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.
Utah Unit Study
Covering 84,904 square miles, Utah became the 45th state to join the union on January 4, 1896. It is the 13th largest state in the U.S. and is famous for the five national parks that are found across the state. The national parks have red rocks, natural bridge and other formations, canyons, and desert.
Located in the Rocky Mountain Region, Utah shares its borders with Idaho and Wyoming to the north, Colorado to the east, Arizona to the south, and Nevada to the west. The climate in Utah is semiarid with four distinctive seasons. Winters in Utah are cold but pleasant with snow mostly occurring in the mountains; spring is varied with sunshine and snow often happening in the same day; summer has both warm days and warm nights; and fall is colorful, cool, and typically has a thunderstorm.
Capital: Salt Lake City
Population: 3,047,340 Million (31st largest in the U.S.)
Nickname: The Beehive State
Utah’s nickname was chosen to represent the state’s philosophy of industry and hard work. These ethics are represented by a beehive.
Agriculture: Cattle, Milk, Sheep, Hogs, Eggs, Honey, Hay, Apples, Onions, Greenhouse and Nursery Products.
Fishing Industry: Carp
Industry: Steel production, Scientific Instruments, Computer Microchips, and Communication Equipment
Mining: Petroleum, Copper, Gilsonite, Salt, and Magnesius
Have your students color and label an outline map of Utah. Include the state capital and largest city of Salt Lake City. Be sure to include Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Arches National Park, Rainbow Bridge National Monument, and the Great Salt Lake.
The state flag of Utah has a dark blue background with the official state seal in the middle. Utah adopted an official flag in 1896. It was revised and the current flag was adopted in 1913. The original flag was light blue with the state seal in all white. The current flag design was commissioned by the Utah State Society Daughters of the Revolution in 1912 and presented to the governor. It was adopted as the official state flag in 1913.
The official state seal of Utah was adopted in 1896. The center of the seal has a white shield with a beehive in the middle. The state flower, the sego lily, is shown on both sides of the beehive.The shield symbolizes protection in both war and peace and has an eagle perched on the top of the shield. Over the beehive is the word “Industry” – the state motto. Below the beehive is the date 1847. This is the year that the Mormons settled in Utah. On either side of the shield are American flags showing Utah’s support to the United States as a nation. Around the outside of the seal are the words “The Great Seal of the State of Utah” and “1896,” the year that Utah joined the union.
Utah State Bird: California Gull
The California Gull was adopted as the Utah state bird in 1955. The gull ate masses of Rocky Mountain crickets in 1848 when the crickets were destroying the crops in the state. The people considered the gull to have saved them and their crops.
Utah State Flower: Sego Lily
The Sego Lily was designated as the official state flower in 1911. During the 1848 infestation of crickets that destroyed their crops, the settlers of Utah as the sego lily.
Utah State Tree: Quaking Aspen
In 2014, the Quaking Aspen replaced the Blue Spruce as the official tree of Utah. Fourth grade students did not believe that the spruce tree was a good representation of the entire state and petitioned to have the state tree changed. They chose the Quaking Aspen because it is found in all 29 counties in Utah.
State Song: Utah, This is the Place (click here to listen to the state song and to view the lyrics)
Written by Sam & Gary Francis, “Utah, This is the Place” became the official state song of Utah in 2003. This replaced “Utah We Love Thee” that had been adopted in 1937. The change in the state song was suggested by a group of fourth grade students who felt the original song was not fun to sing.
Learn about Utah’s state government here: Government
Flora and Fauna
Trees native to Utah include: White Fir, Rocky Mountain Maple, Bigtooth Maple, Netleaf Hackberry, Mountain Mahogany, Desert Willow, Utah Juniper, Engelmann Spruce, Bristlecone Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Narrowleaf Cottonwood, Fremont Cottonwood, Chokecherry, Gambel Oak, and the Peachleaf Willow.
Mammals common throughout Utah are the Badger, Black-tailed Jackrabbit, Brazilian free-tailed bat, Deer Mouse, Desert Cottontail, Hopi Chipmunk, Long-tailed Weasel, Mountain Cottontail, Mountain Lion, Mule Deer, Muskrat and the Striped Skunk.
Common birds include Brewer’s Blackbird, Bushtit, Black-capped Chickadee, Chukar, Red Crossbill, American Kestrel, Golden Eagle, Cassin’s Finch, Canyon Wren, Western Meadowlark, Pine Siskin, Song Sparrow, Townsend’s Solitaire, Lewis’ Woodpecker, Long-eared Owl, and the Ruby-crowned Kinglet.
Francisco Vásquez de Coronado from Spain is believed to have explored what we now know as Utah in 1540. Years later priests from Santa Fe traveled through northern Utah. They came across native American residents and continued on to California. In the beginning of the 19th century, fur trappers also explored portions of Utah. In 1847 Mormon pioneers, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, came to the Salt Lake Valley and began to settle the land as their home. The Mormons established farms; built houses, schools, and churches. As time passed they moved into other areas of Utah creating more communities and growing the state.
In 1850, a compromise established between the settlers in Utah and the native Americans and the Utah Territory was formed. At that time, Fillmore became the capital and remained until 1856 when Salt Lake City became the capital. Utah was the first in the west to have slaves from Africa and also purchased Indians as slaves.
