Pennsylvania for Teachers & Travelers
Are you looking for fun worksheets an lapbook pages, children's books, and YouTube video clips for teaching and/or learning about Pennsylvania? These are the resources we found to be most helpful when studying Pennsylvania as part of a larger unit study on the 50 states of the United States.
What Makes This State Special: Hershey's Chocolate
Hershey, Pennsylvania, called "The Sweetest Place on Earth," is home to the Hershey Chocolate Factory. In the early 1900’s Milton Hershey used the widely available fresh milk to manufacture caramels and then chocolate. He was not the first person to make chocolates, but he was the first person in America to mass produce affordable chocolates like these Hershey’s Kisses. They are still produced today in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and it is now the world’s largest chocolate manufacturing plant. If you visited there today, you’d find that the air actually smells like chocolate. They even have a Hershey’s chocolate theme park.
We definitely needed to read this book since Hershey chocolate is based in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Be sure to have a Hershey's bar available to much on after reading this book!
What Makes This State Special: Mushrooms
Pennsylvania is the nation's leading producer of mushrooms. Kennett Square, PA claims to be the "Mushroom Capital of the World" because they produce over a million pounds of mushrooms every week.
We enjoyed this short picture book that includes mushrooms since Pennsylvania is the nation's leading producer of mushrooms.
What Makes This State Special: Crayola crayons
My children loved coloring their pictures for their state notebook using Crayola crayons. Why did we use Crayola crayons? Crayola crayons are produced in Easton. You can even stop by for tours and to see the world's largest crayon.
What Makes This State Special: America's First Zoo
The Philadelphia Zoo, founded by Benjamin Franklin, was America's first public zoo.
What Makes This State Special: Rockville Bridge
Rockville Bridge is the longest stone masonry arch bridge in the world. It was constructed in the early 1900s by the Pennsylvania Railroad. It crosses the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, PA.
What Makes This State Special: Steel and Steelers
Pittsburgh is know for its steel production and even has professional football team named after the industry, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
What Makes This State Special: Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish
Many of the immigrants from Switzerland and Germany settled in Pennsylvania. At one point over 1/3 of the state population spoke a dialect known as Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsylvania German. Old Order Mennonites and Amish still hold on to the language and traditions.
Our Favorite Books on the Pennsylvania Dutch & Amish
We read many books on the Pennsylvania Dutch & Amish. These were our favorites because they had nice illustrations and included educational information about the Pennsylvania Dutch & Amish amid an enjoyable story that all my children could enjoy. Also look for The Egg Tree by Katherine Milhous, Just Like Mama by Beverly Lewis, and Pennsylvania Dutch Night Before Christmas by Chet Williamson.
This is a cute picture book about an Amish girl living in Pennsylvania in the early 1700's. She complains that her life is plain until one day she finds a peacock egg. She raises her peacock bird, named Fancy, and is praised for the bird.
This does a nice job of describing the daily activities of an Amish girl throughout each season of the year.
What Makes This State Special: Punxsutawney Phil
Every year in February thousands of people visit Punxsutawney to watch groundhog Punxsutawney Phil's weather forecast regarding spring's arrival. He was made all the more famous after being featured in the movie "Groundhog Day."
What Makes This State Special: Philadelphia's History
Philadelphia was the capital city of the US before Washington DC was created. It is also home to the Liberty Bell and was where the Declaration of Independence was signed. Betsy Ross and Benjamin Franklin were both residents of the city.
This is an excellent picture book that covers the history, landmarks, etc. of the city of Philadelphia. Each letter of the alphabet includes a short rhyme about the featured location and then adds a few lines about it. The illustrations are nice as well. Even my 2 year old was able to sit through the entire book.
Pennsylvania's State Flag and State Quarter
Pennsylvania's state flag shows that Pennsylvania is strong through the symbols of the American bald eagle and horses. Pennsylvania commerce is shown by a ship carrying goods. Pennsylvania's rich natural resources are represented by the clay-red plough and sheaves of wheat. The olive branch and cornstalk are symbols of peace and prosperity. The state's motto, "Virtue, Liberty and Independence", is included. The bald eagle at the top symbolizes that Pennsylvania is loyal to America.
Pennsylvania's state quarter features the Commonwealth statue that sits atop the state capitol building and a keystone since Thomas Jefferson deemed the state "the keystone in the federal union."
Our Favorite Children's Books on Pennsylvania
Our Favorite Picture Books on Pennsylvania
This is my favorite series on individual states. Each page has a simple rhyme concerning the word starts with that letter and then includes a bit more about that particular regional animal, location, etc. It provides a wonderful overview of what makes each state unique. Both modern and historical aspects of the state are includes. Plus, the illustrations are beautiful!
This book does not specify a state, but we included it since Pennsylvania has the most American Christmas tree farms. It is a fun picture book that includes a bit of science and economics as well as a nice story line with wonderful illustrations.
