th U.S. Cavalry on a surprise dawn attack against the Southern Cheyenne village of Peace Chief Black Kettle on November 27, 1868. The attack was an important event in the tragic clash of cultures of the Indian Wars era.
Exhibits begin with “The World’s Largest Curio Cabinet,” home of special treasures collected from along the route. Along the way visitors see vehicles and listen to music while they experience the history and culture of each decade concerning road construction, transportation, lodging, restaurants, garages, curio shops, attractions, and other artifacts, graphics, and videos. At the end of their trip down the “Main Street of America,” visitors catch their breath in the drive-in theater, viewing “The American Odyssey”, narrated by Michael Wallis, an award-winning Route 66 Historian.
Famous People from Oklahoma
Mickey Mantle (legendary baseball player)
Clarence Nash (voice actor best known as the voice of Donald Duck)
Maria Tallchief (America’s first Prima Ballerina)
Interesting Facts about Oklahoma
In 1935, the first parking meter in the world was installed in Oklahoma City.
Vinita, OK was the first town in Oklahoma to have electricity. It is also the oldest organized town along Route 66 in Oklahoma.
The capitol grounds in Oklahoma are the only ones in the U.S. that have an operational oil well on the property.
The word “Oklahoma” came from the Choctaw people. It is derived of two words “okla” and “humma” which mean “red people”.
Boise City, Oklahoma was the only city in the United States to be bombed during World War II. On Monday night, July 5, 1943, at approximately 12:30 a.m., a B-17 Bomber based at Dalhart Army Air Base (50 miles to the south of Boise City) dropped six practice bombs on the sleeping town.
Sylvan Goldman, born in Oklahoma, invented the first shopping cart.
The tribal capital of the Cherokee Nation is Tahlequah, Oklahoma.
The first radio station to transmit west of the Mississippi River was in Oklahoma.
The yield sign was designed and used in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
There are more man made lakes in Oklahoma than any other state.
During a tornado in Ponca City, a man and his wife were carried aloft in their house by a tornado. The walls and roof were blown away. But the floor remained intact and eventually glided downward, setting the couple safely back on the ground.
Born in 1879 on a large ranch in the Cherokee Nation near what later would become Oologah, Oklahoma, Will Rogers was first an Indian, a cowboy, then a national figure. Will Rogers was a star of Broadway and 71 movies of the 1920s and 1930s, a popular broadcaster and wrote more than 4,000 syndicated newspaper columns.
The town of Beaver claims to be the Cow Chip Throwing Capital of the World. It is here that the World Championship Cow Chip Throw is held each April.
An Oklahoman, Sylvan Goldman, invented the first shopping cart.
Oklahoma has the largest Native American population of any state in the U.S. Many of the 250,000 American Indians living in Oklahoma are descended from the 67 tribes who inhabited the Indian Territory. Oklahoma is tribal headquarters for 39 tribes.
Oklahoma was the setting for the movie “Twister”.
Arts, Crafts and Recipes
Try this popular Oklahoma meal made of fried okra, squash, barbecue pork, biscuits, sausage and gravy, grits, corn, strawberries, chicken fried steak, black-eyed peas, cornbread, and pecan pie.
Make Cherokee Cornmeal Flapjacks
Make a replica of a canoe much like the Native Americans would have carved out of logs
Make a beaded bracelet similar to what many of the Native American tribes would have worn
Learn about radio transmission through this simple science experiment
Learn how many of the Native American tribes that reside in Oklahoma say “hello.”
Explore this interactive Buffalo Soldier electronic field trip
Enjoy watching the musical, Oklahoma! as a family
Practice talking like Donald Duck
Oklahoma Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
S is for Sooner by Devin Scillian
Oklahoma: The Sooner State by Blake Hoena (out of print but may be available at your library)
Leah’s Pony by
Years of Dust: The Story of the Dust Bowl by Albert Marrin
Freddy the Frogcaster and the Terrible Tornado by Janice Dean
The Oklahoma Land Run by Una Belle Townsend
Pappy’s Handkerchief by Devin Scillian
Mickey Mantle: The Commerce Comet by Jonah Winter
H is for Home Run: A Baseball Alphabet by Brad Herzog
The Flimflam Man by Darleen Bailey Beard
Tallchief: American’s Prima Ballerina by Maria Tallchief
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
The Trail of Tears by Joseph Bruchac
If You Lived with the Cherokees by Peter Roop
DK Eyewitness Books: Hurricane and Tornado by Jack Challoner
Route 66 (Road Trip) by Maria Nelson
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Blue Willow by
Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan
Soft Rain: A Story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears by Cornelia Cornilissen
Who Was Maria Tallchief? by Catherine Gourley
The Choctaw Code by Brent K. Ashabranner
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.
See how a Chickasaw flute is made
Here is a great collection of videos that will help you learn more about the history of the West
Take a look at America’s Main Street, the famous Route 66, from a bird’s eye view.
Watch Safe at Home, a baseball story with Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris.
Free activities that will teach you more about Oklahoma
Learn about the astronauts from Oklahoma and their contribution to NASA’s space program.
Learn about Oklahoma past and present on the Oklahoma Historical Society Kids site.