The first Transcontinental Telegraph and the First Transcontinental Railroad both came through Salt Lake City in the 1860s. In 1870, women were given the right to vote. National parks were established in the 20th century and this brought about the recognition of Utah for its natural resources and beauty.
Other Uses for Notebooking Pages
dictation and copywork
draw and write
vocabulary and spelling words
recording reading lists
plant and animal classification
Road Trip Utah
If you have a chance to visit the state of Utah, 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.
Zion National Park is located in southwest Utah. Visitors can enjoy backpacking, tour the park via bicycle, explore the canyons, hike, climb, or take trips down the Virgin River.
The world’s largest collection of hoodoos (odd-shaped pillars of rock left standing from the forces of erosion) are not the only sites to see in Bryce Canyon. Hiking to any of the points in the canyon will allow for beautiful views of the sunrise or sunset. Visitors can also enjoy camping in the park.
Carved by the Colorado River, the Canyonlands is another popular destination in Utah. There are overlooks that allow visitors to marvel at the canyons below. Backpacking, Biking, Camping, and boating are just some of the activities that can be enjoyed while in the park.
The Delicate Arch is the most famous arch in Arches National Park. It is also the largest arch in the park spanning 45’ wide and 64’ high. The total number of arches in the National Park is 2,000. Activities in Arches National Park include horseback riding, biking, rock-climbing, and more.
The Great Salt Lake covers 2,100 square miles of what used to be Lake Bonneville. It is the largest lake between the Great Lakes and the Pacific Ocean. It is also the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. The average depth of the lake is 13 feet but the deepest point is 34 feet. An interesting fact is that the Lake is approximately four times saltier than any of the ocean’s in the world. The reason for the concentration of salt is because there is no outlet to the lake. All of the water stays confined to the Lake.
In 1883, while in search of gold, Cass Hite found three beautiful bridges that had been sculpted by the waters of the river. An article about the bridges were featured in National Geographic in 1904 and in 1908, President Roosevelt declared the area a National Monument.
Located on the campus of the University of Utah, the Natural History Museum of Utah showcases life in Utah and the Intermountain West Region of the U.S. This area is surrounded by mountains with the Rocky Mountains on the east and the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains on the west.
The Salt Lake Tabernacle is known for its amazing acoustics and for being home to the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Famous People from Utah
Nolan Bushnell (inventor of the Atari gaming system and founder of Chuck E. Cheese)
Philo T. Farnsworth (father of electronic television)
Robert Leroy Parker aka: Butch Cassidy (bank and train robber and overall outlaw)
Frank Zamboni (Zamboni inventor)
Walter Frederick Morrison (Frisbee inventor)
Interesting Facts about Utah
Utah has the highest literacy rate in the United States.
The federal government owns 65% of the state’s land.
The Great Salt Lake, which is about 75 miles long and 35 miles wide, covers more than a million acres.
There is only one place in the United States where four states come together. Utah, along with Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico are the states that meet in that place.
Six national forests call Utah home. There are: Ashley, Dixie, Fishlake, Manti-LaSal, Uinta, and Wasatch-Cache.
With approximately 300 sunny days a year, Utah is the second-driest state in the United States.
The town of “Levan” is in the center of Utah. It just so happens that “Levan” spelled backwars is “navel”.
Completion of the world’s first transcontinental railroad was celebrated at Promontory where the Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads met on May 10, 1869. It is now known as Golden Spike National Historic Site
The Guinness World Record for the largest live nativity scene was achieved in Utah in 2014. The total number of participants was 1,039 people along with a camel, a donkey, and sheep.
The largest natural rock span in the world is Rainbow Bridge spanning 278 feet wide and 309 feet high.
More Jell-O is consumed in Utah than any other state in the U.S.
The average snowfall in the mountains near Salt Lake City is 500 inches.
The Navajo Indians were referred to by the Apache as “Yuttahih” meaning “one that is higher up.”
Arts, Crafts and Recipes
Make a cardboard TV and then put on your own show.
Make a replica of the space shuttle
Make some fun Jello recipes
Practice Navajo weaving with a cardboard loom
Build a LEGO Zamboni with the help of this video
Try one of these 15 games to play with Frisbee
Find an Atari gaming system and play the video games that your parents used to play.
Try these 10 science experiments using Jell-O
Utah Resource List
Book Basket (Picture Books)
A is for Arches by Becky Hall
Utah: The Beehive State by Blake Hoena
Ma’ii and Cousin Horned Toad by Shonto Begay
Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles
Coolies by Yin
Z is for Zamboni: A Hockey Alphabet by Matt Napier
Book Basket (Non-Fiction)
Utah by Deborah Kent
Buzzy and the Red Rock Canyons: Utah’s National Parks by Melissa C. Marsted
Utah: By Kids, For Kids by Venture Academy
Birds of Utah Field Guide by Stan Tekiela
Jell-O: A Biography by Carolyn Wyman
The Transcontinental Railroad by John Perritano
Book Basket (Chapter Books)
The Legend of Jimmy Spoon by Kristiana Gregory
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.
Watch this video to see how the Zamboni works.
Watch this video to learn more about what NASA’s Spacelab is all about.
Check out NASA’s website for Shuttle related games and activities.
Animate Me! 3D Animation For Kids – available for Apple or Android products
Atari’s Greatest Hits for the iPhone. Includes asteroids, centipede, and more.
Did you see something important I missed? Share in the comments and I may add it!