Virginia: A Unit Study

Virginia: A Unit Study
Virginia: A Unit Study

On June 12, 1766, the state of Virginia ratified a Declaration of Rights recognizing the inherent rights of men — a document that would become a precursor to the United States Declaration of Independence, and later, the Bill of Rights.

Virginia History

Virginia was first settled by white men as a result of an act of the Virginia Company in 1606. The Virginia Company, stationed in England, desired a permanent settlement in the New World that would produce such commodities as the wilderness could provide. So they sent out three ships with over a hundred settlers in them, which arrived at the James River of Virginia in 1607.

Jamestown, as the new settlement was christened, was not destined to the easy life the “gentlemen” sent over envisioned. Trouble with the Indians, disease, food, and unarguably the worst of all, poor government, plagued the colony. Not only that, but the colony had an impossible time finding anything marketable to send back to England — although according to one story they did waste a large portion of the growing season filling up a ship with “gold,” which upon its arrival was found to be as, Captain John Smith put it, “gilded dirt!”

Regardless, the plantation continued on, and during the process continued having governmental problems due to the incompetent and greedy leaders. After becoming a royal colony in 1624, trouble with bad leaders resulted in the removal of the appointed governors and the introduction of self-government, which proved to be the harbingers of things to come. By this time Virginia, of course, consisted of much more than just Jamestown — the area was full of plantations.

When the Revolutionary War hit, Virginia played a relatively small role in the actual fighting until the end. However, Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson were from Virginia, and the leader of the Continental Army, George Washington, was from Virginia. The last battle of the Revolutionary War, the battle of Yorktown, was fought in Virginia. This decisive battle resulted in the defeat of the British.

What followed next was the creation of the Constitution. Concerned with the weakness of the government under the Articles of Confederation, a committee gathered in Philadelphia to revise the said Articles. However, the revision of the Articles of Confederation turned out to be more of a rejection of the Articles, and a new Constitution was proposed. In the debate on the Constitution, Virginians played a prominent role. As we all know, the Constitution was ratified, and under the new Constitution George Washington was first elected as President of the United States. He was the first of many Virginian Presidents, hence the reason why Virginia calls herself the “Mother of Presidents.”

On June 25, 1788, the state of Virginia ratified the U.S. Constitution and became the 10th state to be added to the Union.

The Civil War marked a change for Virginia. The pro-Union section broke off and became the state of West Virginia. Virginia, now smaller, became the seat of government for the new Confederacy, headquartered at the town of Richmond. As we know, the Confederacy lost, and Virginia became part of the Union again. The state was impoverished by the war, but fortunately they managed to recover with a big boost to their economy occurring during World War I due to shipbuilding. They continued to prosper after the war, right until the Depression. World War II helped Virginia in much the same way as the first World War did. Today, many of the federal government buildings and headquarters are located in Arlington, Virginia.

Virginia Geography

West Virginia: A Unit Study
Blue Ridge Mountains

Virginia is bordered by West Virginia, Maryland, North Carolina, Kentucky, and the Atlantic Ocean. It is the 35th largest state in area and is the home of the James River, the Rappahannock River, the Potomac River, and the Shenandoah River. The Appalachian Ridge runs through Virginia, as well as the Blue Ridge. There are also valleys, but the largest area is covered by rolling plains gradually sloping upwards as they draw away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Virginia Climate

Virginia has several different climates within the state. A few locations, for example, have warm temperatures with long growing seasons, while on the northern side of the Blue Ridge the temperatures in winter are dreadfully cold. Rainfall is also different from one place to the next. The Shenandoah Valley receives an average of 33 inches of rain per year, while the mountainous parts of southwestern Virginia have 60 inches of rain per year. To top that off, the climate can shift in various places from year to year, as the boundaries to the recognized zones are unstable, which tends to make agriculture slightly unpredictable.

Virginia Economy

Virginia is home to the world’s largest Internet services, and also has many government services. Tobacco is not the leading agricultural product anymore, nor even the second. Formerly, tobacco was how Virginia gained its riches before the Revolution and right up to the Civil War. Indeed, if it weren’t for the massive tobacco plantations, Virginia’s history would probably be very different. These days, nursery plants head the list of leading agricultural products, followed by soybeans. Tobacco is the third most extensive agricultural item. The state’s most valuable product, surprisingly, is broiler chickens. Virginia also is a coal-mining state, though not as much as West Virginia.

Interesting Virginia Facts
  • Virginia is home of the first English settlement in America — Jamestown in 1607.
  • Patrick Henry gave his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech in Richmond.
  • Virginians wrote the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.
  • More United States Presidents have been born in Virginia than any other state.
  • Norfolk Naval Base in Virginia is the world’s largest naval installation.
  • Sixty percent of the Civil War battles were fought in Virginia.

  • Label the following on a map of Virginia (see Notebooking Pages below):
    • Richmond (state capital)
    • Jamestown
    • Chesapeake Bay
    • Bordering states
    • Atlantic Ocean  

Further Investigation

Quick Facts

Elected Officials
Virginia elected officials.


Virginia Map and Quiz Printout
From Enchanted Learning.

Interactive Writing Tool {Free}
Create a state brochure using this interactive printing press.

Interactive Map Maker
Make and label your own map of Virginia.

The U.S.: 50 States Map Quiz
Locate each state at

Virginia Emblems and Symbols Bingo Game
From the Virginia General Assembly.

The Best Virginia Recipes
Cook up something the Virginia way!


“About Sir Walter Raleigh’s Adventures in the Golden West”
Chapters from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall covering the founding of Virginia begin with Sir Walter Raleigh in Chapter XII and continue through “Stories of Virginia” Chapter XXI.

Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry
Classic Newbery Honor book from beloved author about Pony Penning Day on the Chincoteague Island, Virginia, and the wild ponies brought into captivity.

My State Notebook

My State Notebook
From A Beka. “A basic guide to help students collect and learn the facts that are unique to their state as well as beginning research skills.”

Civics Activity Book

Civics Activity Book
Also from A Beka, but written for a higher level than the above title, this activity book guides state research “in a study of national, state, and local government with a brief overview of the Constitution and a variety of interesting activity sheets. In addition to government, students also study the history, geography, and other characteristics of their state and local areas.” We have enjoyed many of the activities in this book, which include writing letters to state officials, researching the state history and other activities.

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book

State Birds and Flowers Coloring Book
Inexpensive option from Dover Publishing. Also check out their United States Coloring Book that has a state outline, symbols, and facts on one page.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
Jamestown: A Unit Study

Jamestown: A Unit Study
The beginning of Virginia.

Free History Studies: George Washington and the Cherry Tree
President George Washington was a Virginia resident.

Free History Studies: George Washington

Free History Studies: George Washington
This study covers his roles as general and president.

Free History Studies: Thomas Jefferson
Famous Virginia resident.

Free Science Studies: Cyrus McCormick & the Reaper
Cyrus McCormick was born in Virginia.

My State {Free Unit Study}
A recommended state study unit that covers civics, history, geography, language arts, applied math, science, and art, culminating in a personalized state notebook. We have also included additional go-along resources.

State History Outline & Projects
A wealth of original ideas and projects for making any state study a work of art!

Studying the 50 United States
Suggestions for a unit on any state from

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Virginia State Maps for Notebook

Virginia State Facts Coloring Pages for Notebook

U.S. States and Capitals Map
Color Virginia and write in the capital on this printable at

Virginia Notebooking Pages
Simple pages for copywork, narrations, recording state facts, or wrapping up.

View all of our state unit studies:
Free State Unit Studies
Free State Unit Studies