More Good Picture Book Options for Pennsylvania
William Penn: Founder of Pennsylvania (Graphic Biographies) by Ryan Jacobson is a wonderful graphic illustrated (comic book illustrations) book that covers the history of William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania. My boys love the comic book like illustrations, and I love that it includes so much historically accurate information!
How to Draw Pennsylvania's Sights and Symbols (A Kid's Guide to Drawing America) by Melody S. Mis is part of an excellent series that combines Pennsylvania state geography with art. Each page contains something about Pennsylvania (a state artist, the state flag, bird, tree, capitol building, areas of interest, and animals.) A photograph will be included along with a brief explanation about that item. Then the page opposite of that includes step by step directions on how to draw that symbol or site. Even my 6 year old is able to follow the drawing directions, and I've been amazed at how well my 9 year old has been drawing each of the state flags as he follows the instructions in the book.
One for All: A Pennsylvania Number Book by Trinka Hakes Noble which is written in a similar format to the above book, K is for Keystone, but this book uses numbers rather than letters to lay out all the information about Pennsylvania.
Larry Gets Lost in Philadelphiaby John Skewes is the cute story of a family who takes a vacation in Philadelphia and lose their dog, Larry. As Larry tries to find his family, he visits the main landmarks and tourist sites of the city including the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall, Betsy Ross House, and more.
Dubs Goes to Philadelphia (Dubs Discovers America) by Dick Morris is similar to the above book as it follows a dog as he explores Philadelphia.
Best Book for Preschoolers, Toddlers, and/or Babies
We love this series that has colorful board books that highlight the main attractions, landmarks, history, etc. of each state. There is only one sentence per page, so it is prefect for even the youngest of listeners. This includes Hershey’s Chocolate World, Lake Erie, the Liberty Bell, and more.
More Good Board Books for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
Good Night Philadelphia (Good Night Our World) by Adam Gamble and Good Night Pittsburgh (Good Night Our World) by Mark Jasper are similar to the above board book but they focus on the particular landmarks, histories, etc. of those two cities.
Little Pennsylvania (Little State) by Trinka Hakes Noble uses rhymes and riddles to go through Pennsylvania's state bird, animal, tree, etc.
123 Philadelphia (Cool Counting Books) Board book by Puck counts from 1-10 while showing a different symbol or landmark from Philadelphia.
Hello Philadelphia! Board book by Martha Zschockb Follows an eagle parent and his eaglet child as they tour the sites of Philadelphia, playing in Fairmont Park, eating a cheesesteak, etc.
Chapter Books Related to Pennsylvania
(224 pages) My boys really enjoyed this biography that focuses on the childhood of Milton Hershey as he grew up in Pennsylvania. It includes the events that took place over the course of his childhood to inspire him to work hard and eventually start the Hershey Chocolate Factory. It also includes quite a bit of Pennsylvania history (like the oil boom) and geography (like Mennonite farming).
More Chapter Books Related to Pennsylvania
The Mystery in Chocolate Town: Hershey Pennsylvania (Real Kids, Real Places) by Carole Marsh (145 pages) is about a family who visits Hershey, PA. While there, they try to solve a recent crime. Someone stole money that was supposed to be donated to the Milton Hershey School. The children uncover quite a bit of history as they try to solve the crime.
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson (272 pages) focuses on a teenage girl living in 1793 as she suffers from the yellow fever epidemic that ravaged Philadelphia in the late 18th century.
Sweet Secrets in Pennsylvania (Just in Time) by Carol Lynch Williams (152 pages) -is about two children who travel back in time to Hershey, PA in 1907, just when Milton Hershey is developing his candy company. They must stop a villain who is trying to steal Milton Hershey's recipes.
Shoo-Fly Girl by Lois Lenski (176 pages) is about an Amish girl living near a "modern" family and how they both learn that neither family judges the other family's way of life. They just choose to live in different ways.
The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz (128 pages) is about a girl who moves to the western frontier of Pennsylvania during the time of George Washington.
Our Favorite Free Worksheets and Lapbook Pages on Pennsylvania
Great Worksheets on Pennsylvania
We found these to be helpful when creating a notebook and lapbook on Pennsylvania.
All About Pennsylvania provides great links to printable worksheets, book suggestions, and activity ideas about Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania for Teachers includes wonderful printable worksheets, activity ideas, and book suggestions.
Benjamin Franklin Lapbook provides free lapbook pages related to Benjamin Franklin.
Just Plain Fancy Lapbook offers free lapbook pages and activity ideas for Just Plain Fancy by Patricia Polacco. Also look for the free lapbooks from this same website, homeschoolshare.com, that focus on Yoder's Barn by Jane Yolen and on Just Like Mama by Beverly Lewis.
Pennsylvania State Facts & Trivia lists numerous points of interest about Pennsylvania. The site also includes a number of helpful worksheets, links, and information.
Good Family-Friendly Video Clips Giving an Overview of the State
Good Overview of Pennsylvania
When searching out YouTube video clips that provided helpful information about Pennsylvania and were completely child-friendly, these were our favorites.
I have visited Pennsylvania. Have you?
I have visited Pennsylvania. Have you?
Where is Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania?
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