Geography, State Symbols and Facts About Texas

Help students learn interesting facts and symbols about the Long Star State.

Map of Texas, USA with colored powder.
Colormos/Getty Images

Texas provides a great opportunity for student study, not just because it's a large and important state but also because of its central role in U.S. history: Before it became a state, Texas once belonged to Mexico. Indeed, "The state's annexation set off a chain of events that led to the Mexican-American War in 1846," notes Wikipedia. Use the following questions and answers to help students to learn more about the state's rich history.

What is the capital of Texas?

Austin is the capital of Texas and the seat of Travis County. It replaced Houston as the capital of the Republic of Texas in 1839. Originally known as "Waterloo," the city was named in honor of Stephen Austin, the first secretary of state for the republic. 

What does the lone star stand for in the state flag?

The flag was adopted on Jan. 25, 1839 when Texas was independent. The lone star symbolizes that fact: Texans considered themselves to be a single, unified and independent entity -- the lone star of its own republic. The pledge to the Texas flag further underscores this point: "Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

How tall can the Texas state tree grow?

Texas' state tree is the pecan, and, according to Lone Star Junction, it usually grows to between 70 and 100 feet -- but the pecan can grow as tall as 150 feet and higher.

What's unusual about the state insect?

The monarch butterfly was named the state insect in a 1995 resolution by the Texas legislature. "The resolution was introduced by Representative Arlene Wohlgemuth on behalf of students in her district," says Lone Star Junction.

How is the state's small mammal doing?

The hard shell on the state's small mammal -- the armadillo -- helps protect it from animal predators, notes Texas Parks and Wildlife, adding that: "Sadly, it doesn't do well around cars and will jump in front of a car's headlights." Texas also has an official "large" mammal -- the longhorn -- but, surprisingly, it has only held the distinction since 1995, says State Symbols USA.

What's unique about the state's flying mammal?

The Mexican free-tailed bat has held this distinction since 1995, and it's an interesting animal. "Mexican free-tailed bats live in caves in the southern U.S., Central, and South America," notes State Symbols USA. "Their colonies are the largest congregations of mammals in the world."

What is the state gemstone?

"Topaz is the Texas state gemstone as well as the birthstone for the month of November," says Lone Star Junction. "It occurs naturally in many colors including blue, orange, brown, green, pink, beige and red."

What is at the center of the state seal?

No surprise here: The seal's center is a star with five points, encircled by olive and live oak branches, and the words, "The State of Texas," notes the Texas Secretary of State website.

What's unusual about the state motto?

It's only one word: "Friendship," and was adopted in 1930 by the Texas state legislature. "The word was probably chosen because the name Texas or Tejas was the Spanish pronunciation of a Caddo Indian word sometimes translated to mean 'friends' or 'allies'," explains the Texas State Historical Association.

What is Texas' state dish?

It's chili, of course. Many communities around the state hold annual chili cookoffs to see who can make the hottest chili.

Where can I find other learning materials about Texas?

Help students learn more about Texas with these printable worksheets and coloring pages. Let them review Texas Trivia and official facts published online by Texas Senate Kids, which also offers a virtual tour of the state capital.