Connecticut: A Unit Study

On January 9, 1788, Connecticut became the fifth state to enter the Union.


Early exploration of Connecticut began in 1614 by representatives of the Dutch West India Company. In 1633 the Dutch erected a trading fort near present-day Hartford. In that same year, English settlers from Plymouth, Massachusetts, began to move into the area, founding the settlement of Wethersfield, known as “Ye Most Ancient Towne” in Connecticut. By the late 1630s, the English had gained control of the Connecticut colony, having established several permanent settlements. During the Pequot War, the local Indians were defeated in attempts to resist settlement.

The Pequot War provided an impetus for the individual river settlements to join together. In 1639 the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut were established, considered to be the first constitutional papers written in what would become the United States. The Fundamental Orders established a form of government that laid out the rights of the individual.

Connecticut’s original 1662 charter established by King Charles II established the colony’s right to exist and set its boundaries from Narragansett Bay on the east to the Pacific Ocean on the west. These boundaries brought the colony into territorial conflict with New York, a dispute that was not settled until 1683 when an agreement was negotiated between the states. A dispute over the western boundary resulted in war with Pennsylvania until litigation finally settled the issue in 1786.

Connecticut: A Unit Study
The Charter Oak

An interesting tradition has it that Connecticut’s Royal Charter of 1662 was hidden in a hollow tree to prevent the English royal governor appointed by James II from taking it. The tree lived until 1856 when it was blown down in a storm.  The wood has been preserved in furniture for the Governor of Connecticut and state congressional offices.  The Charter Oak is featured on the state quarter.

After the battle at Lexington during the Revolutionary War, thousands of militia men left Connecticut for Massachusetts under the command of General Israel Putnam. It was Putnam who gave us the quote: “Don’t fire until you see the white of their eyes.”

Another famous quote was provided by Nathan Hale, who was captured while on an intelligence mission in New York for General Washington. The Connecticut resident was tried as a spy and hanged, but not before declaring, “I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country.”

But Connecticut’s greatest contribution to the Revolutionary War was likely the blood and treasure that it provided to the Continental Army, being designated by General George Washington as “The Provision State.” Connecticut’s provision continued through World War II, when it made weapons, bullets, gliders, airplanes and parts, and over 80% of the precision bearings needed for the war effort.


Connecticut’s name comes from the Mohegan word Quinnehtukqut, meaning long river, and refers to the longest river in the New England area, the Connecticut River, that runs through the state. Although Connecticut has a maritime reputation, it has no direct access to the ocean.

Bear Mountain in the northwest corner of the state is the highest peak.

Third smallest state in the Union by area, Connecticut is the 29th most populous. It is bordered on the west by New York, the north by Massachusetts, and the east by Rhode Island.

Connecticut: A Unit Study
Fall foliage in Talcott Mountain State Park

There are two major climatic zones in Connecticut. The interior regions of the state are classified as having a humid continental climate, while the shoreline areas along Long Island Sound to the south are mostly considered as humid subtropical. Summers are hot and humid and winters are cold, with beautiful foliage in the fall and potential tropical cyclones during hurricane season.


Connecticut ranks fourth in per capita income (as of 2007). Agricultural interests include nursery stock (plants grown for resale), vegetables, tobacco, and dairy products. Manufactured goods include helicopters, submarines, aircraft engines and parts, and chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The first formally organized insurance company, Hartford Fire Insurance Company, began in Connecticut, and since, the state has become known as the insurance state, being the home for a staggering 106 insurance companies!

Interesting Connecticut Facts

Connecticut is the home to many firsts:

  • The first written constitution, the Fundamental Orders, as mentioned above.
  • First municipal public library.
  • First newspaper, The Hartford Courant, that has been in publication since 1764.
  • First submarine.
  • First dictionary was published by Noah Webster, who was born in West Hartford.
  • Eli Whitney of New Haven patented the first cotton gin in 1794.
  • First insurance company, as mentioned above.
  • First hamburger served at Louie’s Lunch in New Haven.
  • First lollipop.
  • First Frisbee: “Yale students discovered empty pie plates from Mrs. Frisbie Pies in Bridgeport could fly across the New Haven Green.”
  • First color television.
  • First nuclear submarine.
  • First artificial heart.

  • Label the following on a map of Connecticut (see Notebooking Pages below):
    • Hartford (state capital)
    • Bridgeport (largest city)
    • New Haven
    • Connecticut River
    • Bordering states

Further Investigation

Quick Facts

Elected Officials
Connecticut elected officials.


Connecticut 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 Connecticut.

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


“The Founding of Connecticut and War With the Indians”
A chapter from This Country of Ours by H.E. Marshall.

The Courage of Sarah Noble

The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh
Newbery winner that tells of a young girl’s journey in 1707 into the wilds of Connecticut with her father to set up their farm on the land he has purchased.  Based on a true story.

Ginger Pye: Review Go-Along Activities

Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes
Ginger Pye captures the hearts of young and old alike.  This favorite tale takes place in Connecticut and includes a fair amount of history.  Read our full review with suggestions, activities, and resources that go along with the book.

“Charter Oak”
Chapter from American History Stories by Mara Louis Pratt that relates the tale.

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
Free History Studies: Charles Goodyear

Free History Studies: Charles Goodyear
Born in Connecticut.

Free History Studies: Israel Putnam
The general from Connecticut famous for the quote, “Don’t fire before you see the whites of their eyes.”

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

Connecticut State Maps for Notebook

Connecticut State Facts Coloring Pages for Notebook

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

Connecticut 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

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