Fun Facts about North Carolina – Intermediate

Can you answer these questions about North Carolina? Search the internet for the information. Then check your answers at the bottom!

  1. Where did North Carolina get its name?
  2. What is the title of the state song?
  3. How many state parks are there in NC?
  4. How many lighthouses are there in NC?
  5. What famous soda was invented in New Bern, NC?
  6. Which NC city is known as “the furniture capital of the world”?
  7. America’s largest home is located in NC. Where is it, and what is its name?
  8. Which 3 U.S. Presidents were from NC?
  9. Which famous pirate ship sank off the coast of NC?
  10. Name 3 professional sports teams in NC.

Greetings from North Carolina, state capitol in Raleigh, state flower the Dogwood, state bird the Cardinal
Now, check your answers.

  1. Carolina is the feminine form of the masculine name Charles. Carolina was an area owned by England and named after King Charles I. In 1710, Carolina was divided into two parts – North Carolina and South Carolina.
  2. The state song is called “The Old North State.” You can listen to it here.
  3. There are 27 state parks in NC, from the mountains to the beach. Three of them are in Wake County. Click here to see a map of all the state parks.
  4. There are 12 lighthouses in NC. Click here to see a map of all the lighthouses. Click on each one to learn more about it and see pictures.
  5. Pepsi was invented in New Bern, NC in 1893.
  6. High Point, NC is known as “the furniture capital of the world” because many of the world’s largest furniture companies are located there. High Point also has an event every year called the High Point Market. Furniture professionals come to NC for a week to see the biggest, most complete showing of products.
  7. The Biltmore Estate is located in Asheville, NC. The whole estate is almost 11 square miles (more than 28 square km), and it includes a house, gardens, stables, a hotel, and several restaurants. The house has 179,000 square feet (more than 16,600 square meters), and 250 rooms!
  8. Andrew Jackson (7th president), James K. Polk (11th president), and Andrew Johnson (17th president) were all from NC. However, each one was living in Tennessee when he was elected.
  9. Blackbeard’s ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, sank off the coast of NC in 1718. You can see pieces of it at the NC Maritime Museum in Beaufort, NC.
  10. The Carolina Panthers (football), Carolina Hurricanes (hockey), Charlotte Hornets (basketball), and Carolina Railhawks (soccer) are all major/national league teams in NC. We also have many minor league baseball teams, including the Durham Bulls and the Carolina Mudcats. You can easily see the Hurricanes, the Bulls, or the Mudcats play in this area.

Your Turn

What did you learn about NC today? What would you like to learn more about? Do some research, and present it to your class!

Fun Facts about North Carolina – Advanced

Can you answer these questions about North Carolina? Search the internet for the information. Then check your answers at the bottom!

  1. Which vegetable does NC grow more of than any other state?
  2. What is “The Lost Colony”?
  3. Which famous doughnut restaurant was started in Winston-Salem, NC?
  4. In 1587, an English baby was born on Roanoke Island, NC. She was the first English child to be born in the “new world.” What was her name?
  5. What is the state motto (a sentence or phrase that shows someone’s beliefs) in Latin? What does it mean in English?
  6. How many capital cities has NC had in its history?
  7. Where did Raleigh get its name?
  8. What happened at Kill Devil Hills in 1903?
  9. Name 3 of NC’s major products (not including fruits and vegetables).
  10. When did NC enter the Union (become a state)?

North Carolina

By Peter Fitzgerald (Own work based on [1] and other PD USG maps) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, check your answers.

  1. NC produces more sweet potatoes than any other state. In fact, the sweet potato is the official state vegetable of NC.
  2. In 1587, a group of people from England arrived on Roanoke Island, NC. They came to start a colony (a group of people from one country who start a new life together in another place). Their leader, John White, went back to England for supplies. He was delayed because England was at war with Spain. When he returned 3 years later, the colony was gone. The houses were gone (not destroyed), and the people were gone. John White found the word “Croatoan” carved (written by digging into a piece of wood or stone) into a tree. White thought that maybe the colonists had moved south to another island, called Croatoan. The Croatoan Indians lived there, and they were friendly. However, before he could go to Croatoan to find out, there was a hurricane, and he was forced to return to England. We are still not sure what happened to the Lost Colony of Roanoke.
  3. Krispy Kreme was founded (established/started) in Winston-Salem, NC in 1937.
  4. Virginia Dare was born in 1587 on Roanoke Island, NC. Her parents were Eleanore and Ananias Dare. The family was part of the Lost Colony.
  5. Esse quam videri = To be, rather than to seem
  6. NC has had 4 different capital cities. The first was Bath (1705-1722), followed by Edenton (until 1743). Then the capital was New Bern (1743-1792). Finally, a new capital city was established.
  7. The city of Raleigh was named after Sir Walter Raleigh, who paid for the establishment of the 1587 Roanoke colony (the Lost Colony).
  8. Wilbur and Orville Wright, brothers from Ohio, built the first successful airplane. On December 17, 1903, they flew the airplane for the first time at Kill Devil Hills, NC.
  9. Here are some NC’s major non-food products: tobacco, furniture, textiles, cotton, chemicals (pharmaceuticals, cleaning products), granite.
  10. North Carolina entered the Union on November 21, 1789. It was the 12th state to join.

