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Pennsylvania State Guide

Pennsylvania is a state full of history, amazing parks, and more! Take a trip with students as they learn all about this interesting state. 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 Pennsylvania, and why it is such a great place to live and visit.


Student Activities for Pennsylvania State Guide




Essential Questions for Pennsylvania

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

All About Pennsylvania

Date of Statehood: December 12, 1787 (2nd state)

State Motto: Virtue, Liberty, and Independence

State Nickname: The Keystone State

State Bird: Ruffed Grouse

State Tree: Eastern Hemlock

State Flower: Mountain Laurel

Tourist Attractions: Independence Park and the Liberty Bell, Hershey Park, The Gettysburg National Military Park, and Carnegie Museum of Natural History.

Famous Citizens of Pennsylvania: Louisa May Alcott, Daniel Boone, Reggie Jackson, Arnold Palmer, Rachel Carson, and Jimmy Stewart.

Capital City: Harrisburg

Major Cities: Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Allentown, Erie, and Scranton.


Brief History of Pennsylvania

Although it is unclear when the first humans inhabited the state of Pennsylvania, artifacts that are at least 19,400 years old have been discovered on the land. Many years later, Native American tribes such as the Iroquois, Shawnee, Erie, Seneca, and Susquehannocks lived in the area now known as Pennsylvania.

European explorers began to arrive in the early 1600s, English Captain John Smith, and Dutch explorer Henry Hudson. Several years later in 1681, English Quaker leader William Penn was given a deed to the land by King Charles II of England. Penn named the land after his family, and wanted the colony to be a place of religious tolerance and freedom. In the mid-1700s, many more people immigrated to the land from Germany and Ireland.

Pennsylvania was the center of all of the action during the American Revolution. Philadelphia was the capital of the nation for part of the 1700s, and was the meeting place for the delegates from each of the Thirteen Colonies during the Revolutionary War. The Declaration of Independence was signed at Independence Hall in Philadelphia in 1776. Pennsylvania became the second state to join the Union on December 12, 1787.

During the Civil War, which began in 1861, Pennsylvania fought for the Union and provided over 350,000 troops and many supplies for the Union army. In early July of 1863, the Confederate Army, led by General Robert E. Lee invaded Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, trying to defeat the Union Army. The Union Army, however, won what became known as The Battle of Gettysburg. This was considered to be a major turning point in the Civil War, and the location of President Lincoln’s famous Gettysburg Address later in 1863.


Students will create a historical timeline, a postcard, a spider map, and a fun facts storyboard showing what they have learned about Pennsylvania. 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.


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