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.
Hawaii Unit Study
Made of a 132 islands, Hawaii was the 50th state to join the union on August 21, 1959. It is home to the world’s most active volcano and the only one of the 50 United States with an official native language. Hawaiʻi, Maui, Kahoʻolawe, Lānaʻi, Molokaʻi, Oʻahu, Kauaʻi, and Niʻihau are the eight main islands that most of the world thinks of when we think of Hawaii as a state; however, there are 124 more islands in the chain that is is 1,523 miles long. It is the longest island chain in the world. Interestingly, the land mass of the other 124 islands combined is only approximately 3 square miles.
The borders of Hawaii are the same on all sides of every island. The Pacific Ocean surrounds Hawaii weaving in and out of all 132 islands. The island chain is roughly 2,400 miles of the coast of the continental U.S. to the southwest. All of the islands combined total 6,459 square miles making Hawaii the 47th largest of the fifty states.
Hawaii is known for its beautiful weather. Throughout the year, the temperatures are mild with sunny skies and occasional winds. The climate is considered tropical on all of the islands, however, it is possible to see snow on the island of Hawaii where its highest point has a subarctic climate. There are two seasons on most of the islands – summer and winter. Summer is from May to October and winter is November through April. The winter season does typically see more rain than the summer.
Population: 1,442,949 million (40th largest in the U.S.)
Nickname: The Aloha State
The state nickname was made official in 1959, the same year that Hawaii became a state.
Motto: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono” (“The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness”)
The motto has been a part of Hawaii’s history since 1843.
Agriculture: Cattle, eggs, eggs, sugar cane, pineapples, flowers, coffee, avocados, macadamia nuts, bananas, papayas, lettuce, corn, and potatoes.
Fishing Industry: swordfish and bigeye (tuna).
Industry: Food processing, candy, bread, juices, printed materials, and glass products.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Hawaii. Include the state capital, and largest city, of Honolulu. Be sure to include Diamond Head, the 8 main islands, and the Pacific Ocean.
The state flag of Hawaii has 8 red, white, and blue stripes that represent the 8 main islands. In the top left corner it the Union Jack, a tribute to the relationship that Hawaii had with Great Britain for years. The official flag has been used since 1816.
The state seal of Hawaii was officially adopted in 1959. In the center of the seal is a shield featuring the coat of arms. King Kamehameha I, holding a staff, and Liberty, holding the Hawaiian flag are on either side of the shield. Under the shield is a Phoenix rising from leaves from native plants. At the top of the inner circle is the date 1959, the year that Hawaii gained statehood. Around the outer circle are the words “State of Hawaii” and “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono”, the state motto.
Hawaii State Bird: Nēnē (Hawaiian goose)
The Nēnē, or Hawaiian Goose, has been the official state bird since 1957.
Hawaii State Flower: Maʻo hau hele (yellow hibiscus)
The Maʻo hau hele, or Yellow Hibiscus, became the official state flower in 1988.
Hawaii State Tree: Kukui tree (candlenut tree)
The Kukui, or Candlenut Tree, was designated the official state tree of Hawaii in 1959.
State Song: Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi (click here to listen to the state song with lyrics.)
“Hawaiʻi Ponoʻi” is translated “Hawaii’s own true sons”. The song served as one of the official song for the Kingdom of Hawaii, the Republic of Hawaii, and also the Territory of Hawaii before it joined the union in 1959. In 1967, the Legislature of Hawaii adopted the song as the official song for the state. The words were written by King David Kalākaua in 1874. His bandmaster, Captain Henri Berger, composed the music.
Learn about Hawaii’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Almond Tree, Banana Tree , Banyan Tree, Coconut Tree, Hala Tree , Jacaranda Tree, Koa Tree, Mangrove Tree, Noni Tree, Papaya Tree, and the Royal Poinciana Tree are the most common tree species in Hawaii.
