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California State History Activities

California is a state in the West region of the United States, and third largest state in the United States, following Alaska and Texas. A state research project is the perfect summative activity for any U.S. Region, Geography class, or general research unit of study. Students will love learning about state landmarks, mottos, fun facts, history, and so much more! Research is an important skill for children to learn at a young age; it exposes students to expository text, gives them practice determining important information, and enhances note taking and presentation skills.

Student Activities for California State Guide

Essential Questions for California

  1. What are some significant events in the history of California?
  2. What are some facts and features that make California unique?
  3. What are some interesting places in California that people would want to visit?

All About California

Date of Statehood: September 9, 1850 (31st state)

State Motto: Eureka (I have found it)

State Nickname: The Golden State

State Bird: California Quail

State Tree: California Redwood

State Flower: California Poppy

Tourist Attractions: Disneyland, San Diego Zoo, Lego Land, Golden Gate Bridge, Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, Lake Tahoe, and Redwood National and State Parks.

Famous Citizens of California: Tom Brady, Steve Jobs, Joe DiMaggio, Tiger Woods, George Patton, Sally Ride, Robert Frost, and Clint Eastwood.

Capital City: Sacramento

Major Cities: Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and San Jose.

Brief History of California

For thousands of years, several Indigenous tribes lived on the land that would become California. Europeans landed in the area in the 1500s, led by Spanish explorers. California was under Mexican rule until the end of the Mexican-American war in 1848, when it became a U.S. territory. When gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill, it started one of the biggest gold rushes in history. Over 300,000 people moved to California between the years 1848 and 1855. During this time, California became the 31st state admitted into the Union on September 9, 1850. In 1869, the First Transcontinental Railroad was completed. It connected California to the east, and allowed for fast transportation of goods and products. Several years later, on April 18, 1906, San Francisco's largest earthquake left over 225,000 people homeless, and many people lost their lives. The earthquake rated 7.8 on the Richter scale.

Students will create a historical timeline, a postcard, a spider map, and a fun facts storyboard showing what they have learned about California. Creating these visuals gives the students the opportunity to show their creativity and their unique view of the state that they have researched. In addition, the combined use of words and illustrations allows students with different learning styles to show what they know in an exciting and eye catching way.

Image Attributions
  • • Demko • License Free for Commercial Use / No Attribution Required (
  • 3428279 • Zichuan Han • License Free To Use / No Attribution Required / See for what is not allowed
  • 67699 • WikiImages • License Free for Most Commercial Use / No Attribution Required / See for what is not allowed
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