California State Study

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California is known for many things, the Gold Rush, Hollywood, Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge and much more. Your kids will learn all about ‘The Golden State’ through this California State Study. 

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Whenever I think of California, I remember my first visit to the state when I was just 5 years old. My mom, brother and I were dropping my dad off at ‘A School’ for the U.S. Navy. 

While we were there, we visited my dad’s sister and her family and saw the Redwoods at King’s Canyon. I’ve never forgotten the size of the Redwood trees. 

Perhaps someday, I’ll be able to take my husband and kids to see them. That would be a fun family adventure! 

I designed this California State Study to make learning about ‘The Golden State’, both a fun and educational experience. I’ve included videos, articles, literature options, state facts, famous landmarks and more to provide thorough learning opportunities for your children. 

California State Study

History of the State of California

California State History Timeline

The History of California

California History

Early California History

Civil Rights History of California

California’s Native American History

Climate Summaries of California

California’s Presidential Election Voting History

This Week in California History

California Literature and Research Resources

All About California

Date California Became a State

California became the 31st state in the Union on September 9; 1850.

State Capital

Sacramento

State Abbreviation

CA

State Population

39.51 million

State Size
163,696 square miles

State Name Origin

California originally got its name from Spanish explorers in the 1500s who were looking for a mythical island. When they got to Baja, they thought it was an island and gave it the name California. This was the name given to a mythical island from a book written by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. Even though it was later discovered that Baja is not an island, the name California stuck.

State Motto 

Eureka! This motto (Greek for, “I have found it”) was made official in 1963 and hails back to when gold was first discovered in California. 

State Nickname

California was officially nicknamed ‘The Golden State’ in 1968. Many think this nickname came from the gold discovered there in 1848. However, it is also nicknamed for the golden fields of poppies that bloom in the spring, the golden sunsets on its beaches, and the Golden Gate Bridge.  

State Song

I Love You, California was written by F.B. Silverwood and A.F. Frankenstein and was made the official state song of California in 1951.  

State Flag

The California state flag was designed by William Todd, the brother of Mary Todd Lincoln (the wife of Abraham Lincoln). The flag portrays a California grizzly bear (the California state animal) on a white background (which stands for purity) with a red star on the upper left- hand side of the flag (symbolic of sovereignty) and a red stripe going horizontally through the bottom of the flag (representing courage). The flag was first flown by Californian settlers in 1846 in opposition to Mexican rule and adopted in 1911 as the official Californian flag.

State Bird 

The California Quail was adopted as the state bird in 1931. 

State Tree

The California Redwood tree was chosen to be the state tree in 1937. The California Redwood Sequoia is the largest tree in the world!

State Amphibian

In 2014, the governor of California approved a bill making the California red-legged frog the state amphibian. Elementary students from southern California even traveled up to Sacramento to defend the California red-legged frog’s case.

State Butterfly

The California dog-faced butterfly became the state insect/butterfly in 1972.

State Mammal

In 1975, California made the grey whale the state marine mammal. It is also an endangered species.

State Reptile

The desert tortoise became the official California state reptile in 1972.

State Fabric

In 2016, Denim was chosen to be the California state fabric!

State Flower

The California poppy became the official state flower in 1903.

State Dance

The West Coast Swing Dance became the official state dance in 1988. While the Square Dance is the official folk dance.

Geography

  • Rivers
    • Colorado River
    • Sacramento River
    • San Joaquin River
    • Klamath River
    • Pit River
    • Eel River
    • Amargosa River
    • Owens River
    • Salinas River
    • Trinity River
  • Lakes
    • Salton Sea
    • Lake Tahoe
    • Clear Lake
    • Mono Lake
    • Shasta Lake
    • Lake Almanor
    • Clear Lake Reservoir
    • Lake Berryessa
    • Lake Oroville
    • Don Pedro Reservoir
    • San Luis Reservoir
    • New Melones Lake
    • Folsom Lake
    • Isabella Lake
    • Camanche Reservoir
    • Lake McClure
    • Pine Flat Lake
    • Lake San Antonio
    • Millerton Lake
    • New Bullards Bar Reservoir
    • Diamond Valley Lake
    • Black Butte Lake
    • New Hogan Lake
    • Indian Valley Reservoir
    • Wiskeytown Lake
    • Lake Cachuma 
    • Union Valley Reservoir
    • Perris Reservoir
    • Castic Lake
    • Shaver Lake
    • Lake Mendocino
    • Lake Tomas A. Edison
    • Cherry Lake
    • Los Vaqueros Reservoir
    • Mammoth Pool Reservoir
    • Lake Casitas
    • San Vicente Reservoir
  • Forests

Highways

  • I- 5 (North-South)
  • I-8  (East-West)
  • I-10 (East- West)
  • I- 15 (North-South)
  • I-50 (East-West)
  • I-80 (East- West)

