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.
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.
Connecticut Unit Study
Connecticut was one of the original 13 colonies and became the fifth state admitted to the Union on January 9, 1788. It is the southernmost state in what is commonly known as the “New England” states.
Thousands of Native Americans lived in what is now the state of Connecticut before European settlers came to the area. They were all part of the Algonkian Indian family. The Pequot tribe was the most powerful. These Indians lived near the Thames River to the south. The Mohicans, a branch of the Pequot, lived near present-day Norwich. The name “Connecticut” is derived from an Algonquian Indian word – Quonehtacut – that means “beside the tidal river.” The name refers to the Connecticut River.
Connecticut is the third smallest state in the Union by area, but the 29th most populous state. It is bordered on the west by New York, the north by Massachusetts, and the east by Rhode Island. There are more than 1000 lakes in Connecticut.
The interior regions of Connecticut are classified as having a humid continental climate, while the shoreline areas along Long Island Sound to the south are considered as humid subtropical. Summers are hot and humid and winters are cold. The fall season brings beautiful foliage. Tropical cyclones are not unheard of during hurricane season. Connecticut’s northwest hills average 50 inches of snowfall each year.
Population: 3,590,886 as of July, 2015
Nickname: Constitution State
Motto: “Qui transtulit sustinet” He who transplanted still sustains
Agriculture: dairy products, eggs, seafood, tobacco, hay, corn, greenhouse
Industry: insurance, finance, real estate, manufacturing, service industries
Have your students color and label an outline map of Connecticut. Include the state capital of Hartford, the largest city of Bridgeport, the cities of New Haven, New London, and Stamford, Long Island Sound, and the Connecticut and Housatonic Rivers.
The Connecticut state flag has an azure blue background with a white shield and 3 grapevines, each bearing 3 bunches of purple grapes. The vines were inspired by a seal created by Colonel George Fenwick in 1639 and represent the three oldest settlements. The banner below the shield reads “Qui Transtulit Sustinet”, Latin for “He who transplanted still sustains”, Connecticut’s state motto.
The Connecticut state seal is adorned with a trio of grape vines. Appearing below the the grape vines is a banner with the state motto: “Sustinet Qui Transtulit” (Latin for He who is transplanted still sustains).
Connecticut State Bird: American Robin
Connecticut designated the American Robin (Turdus migratorius) as the official state bird in 1943.
Connecticut State Flower: Mountain Laurel
Connecticut designated mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) as the official state flower in 1907. Native Americans used to make spoons from the wood.
Connecticut State Tree: White Oak
The Charter Oak was an unusually large white oak tree growing on Wyllys Hyll in Hartford, Connecticut from around the 12th or 13th century until it fell during a storm in 1856. According to tradition, Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662 was hidden within the hollow of the tree to prevent its confiscation by the English governor-general. The oak became a symbol of American independence.
Learn about Pennsylvania’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Common mammals living in Connecticut include the opossum, shrew, mole, bat, eastern cottontail, groundhog, red and grey squirrel, beaver, porcupine, gray wolf, red and gray fox, raccoon, bobcat, black bear, coyote, moose, and white-tailed deer. Birds include goldfinch, robin, blue jay, cardinal, purple martin, red-bellied woodpecker, ruby-throated hummingbird, tufted titmouse, and wood thrush.
Governor John Haynes of the Massachusetts Bay Colony led 100 people to present day Hartford in 1636. He and Thomas Hooker, a prominent Puritan minister, are considered the founders of the Connecticut colony.
Yale University is a private university in New Haven, Connecticut, was founded in 1701 in Saybrook Colony as the Collegiate School The University is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States.
When General George Washington asked for a volunteer for an extremely dangerous mission: to gather intelligence behind enemy lines, Captain Nathan Hale of the 19th Regiment of the Continental Army stepped forward and subsequently become one of the first known American spies of the Revolutionary War. He was hanged by the British on the morning of September 22, 1776. He was just 21 years old. After being led to the gallows, legend holds that Hale was asked if he had any last words and that he replied with these now-famous words, “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.”
