How To Teach Your Class About Alabama

Written by Dan

Do you know the official state bird of Alabama? What about the origins of the University of Alabama? As your students learn more about their home state, they will naturally become engaged and interested in new topics and issues. Teaching your class all about Alabama can be a fun and informative way to incorporate geography into lessons while also giving them an appreciation for where they live. From discussing historical events to exploring unique attractions, there are plenty of exciting ways to bring this great southern state into your classroom.

Introducing Alabama: Topography and Location

Alabama, located in the southeastern region of the United States, is a state with a rich history and diverse landscape. From the Appalachian Mountains in the northeast to the coastal plains along the Gulf of Mexico, Alabama has a varied topography that offers numerous recreational and sightseeing opportunities. Its location concerning other states makes it an integral part of the Deep South and a key player in the cultural and economic development of the region.


The topography of Alabama can be broadly divided into five regions:

1. Coastal Plain: This region stretches from the Gulf of Mexico in the south to the fall line, where the Piedmont Plateau begins. The coastal plain is characterized by sandy beaches, marshes, and swamps, making it a haven for wildlife and diverse ecosystems.

2. Piedmont Plateau: Located in the eastern part of the state, the Piedmont Plateau features rolling hills and valleys. This area is known for its fertile soil and agricultural productivity.

3. Appalachian Mountains: The northeastern corner of Alabama is home to a portion of the Appalachian Mountain Range. This region is characterized by rugged terrain, forests, and beautiful vistas.

4. Cumberland Plateau: West of the Appalachian Mountains lies the Cumberland Plateau, which consists of tablelands with deep gorges and valleys. This area is known for its coal and mineral resources.

5. Black Belt: Named for its rich, dark soil, the Black Belt region runs through central Alabama. Historically, this region was an important agricultural area, particularly for cotton production.

Location in Relation to Other States

Alabama is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Its central location in the Deep South has influenced its culture, history, and economy. Alabama played a significant role in the Civil Rights Movement, and its numerous historical sites and museums bear witness to this important period in American history.

Discuss Alabama’s History, Culture, and People

Alabama is a state that boasts a rich history, a vibrant culture, and a diverse population. From its Native American roots to the Civil Rights Movement, Alabama has played a pivotal role in shaping the course of American history. The state’s unique blend of traditions, customs, and people contributes to its distinct identity within the United States.


Alabama’s history can be traced back thousands of years, with Native American tribes such as the Cherokee, Creek, Choctaw, and Chickasaw inhabiting the region. The arrival of European explorers in the 16th century led to conflicts and land disputes between the native tribes and the newcomers.

In 1819, Alabama was admitted as the 22nd state of the United States. The state’s economy was heavily reliant on agriculture, particularly cotton production, which relied on the labor of enslaved African Americans. Alabama seceded from the Union in 1861 and joined the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Following the Confederacy’s defeat and the abolition of slavery, Alabama faced significant economic and social challenges during the Reconstruction era.

The 20th century saw Alabama become a focal point for the Civil Rights Movement. Key events such as the Montgomery Bus Boycott (1955-1956), the Selma to Montgomery marches (1965), and the Birmingham Campaign (1963) brought national attention to the state and the struggle for racial equality. These events led to the passage of important legislation, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.


Alabama’s culture uniquely blends Native American, European, African, and Southern influences. This diverse heritage is reflected in the state’s music, food, art, and festivals.

  • Music: Alabama has a rich musical tradition that includes blues, jazz, country, and gospel. The state is also home to the world-renowned Muscle Shoals Sound Studio, which has produced records for artists such as Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
  • Food: Southern cuisine plays a significant role in Alabama’s culinary scene, with dishes like fried chicken, barbecue, shrimp and grits, and pecan pie being popular favorites. The state is also known for its seafood, thanks to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Art: Alabama has a thriving arts scene, with numerous galleries, museums, and cultural centers showcasing the work of local and international artists. The state is also home to several prestigious art schools, including the Alabama School of Fine Arts.
  • Festivals: Throughout the year, Alabama hosts numerous festivals that celebrate its unique culture and history, such as the National Shrimp Festival, Mardi Gras in Mobile, and the Alabama National Fair.


Alabama is home to a diverse population of various racial and ethnic backgrounds. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the state’s population is approximately 69% White, 27% Black or African American, 4% Hispanic or Latino, and 1% Asian. This diversity is reflected in the state’s religious affiliations, representing a mix of Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and other faiths.

Notable Alabamians include civil rights icons Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr., author Harper Lee, musician Hank Williams Sr., and actress Octavia Spencer. These individuals and countless others have contributed to the state’s rich cultural tapestry and helped shape its unique identity.