There are only two mammals native to Hawaii that remain on the islands today. They are the Hawaiian Monk Seal and the Hoary Bat. Both are listed as endangered species. Other mammals that can be find on the islands include: Indian Mongoose, Axis Deer, Goat (both domestic and feral), Wild Boar, Polynesian Rat, Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby, Blue Whale, and the Bottlenose Dolphin.
The Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands were the first to explore the big island of Hawaii. Approximately 500 years later, explorers from Tahiti came to the island to settle. As the Tahitians settled the island, they introduced the beliefs that they had in the gods and demi-gods of their island. They also brought with them a social hierarchy system that was put into practice on the island. In 1810, all of the Hawaiian Islands were joined into one kingdom. Twenty years later, after missionaries came to Hawaii and helped fill in where the failed government system from Tahiti left off, Hawaii became a major port for seamen and for traders.
The economy of Hawaii began to grow with the whaling industry around the island of Maui. By 1893 American colonists took over the Hawaiian Kingdom and five years later, Hawaii became a territory of the United States. In the 1900s the economy of Hawaii grew with growth of sugar and pineapple plantations. These came to Hawaii with immigrants from Japan, China, Portugal, and the Philippines. The island of Lanai became known as the “pineapple island” as it became the leading supplier of pineapple across the world.
In December of 1941, Pearl Harbor was attacked by the Japanese. It was four years later when the Japanese surrendered on the USS Battleship Missouri. This battleship rests underwater today in Pearl Harbor where a memorial has been made to those who bravely fought in the war. Hawaii became the last state to join the United States August 21, 1959. Today tourism supports much of the Hawaiian economy. The U.S. Military also continues to have a presence there that also contributes to the economy. Pineapple and sugar exports remain a constant for the state. The history or Hawaii is full of culture that has been handed down from generation to generation. These traditions are held in place today making Hawaii a unique state to live in or visit.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Hawaii
If you have a chance to visit the state of Hawaii, 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.
On the Island of Hawaii, known as the “Big Island”, is the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Visitors to the park can see two active volcanoes – Kīlauea and Mauna Loa. Hiking, biking and driving around the crater rim are ways that visitors can get a better view of the volcanoes.
Sometimes referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is roughly 10 miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep. It is located on the Island of Kauaʻi. Fishing, hunting, hiking, sightseeing are activities available in the state park.
One of Hawaii’s best-known sites is Diamond Head. This saucer-shaped crater was formed when ash and other fine particles settled from a volcanic explosion. At one time the particles were mistaken as diamonds, thus the name of the historic landmark. It is located on the Island of O’ahu. Visitors to Diamond Head can hike, picnic, or simply enjoy the sites of the area.
Located on the Island of Oahu, Pearl Harbor is an active U.S. military base. It is also a National Historic Landmark. Upon arriving at Pearl Harbor, visitors are able to learn the history of the War in the Pacific by visiting four sites: the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.
While visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center, visitors will learn about the history of the people that came to what we now know as Hawaii. There is a living museum that gives opportunity to experience the food and to learn about the Polynesian culture.
The Mauna Kea Observatory is the world’s largest astronomical observatory. It’s telescopes are remotely operated by eleven countries in the world. Guided tours are available in addition to visitors having the option to drive around the observatory grounds. Mauna Kea is located on the Island of Hawaii.
Molokini is a volcanic calderas, one of three in the world, that is located just off the shore of the Island of Maui. It is Hawaii’s only marine sanctuary where people from all over the world come to scuba dive and/or snorkel in order to see the unique marine life that is present there.
*Note: a calderas is a large volcanic crater that is generally formed by the collapse of the mouth of the volcano during an eruption.
