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        Idaho | Activity 8.3: From the Mountain Bluebird to the Cutthroat Trout | What are Idaho’s State Symbols?

        Unit 8: State Symbols

        This Unit will illustrate how the images associated with the state reflect the geography, American Indian heritage, economy, and history of exploration and settlement that have created present day Idaho.

        Lesson Summary

        Students learn the significance of seven state symbols of Idaho. After conducting research in a computer lab or at home, students design a poster for one of their state’s symbols.


        Standard: 4.2: Explain the significance of Idaho symbols.

        Time Allotment

        40 minutes


        • Computers with internet access
        • Poster board
        • Markers or crayons



        1. Share the following information with students on the board or on a chart.
          • State Bird: Mountain bluebird
          • State Vegetable: Potato 
          • State Flower: Syringa 
          • State Horse: Appaloosa
          • State Gem: Star garnet
          • State Tree: Western white pine
          • State Fish: Cutthroat trout
        2. Ask students if they are familiar with any of the state symbols and if they know their significance to Idaho. Discuss with students why each state has its own symbols and how each symbol stands for something important about the state. Explain that states have their own symbols to show their unique cultural heritage and other important items that are specifically meaningful to that state.
        3. Have students choose a symbol from the list and create a poster of the symbol, including a description of it and its importance to Idaho. Students can research the symbols online to find information about the state symbol they have chosen. This can be done in a computer lab or as a take-home assignment.
        4. To conclude the lesson, have students share their posters with the rest of the class. 

        Answer Key

        Points on each Idaho symbol:

        • Mountain bluebird: These bluebirds are found in all the regions of Idaho and are especially plentiful in the mountains.
        • Potato: Idaho potatoes are famous worldwide; the combination of Idaho’s soil, water, sunny days and cool nights are exceptionally good for growing potatoes.
        • Syringa: In the springtime, the Idaho hillsides turn white from syringa flowers. The Nez Perce Indians found many uses for the wood, bark, and leaves of this shrub.
        • Appaloosa: These were the first horses to be bred by the Native Americans of this region (the Nez Perce).
        • Star garnet: This unique gem can be found in only two places in the world: India and northern Idaho.
        • Western white pine: This largest and best white pine forests are found in northern Idaho (the tree is sometimes called the Idaho white pine). 
        • Cutthroat trout: This fish is native to Idaho and was a key resource to early settlers.


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