National Parks

State Parks

Famous Landmarks

Famous People

  • Steve Jobs was born February 24, 1955, in San Francisco, California where his birth mother immediately put him up for adoption.  He was adopted and raised by Paul and Clara Jobs. His father, Paul, was a mechanic and taught Steve anything he wanted to know about machines. Steve developed a love for robotics and began befriending the many engineers that lived in his neighborhood. He got his first job at 13 after calling up Bill Hewlett (of Hewlett-Packard) to ask him for parts for a project he was working on. Jobs attended Reed College for only one semester after which he dropped out because he didn’t want his parents spending so much money on what he deemed an “unnecessary” education. He spent some time after his semester at Reed traveling and spending time at a commune in Portland, Oregon. In 1976, Steve Wozniak, a friend of Steve Jobs’s, completed his basic design of the Apple I computer, and they began working together on various inventions and business ventures. They began Apple Inc. together, but Jobs eventually left Apple Inc. and began a couple of other companies of his own. He later came back to Apple in 1997. Steve Jobs resigned as Apple’s CEO in August of 2011 and died of cancer on October 5, 2011. 
  • Shirley Temple was born on April 23, 1928, in Santa Monica, California and began her acting career at the age of three. At the age of 5, she had already become famous as a child actress. However, as she grew older her popularity dropped, and she retired from acting at the age of 22.  In 1967, Shirley Temple became very active in the California Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully in various elections. However, in 1969, she was appointed as a delegate to the 24th United Nations General Assembly, was appointed as ambassador to Ghana in 1974, and in 1976 she was appointed the first female Chief of Protocol of the United States and was in charge of the arrangements for Jimmy Carter’s inauguration. She also became ambassador to Czechoslovakia in 1989. Shirley Temple died on February 10, 2014, in her home in Woodside, California.
  • Bruce Lee was born on November 27, 1940, in Chinatown San Francisco, California. His father was a Cantonese opera star, and although Bruce Lee was born in the United States, he was raised in Hong Kong. Bruce Lee was introduced to the film industry at a young age by his father and moved to the United States when he was 18 to study at the University of Washington. As a student, he began teaching martial arts. The movies he produced in Hong Kong and Hollywood stirred up among Americans a fresh interest in martial arts and Chinese culture. His movies also had a great impact on the development of martial arts, as well. Bruce Lee died on July 20, 1973, at the early age of 32 from what was ruled a “death by misadventure”. 
  • Robert Frost (March 26, 1874- January 29, 1963) was born in San Francisco, California. His father was a journalist and his mother, a Scottish immigrant. At the age of 20, he sold his first poem to the New York Independent for $15 (which was a large sum of money in those days). Spurred on by his accomplishment, he asked his sweetheart, Elinor White, to marry him, but she wanted to finish college first. They were married the very next year. Although Robert Frost grew up in the city, he is well- known for his poetry about nature and rural life. He is considered one of America’s greatest literary figures, and during his lifetime he received 4 Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry, The Congressional Gold Medal for his poetic works, and was named poet laureate of Vermont.
  • Julia Child was born in Pasadena, California on August 15, 1912, to a very well-to-do family who had their own cook, and she did not grow up cooking at all. She never learned to cook or showed an interest in it until meeting her husband-to-be Paul Child who grew up in a family to whom food was very important.  Paul joined the United States Foreign Service and the two moved to Paris. Julia Child was so enthralled with the sophisticated French cuisine that she decided to attend Cordon Bleu cooking school. After completing her schooling, she later studied privately with Max Bugnard. She and two other friends, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, began working on a cookbook of French recipes. They collected the recipes from all over France, tested them, worked with them, and attempted to not only write in detail how to prepare them but also make them practical. The cookbook was rejected by publisher Houghton Mifflin and later published in 1961 by Alfred A. Knopf. By the time it was published it was a 729- page cookbook entitled Mastering the Art of French Cooking. It became a best-seller and was highly praised for its detail, instruction, and illustrations. Julia Child later became a television personality but is possibly most well- known as the woman who brought French cuisine to the American people. Julia Childs died from kidney failure on August 13, 2004, a mere two days before her 92nd birthday. 

Interesting Facts 

  • California boasts of the largest outdoor amphitheater in the United States, the Hollywood Bowl. Yet, when it opened in 1922, it was a mere wooden platform with a canvas roof.
  • San Francisco has the only operating cable cars left in the United States.
  • California is where the internet was born.
  • When the Golden Gate Bridge was first erected, many people thought it was ugly.
  • The largest tree in the world is found in California. It is 275 feet tall with a circumference of 102 feet.
  • California has the hottest, lowest and driest National Park in the United States and all in one location, too- Death Valley. It is also home to the highest point in the United States, Mt. Whitney. The two places are only 76 miles from each other.
  • During the stock market crash of 1929, not a single bank in San Francisco failed.
  • The fortune cookie was invented in San Francisco.
  • The largest, longest and deepest gold mine in California was shut down finally in 1956 because it cost more to dig and bring up the gold that what the gold was worth!
  • 1 out of 8 residents in the United States live in California!
  • The General Grant Tree located in the King’s Canyon National Park was named the Nation’s Christmas Tree in 1926. 
  • Blue jeans were invented in San Francisco by Levi Strauss.

California Learning Resources 

What did your children enjoy learning the most about the state of California?

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