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.
Arizona Unit Study
Home to one of the seven “natural wonders” of the world, Arizona became the 48th state to join the union on February 14, 1912. It covers 114,006 square miles, making it the sixth largest state in the United States. It is the 14th largest in U.S. in terms of population.
The borders of Arizona are as follows: Utah to the north; Mexico to the south; New Mexico to the east; Nevada and California to the west. The climate in Arizona is varied depending on where you are in the state. The southern part of the state tends to have hot summers and mild winters. To the north, residents and visitors will experience all four seasons, however, the weather is generally mild.
Population: 6,927,347 million
Nickname: The Grand Canyon State
Arizona is nicknamed after one of the first national parks in the United States, the Grand Canyon.
Motto: “Ditat Deus” – Latin for “God Enriches”
Agriculture: Lettuce, cotton, hay, cantaloupes, barley, beef cattle, dairy products, hogs, sheep, and potatoes.
Fishing Industry: Trout, Atlantic Salmon, Catfish, and Tilapia
Industry: Transportation Equipment, Chemicals, Food Products, Communication Systems, and Metal Products.
Mining: Copper, Silver, Coal, Crushed Stone, and Sand.
Have your students color and label an outline map of Arizona. Include the state capital, and largest city, Phoenix. Be sure to include the Grand Canyon, Lake Meade, Monument Valley, and Red Rock State Park.
The official state flag of Arizona, adopted in 1917, features a five-point star in the center that represents the copper found in Arizona. Below the star is a field of blue that matches the “liberty blue” that matches the United States flag. Above the star are thirteen red and gold rays that represent the setting sun over the Arizona desert and the thirteen original colonies.
The state seal of Arizona represents all that make Arizona the great state that it is. The symbols on the seal represent the enterprises of the state with a miner holding a pick and shovel and a quartz mine. The natural resources of the state are symbolized by a lake and a dam, field and orchards, and cattle. A mountain range represents the sights that bring tourists to the state year round. The state motto is on the shield in the center of the seal and “1912”, the year Arizona was admitted to the union is at the bottom of the seal.
Arizona State Bird: Cactus Wren
Named the official state bird in 1931, the Cactus Wren is the largest of the North American Wren family.
Arizona State Flower: Saguaro
The Giant Saguaro Cactus blossom was adopted as the Arizona state flower in 1931.
Arizona State Tree: Palo Verde
The Palo verde was selected as the official state tree of Arizona in 1954.
Written by Rex Allen, Jr. “Arizona” was adopted as the official state song in 1982. This replaced “Arizona March Song” that had previously been designated as the official state song in 1919.
Learn about Arizona’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Trees native to Arizona include: Desert Willow, Boxelder Maple, Quaking Aspen, Pinyon Pine, Blue Spruce, Flowering Crabapple, White Fir, Narrowleaf Cottonwood, Catclaw Acacia, Netleaf Hackberry, and the Singleleaf Ash.
Mammals common across Arizona are Botta’s Pocket Gopher, Mule Deer, Badger, Mexican Free-tailed Bat, Bobcat, Coyote, Grey Fox, Jackrabbit, Mountain Lion, Raccoon, Ringtail, and the White-throated Woodrat.
Common birds include Cackling Goose, Pied-billed Grebe, Mourning Dove, Great Blue Heron, Turkey Vulture, Golden Eagle, Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, American Kestrel, Willow Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, American Crow, Common Raven, Horned Lark, Bullock’s Oriole, Great-tailed Grackle, Western Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Song Sparrow, House Finch, and the American Robin.
As with the other territories in the western United States, the land we now know as Arizona was inhabited by several Native American tribes. The tribes are well known in U.S. history for things like woven blankets – the Navajo, adobe buildings – the Pueblo, and possibly the oldest continuously inhabited town in the U.S. was set up by the Hopi Tribe.
Spain was the first country to send anyone into Arizona. In 1539, Marcos de Niza, a Spanish priest, arrived in the territory. Shortly after his arrival, explorers looking for gold came to Arizona along with other priests interested in setting up missions in Arizona. In the mid-1750s, the Spanish were the first Europeans to build permanent towns. In 1848, after the Mexican-American War, Arizona became part of the New Mexico Territory and was governed by the United States. Arizona remained part of the New Mexico Territory until 1863 when President Lincoln named officially separated Arizona from the New Mexico Territory calling it the “Arizona Territory”. In 1861, as the Civil War began, Arizona chose to join the Confederacy and fought against Union soldiers from California.
The area was not easy to reach until the construction of the railroad in the late 1880s. In 1912, Arizona joined the union, completing the last of the contiguous states in the U.S. Its economy began to grow with citrus and cotton crops and cattle farming. In the middle of the twentieth century, tourism and those looking for a warmer climate to retire in helped to boost the economy of Arizona.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Arizona
If you have a chance to visit the state of Arizona, 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.
One of the two largest man made lakes in the United States, Lake Mead and the area around it is a popular spot for visitors to Boat, hike, bike, camp and fish. Hoover Dam, located in NV, can be seen from Lake Mead. Along with the lake, the recreational area of Lake Mead includes mountains, valleys, and canyons.
Part of the Colorado River basin, the Grand Canyon spans 277 miles in length, 18 miles in width, and is over a mile deep. Visitors to the park can enjoy hiking, rafting, mule rides or a train ride to view the canyon. One of the best way to view the canyon is the Grand Canyon Skywalk. This incredible feat of engineering rests 4,000 feet above the Colorado River and extends 70 feet past the rim of the Canyon.
