Welcome to the Eight For Each State US Geography tour. I am so glad you are joining us.
Sweet Home Alabama! I never thought I would say those words and mean them literally. I have to say that I am so excited to share our home state with you. As a Yankee transplant I have come to love everything about Alabama.
From the Vulcan stature in Birmingham to the Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery, to the Mardi Gras Celebration in Mobile, there is plenty to see and do for our US Geography tour. Not to mention the countless small-town festivals held every year all over Alabama such as the National Peanut Festival in Dothan, AL, the largest peanut festival in the nation.
There are several book series that we use for our state study. However the State by State Alphabet books are the set my girls insist on reading at the start of any state study. They are both informative and enjoyable. We love the rhyming couplets and the illustrations done by different writers and artists each book. Ruth and I even have a running joke about the uniqueness of how each author describes the capital of the state.
Other state series and books we use throughout our US Geography Tour are:
- Alabama (Hello U.S.A.)
- Alabama Facts and Symbols
- The United States Cookbook
- Alabama: The Heart of Dixie
2. State Videos
We have found that a video or two about the state we are studying can do a lot to spark interest in any number of subjects. We especially enjoy the videos from Socratica and the US Embassy in Vienna.
3. Fried Green Tomatoes
When I think of the Deep South, I think sweet tea, corn bread that is crumbly and salty, not sweet like cake, and fried vegetables. We tried both fried green tomatoes and fried okra. These dishes are not the sort I like to prepare at home. They are so much better in a deep fryer.
So off we went to the BBQ Shack. The name says it all. The best fried green tomatoes in town are found here. Ruth loved them! The girls did not care for the fried okra however. We took it home to Daddy, who was more than happy to take it off their hands.
I highly encourage you to find a restaurant near you that serves fried green tomatoes and give them a try. They are perfect with a good ranch dressing. Yum!
4. George Washington Carver
While not a native to Alabama, George Washington Carver did much to make the peanut Alabama’s main crop. Here are some resources for The Peanut Whisperer.
- A Pocketful of Goobers: A Story about George Washington Carver by Barbara Mitchell – This is the book Ruth read. A great introduction to this amazing man.
- Fun and Free Reader’s Theater on George Washington Carver
- Great Innovators: “George Washington Carver: The Wizard of Tuskegee” by StoryBots
- George Washington Carver National Monument – Put this on your list of places to visit!
Living in Alabama puts us in the heart of so many civil rights landmarks. There is so much to talk about I choose to focus on how important it is to treat one another rightly. Here are a few resources for Martin Luther King Jr.
- I Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr. – A picture book of this famous speech with marvelous illustrations, vivid, and full of emotion. Included is an audio CD of the speech.
- Martin Luther King Jr. Story Read by LeVar Burton – Reading Rainbow Story Time – A wonderful, informative video.
- A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David A. Adler – The book read in the video above.
6. The Boll Weevil and Peanuts
About half of our nation’s peanuts are grown within a 100 mile radius of Dothan, Alabama. It is no surprise then that each year Dothan hosts the National Peanut Festival.
How did peanuts become such an important part of Alabama’s agricultural income? Well, for that you must turn to the boll weevil. A tiny little bug that destroyed the cotton crop one year. Roadside America shares the story:
The official story is that a bad swarm of boll weevils came and destroyed the cotton crop one year and the towns people decided to grow other crops and thus avoid another economic disaster.
The better story is that in 1919 they were building the new main street in Enterprise and had the road all torn up, and were putting in a Statue of Lady Liberty or some other overdone statuary. Local folks got tired of answering the same question all the time, “Whatcha gonna put there?” One wit started saying it would be a monument to the boll weevil, and some traveling salesman got told this and went back to Montgomery and told a newspaper editor that this little hick town was putting up a monument to a boll weevil. So they did a big write-up, and of course the town couldn’t back down, so they but up a nice monument to the boll weevil. The bronze plaque reads, “In profound appreciation of the Boll Weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity, this monument is erected by the citizens of Enterprise — December 11, 1919.
If you are ever near Enterprise, Alabama, it may be worth the stop for a picture. Quite the interesting story at any rate.
Enjoy these peanut resources:
- The Life and Times of the Peanut by Charles Micucci
- How do peanuts grow? – Pictures and a walk with a farmer.
- Alabama Peanut Activities – Pam’s post about peanuts in Alabama. Make your own peanut butter and peanuts!
- Fun Peanut Games – Scroll to the bottom for some pretty fun peanut party games.
7. Around the Web – Other State Study Resources
- Learning is Messy has some great ideas for preschoolers and young elementary US Geography state studies.
- Shower of Roses is baking their way though the states with fun and enjoyable meals and treats!
- Catholic Missionary Family is nearly half way through their Journey Across America.
- A Common Shepherdess has state inspired meals for most states
8. Places to visit in our home state
Here are a few of the places we would love to be a part of our stacation. If you ever find yourself in the sunny South, be sure to put a few of these on your list!
Y is for YellowhammerAlabama (Hello U.S.A.)Alabama Facts and SymbolsThe United States CookbookAlabama: The Heart of Dixie (Exploring the States)A Pocketful of Goobers: A Story about George Washington CarverI Have a Dream by Martin Luther King Jr.A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Picture Book Biographies)The Life and Times of the Peanut
- Alabama Shakespeare Festival – Despite its name, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival is not a one time event. Every year they produce several plays for children and adults. The grounds are beautiful and free to roam. Feed ducks and sit in the out door theater and perhaps put on your own play!
- US Space and Rocket Center – Huntsville, Alabama produced the rockets used to help launch the US into space. Visit the space center for a day of fun exploration.
- Battleship USS Alabama – What’s not to love? Big guns, machinery, small spaces, and history.
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