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New York State History Activities

New York is a state in the Northeast region of the United States, and is so much more than New York City. 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 New York State Guide

Essential Questions for New York

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

All About New York

Date of Statehood: July 26, 1788

State Motto: Excelsior (Ever upward)

State Nickname: The Empire State

State Bird: Bluebird

State Tree: Sugar Maple

State Flower: Rose

Tourist Attractions: Times Square, Empire State Building, Central Park, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Niagara Falls, Lake Placid, Lake George, Cooperstown, Saratoga, and the Adirondacks.

Famous Citizens of New York: Michael Jordan, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, Colin Powell, Lou Gehrig, Sammy Davis, Jr., Jay Leno, Walt Whitman, Norman Rockwell, and Mariah Carey.

Capital City: Albany

Major Cities: New York City, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Yonkers.

Brief History of New York

Many years ago, before the Europeans, Native Americans inhabited New York. The two major tribes were the Iroquois and the Algonquian people. In 1609, Henry Hudson, an English explorer for the Dutch, found the Hudson River and New York Bay. Soon, settlements began to form, first in Fort Nassau in 1614, then Fort Orange in 1624, and then Fort Amsterdam, which later became New York City, in 1625. In 1664, the English arrived and took control of New Amsterdam, renaming the colony and the city New York. Many years later, in 1754, was the French and Indian War. The French and the English took sides with different Native American tribes and fought over the land. The war ended in 1763 with an English victory. During the Revolutionary War, some of the most important battles took place in New York. The Battle of Long Island, which took place in 1776, was the largest battle of the war, and the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 was the turning point of the war.

On July 26, 1788, New York became the 11th state to join the Union, and Albany became its capital city in 1797. Almost 30 years later, the Erie Canal opened in 1825. This waterway created a route between the Atlantic Ocean and New York City to the Great Lakes, making the transportation of goods and products more efficient and faster. In 1892, Ellis Island opened and immigrants from all over the world began coming to America, and in 1929 the New York Stock Exchange crashed, beginning the Great Depression. Many years later, on September 11, 2001, the famous Twin Towers were destroyed by terrorists.

Students will create a historical timeline, a postcard, a spider map, and a fun facts storyboard showing what they have learned about New York. 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
  • • Foundry • License Free for Commercial Use / No Attribution Required (
  • • geralt • License Free for Commercial Use / No Attribution Required (
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