This year we are studying USA geography. I have pulled from various geography curriculum but one of the best ways to learn about a state is to have a native share what they love about the state with you. That is the purpose of this post and the bloggers that are linking up with me. Be sure to check the bottom of my post to “travel” to other states!! If you have a post about the state that you live in, feel free to sign the Linky and join us.
Welcome to your virtual tour of Florida. I bet you immediately recognized the font that is used above, didn’t you? Well, I want to share with you that we have so much more to offer than just the Mouse! But since mentioning Mickey is unavoidable, let’s start there.
Walt Disney decided to build a supplemental park to Disneyland and with it’s road access and vast land (mostly swamp at that time), Orlando area was enticing. Disney tried to keep it a secret as his company, along with dummy companies that were created, bought up over 27,000 acres to build Walt Disney World. Unfortunately, Walt passed away before the park was started but his brother oversaw the first phase. Now Walt Disney World hosts four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, a camping resort, twenty-seven themed resort hotels, nine non-Disney hotels and other various entertainment venues and is considered the most visited vacation destination in the world with over 52 million visitors annually.
If you like theme parks, do not limit yourself to WDW, there is also Sea World, Busch Gardens, Legoland, Universal Islands of Adventure and Studios and a slew of smaller parks as well. Busch Gardens has one of my family’s (not mine!!) favorite roller coaster, Sheikra shown below. It actually pauses before it makes a 90 degree drop. Yikes!
If rides are not your thing, there is also Kennedy Space Center, Daytona International Speedway, tons of natural springs, zoos, rivers, state parks and so much more. One thing, there is never a reason to be bored in Florida!! If you ever go on a cruise, most likely it will leave from one of Florida’s ports.
As a homeschool family, there are an abundant of educational opportunities! There are many opportunities to learn about marine life. You are never more than a couple hours away from a beach. On the east side, we have Atlantic Ocean and then on the west side, we have the Gulf of Mexico. There are opportunities to swim with dolphins and manatees both in the wild and in park environments. Have you seen the movie, Dolphin Tale? Well, Winter lives at the Clearwater Marina. Within the state, there are a multitude of rivers and fresh springs. I remember the first springs we visited – I was amazed at how cold and clear the water was! Many people go there to soak because of health benefits.
You can also visit Holy Land Experience. Many (maybe all??) of the major league baseball teams have spring training in Florida and offer tickets so that you can watch them. Of course we also have professional and college teams of all the good sports 🙂
When we moved to Florida nine years ago, I had the idea that Florida was pretty much like Orlando everywhere – tall buildings, big city. That is not the case! There are many rural towns in Florida. We live in Marion County which is the Horse Capital of the World. I bet you thought that was in Kentucky didn’t you?! The majority of the horses that race in the Kentucky Derby each year has roots that can be traced back to Marion County. There are many horses farms here and even though you can still find palm trees, most of the land is covered with gorgeous huge granddaddy oaks covered in Spanish moss. Our town has horse statues scattered throughout the city decorated by various artists.
And where you do not have a large population of people…well, you have more wildlife. We used to live in an actual housing development (now we live more in the country) where we have seen: black bear, wild turkeys, foxes, bobcats, a panther and of course many snakes and spiders. Very unnerving for this city girl!! And yes, if you are near water, you just might see an alligator. There are also little lizards everywhere. If you live in south Florida, everything is bigger – bigger gators, bigger snakes, and instead of little lizards like we have, you will see arm-length iguanas in the wild. A few years ago when even south Florida had temperatures dropping below freezing, they would have iguanas falling out of the trees frozen. Kinda creepy.
There are two growing seasons and it is true that you can pretty much have a garden year round. However, we do have a season of cold temperatures and despite our best efforts, one deep freeze we lost all of our trees – avocado, lemon, lime, orange, and fig. We moved this past summer and have a Japanese plum, kumquat, fig and grapefruit trees now. Our grapefruits are in season now and the tree is loaded!!
Florida history is so interesting too! There are a lot of influence of Native American Indians here as you can tell by the names of many towns and practically all of the rivers! There are still reservations in southern Florida and you can attend local pow wows all over the state. And of course, where there is an abundance of water and beaches, you have a history of pirates! There’s even a huge annual pirate parade in Tampa every year. (Warning: if you have children, go to the children’s parade on the first day. I learned this the hard way, ahem.)
This past year, I attended the homeschool conference and was privileged to meet Rob Smith Jr who has written and illustrated several books to help teach Florida history! The books are perfect for kids as they learn about areas of Florida with Swampy the Swamp Ape and Trilby, the alligator, and Zuber, the cat. Mr. Smith even signed the books with a drawing in the front of each book we purchased. My son Jeremiah, wanted him to draw a picture of a falcon playing a video game, which he did. Be sure to check out his website!
Here’s just a few sites you don’t want to miss:
Here’s a crossword puzzle for you to enjoy. (you should be able to click on it, open a new page and then print it out)
Many crops can be grown in Florida but we are most known for oranges and key limes. Key West is known for their key lime pies and there are varying opinions on the whether the pies should be topped with meringue or whipped topping. Here is a recipe for Key Lime Pie. People are as opinionated about the best Key Lime Pies here in Florida as they were about BBQ when we lived in North Carolina! I will say this – it should not be green, do not use a juice to extract the juice from the key limes (did this once!), and personally, I prefer a graham cracker crust and whipped topping rather than meringue.
Thank you for virtually visiting Florida with me. Please spend some time and visit some other states, feel free to share in the comments any of your state favorites or questions you might have and I’ll try to answer them.