Your Turn

What did you learn about NC today? What would you like to learn more about? Do some research, and present it to your class!

Tax Day

If you work in the United States and earn money from an American company, you must pay state and federal income taxes. Usually, your employer will withhold (hold back/not give you) a certain amount each time you get paid. At the end of the year, three things are possible:

  1. They did not withhold enough, and you must pay more.
  2. They withheld too much, and the government returns the extra money to you. This is called a refund.
  3. They withheld the right amount, and you break even (you don’t need to pay, and the government does not need to pay you).

We have 4 months to “do our taxes” (from January 1 to April 15). When you do your taxes, you:

  • add up all the money you have received
  • subtract all the money your employer withheld
  • subtract other money you spent on things for your job, medical bills, education, charity, etc.
  • figure out if you owe (must give) money to the government, or if they owe money to you
  • complete some tax forms
  • file your taxes, which means you send your tax forms to the IRS (Internal Revenue Service)
  • pay if you owe taxes OR tell the government where to send your money if they owe you

It sounds complicated, but there are many computer programs that make doing your taxes easy. You can also pay a tax professional to do your taxes for you. You can also file your taxes online, pay your taxes online with a credit card, and get the government to put your refund directly into your bank account.

Taxes are due on April 15. You can do your taxes early, but if you do them after April 15, you will have to pay a penalty.

If you have not done your taxes yet, you only have a few more days. If you need help, there are places you can go for assistance. When you go, volunteers will help you prepare and file your taxes. Click here for locations and information about what you need to take with you.

The History of Washington, D.C.

What state is Washington, D.C. in? Is it a part of Maryland? What about Virginia? West Virginia, maybe? The capital of the United States is near all of those, but it’s not actually IN any of them. Actually, it’s not in a state at all. Keep reading to find out more about Washington, D.C.

Why isn’t Washington, D.C. in a state?

Some people say the nation’s capital isn’t in a state because people didn’t want one state to have more power than any other state. However, this is not true. Philadelphia, PA (Pennsylvania) used to be the capital, but something happened in 1783 that made Congress want to move.

After the Revolutionary War, hundreds of soldiers went to Philadelphia to ask for payment for their work during the war. Congress ignored (didn’t pay attention to) them, so the soldiers barricaded (blocked/prevented from opening) the doors of Independence Hall and would not permit the members of Congress to leave. A man named Alexander Hamilton talked to the soldiers, and finally, the delegates (members of Congress) were allowed to leave and meet later to discuss the soldiers’ demands (strong requests).

Congress was scared of the soldiers, so they asked the state of Pennsylvania for protection. At that time, the federal government had no real control over the military during times of peace. The country mostly used state militias (military groups) to act as the army and the police. Pennsylvania didn’t think that their militia would fight against other soldiers to protect Congress, so when Congress asked for help, Pennsylvania said, “No.”

Congress had no choice. They had to flee (run away from) Pennsylvania and begin to make plans for a federal city that they could govern (rule/be in charge of) and protect. Six years later, when the Constitution went into effect, Congress was able to create a federal city where they could do their jobs safely.

By 1800, the city of Washington had been established, and Congress had started working there.

What does D.C. mean?

The Constitution says that Congress has the power “to exercise exclusive legislation” over a federal district. That means Congress can be in control of a federal district. Congress set up this district in 1791 along the Potomac River. It included the city of Washington, but the states of Maryland and Virginia also gave land to the federal district. The land that Maryland gave included the city of Georgetown, and the land that Virginia gave included the city of Alexandria. The territory also had two counties – the County of Alexandria to the west of the river, and the County of Washington to the east.

In 1846, the city of Alexandria wanted to return to Virginia, so Congress gave it back, and in 1871, the rest of the territory (Washington and Georgetown) was combined into a single city called the District of Columbia.

