Hawaii Challenge -- How was Hawaii formed?

Awhile ago I read a Facebook post about how Native Hawaiians have been conserving and preserving our wildlife and earth for years. The post challenged people to learn about it. So I am taking the challenge. I want to learn more about the 50th state and its people. It has an interesting history and I am fascinated with the legends and such. Plus I do want to preserve our wildlife, so I want to see what they are doing and how we can help. It is also top on my list for places I want to visit. Are you in? 
Kehena Beach, Big Island
Kehena Beach, Big Island by Frank Schulenburg [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Scientifically we know that the islands of Hawaii were formed by the eruptions of underwater volcanoes. (For an explanation for kids check out There are eight main islands: Niʻihau, Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi, Kahoʻolawe, Maui, and Hawaiʻi. It is the only state made up of islands and the only state not in North America. It also the only state in the tropics. It is believed that the first humans to habitat the islands were Polynesian sailors and they arrived in the third or fourth century C.E. They are called ka poe kahiko which means people of the past. 
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii (6472086635)
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons 
Of course I needed to learn more about Hawaii to be able to tell you everything, so I went to the library. Here are some of the books I found to give me facts about Hawaii including some I shared above. They are all from the children's department so you can read them with your young ones to teach them as well.

Here are some fun facts about Hawaii:

  1. Hawaii is the most isolated population center on earth. It is 2,390 miles from California, 3,850 miles from Japan, 4,900 miles from China and 5,280 from the Philippines. 
  2. Hawaii is the only state where coffee is grown.
  3. The Hawaiian alphabet has twelve letters in it. Vowels: A, E, I, O, and U and Consonants: H, K, L, M, N, P, and W
  4. From east to west Hawaii is the widest state.
  5. Honolulu's zenith star, (the star that rises directly above it) is Arcturus. The Hawaiians called it Hokule'a. (Hoe koo lay uh.)
  6. Hawaii has its own time zone—Hawaiian Standard Time. They do not have Daylight Savings Time. They are 2 hours behind California.
  7. The wind blows east to west. The highest recorded temperature in Hawaii is 96 degrees F and the lowest is 56.
  8. Honolulu is the nation’s 11th largest metropolitan area.
  9. Hawaii is home to the world’s largest dormant and active volcanoes. It also is home to the world’s most active volcano.
  10. Hawaii leads the world in the harvesting macadamia nuts and orchids. It also was home to the world’s largest pineapple plantations. Now it produces about one-third of the commercial pineapples in the world. 
Source:  “Hawaii Facts and Trivia.”
Pele by David Howard Hitchcock, c. 1929
Pele by David Howard Hitchcock [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Now the Native Hawaiians have a different tale about how the islands were formed. Their version involves Pele, the Goddess of Fire, Lightning, Volcanoes and more. Pele was a beautiful goddess and lived happily with her family. Her older sisterNamakaokahai, gets married and at some point Pele and her brother-in-law have an affair. There are different versions to this story, but they all seem to involve the three of them. Needless to say Namakaokahai gets upset. Pele has to flee and ends up in Hawaii where she digs fire pits and creates volcanoes. You can learn more about Pele and her legends here. And of course I found some books at the library that share the legends or at least parts of it.

I am excited to continue my research on the Native Hawaiian culture. I hope you will join me!