Before my three children graduated homeschooling, I loved using unit studies. One of my favorites was the state unit study. It is a good project for any grade, but many curriculums and schools cover state studies in fourth grade. In addition, some schools now include a semester course of state history and government as part of a high school curriculum. A state unit study can satisfy social studies requirements and is a nice addition to a portfolio.

The following state unit is one I wrote for use with my children. I also used some of the ideas and activities for our learning co-ops. Feel free to use these ideas to facilitate and customize your own study. I've included project and resource suggestions for history, geography, and other subjects. While written for high school students, these ideas can easily be adapted for elementary grades or for studies of other countries, and they are suited for individual or group study.

Art/Music/Culture

  • Research your state's cultural heritage.
  • Check out activities for the arts available around the state.
  • Visit an art museum or gallery: many feature local artists.
  • Attend a concert, a play, or a battle reenactment or encampment.
  • Get involved with a historical group.
  • Create a travel brochure or poster.
  • Photo-document your research activities and create a collage, scrapbook, or journal.
  • Check out the state bird, flag, flower, motto, seal, and song—and create your own if you don't like the existing ones.
  • Most state and local colleges offer interesting events and exhibits featuring local artists, musicians, theater groups, and speakers. Attend one or more.

Geography/Map Skills

  • Research and create maps with features such as topography, climate, population, industry, agriculture, historical sites, your local county, routes to places of interest, or comparison/contrast maps comparing a previous century to today.
  • Study the state's natural resources. 

Government 

  • Research state government and its law-making and justice procedures.
  • Interview a local government official, legislator, or law-enforcement officer.
  • Visit the capital or county seat, find out what local courts are open to the public and attend a session, or attend public meetings with interesting or controversial topics.
  • Get involved with a homeschool mock trial team. Contact your state or local support group to locate one.
  • Research and conduct a mock town council meeting with other students, debating topics such as wetlands development or other relevant issues.

History/Social Studies

  • Research state and local events of interest.
  • Visit state museums, parks, and historic sites.
  • Make a state timeline.
  • Research the development of industry and population.
  • Research the state's role in the Revolutionary or Civil War and other events.
  • Ask and explore: what Native American or other cultures were part of the state's early history?
  • Find out what inventions by state residents contributed to the growth and development of the state and of the United States as a whole.
  • Research family life during a specific period and find out what someone your age would do with his or her time and how life would be lived—hobbies, styles of dress, food and shelter, etc.
  • Hold a history fair with other homeschool students to share your research. Include period dress and cooking where possible.

How your state was founded still impacts it today. Consider the following questions: 

  1. What are the cultural origins of the state's founders? 
  2. Is this culture reflected in the population today?
  3. Do you think the vision the founders had is still intact?
  4. Would the founders be pleased with the progress the state has made since that time? Why or why not? 

Language Arts