So the city we know as Washington, D.C. is actually not Washington at all. The federal city of Washington and the former Maryland city of Georgetown ceased (stopped) to exist in 1871 when they became one city – the District of Columbia. The official name of the nation’s capital is the District of Columbia, but we still call it Washintgon today. Also, the former city of Georgetown still exists, but it is only a historical neighborhood in the District of Columbia.

The Bill of Rights

Public Domain Image from NARA (

You might know that the first 10 amendments (changes) to the Constitution of the United States are called the Bill of Rights. What does this mean? What rights do we have? And why didn’t they put these rights in the Constitution in the beginning?

The Constitution is very basic, but it includes instructions for making changes to it. The people who wrote it understood that Americans might need to add or change things later, so they created the legal process for these changes.

The states approved the Constitution, but a lot of people were still confused about what the law said. They needed to know exactly what they could do and what they could not do. They also wanted to know what the government could and could not do. The Bill of Rights was written in 1791 to clarify (make more clear) the rights, powers and limitations of the people, the states and the federal government of the United States.

What rights are described in the Bill of Rights?

Here are the first ten amendments to the Constitution of the United States, also known as the Bill of Rights:

  1. The First Amendment says that the people of the United States have freedom of religion, speech, the press (journalists/news people), peaceful assembly and petition of the government. That means that if I don’t like the government, I can say that I don’t like the government. I can call or write letters to my Congressmen to complain or ask for changes, or I can go with a group to Washington, D.C. to say that we are unhappy about something. I can also practice any religion I want or no religion at all.
  2. The Second Amendment allows us to own guns. However, each state has its own, more specific rules.
  3. The Third Amendment says that the government cannot require people to let soldiers live in their private homes during a time of peace.
  4. The Fourth Amendment says that the police cannot search your home, take anything from you, or arrest you without a VERY good reason. They must have a warrant (an order from a judge) or probable cause. Probable cause means that they have an excellent reason to think you have done something illegal.
  5. The Fifth Amendment explains the correct ways to do things in court. This amendment also says that the government cannot take your private property. If they want it, they have to pay you a good price for it.
  6. The Sixth Amendment gives more rules about trials in court. It says you have the right to a speedy (fast) trial by an impartial (fair) jury in the district (city or county) where the crime was committed. It also says that if you are arrested and on trial, you have the right to know what police believe you did, you have the right to a lawyer, and you have the right to witnesses both against you and in your favor. That means they will talk to people who say you did something illegal AND people who say you didn’t do anything wrong.
  7. The Seventh Amendment provides for a trial by jury in civil cases. If you do something illegal and get arrested, you may have a criminal trial. In a civil case, nobody gets arrested. Usually, civil cases are disagreements between two people (or companies). For example, if you have a contract with a company, and you pay the company for some work, but the company does not do its job, you can go to court in a civil case to try to get your money back. The Seventh Amendment says that a jury can decide who is right and who is wrong in this kind of case.
  8. The Eighth Amendment protects against cruel and unusual punishment and excessive fines and bail. This means that if you do something illegal, your punishment must be equal to your crime. For example, you cannot go to jail for 30 years because you stole something small from Target.
  9. The Ninth Amendment just says that the Bill of Rights is not a complete list, and that any rights not included should not be denied.
  10. The Tenth Amendment says that if the Constitution and the Bill of Rights don’t say anything about a right, each state can decide its own rules. For example, there is nothing in the Constitution or the Bill of Rights about driving laws, so each state has its own rules about how old you must be to get a license, how often you must get your car inspected, etc.

Your Turn

For more information about the Bill of Rights, check out this site. Then, for fun, print and complete this crossword puzzle about the First Amendment!

Questions and Answers about the United States

With a partner, practice asking and answering these questions about the United States. For each one, “Q” means question, and “A” means answer. Take turns asking and answering the questions.

American Flag

By (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

1. Q: How many states are in the United States?
A: There are fifty states.

2. Q: Who is the president of the United States?
A: Barack Obama is the president of the United States.

3. Q: Who was the first president of the United States?
A: George Washington was the first president of the United States.

4. Q: What ocean is on the west coast of the United States?
A: The Pacific Ocean is on the west coast of the United States.

5. Q: What ocean is on the east coast of the United States?
A: The Atlantic Ocean is on the east coast of the United States.

6. Q: What is the capital of the United States?
A: Washington, D.C. is the capital of the United States.

7. Q: How many stars are there on the American flag?
A: There are fifty stars on the American flag.

8. Q: How many stripes are there on the American flag?
A: There are thirteen stripes on the American flag.

9. Q: When do we celebrate Independence Day in the United States?
A: We celebrate Independence Day in the United States on July 4th.