In 1810, the Hartford Fire Insurance Company began in Connecticut. The state has since become known as the “insurance state,” with more than 100 insurance companies in business today.
On December 15, 1814, delegates to the Hartford Convention met in secret at the Old State House in Hartford.
In 1839, the Amistad trial began.
The first hamburger was served in 1900, at Louis’ Lunch in New Haven, and they are still serving hamburgers today!
On May 21, 1901, Connecticut became the first state to pass a speed limit law; 12 mph in cities and 15 mph on country roads.
Connecticut was designated the Constitution State by the General Assembly in 1959. Connecticut historian, John Fiske, made the claim that the Fundamental Orders of 1638/1639 were the first written constitution in history, however, some contemporary historians dispute Fiske’s claim.
Famous People from Connecticut
Benedict Arnold (Revolutionary War soldier)
Noah Webster (“Father of American Scholarship and Education”)
Tomie dePaola (children’s author and illlustrator)
Gertrude Chandler Warner (author of The Boxcar Children)
Nathan Hale (Revolutionary War spy)
David Brainerd (missionary)
P.T. Barnum (founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus)
Barbara McClintock (Nobel Prize winnnig scientist)
George W. Bush (43rd President of the United States)
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Tourism: Road Trip Connecticut
If you have a chance to visit the state of Connecticut, 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 Connecticut Historical Society is the state’s official historical society and one of the oldest in the nation. The CHS’s collection includes more than 4 million manuscripts, graphics, books, artifacts, and other historical materials accessible at our campus and on loan at other organizations.
Join us for a fascinating trip back in time. Learn about American clock & watchmaking with particular emphasis on Connecticut, once the clock capital of the United States. The museum holds one of the largest displays of American clocks and watches in the world, over 5,500! As visitors travel through the museum’s eight galleries, these timekeeping devices chime and strike upon the hour. Located in the historic “Federal Hill” district of Bristol, the museum is housed in an 1801 Federal-style home with a sundial garden.
Thirty-two years after the founding of Jamestown and nineteen years after the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth, a group of English Puritans journeyed across the Atlantic Ocean. Their goal was to establish a community in the New World free from religious persecution. They were led by their minister, Reverend Henry Whitfield.
The Whitfield Family Home is an important example of Colonial Revival restoration work. For over 115 years, visitors from around the world have explored this unique site and learned not only the history of the Henry Whitfield House but the story of the English settlement of Connecticut and the coming together of the European and Native American cultures.
Submarine Force Museum (home of the U.S.S. Nautilus)
In July of 1951, Congress authorized construction of the world’s first nuclear powered submarine. On December 12th of that year, the Navy Department announced that she would be the sixth ship of the fleet to bear the name NAUTILUS. Her keel was laid by President Harry S. Truman at the Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut on June 14, 1952.
On April 11, 1986, eighty-six years to the day after the birth of the Submarine Force, Historic Ship NAUTILUS, joined by the Submarine Force Museum, opened to the public as the first and finest exhibit of its kind in the world, providing an exciting, visible link between yesterday’s Submarine Force and the Submarine Force of tomorrow.
The Mark Twain House & Museum, a National Historic Landmark in Hartford, Connecticut, was the home of America’s greatest author, Samuel Clemens (a.k.a. Mark Twain) and his family from 1874 to 1891. It is also where Twain lived when he wrote his most important works, including Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, The Prince and The Pauper and A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
One of the largest dinosaur track sites in North America, Dinosaur State Park boasts 500 tracks and a large arboretum with over 250 tree species.
It looks like a medieval fortress, but a step inside the stone castle reveals the built-in couches, table trackway, and woodcarvings that all point to the creative genius that was William Gillette.
