In 1808, two very famous leaders were born just miles away from each other in the state of Kentucky: Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, the two leaders of the Civil War. While Kentucky was the 15th state to be established, it still had a large role in the development of the United States.

Why not discover more about the history and geography of the Bluegrass State? This dedicated unit study supplement is part of Time4Learning’s full series of United States unit studies.

Kentucky Fast Facts

Became a State June 1, 1792
Order it Joined the Union 15th state
State Capital Frankfort
State Abbreviation KY
Border States
  • West Virginia
  • Virginia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Missouri
  • Ohio
  • Tennessee
State Flag Kentucky State Flag
State Song My Old Kentucky Home
State Flower Goldenrod
State Nicknames The Bluegrass State
Notable Kentuckians
  • Abraham Lincoln, 16th President
  • Jefferson Davis, Leader of the Confederacy
  • Henry Clay, United States Senator
  • Alben W. Barkley, 35th Vice President
  • Muhammad Ali, Professional Boxer
  • John Mason Brown, Drama critic and author

Historical Facts About Kentucky

Prior to being colonized, the land that would become Kentucky had no ownership by Native Americans. This land was called the “Great Meadows,” and it was rather unclear who had control over it. Even once colonizers began to survey the land, they were delayed by the French and Indian War in 1754. It wasn’t until 1774 that James Harrod created the first settlement in Kentucky, located in Fort Harrod. This led to the development of other settlements shortly after.

Kentucky was originally created as a county within Virginia, one of its bordering states, in 1776. However, Kentuckians wanted to have their own state, and thus a separation movement was created. After much debate, Kentucky became its own state in 1792. During the Civil War, Kentucky was divided between the Confederacy and the Union. However, the Confederate Army invaded, and Kentucky officially joined the Union side. Here are some more historical facts about Kentucky your homeschooler may find interesting:

Daniel Boone visited Kentucky twice to explore the region  – once in 1767, and again in 1769. He eventually created Fort Boonesborough, a Kentucky State Park, in 1775.

  • 17 years before Daniel Boone even stepped foot in Kentucky, Dr. Thomas Walker was the first frontiersman to explore the state.
  • Over half of the soldiers killed in the War of 1812 came from Kentucky, even though no battles were fought in the state.
  • The two leaders of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln for the Union and Jefferson Davis for the Confederacy, were both born in Kentucky.
  • It took nine different conventions to discuss and agree upon the separation of Kentucky from Virginia.
  • After the Civil War, burley tobacco became more popular and Kentucky switched over to the production of tobacco to make money.
  • In 1936, the U.S. Treasury Gold Vault was created at Fort Knox, just south of Louisville, KY. For a brief period of time, America’s founding documents were also held in Fort Knox for protection in World War 2.
  • Fort Knox is the most secure and guarded place on the planet. No single person knows how to get in; it takes multiple people who all know different combinations to open the door.
  • Kentucky is home to the Kentucky Derby, which had its first race in 1875, and made racing and raising horses very popular.

Bring history and geography to life with Time4Learning’s interactive online social studies curriculum for grades 2-12.

Geographical Facts About Kentucky

Kentucky, being just west of the Appalachian Mountains, made it one of the most difficult states to colonize. When it was colonized, the Bluegrass region was the first to be developed on, since it is the best agricultural land. This is how Kentucky’s nickname came to be the Bluegrass State.

Kentucky is home to plenty of natural resources and has a diverse range of landscapes to explore. Here are some interesting facts about the geography of Kentucky your homeschooler may enjoy:

  • Almost half of Kentucky is covered with forests, and it is one of the top three producers of hardwood in the United States.
  • Kentucky is also number three in the nation for the production of coal, since much of its land is dedicated to coalfields.
  • There are six different geographical regions in Kentucky: the Mountain Region, the Knobs Region (full of knob-shaped hills), the Bluegrass Region, the Pennyroyal Region, the Western Coalfield Region, and the Lowland Region
  • The Pennyroyal region, which was named after the mint plant that grows there, is home to Mammoth Cave – the world’s largest cave system. This cave system is located near the center of Kentucky, about 90 miles southwest of Louisville.
  • The Jackson Purchase widened the borders of Kentucky by 2,570 square feet after it was added in 1818. This Purchase created the little tail seen in western Kentucky, bordered by Missouri, Illinois, and Tennessee. Can you find it on the map?
  • Most of Kentucky is rural, and there are only two cities with a population greater than 100,000 residents: Louisville and Lexington. Louisville is in the northern portion of Kentucky, just on the border shared with Indiana. Lexington is just about 80 miles east of Louisville, and 80 miles south of Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Almost all of the bordering states are separated from Kentucky by rivers, except for Virginia and Tennessee.
  • Fort Knox, the most secure place on the planet, is just 40 miles southwest of Louisville. It is surrounded by a dense forest, just south of the Ohio river.

