Saturday, September 14, 2013

Summer Series: 50 States - Kansas


Kansas became our nation's 34th state on January 29, 1861.  The postal abbreviation is KS, and the capital is Topeka.  Topeka became the capital the same year that Kansas became a state.  The word, Topeka, comes from a Native American word meaning "potatoes."  Kansas comes from the name of the Native Americans living in that region, the Konza (or Kaw).

The state bird is the Western meadowlark, and state animal is the Buffalo.

The state reptile is the Ornate box turtle, and the state amphibian is the Barred tiger salamander.  The insect of Kansas is the honeybee.

Kansas' state tree is the Cottonwood, and the state flower is the sunflower.

Kansas' nickname is The Sunflower State.  The sunflower even appears on the state flag which was adopted in 1927.  It is a blue flag with "Kansas" written across the bottom in large letters.  The seal appears in the middle with the sunflower above it.  The seal depicts farmland, a farmer, covered wagons, Native Americans hunting, the rising sun, a steamboat, 34 stars, and the state motto which is "Ad astra per aspera."  In English, the motto means "to the stars through difficulty." The Office of the Governor has said, "This motto refers not only to the pioneering spirit of the early settlers, but also the difficult times Kansas went through before becoming a state. The anti-slavery forces and slavery proponents waged battles in the electoral process as well as on the battlefield. Kansas earned the nickname 'Bloody Kansas' because of the war regarding slavery, much of which was fought on Kansas' soil."

"Bleeding Kansas" is a term given to Kansas because of the fierce fighting that happened here over the issue of slavery the decade or so before the Civil War.  Senator Douglas, in a political ploy, had a bill run through Congress that allowed the settlers of the Nebraska territory to make the decision as to whether or not their area would allow slaves, which negated the Missouri Compromise of 1820.  Abolitionists from the North and pro-slavery Southerners descended upon Kansas, ready to fight for the future of the area even though they didn't live there.  Order was restored in 1856 with the election of a new territorial governor.  Nearly 55 people died during the years of fighting.  After the Southern states seceded from the Union in 1861, Kansas became a state.

Kansas is not known just for this one period of time in its history.  Some other significant historic events include:

September 1, 1821: The first party leaves on the Santa Fe Trail to expand westward.
September 5, 1867: The first load of cattle is shipped on a train.  This was the beginning of Kansas' beef industry.
January 26, 1925: Wichita becomes the "air capital of the world" when Cessna, Beech, and Stearman combined their talents to create airplanes.
April 14, 1935: The Dust Bowl
April 1, 1938: Rural area received electricity.
May 17, 1954: Brown v. Board of Education case establishes that segregation was illegal.

Not only have famous (or infamous) 
events occurred here, but famous people have been born in Kansas as well.  On the list are actors and actresses like Kirstie Alley, Annette Bening, Dennis Hopper, Buster Keaton, and Hattie McDaniel.  Sports stars like Gale Sayers, Barry Sanders, and Victor Ortiz called Kansas home.  There have been poets and political figures like Bob Dole and Bob Gates.  Singers like Martina McBride and Melissa Etheridge hail from here, too.  Perhaps the most famous Kansan is Amelia Earhart.

When people think of Kansas, they are likely to think of Dorothy's famous line in the Wizard of Oz, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more."  Standing in Liberal, KS, much like it did in the movie, is Dorothy's House.  Visitors can also take a tour through Oz.  While in Kansas, folks can visit many museums and amusement parks, theaters and speedways, as well as libraries and buildings to honor some of our past presidents.

Some interesting facts about Kansas are that it used to be illegal to put ice cream on top of cherry pie, the first African-American woman to win an Academy Award was Hattie McDaniel (noted above) for her role in "Gone With the Wind," Lebanon is the geographical center of the lower 48 states, and Abilene was the childhood of Dwight D. Eisenhower, among others.

Here you will find online activities and games to further your learning about Kansas.