According to their website, Mystic Seaport is the nation’s leading maritime museum. Founded in 1929 to gather and preserve the rapidly disappearing artifacts of America’s seafaring past, the Museum has grown to become a national center for research and education with the mission to “inspire an enduring connection to the American maritime experience.”
Wander across the covered bridge, hike the falls, and feel the mist on your face as water cascades 250′ down on its way to joining the Housatonic River.
Interesting Facts about Connecticut
The nation’s oldest newspaper in continuous publication, The Connecticut Courant, was first published in 1764. It is still in publication today as The Hartford Courant. Learn more about the history of this newspaper.
On January 28, 1878, the Boardman Building in New Haven became the site of the world’s first commercial telephone exchange, the District Telephone Company of New Haven. The exchange was the brainchild of Civil War veteran and telegraph office manager George Coy in partnership with Herrick Frost and Walter Lewis.
In 1806, Noah Webster published America’s first English dictionary. His more famous American Dictionary of the English Language was published 22 years later in 1828. You can still purchase this dictionary today.
General George Washington designated Connecticut as “The Provision State” because it furnished many supplies to the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. Items supplied included beef, salt, flour and gunpowder.
Arts, Crafts, and Cooking
Studying states lends itself easily to opportunities for arts and crafts activities. The ideas are endless, but here are a few to get your started:
Buy some fresh nutmeg and enjoy grating it over hot chocolate.
Bake an Election Day Cake.
Have your students take this video tour of Connecticut, where they’ll learn that Connecticut had many “firsts.”
If you haven’t already, introduce your children to The Boxcar Children series of books by Connecticut native, Gertrude Chandler Warner. You’ll find the first 12 books in the series here. These mystery books have been enchanting kids of all ages for generations! (only the first 19 were written by Warner)
Take virtual tour of the Barker Character, Comic, and Cartoon Museum with your kids, where you’ll find a large collection comic strip, cartoon, western, T.V. and advertising memorabilia personally amassed by Herb and Gloria Barker.
Learn about how the lollipop got its name.
Yale students discovered empty pie plates from Mrs. Frisbie Pies in Bridgeport could fly across the New Haven Green. Learn more about the history of the “frisbee.”
Connecticut Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
N Is For Nutmeg: A Connecticut Alphabet by Elissa D. Grodin
If You Lived In Colonial Times by Ann McGovern
Noah Webster and His Words by Jeri Chase Ferris
Noah Webster: Weaver of Words by Pegi Shea
The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola
Nathan Hale: Patriot Spy by Shannon Zemlicka
Stellaluna by Janell Cannon
Jumbo by Rhonda Blumberg (out of print, but may be available at your library)
Book Basket (NonFiction)
How to Draw Connecticut’s Signs and Symbols by Jennifer Quasha
What’s Great about Connecticut by Rebecca Rissman
Connecticut by Anne Welsbacher (out of print, but may be available at your library)
Connecticut Facts and Symbols by Emily McAuliffe (out of print, but may be available at your library)
The Connecticut Colony by Kevin Cunningham
The Connecticut Indians by Carole Marsh
The Lighthouse Companion for Connecticut and Rhode Island by Paul Rezendes
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
Guns of Thunder by Douglas Bond
The Forgotten Flag: Revolutionary Struggle in Connecticut by Frances Y. Evan
Noah Webster: Father of the Dictionary by Isabel Proudfit
Noah Webster: Man of Many Words by Catherine Reef
Noah Webster: Master of Words by David R. Collins
Nathan Hale by Jean Christie Root
26 Fairmount Avenue by Tomie dePaola
Gertrude Chandler Warner and The Boxcar Children by Mary Ellen Ellsworth
Barbara McClintock: Nobel Prize Geneticist by Edith Hope Fine
Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers by Jean Fritz
Traitor: The Case of Benedict Arnold by Jean Fritz
David Brainerd: A Love for the Lost by Brian H. Cosby
Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
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.