A Fun Way to Teach About Your State: Celebrate Your State’s Birthday

Looking for a fun way to teach about your state? Celebrate your state's birthday with a picture of an Arizona map wearing a party hat, balloons and a cake

Do your state standards have you teach about your state? In Illinois, we teach about our state in fourth grade. Students will spend time learning about Illinois history, geography, government, culture and economics. We even visit the state capital. 

Usually, the pacing guide has us teach about your state at the end of the school year. We would “go through” our social studies book and then teach our Illinois unit at the end of the year. It also seemed like learning about the state’s history, geography, government, culture, and economics didn’t seem that exciting.

Picture of students with their heads down and text that reads "Is teaching about your state boring?"
Using the textbook or traditional worksheets to teach about your state can be boring. Engage your students by changing the way you teach about your state. Plan a birthday party to celebrate instead of assigning reading to “get through.”

My first year teaching fourth grade also happened to be the 200th “birthday” of Illinois into the union. This took place in December, but it seemed like the perfect time to put our Illinois unit. 

We ended up throwing a whole birthday party with a mini-room transformation. Students were excited to celebrate a birthday with party hats and party games. Students took what they learned throughout our Illinois unit and made board games that we played during the party. 

Picture of a classroom set up as a room transformation with party hats and confetti to celebrate Illinois' birthday.

Even if your grade level doesn’t have the standard to teach about your state, I think celebrating the birthday is a fun way to incorporate some local history. I created this table to see the statehood dates in order of the calendar year. It also links to a one-page math computation practice page that gives basic information about each state. This is the perfect way to teach about your state in a basic and quick way (while also developing math skills!) 

Picture a book about Arizona with math practice pages and a place to record basic symbols about Arizona.
StateDate of Statehood
GeorgiaJan. 2, 1788
AlaskaJan. 3, 1959
UtahJan. 4, 1896
New MexicoJan. 6, 1912
ConnecticutJan. 9, 1788
MichiganJan. 26, 1837
KansasJan. 29, 1861
MassachusettsFeb. 6, 1788
OregonFeb. 14, 1859
ArizonaFeb. 14, 1912
OhioMarch 1, 1803
NebraskaMarch 1, 1867
FloridaMarch 3, 1845
VermontMarch 4, 1791
MaineMarch 15, 1820
MarylandApril 28, 1788
LouisianaApril 30, 1812
MinnesotaMay 11, 1858
South CarolinaMay 23, 1788
Rhode IslandMay 29, 1790
WisconsinMay 29, 1848
KentuckyJune 1, 1792
TennesseeJune 1, 1796
ArkansasJune 15, 1836
West VirginiaJune 20, 1863
New HampshireJune 21, 1788
VirginiaJune 25, 1788
IdahoJuly 3, 1890
WyomingJuly 10, 1890
New YorkJuly 26, 1788
ColoradoAug. 1, 1876
MissouriAug. 10, 1821
HawaiiAug. 21, 1959
CaliforniaSept. 9, 1850
NevadaOct. 31, 1864
North DakotaNov. 2, 1889
South DakotaNov. 2, 1889
MontanaNov. 8, 1889
WashingtonNov. 11, 1889
OklahomaNov. 16, 1907
North CarolinaNov. 21, 1789
IllinoisDec. 3, 1818
DelawareDec. 7, 1787
MississippiDec. 10, 1817
IndianaDec. 11, 1816
PennsylvaniaDec. 12, 1787
AlabamaDec. 14, 1819
New JerseyDec. 18, 1787
IowaDec. 28, 1846
TexasDec. 29, 1845
Click here for printable list of statehood dates

On your state’s birthday, it is easy to do a mini or large-scale room transformation. It can be as simple as giving your students a party hat and reading a picture book from your state

You could also create a full day of state birthday transformations! These are some of my favorite ways to have students celebrate their state: 

  • Read a picture book from your state: Use the list to find a picture book from your state. Picture books can show us about the geography, climate, food, or culture of a place. Click here to grab the freebie for the reflection on your state book.
  • Research famous people from your state: Have students complete a quick research project from someone born in your state or known for living in your state. Have them share their research with the class as a way to jigsaw this information.
  • Create 3D state maps: Have students create topography maps of your state by using clay or play dough. You could also use other mediums, too. When I was in fourth grade I remember we each made an Illinois pizza using different toppings to represent different things on the map.
  • Have students design the birthday invitation with embedded state facts: This can make for a great computer project or art project.
  • Complete a math page about state facts: This math page is a great way to introduce state symbols from your state while also working on basic computation.
  • Create a timeline of important state history : You can create one giant time line by having students pick an important event and drawing a sketch of it on a notecard. Arrange all the notecards into on large timeline of state history. Another option is to have students create their own timelines by researching events or putting pre-determined events in order.
  • Create a board game based on your state: Have students design a game board that represents something related to your state. From there, have students design question cards related to your state. Have students play each others’ games to test their state knowledge.
  • Write a song about your state: Have students work individually or in pairs to write a song about a cultural aspect, historical event, or other facts about your state.
  • Make a travel brochure about your state: Using facts about your state, have students convince others to travel to your state. You can do this with paper and pencil or digitally.
  • Write an ABC book about your state: Have students find an important landmark, city, person, or fact for each letter of the alphabet.  
Teach about your state by celebrating its birthday. Image shows a cartoon Minnesota celebrating with a math page, board game, brochure, and music with text that reads, "happy birthday, Minnesota"
There are so many different ways to teach about your state with a birthday celebration! Mix and match the items from this list or add your own to plan the perfect birthday celebration!

You could also use the idea of celebrating a state’s birthday for all 50 states. Keep it simple by adding a picture book and math computation page for each state on their date of statehood. This is a great way for students to learn about the diversity of the United States. 

Signature that says, "Love, Julie from Llama with Class"

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