Kentucky State Map

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

Download

Activities for Children in Kentucky

Do you homeschool in the state of Kentucky? There are so many fun and educational destinations to explore that can enrich your homeschooling experience. Whether you’re looking to get outdoors and get some exercise, learn about the state’s history, or take in the arts, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

If you are visiting Kentucky, or call it home, below is a list of field trip ideas that will help supplement the Kentucky facts unit study.

  • Old Bardstown Village (Bardstown) – This village is home to museum row, which includes the fourth-largest Civil War museum in the United States. There is also a museum dedicated solely to the women of the Civil War. Exhibits include confederate and union artillery, and the flag of the 2nd Kentucky Cavalry.
  • Kentucky Museum (Bowling Green) – Explore this museum to experience the history of Kentucky! There are rotating exhibitions, such as quilts designed during the Civil War, and drawings of places left behind and new beginnings. Be sure to check out the website before arriving to see which exhibit the museum is currently showing.
  • Ashland – The Henry Clay Estate (Lexington) – Take a tour of the 18-room Clay family mansion, led by a knowledgeable guide for about an hour. Afterwards, explore the Henry Clay exhibit room to learn more about this great statesman, and how he got the nickname of being “The Great Compromiser.”
  • Mary Todd Lincoln House (Lexington) – See the birthplace and childhood home of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Lincoln. Tours are guided and about an hour long, taking you throughout the 14-room house to see the life of the 16th first lady. It was lived in until 1849, when Robert Todd – father of Mary – died due to Cholera. It was then restored into a museum in 1977.
  • Kentucky Science Center (Louisville) – There’s plenty to see at this interactive museum, with many different exhibits! See science in play, the world we create, the discover gallery, and more! Depending on the age of your homeschoolers, there are also programs and camps to utilize, offering plenty of fun ways to learn science.
  • Kentucky Down Under Adventure Zoo (Horse Cave) – Come see Mammoth Onyx Cave, with a little twist. This adventure zoo features unique animals, such as bison, alligators, pythons, kangaroos, emus, and more. Admission also includes tours through the Mammoth Onyx Cave, a gentle cave experience that children of all ages can enjoy.

Kentucky Freebies and Deals for Homeschoolers

  • Dr. Thomas Walker State Park (Barbourville) – Tour the first house in Kentucky, established by Dr. Thomas Walker who was the first to survey the land that became the Bluegrass State. Tours are completely free and the park has plenty of picnic tables for a nice lunch. Mini-golfing is offered at a nominal fee.
  • Mammoth Cave National Park (Mammoth Cave) – Come see the longest cave system in the world! Admission into the park is free, but touring the caves is low cost. You can even go camping in this beautiful national park! There are lots of different touring option depending on the skill level and ages of your homeschoolers, so be sure to check out the website before departing.
  • Triangle Park (Lexington) – Located in downtown Lexington, this park provides plenty of fun experiences for homeschoolers of all ages! Engage your brain with a riveting round of chess, or listen to the sounds of local performers. This park has free WiFi access, so homeschoolers can even bring their laptops and do their work outside. There is a rotating events schedule, so make sure to check the websites to see what fun events this park has to offer.
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing (Georgetown) – Take a free, 1-hour factory tour to see how Toyota vehicles are assembled. This is a great, interactive field-trip for all ages, and especially for STEM focused students. This tour only takes place during the weekdays, making it a great option for homeschoolers.
  • Southfork Elk View (Jackson) – Come to see what Eastern Kentucky is known for: its steady Elk population. This viewing point in Jackson allows visitors to see the largest Elk herd in Kentucky, surrounded by wetlands, flora, and fauna. Make sure to bring a camera to capture the beauty of the mountains in the background.
  • Boone County Arboretum (Union) – Explore this enormous arboretum, with over 3600 trees and shrubs over 121 acres. There are lots of different classes and events, as well as volunteer opportunities to take part in. Admission and parking, as well as most classes and events, are free!

Kentucky Learning Games for Children

Make sure to check out these available resources to assess your child’s knowledge about Kentucky and learn even more about the Bluegrass State.

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