On February 14, 1912, the last of the contiguous (sharing a common border) states was added to the Union — the state of Arizona. Only Hawaii and Alaska joined the United States after AZ. Although it was late to statehood, Arizona’s timeline before and after admission is an interesting one. Why not dig deeper into the history and geography of the Grand Canyon State?

This dedicated unit study supplement is part of Time4Learning’s full series of United States unit study supplements. You can also download our list of PreK-12 interactive activities that align with your study of interesting facts about Arizona.

Arizona Fast Facts

Became a State February 14, 1912
Order it Joined the Union 48th state
State Capital Phoenix
State Abbreviation AZ
Border States
State Flag Arizona State Flag
State Song Arizona March Song
State Nicknames
  • The Grand Canyon State
  • The Copper State
  • The Valentine State
Notable Arizonans
  • Emma Stone, actress
  • Cesar Chavez, activist
  • Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. Representative
  • Charles Mingus, musician
  • Diana Gabaldon, author

Historical Facts About Arizona

The territory of Arizona was home to Native Americans for thousands of years. In fact, it still has the second largest population of indigenous peoples in the U.S. Over a quarter of the state’s land belongs to reservations. Some of the contemporary tribes living in Arizona include the Navajo, the Mohave, the Quechan, and the Ute. Although experts aren’t in complete agreement, many believe that the name Arizona originated from a Native American word meaning “small spring.”

The first European known to explore the area was Marcos de Niza, a Spaniard. Other Spanish explorers followed, and the territory became part of New Spain. Mexico claimed the territory in 1821 when they won their independence from Spain,then the land was ceded to America following the Mexican-American War. The area was originally administered as part of New Mexico and it stayed a “territory” until President Taft finally officially admitted it into the Union in 1912. Statehood wasn’t the end of Arizona’s history, however. Here are some more historical facts about Arizona that your homeschooler may find interesting.

1539

Marcos de Niza is the first European to arrive in the state.

1821

Mexico claimed the territory that is now Arizona.

1848

The Mexican-American war ends and the U.S. purchases over 500,000 squares miles including most of the land that makes up Arizona.

1853

The Gadsden Purchase added territory to southern Arizona as well as southwestern New Mexico.

1863

The Territory of Arizona is established.

1881

Phoenix is incorporated. The gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place in Tombstone.

1912

Arizona is admitted to the union on February 14 becoming the 48th state; Phoenix is named the capital.

1919

The Grand Canyon was designated a national park.

1930

Pluto is discovered from the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff.

1931

Construction of the Hoover Dam begins. Over 100 workers died during construction. It opens in 1936.

1975

Raul Castro becomes the first Mexican-American governor of the state. Margaret Hance becomes the first female mayor of Phoenix.

1985

The country’s largest nuclear power plant, Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station, begins producing electricity.

2011

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is shot during a gathering near Tucson. She is among 13 injured; six people were killed by the shooter.

Geographical Facts About Arizona

Arizona’s geography is some of the most diverse and interesting in the United States. To enhance your unit study, it may help to spend time exploring a map of the state. Then download our printable Arizona map (below) and mark it up with your child. Here’s a small survey of some of the things you and your homeschooler may want to add to your map.
  • Arizona is home to one of the seven wonders of the world — the Grand Canyon, thus giving its nickname “The Grand Canyon State.” Over five million people visit this landform in the northwestern part of AZ.

  • Arizona produces more copper than all other states combined, providing it’s other nickname, The Copper State.

  • In the northeastern part of the state, the Painted Desert includes over 160 miles of horizontally striped and colored stone.

  • Kitt Peak National Observatory, 55 miles southwest of Tucson, boasts the largest collection of astronomy instruments in the world.

  • Arizona has 26 mountain peaks that are more than 10,000 feet in elevation, with the tallest being Humphrey’s Peak, a 12,633 summit located in the Coconino National Forest.

  • The two largest manmade lakes in the U.S. are both located in Arizona.

  • The Sonoran Desert, in southern AZ, is the most biologically diverse desert in the U.S.

  • It is thought that the oldest continuously inhabited community in America is Oraibi, a Hopi village in Navajo County, AZ.

Arizona State Map

Download our FREE Arizona state map printable. Use it as a coloring page or use it to plot the state’s geographical features.

Download

Activities for Children in Arizona

If you homeschool in the state of Arizona, you may or may not be aware of all the great day trips that will offer your families opportunities for both recreation and learning. If you are visiting the state, this list will be especially helpful as well. Enhance your Arizona facts unit study with these field trip ideas.

  • Arizona Science Center (Phoenix) — with both static and traveling exhibits, a five-story tall theater, and hundreds of hands-on opportunities to interact with science concepts, homeschoolers will love this destination. There are even dedicated classes for homeschool students offered throughout the year.

  • Fort Apache Historic Park (Whiteriver) — the cultural center and museum are constructed to reflect a Gowa (a traditional holy home). Families will enjoy learning about Apache life and culture from its ancient beginnings to present day.

  • International Wildlife Museum (Tucson) — dedicated to both increasing appreciation of wildlife throughout the world and increasing knowledge of wildlife management. Take a self-guided tour or explore the museum with one of the wildlife educators.

  • Pioneer Living History Village (Phoenix) — here you can step back in time to the Arizona territorial period of 1863-1912. See and feel what it would have been like to live and work in this difficult time period of AZ history.

  • Tucson Botanical Gardens (Tucson) — over 15 different gardens to explore including a Native American crops garden, a historical garden, and a children’s discovery garden.

For additional field trip options in Arizona, visit A2Z Homeschooling’s Arizona Field Trips with Kids page.

Arizona Freebies and Deals for Homeschoolers

  • ASU Art Museum (Tempe) — located on ASU’s Tempe campus is this admission-free, three-floor facility hosting static and traveling exhibits. Latin American art is a primary focus at this museum, as well.

  • Butterfly Wonderland (Scottsdale) — on specific days of the year, homeschool groups of 10 or more can receive discounted admission to America’s largest butterfly conservatory.

  • Legoland Discovery Center (Tempe) — during a special Homeschool Week during the year, homeschoolers and their immediate family members can visit for just $11 (50% off the normal admission).

  • Maricopa County Courthouse Experience (Phoenix) — if you are part of a homeschool group, children 11 and up can take a tour of the Maricopa County Courtrooms to learn about Arizona’s judicial branch of government.

  • The Railroad Park (Scottsdale) — railroad history is brought to life at this unique 30-acre park offering a 10,000 sq. ft. model railroad building, the Scottsdale Railroad Museum, and a ride on the replica railroad for just $2 per person.

Arizona Learning Games for Children

Boost your child’s online learning experience by checking out these available resources to assess your child’s knowledge about Arizona and learn even more about the Grand Canyon State.

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