Famous People from Hawaii
Barack Obama – 44th President of the United States of America
Duke Kahanamoku — Olympic Gold Medalist and “father of modern surfing”
Bethany Hamilton – inspirational surfer who lost her arm to a shark bite yet she continues to surf
Lois Lowry – Newberry medal-winning author best known for her children’s books Number the Stars and The Giver
Captain James Cook – the first European to begin formal contact with the Hawaiian Islands
James Drummond Dole – industrialist known as the “Pineapple King”. He developed the pineapple industry in Hawaii. Now more than ⅓ of the world’s supply of pineapple comes from Hawaii.
Kamehameha the Great – the monarch who united the Hawaiian islands
Interesting Facts about Hawaii
Amelia Earhart was the first pilot to successfully fly solo from Hawaii to California in 1935.
Because of i’s location (2,390 miles from California; 3,850 miles from Japan; 4,900 miles from China; and 5,280 miles from the Philippines), Hawaii is considered to be the most isolated population center in the world.
Hawaii is the only state that grows coffee.
The Hawaiian alphabet has only 12 letters: Vowels: A, E, I, O, U and Consonants: H, K, L, M, N, P, W
Measuring from east to west, you will find that Hawaii is the widest U.S. state.
Hawaii doesn’t observe daylight savings time and actually has its own time zone known as Hawaiian Standard Time.
The spot considered to the be wettest on earth is the place where the Waialua River drains off of Waialeale Mountain on the Island of Kauai.
The Island of Oahu is home to the world’s largest wind generator – a windmill with two blades that are 400 feet long that rest on the top of a twenty story high tower.
The world’s highest sea cliff is on the Island of Molokai.
The Island of Kahoolawe is the only uninhabited island of the 8 main islands in the chain. It was used at one time for target practice by the U.S. Navy and Air Force.
Most of the world’s macadamia nuts and orchids are grown in Hawaii.
Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world (measured from its base at the ocean floor).
Hawaii is the only U.S. state with a tropical rain forest.
Arts, Crafts, and Recipes
Make a Hawaiian Lei
Create pineapple artwork using your fingerprints
Make a Refreshing Pineapple Cooler as an afternoon snack
If you have a Shaved Icemaker, try this simple recipe for Hawaiian Shaved Ice
Learn the basics of Hula from children
Paint a Hawaiian flower like Georgia O’Keeffe
Watch this short introductory video to Hawaii.
Build a Wind Turbine model. While you are on the website, look around to learn more about wind energy.
Learn common words and phrases in the Hawaiian language.
Make your own erupting volcano.
Hawaii Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
A is for Aloha by U’ilani Goldsberry
Hawaii: The Aloha State by Emily Rose Oachs
The Story of Hula by Carol Golembe
The 12 Days of Hula by Beth Greenway
Georgia in Hawaii by Amy Novesky
The Kukui Tree by Jarrod Gatlin
Surfer of the Century: The Life of Duke Kahanamoku by Ellie Crowe
Obama: The Boy Who Would Grow Up to Be President Barack Obama by A. D. Largie
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
The Hawaii Fact and Picture Book by Gina McIntyre
Remember Pearl Harbor: American and Japanese Survivors Tell Their Stories by Thomas B. Allen
Volcanoes! by Ann Schreiber
Georgia O’Keeffe’s Hawaii by Patricia Jennings
Tsunamis by Chana Stiefel
A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Hawaii by Jim Denny
Flowers and Plants of Hawaii by Paul Wood
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
What Was Pearl Harbor? by Patricia Brennan Demuth
Captain Cook by Rebecca Levene
James Cook: The Pacific Coast and Beyond by R. A. Beales
King Kamehameha The Great: Warrior King of the Hawaiian Islands by Leilani Makua
Who is Barack Obama? by Roberta Edwards
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
The Giver by Lois Lowry
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.
Learn the History of the Luau
Grab a copy of Soul Surfer to watch for a family movie night
Read about the world’s largest maze on the Dole Pineapple Plantation
Read about the history of Hawaiian Shaved Ice
Interested in the history of surfing? Take a look at this article.
Learn about the history of Pearl Harbor.
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!