Learn About Some of Alabama’s Famous Sites

Alabama is a state rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. It offers a variety of famous sites, landmarks, museums, and outdoor adventures that cater to different interests. Here, we will discuss some of the must-visit attractions in Alabama.


  1. USS Alabama Battleship Memorial Park: Located in Mobile, this park features the historic USS Alabama, a World War II-era battleship. Visitors can tour the ship, learn about its history, and explore the USS Drum, a submarine used during the war.
  2. Civil Rights Memorial: Situated in Montgomery, this memorial honors those who fought for civil rights and equality in America. Maya Lin designs it and features a circular black granite table with the names of 41 individuals who lost their lives during the Civil Rights Movement.
  3. Birmingham Civil Rights Institute: This institute showcases the history of the Civil Rights Movement through interactive exhibits, photographs, and artifacts. It aims to promote understanding and appreciation of the struggle for civil rights in Birmingham and beyond.


  1. U.S. Space & Rocket Center: Located in Huntsville, this museum is home to the largest collection of rockets and space memorabilia in the world. Visitors can explore the history of space exploration, see the Saturn V rocket, and even experience astronaut training simulators.
  2. Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts: This museum displays an impressive collection of American and European art, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum also features a sculpture garden and hosts various educational programs and events.
  3. Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum: Situated in Birmingham, this museum houses over 1,200 vintage and modern motorcycles and race cars. It is considered one of the largest motorcycle collections in the world, featuring rare and unique models from various manufacturers.

Outdoor Adventures

  1. Gulf State Park: Located along the Gulf of Mexico, this park offers pristine beaches, hiking and biking trails, and a variety of recreational activities. Visitors can enjoy fishing, golfing, and birdwatching, or explore the park’s diverse ecosystems through guided tours.
  2. Little River Canyon National Preserve: This preserve in northeastern Alabama is home to the Little River, which flows through the deepest canyon east of the Mississippi River. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, rock climbing, kayaking, and wildlife watching in this stunning natural setting.
  3. Cheaha State Park: As the highest point in Alabama, Cheaha Mountain offers breathtaking views and numerous outdoor activities. The park features hiking trails, a scenic drive, and several overlooks to take in the surrounding beauty.

These are just a few examples of Alabama’s many attractions. Whether you’re a history buff, an art lover, or an outdoor adventurer, there’s something for everyone to discover and enjoy in this diverse and captivating state.

Identifying the Different Symbols of Alabama: From Its Flag to Its State Flower

Alabama is a state rich in history and culture, with numerous symbols representing its unique identity. As an educator, it’s essential to be aware of these symbols in order to teach students about their state’s heritage and foster a sense of pride and connection. This article will guide you through some of the most important symbols of Alabama, including its flag, state flower, and more.

The Flag of Alabama

The flag of Alabama was adopted on February 16, 1895, and features a crimson St. Andrew’s cross on a white field. The design is reminiscent of the Confederate Battle Flag, reflecting Alabama’s role in the Civil War. When teaching about the flag, it’s crucial to discuss its history and the significance of the St. Andrew’s cross as a symbol of unity and courage.

The State Flower: Camellia

The camellia (Camellia japonica) was designated as the state flower of Alabama in 1959, replacing the goldenrod. It is a beautiful, evergreen shrub with large, showy flowers that come in various colors, such as white, pink, and red. The camellia is a symbol of Southern charm and grace, making it an excellent representation of Alabama’s genteel culture. Teachers can incorporate lessons on the camellia into botany or gardening projects, encouraging students to appreciate the beauty of their state’s flora.

The State Bird: Yellowhammer

The yellowhammer (Colaptes auratus), also known as the northern flicker or the yellow-shafted flicker, was designated as the state bird of Alabama in 1927. Its bright yellow underwings and tail feathers easily recognise this striking woodpecker. The yellowhammer is a symbol of the resilient spirit of Alabamians, as it is known for its resourcefulness and adaptability. Teachers can use the yellowhammer as a starting point for ornithology, conservation, or Alabama’s natural history lessons.

The State Tree: Longleaf Pine

The longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) became Alabama’s state tree in 1997, chosen for its historical and economic importance. These towering trees played a significant role in Alabama’s early timber industry and were used for various purposes, such as building ships and constructing homes. Today, the longleaf pine serves as a symbol of Alabama’s commitment to preserving its natural resources. Teachers can incorporate the longleaf pine into ecology, forestry, and environmental stewardship lessons.

The State Motto: “Audemus jura nostra defendere”

Alabama’s state motto, “Audemus jura nostra defendere,” translates to “We dare defend our rights.” This Latin phrase is a powerful reminder of Alabama’s history of fighting for its beliefs and standing up for its citizens. Teachers can use the state motto as an opportunity to discuss the importance of civic responsibility, the history of Alabama, and the state’s role in shaping American history.