More than 13,000 years of human history and culture are represented at Petrified Forest National Park. From prehistoric peoples to the Civilian Conservation Corps, from early explorers to Route 66 motorists, the park has many stories to tell.
Tucson, Arizona is home to the nation’s largest cacti. The giant saguaro is the universal symbol of the American west. These majestic plants, found only in a small portion of the United States, are protected by Saguaro National Park, to the east and west of the modern city of Tucson. Here you have a chance to see these enormous cacti, silhouetted by the beauty of a magnificent desert sunset.
In 1967 the bridge that had formerly spanned the River Thames in London was taken apart, moved and rebuilt in Lake Havasu City, Arizona.
While visiting Sedona, Arizona, a popular site is Cathedral Rock. It is one of the most photographed sites in all of America.
The Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona is committed to presenting the history of flight to educate visitors. There are approximately 300 aircraft on display. See the museum through this virtual tour.
The Meteor Crater is just under 2.5 miles in circumference and over 550 feet deep. It is the best preserved meteorite impact site in the U.S., and most likely on earth. Visitors can enjoy the site through nature trails, an indoor viewing site, and more.
Explore the wild wild west. An 1880’s western town. Rawhide at wild horse pass puts you in the middle of the action with cowboys, gunfights, stagecoach rides, retail shops and western attractions.
Virtual field trip onlineSee the Opera House where Lilly Langtry sang; look through a rifle port in the actual cabin that survived Arizona’s bloodiest range war; laugh your way through a “melodrama”; or browse through an 1890’s dress shop and much more!All of this, plus a blacksmith shop, sheriff’s office and jail, complete ranch complex, and costumed interpreters including cowboys, lawmen, and lovely Victorian ladies – await you at Pioneer Living History Village, Arizona’s most authentic Old West town.
The Amerind Foundation is a private, nonprofit anthropological and archaeological museum and research center dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of Native American cultures and their histories. Located in spectacular Texas Canyon in the Little Dragoon Mountains of southeastern Arizona, the Amerind houses one of the finest private collections of Native American art and artifacts in the country.
What are the oldest structures in the Valley of the Sun? They are the remains of the Hohokam culture and some of them are the centerpieces of Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park. They include a partially excavated Platform Mound and a ballcourt along the Ruin Trail. Now, thanks to the Pueblo Grande Museum Auxiliary visitors can also tour the newly constructed replicas of Hohokam houses. The replicas have been built based on archaeological data since no complete remains have been found.
Famous People from Arizona
Frank Luke, Jr. (WWI fighter ace and first airman to receive the Medal of Honor)
Percival Lowell (astronomer and founder of the Lowell Observatory where the planet Pluto was discovered)
Interesting Facts about Arizona
Arizona is the only place that the Arizona trout can be found.
The largest cactus in America, the saguaro cactus, is the Arizona state flower.
More copper is produced in Arizona than any other state in the U.S.
The Arizona Capitol building has a copper roof that is equivalent to 4,800,000 pennies.
Five national flags have flown over the territory that is now Arizona.
Arizona has more land designated as Indian lands than any other U.S. state.
Multicolored corn was grown by the Hopi Indians of Arizona
The world’s largest solar telescope is in Sells, Arizona.
Arizona has more national monuments than any other state in the U.S., totaling 18.
The world’s largest rose bush is in Tombstone, Arizona. It was planted in 1885.
The world’s largest sundial is in Carefree, Arizona.
Glendale, Arizona is the home of Morton Salt.
The oldest rodeo in the world is in Prescott.
There are 3,928 mountain peaks and summits in Arizona. More than any other mountain state.
The largest collection of to-scale miniature model airplanes is located in Prescott.
A mule delivers mail to the village of Supai located at the bottom of the Grand Canyon
Arizona holds the record for the most species of rattlesnakes in the U.S.
Daylight Savings time is observed in all of the 50 states except Arizona and Hawaii
Arts, Crafts and Recipes
Make a rattlesnake toy that actually rattles.
Make a sundial
Cook trout for dinner in honor of the Arizona Trout
Learn about the arts of the Hopi Indians.
Build a model airplane with simple household items.
Enjoy this video introduction to Arizona
Build your own telescope
Try this science experiment with pennies made of copper
Arizona Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
G is for Grand Canyon by Barbara Gowan
The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale by (out of print but may be available at your library)
Grand Canyon by Jason Chin
The Goat in the Chile Patch by Lada Josefa Kratky
Victor the Reluctant Vulture by Jonathan Hanson
The Three Little Javelinas by Susan Lowell
Katie of the Sonoran Desert by Kate Jackson
My Nana’s Remedies by Roni Capin Rivera-Ashford
Big Moon Tortilla by Joy Cowley
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
Arizona: The Grand Canyon State by Pat Ryan
What is So Great About Arizona by Rebecca E. Hirsch
If You Lived With The Hopi Indians by (out of print but may be available at your library)
Desert Giant: The World of the Saguaro Cactus by Barbara Bash
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Where Is the Grand Canyon? by Jim O’Connor
Brighty of the Grand Canyon by Marguerite Henry
Rattlesnake Mesa: Stories from a Native American Childhood by Ednah New Rider Weber
Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos
Wright on Time: Arizona by Lisa M. Cottrell-Bentley
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.
Take a look at the Arizona landscape from a “bird’s eye” view.
Learn more about salt – where it comes from, what it is used for, and it’s benefits
Visit the Lake Mead Virtual Museum
Learn about the history of Daylight Saving
Read the history of the World’s Oldest Rodeo
Learn about how the Hopi Indians live
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!