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Kansas Guide

Kansas is located in the central part of the United States, and is bordered by Nebraska, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Often referred to as the “Heartland”, much of Kansas is part of the Great Plains, known for its flatlands and prairies. 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. Students will enjoy learning all about Kansas, and why it is such a wonderful place to live and visit.

Student Activities for Kansas Teacher Guide

Essential Questions for Kansas

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

All About Kansas

Date of Statehood: January 29, 1861 (34th State)

State Motto: To the Stars Through Difficulties

State Nickname: The Sunflower State

State Bird: Western Meadowlark

State Tree: Cottonwood

State Flower: Sunflower

Tourist Attractions: Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve, Monument Rocks, the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center, Flint Hills National Scenic Byway, Dodge City, Botanica, the Wichita Gardens, and the Kansas Speedway.

Famous Citizens of Kansas: Annette Bening, Langston Hughes, Bob Dole, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Amelia Earhart, Barry Sanders, Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis.

Capital City: Topeka

Major Cities: Wichita, Overland Park, Kansas City, Olathe, Lawrence

Brief History of Kansas

Pre-European Exploration: Before European exploration, Kansas was inhabited by various Native American tribes, including the Kansa, Osage, Pawnee, and Wichita. These tribes lived off the land, hunting bison, farming, and trading.

European Exploration: In the 1540s, Spanish explorers, led by Francisco Vázquez de Coronado, were among the first Europeans to explore the region, searching for the mythical Seven Cities of Gold. Around the time of the early 1700s, French explorers and traders arrived, establishing trade with Native American tribes.

Louisiana Purchase and Early Settlement: In 1803, the United States acquired Kansas as part of the Louisiana Purchase from France. From 1804 to 1806, the Lewis and Clark Expedition passed near Kansas, mapping the territory and establishing relationships with Native American tribes. In the 1820s, the Santa Fe Trail and Oregon Trail, major routes for westward migration, passed through Kansas.

Territorial Period and "Bleeding Kansas": In 1854, the Kansas-Nebraska Act created the Kansas Territory, allowing settlers to decide whether it would be a free or slave state. This led to violent conflicts known as "Bleeding Kansas." In the 1850s, abolitionists and pro-slavery settlers clashed, resulting in a series of violent encounters. Key figures included John Brown, an abolitionist who played a significant role in the conflict.

Statehood and Civil War: In 1861, Kansas was admitted to the Union as the 34th state on January 29, 1861, as a free state, just before the Civil War began. During the Civil War, Kansas contributed significantly to the Union war effort, with many residents joining the Union Army. The state was also the site of several raids and skirmishes.

Post-Civil War Development: During the late 1800s, the construction of railroads spurred economic growth, facilitating the movement of people and goods. Kansas became a hub for agriculture, particularly wheat and corn farming. In 1862, the Homestead Act, which provided 160 acres of land to anyone who agreed to farm it for five years, attracted many settlers to Kansas.

20th Century: In the 1930s, Kansas was severely affected by the Dust Bowl, a series of dust storms that caused extensive ecological and agricultural damage. Many farmers were forced to leave their land. Post-World War II, Kansas diversified its economy, with growth in manufacturing, aviation, and education.

Students will create a historical timeline, a postcard, a spider map, and a fun facts storyboard showing what they have learned about Kansas. 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
  • 1653877 • Kenneth Carpina • License Free To Use / No Attribution Required / See for what is not allowed
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