Teachers should be well-versed in the various symbols that represent Alabama, from its flag to its state flower. By incorporating these symbols into lessons and activities, educators can help students better understand their state’s history, culture, and identity.

Explore Traditional Food Dishes and Cuisines from Alabama

When it comes to Southern comfort food, Alabama has a rich culinary history that is sure to delight your taste buds. From hearty barbecue dishes to mouthwatering seafood, the Yellowhammer State offers an array of traditional dishes and cuisines that represent its people’s diverse heritage and influences. So let’s dive into some of Alabama’s most iconic dishes and discover what makes them so special.

1. Alabama-style BBQ

Barbecue is a staple in the Southern United States, and Alabama is no exception. The state’s unique spin on this beloved cuisine is characterized by slow-smoked pork, usually served as pulled pork or ribs, smothered in a distinctive white sauce made from mayonnaise, vinegar, and spices. While you’ll find numerous BBQ joints throughout the state, one of the most famous is Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q in Decatur, where the legendary white sauce was first created.

2. Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried green tomatoes are a classic Southern dish, and Alabama has embraced this delicious appetizer with open arms. Made from unripe, green tomatoes coated in a cornmeal batter and fried until crispy, these tangy treats are often served with a side of rémoulade or comeback sauce for dipping. You can find fried green tomatoes on the menu at many local restaurants, including the iconic Irondale Café, which inspired the novel and movie “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.”

3. Conecuh Sausage

Conecuh Sausage is a type of smoked sausage made from high-quality pork and a secret blend of spices. Produced by the Conecuh Sausage Company in Evergreen, Alabama, since 1947, this flavorful sausage has become a local favorite and is often used in various dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, or grilled and served with mustard and pickles. Conecuh Sausage is a must-try for anyone visiting Alabama.

4. Gumbo

This hearty stew has its roots in Louisiana but has been wholeheartedly adopted by Alabamians. Gumbo typically consists of a roux (a mixture of flour and fat) combined with various meats, such as seafood, chicken, or sausage, along with the “holy trinity” of vegetables: onions, bell peppers, and celery. The dish is then simmered for hours, resulting in a rich, flavorful stew that is often served over rice. You’ll find gumbo with a unique twist in Alabama, as many local chefs incorporate Conecuh Sausage into their recipes.

5. Pecan Pie

No list of Alabama’s traditional dishes would be complete without mentioning pecan pie. This sweet, gooey dessert is made from a filling of eggs, butter, sugar, corn syrup, and an abundance of pecans. The mixture is poured into a pie crust and baked until set, resulting in a scrumptious treat that is beloved by locals and visitors alike. Be sure to save room for a slice of pecan pie when dining at an Alabama restaurant.

Teaching your class the basics of Alabama can be an exciting and rewarding experience. You learn about the history, geography, and culture of this unique state and get to share in its rich diversity of people. By inspiring your students to learn more about Alabama, you’ll help to create a sense of pride and community that will last for years. Hopefully, this article has sparked your interest in introducing all the remarkable wonders of Alabama into your classroom. If you would like additional information on Alabama’s various facets and tidbits that will help get your students engaged, be sure to read our other informative articles!


1. What are the requirements to become a teacher in Alabama?

To become a teacher in Alabama, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and complete an approved educator preparation program. You’ll also need to pass the necessary Praxis exams for your desired subject area and grade level and a background check.

2. How do I apply for an Alabama teaching certificate?

You can apply for an Alabama teaching certificate through the Alabama State Department of Education’s online certification portal (ALTS). You will need to create an account, submit your application, and pay any required fees.

3. How long does it take to get certified as a teacher in Alabama?

The time it takes to get certified depends on several factors, including completion of required coursework, passing the necessary exams, and the processing time for your application. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years.

4. What is the average salary for a teacher in Alabama?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for an elementary school teacher in Alabama is around $50,000 per year, while middle and high school teachers earn an average of $51,000-$52,000 per year. Salaries vary depending on factors such as experience, education level, and location.

5. Are there any alternative routes to becoming a teacher in Alabama?

Yes, there are alternative routes to becoming a teacher in Alabama. The most common is the Alternative Baccalaureate-Level Certificate (ABC) route, which allows individuals with a bachelor’s degree in a non-education field to obtain a teaching certificate. Candidates must complete a state-approved alternative certification program and pass the necessary exams.

6. Is there a demand for teachers in Alabama?

There is always a need for qualified teachers in Alabama, particularly in high-demand subject areas such as math, science, and special education. The Alabama Department of Education provides a list of teacher shortage areas on their website.

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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