DISCLAIMER: The following items are available at  I am an affiliate, so if you choose to purchase through my blog, I will receive a commission.
498851: Kansas My First Book, Grades K-5 Kansas My First Book, Grades K-5
By Gallopade International

An "early bird" intro to basic state facts. Covers state basics such as state nickname, seal, song, bird, motto, flag, regions, industries, neighbors, and weather, plus an intro to state history, people and more. Includes: drawing, mazes, matching, coloring, and more! Reproducible. Available for all 50 states. Grades K-5; ages 5-10.

22721DF: Kansas State History Lapbook - PDF Download [Download] Kansas State History Lapbook - PDF Download [Download]
By Cyndi Kinney & Judy Trout / Knowledge Box Central

Get to know your home state! Comprehensive state history lapbook resources from Knowledge Box Central are designed so that children of all ages can study together. Explore state symbols, songs and landmarks, famous people, geographical regions, timelines of historical events, and more. The included state-specific study guide provides background information, history, and other factual information; this study guide is the same for both lapbook (Grades K-8) and lapbook journal (Grades 6-12) students, so that the parent only needs to go over the information once.
This lapbook includes a list of all the supplies needed if following the included base guide. Blackline masters are provided for students to cut out and paste into their lapbook, while a photo of a finished lapbook provides a visual example. This Lapbook is structured for use with K-8th Grade Students.

741040: Kansas Curiosities, 2nd Kansas Curiosities, 2nd
By Globe Pequot

Your round trip ticket to the wildest, wackiest, most outrageous people, places and things the Sunflower State has to offer.Visit the Museum of the World's Largest Collection of the World's Smallest Versions of the World's Largest Things--and get your own largest ball starter kit.

  • Meet more chainaw-wielding, glow-in-the-dark-scrap-metal-zoo-building, grapefruit-peel-sculpting, paper-mache-mixing, porcelain-pig-painting grassroots artists than you can shake a stick at...and much, much more!

  • 6139X: Life and Times of the Honeybee Life and Times of the Honeybee
    By Micucci / Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Get to know what a bee's life is like for a Queen, a worker, and a drone. Clear two-page spreads show the history of beekeeping, the lifecycle of a bee, how honeybees make honey, bee's dances, different types of flowers, what beekeepers do and more, all through beautiful, delicate illustrations and clear, simple text. A perfect way to introduce young children to this vital aspect of agriculture! 32 pages, softcover. Grades 2-4.

    28466: Honeybees All Aboard Science Reader Station Stop 2 Honeybees All Aboard Science Reader Station Stop 2
    By Joyce Milton / Grosset & Dunlap

    Encourage more advanced reading while giving children a fun opportunity to learn all about honeybees! This "step 2" reader features short sentences, simple plots and simple dialogue. 48 pages, softcover.

    724758: Sunflower Sunflower
    By Angela Royston / Heinemann Raintree

    225871: The Green Coat: A Tale from the Dust Bowl Years The Green Coat: A Tale from the Dust Bowl Years
    By Rosemary McDunn / Bezalel Books

    104133: Life In The Dust Bowl Life In The Dust Bowl
    By Sally Senzell Isaacs / Heinemann Raintree

    455884: L. Frank Baum"s Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz
    By Robin Robinson(Illustrator), L.Frank Baum & Deborah Hautzig / Penguin Young Readers

    When a cyclone hits Kansas, Dorothy and her little dog, Toto, are whisked away to the magical land of Oz. All alone in this strange world, they wonder how they'll ever get home. With their new friends, the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodman, and the Cowardly Lion, they brave many dangers and journey to the Emerald City in search of the Wonderful Wizard to ask him for his help. This beginning reader is perfect for a fluent reader with more advanced vocabulary, detailed plot and descriptive text, a complex sentence structure, and in-depth plot and character development.

    449862: Wonderful Wizard of Oz Unabridged Audiobook on CD Wonderful Wizard of Oz Unabridged Audiobook on CD
    By Frank Baum & Robin Field / Mission Audio

    Join Dorothy and her friends the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and the Cowardly Lion as they trek to the city of Oz to see the wizard and see if he can help Dorothy return home to Kansas. Listeners new to the story and longtime fans will delight to join Dorothy and friends in this timeless tale of the quest for courage, love, and a longing for Home.

    Unabridged audio CD; approximately 4 hours; 4 CDs; read by Robin Field.

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