Eight for Each State – West Virginia

Welcome to the Eight For Each State US Geography tour. I am so glad you are joining us.

West Virginia is an interesting state. The only state to form as a result of the Civil War, it has incredible mountains, coal and railroad industries, and plenty of character.

US Geography West Virginia Feature

West Virginia was an adventure for us. We enjoyed the familiar desert of apple pie and hot dogs but with a new twist. The girls especially enjoyed making coal flowers. Enjoy these activities and more below!

1. M is for Mountain State by  Mary Ann McCabe Riehle

What a fun book! A great way to kick off any state study is with a good introduction and this book provides just that. From here we scour our other books for more fun and interesting facts on the topics we liked the best.

Other good nonfiction books are:

2. Slaw dogs

I remembered somewhere that West Virginia made up their hot dogs in quite the original way. After checking for recipes we decided to try this one from FoodNetwork.com. I bought a can of chili and a small container of slaw instead of making my own.

IMG_5492-copyUS Geography West Virginia Slaw Dog

The girls were not sure they would like the combination of chili, coleslaw, and mustard, so I made one and they all took a bite. It was unanimous, they all wanted just ketchup on their own hot dogs. It was an experience anyway.

USA State Study Notebooking Pages

3. Apple Pie

This was a food everyone felt more comfortable about, except maybe me. Before this apple pie, I had yet to make a good one.

West Virginia is the largest producer of Golden Delicious apples. This is not a variety we try often so the children were excited to try it in pie.
Our recipe came from The United States Cookbook: Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts From All 50 States by Joan D’Amico. This is a great resource to have for your state study. We have used it for several states.

4. Coal Flowers

Coal was a huge industry in West Virginia. Many coal mining families were poor and did not have extra money for pretty things. Coal flowers could be made with a piece of coal, and common household items.IMG_5492-copyUS Geography West Virginia Coal Flower

The best lesson plan I found was from the American Coal Foundation. I like their solution recipe the best. However, Home Chemistry had some great pictures and other tips. We did try the cup up paper towel rolls but cut up sponges worked the best for growing the crystals.

IMG_5492-copyUS Geography West Virginia Coal Flower Close-up


5. Glass Making

West Virginia is famous for its glass making. If you have never seen someone blow glass, watch below for a real treat!

Expert Glass Blower

6. The Vandalia Gathering

Held each year on the capital grounds, the Vandalia Gathering is a mixture of folk music, dance, and traditional crafts. Here, West Virginia celebrates its many cultural heritages.

Vandalia Gathering 2015

7. Charles Yeager

The man to break the sound barrier, not once, but twice is a famous West Virginian. Enjoy these resources for sound barrier fun.

8. Mother Jones

I found the story of Mother Jones, a fearless fighter for safe working conditions, fair pay and treatment, and better living conditions for coal miners in It Happened in America, True Stories from the Fifty States by Lila Perl.

It is an interesting story about a woman who devotes most of her life to helping others in West Virginia. This is a great story for discussion. Why did Mother Jones want to help coal miners? What conditions did she see as unfair? Were they truly unfair? Were the coal miner bosses right to treat their workers in this way? What would be better for everyone?

 M is for Mountain State: A West Virginia Alphabet (Discover America State by State) West Virginia: The Mountain State (Exploring the States) West Virginia Facts and Symbols (The States & Their Symbols (Before 2003)) West Virginia (Hello U.S.A.) The United States Cookbook: Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts From All 50 States Chuck Yeager Goes Supersonic: An Action-Packed, True Flying Adventure It Happened in America: True Stories from the Fifty States

I hope you enjoy West Virginia as much as we did! Tell us about your travels sometime!



  • M.L. says:

    I’m a West Virginian born and raised, and am raising my own children here too. I love this series you are doing and think each of things you chose for West Virginia are very true to the state. I’m from a glass-making town originally (Fenton Art Glass), and would urge you to check out the history of marbles in the state (although our glass factory did not make marbles, to my knowledge). At one time, any marbles you would find in stores in the US were made in West Virginia. I would also encourage you to check out information on the New River Gorge and it’s bridge as well–a must see when visiting the state. It’s a prized area and amazingly beautiful. The New River Gorge Bridge used to be longest single span bridge in the world. It no longer holds that record, but it is still quite a sight to see. It is closed down one day each year for Bridge Day, where base jumpers from around the world come and jump from the bridge. The white water rafting on the the New is some of the best in the world.

    While chili and slaw absolutely ARE the best things to put on a hot dog, the most famous food to come from West Virginia is probably the pepperoni roll. I’ve actually met people from around the country who have never heard of pepperoni rolls, but here they are a staple and a part of coal-mining culture–you can find them EVERYWHERE. They were often included in lunch pails as an easy, affordable, filling lunch option for miners headed to work.

    Another neat geographical West Virginia fact, it is the only state in the country that is entirely within a mountain range. All of West Virginia is located in the Appalachian Mountains. While many states boast mountain areas, all of West Virginia is mountainous.

    There is a lot I could say about coal in West Virginia, but coal is a very political issue these days. I will only suggest that people really look at the history of coal in the state and how it has played a part in guiding everything we do and everything we are as West Virginians. You won’t find a soul here who has not been impacted in one way or another by coal. It’s been the source of both glory and destruction.

    Finally, after just celebrating Mother’s Day, I would tell you to thank West Virginia for its inception. Mother’s Day was established by Anna Jarvis of Grafton, West Virginia. She worked to have it as a national holiday, and it eventually became so in 1914. But by then, West Virginia had been celebrating it as a state holiday since 1910. Just another fun West Virginia fact.

    These are some of my favorite things about West Virginia, I just had to share them! Sorry for the long post, I just LOVE this state 🙂

    • Jessica Lawton says:

      Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and love of your home state with us! You have added so much to this resource!

  • Lindsay says:

    We are going on our third semester studying the US and your posts have been absolutely instrumental in our studies! Thank you so much for all of your work in putting these posts together and sharing them freely with the rest of us homeschool parents! You are a blessing!

    • Jessica Lawton says:

      I am so glad you have been able to use these effectively in your homeschool! That was my goal, to share and help other moms. Thanks for the feedback!

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