What are your favorite interesting California facts for kids? Here are my family’s favorites from the place I’ve now called home for longer than anywhere else in the world.
Information About California for Kids
What You'll Find on This Page
All of the information in this post is based off of three out of four of my kids studying California history. But please let me know if there is important information I should add, or if you see anything that needs changing!
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California is a diverse state with a very busy history!
Indigenous Peoples of California
California was originally settled by many different indigenous peoples. These groups spoke over 300 dialects of about 100 distinct languages. There is evidence of people living in California as long ago as 19,000 years ago.
From the beginning, California’s climate attracted a LOT of people! About one third of all of the Native Americans in the United States lived in California’s general geographic area before European contact. These indigenous groups lived as hunter-gatherers, and also practiced forest gardening.
New Groups of People Moving to California
The first non-Native serious settlement in California began with the establishment of the first Spanish mission in 1769. Indigenous peoples were forcibly relocated to live and work at Franciscan missions. Invasive plant species disrupted lives. New-to-indigenous-people
The Mexican government eventually closed the missions and confiscated their land. But instead of returning land to indigenous tribes they offered land grants to settlers who were at least partially European.
The United States won the Mexican-American War and took over control of California in 1848. They let settlers keep the land they were given, but they did not honor the land of Native tribes.
Conflicts erupted between Native Californians and newcomers as United States based immigrants poured into the region. The massacres, battles, and wars that followed have been called the Californian Indian Wars.
California Gold Rush History for Kids
California’s weather is lovely, but the Gold Rush was the real reason for the sudden influx of United States immigrants into the area from 1848-1855. San Francisco only had about 200 people in 1846; by 1852 there were about 36,000 people living there!
The gold rush made a small number of people extremely wealthy, but most people did not earn a significant amount of money participating in the Gold Rush. Some even lost all they had in the pursuit of gold.
California shares borders with three states and Mexico: Oregon up north, Nevada and Arizona to the east, and Mexico’s Baja California state to the south.
California has more people than any other state – nearly 40 million of them! It’s the third largest state.
California’s landscape boasts a little bit of everything, from mountains to desert valleys to ocean coasts to stunning redwood forests. California is very famous for its beautiful Redwood trees, and with good reason!
Everyone thinks of California as having a mild Mediterannean type climate, but parts of the state get very cold, especially up in the mountains where there is an alpine climate. Head up north for a temperate rainforest climate, and move inland to find an arid desert climate.
California is a trendsetter state, always looking for the next new thing in all sorts of fields, from popular culture to technology.
Agriculture remains an important piece of California. The state’s natural beauty and diversity is also a very important piece of its identity.
Books About California for Kids
Here are a few books to keep kids learning interesting facts about California every day.
Are there any books you would add to my list?