10. Q: What is the name of the national anthem?
A: The name of the national anthem is “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Your Turn

Now, work with your partner to write 5 more questions and answers about the United States. Use complete sentences in your answers.

St. Patrick’s Day Is March 17

photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc

photo credit: cobalt123 via photopin cc

On March 17, we will celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day. St. Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland.

Right now, you might have two questions:

  1. What is a patron saint?
  2. Why do American’s celebrate an Irish person?

Good questions. I will try to answer them and more.

What Are Patron Saints?

In the Catholic faith, saints are people who talk to God about specific things. If you are taking an airplane trip, the patron saint of air travelers (Joseph of Cupertino) can ask God to help you stay safe. If you are getting married, the patron saint of marriage (John Francis Regis) can ask God to help your marriage. Irish Catholics might pray to St. Patrick, asking him to ask God to help their country.

Who Was Saint Patrick?

St. Patrick was a real person who lived in Britain and Ireland around the 5th century. He was born in Britain during the time of the Roman Empire, and later in life, he lived in Ireland as a Christian missionary. Historians believe that he died on March 17, 461.

As a missionary, St. Patrick used shamrocks (small plants with 3 leaves like the ones in the picture above) to explain the Christian idea that God exists in three forms. Because of this, Irish Catholics attached shamrocks to their clothes. These days, people wear green clothes on St. Patrick’s Day.

Why Do Americans Celebrate an Irish Holiday?

As you know, people come to the United States from many different countries for many different reasons. In the mid-1800s, about a million Irish immigrants came to the United States because there was not enough food in Ireland. At that time, the population of the United States was only about 17 million, so the arrival of 1 million people was a lot. It was enough to change the culture of the United States. Those Irish immigrants brought their culture, holidays, and traditions with them, and we still celebrate one of their holidays – St. Patrick’s Day – today.

How Do Americans Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day?

photo credit: skeggy via photopin cc

photo credit: skeggy via photopin cc

Over time, the traditional Irish celebration of St. Patrick’s Day has changed a lot. Americans (even Americans with no Irish heritage at all) might celebrate Irish or Irish-American culture on St. Patrick’s Day by:

  • wearing green clothes
  • pinching people who don’t wear green clothes
  • drinking Guinness (or other Irish) beer
  • marching in or watching parades
  • carrying Irish flags
  • dressing like leprechauns
  • eating corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes

 St. Patrick’s Day in Raleigh

Raleigh will have a St. Patrick’s Day parade on Saturday, March 14 at 10:00 a.m. After the parade, there will be a festival in City Plaza (at the south end of Fayetteville Street). Check out this website for more information on the parade, the festival, and St. Patrick! There will be food, live music, and dancing, as well as Irish jewelry and other small items for sale. The parade and festival are free, so put on your green clothes and go enjoy an Irish-American holiday downtown!

For more information on St. Patrick’s Day, check out this fun video made by!

Women’s History Month

Women's History Month

image by WTCC instructor ecparent

March is Women’s History Month! This month, we celebrate all of the things that women have contributed (added/given) to society and the planet. Since 1987, March has been the month when the achievements of women in the United States could be recognized (seen) and honored. Here are some of the women whose work we celebrate during Women’s History Month.

  • Madam C.J. Walker

    By Scurlock Studio (Washington, D.C.) (photographers). [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

    Madam C. J. Walker – Mrs. Walker became the first self-made millionaire in the United States in the early 1900s. Self-made means that she earned all of her money. She did not get it from her family. Madam Walker was the first free (not a slave) child born in her family after President Lincoln ended slavery. When she grew up, she created a company that made hair care products for African American women.
  • Susan B. Anthony – Anthony was a leader in the women’s suffrage movement (groups of people who wanted women to have the right to vote). She was arrested in 1872 because she voted in the presidential election. She died in 1906, but her work continued until women got the right to vote in 1920.
  • Elizabeth Cady Stanton – Stanton started the women’s suffrage movement and worked for the right to vote until her death in 1902. Before her work for women’s suffrage, she worked to end slavery in the United States.
  • Sandra Day O’Connor – O’Connor was the first female Supreme Court Justice (judge). She served on the court from 1981 until she retired in 2006.
  • Clara Barton – Barton founded (started/established) the American Red Cross. She was a nurse, and she never got married because she knew that married women couldn’t do very much outside of the home at that time. She believed that helping people was more important than being a wife.
  • Sally Ride – Ride was the first American woman to travel into space. In 1983, she was the mission specialist on the space shuttle Challenger. The first female astronaut in the world, however, was Valentina Tereshkova, a Russian cosmonaut (astronaut) who traveled into space 20 years before Sally Ride.
  • Amelia Earhart – Earhart was the first female pilot to fly alone across the Atlantic Ocean.
 We have already talked about some other famous American women, like Rosa Parks and Sojourner Truth, and there are many more women whose accomplishments deserve celebration.

Your Turn

Tell us about a famous woman from your country. March is Women’s History Month in the United States, but women around the world also deserve to be honored! Please tell us about an important woman in the comments. Who is she? Why is she famous or important?

Three Branches of U.S. Government


photo by WTCC instructor ecparent

The government of the United States is divided into three parts – the executive branch, the legislative branch, and the judicial branch.

What is a branch?

Trees have branches. They are smaller parts of something larger. If you make a family tree (a drawing to show all the relationships in your family), each branch will show a small family within the bigger family. The branches of government are also smaller parts of something much bigger.

What do the different branches do?

Each branch of the government has a different job.

  • Executive Branch – The president is the head of the executive branch. He is in charge of the military, and he chooses his cabinet (leaders of government departments). The president lives and works in the White House. The executive branch is responsible for enforcing the laws. That means they make sure people obey the laws. The police are part of the executive branch. There are many government departments that make rules about how the country works. For example, the Department of Labor makes rules about companies and workers. The Department of Transportation makes rules and decisions about drivers, highways, and vehicles (cars, buses, trucks, vans, etc.).
  • Legislative Branch – Congress is the head of the legislative branch. The U.S. Congress is bicameral, which means it has two parts. The two parts are the Senate and the House of Representatives. Both groups work in the Capitol Building. The legislative branch of government is responsible for making the laws.
  • Judicial Branch – The Supreme Court is the head of the judicial branch. They work in the Supreme Court Building, and their job is to interpret the law. That means they decide who is guilty and who is innocent. Sometimes laws are confusing, and sometimes laws change or new laws are added, and it isn’t clear whether someone has broken a law or not. For these reasons, we need the courts to decide.

Branches of Government

By US government [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

How do the branches work together?

Each branch of government has its own powers and jobs, but those powers and jobs sometimes overlap (two branches have the same power or job). This system of dividing and overlapping jobs limits the power of each branch so that one branch cannot make decisions alone. The other branches need to support or approve those decisions.

For example, if Congress wants to make a new law, they must vote on it. If the Senate approves the law, then the House of Representatives must also approve it. If both houses vote for the new law, then the president must agree. If he does, then it becomes a law. If he doesn’t agree with the idea, he can veto (say no to) it.

Here are a few more examples:

  • The president chooses judges for the Supreme Court, but Congress must approve of each judge.
  • When a president chooses a Supreme Court judge and the Senate approves, that judge cannot be removed or fired by the next president or group of senators.
  • If Congress tries to make a law that goes against the Constitution, the Supreme Court can stop them.

Facts About Native American Indians

If you were born in the United States, then you are an American citizen for sure, but are you a Native American? You might be a native American, but not a Native American. Do you see the difference?

A native American (small “n” on native) is anyone who was born in the United States. A Native American (capital “N” on Native) is a member of a small group of people who have lived in the United States for thousands of years. Native Americans – or Native American Indians – lived here long before people arrived from Europe.

Here are some more interesting facts about Native American Indians:

  • When Christopher Columbus arrived in the Americas, he thought he was in India. For that reason, he called the people here “Indians.” We still use the word Indians when we talk about Native Americans. You can call them Indians, Native Americans, or Native American Indians.

  • There are more than 500 different Native American tribes in the United States. A tribe is a group that probably has the same language, ancestors, customs, beliefs, and leaders. They may also live in the same area and work together like a large family.
  • There are over 300 Indian reservations in the United States. A reservation is an area of land managed by Native Americans. A reservation might have different laws from the area around it. For example, casinos (places for gambling, like the ones in Las Vegas) are illegal in North Carolina. However, the Cherokee reservation in western NC has a casino.
  • When the Europeans arrived, they brought foreign diseases with them. These diseases killed many Native Americans.
  • In 1838, the U.S. government forced millions of Native Americans to leave their homelands and travel west. They did this because the government wanted to use the land near the east coast for its own purposes. This migration of the Indians is called the “Trail of Tears” because it was a very sad journey for them, and many died.
  • Even though Native Americans were here long before the United States became a country, they did not become U.S. citizens until 1924.

Your Turn

What did you learn today about Native Americans? What would you like to know about them? Search the internet for more information, and share it with us in the comments!