Fun ways to learn about Florida for kids

by Mary Ann on January 5, 2012

learning about florida

Going to Florida? Learn about it first!

Hi Mary Ann,

I have a favor to ask. I really need a “jump start” and I know you could help me. I feel a little like I am in a brain freeze right now with inspiring. I’m trying to honor that and understand how I can do better.

We are taking the kids to Orlando for a huge Disneyworld trip. I really want to inspire some Florida learning (and then go from there)…but I just need a tiny little jump start. Off the top of your head…could you walk me through some first starts? Just to get me motivated and the juices flowing?

Please don’t research anything – just a few quick ideas of how or where you could start!
Thank you!

Leah S.

Bless this woman’s heart! She has a lot of faith in me doesn’t she? : )

Many of you know what a Master Inspire Plan is. It is designed to help 1) parents identify the specific knowledge, skills, and experiences they would hope their children get before they leave their home, and 2) integrate these things into the general learning environment of their family. A Master Inspire Plan is a great tool for any family.

In my course Closet Mastery I teach you how to take a Master Inspire Plan and use it in conjunction with your Closet. That’s what Leah is asking about-Here we have this great event coming up. How can I get my children really on board and excited to learn when we take the trip.

Here is what I came up with in just a few short minutes, some fun ways to learn about Florida for kids.

1. Start with a map. It is fun for children to see where they live in relationship to where they are going. Thumb tack the map to the wall and run a piece of yarn from your state to the state you are visiting. If you have older children you can let them rubber cement the string along the major roads you will be traveling.

make your own map

Make a map of where you are going.

2. Know up front where you are going. States are big places and usually very varied in their topography. So you and your spouse plan ahead or plan as a family. Then you can go online or write the Chamber of Commerce and find out what fun things there are to do where you are going.

3. Get some great books from your library, with lots of pictures and information about the state you are visiting.

books about florida pictureBooks for Kids about Florida:
• Florida (From Sea to Shining Sea, Second) by Barbara A. Somervill
• Little Florida (My Little State) by Carol Crane and Mike Monroe
• My Florida Facts by Russ Johnson
• Florida (Rookie Read-About Geography) by Carmen Bredeson
• Florida (Hello U.S.A.) by Karen Sirvaitis
• My First Book About Florida (The Florida Experience) by Carole Marsh
• Florida by Sandra Friend and Laura Francesca Filippucci
• Jacksonville and the State of Florida: Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know (Arcadia Kids) by Kate Boehm Jerome

4. Now that you know a lot of interesting facts about Florida play Florida Jeopardy. Let the kids write the answers and then invite some family friends over, play the game and have some treats.

5. When I was in school one of my favorite things was to make my own maps. You can print off a map and enlarge it print shop. Let your children find the information to complete their own maps or do one map as a family. Here are some things you can put on your maps – state capitol, the state abbreviation, the largest city, major rivers and lakes, what are people called who live in Florida, major industries (find out what part of the state the industries are found and then draw a picture or glue a miniature to that area), state nickname, motto and song. Now you can draw a picture on the side of the map of the state flag, state bird, state tree, state flower, state mammal and state water mammal, etc. Find some state facts here.

6. Read some picture books at bed time or a chapter book as a family about Florida.

kids fiction about floridaKids Fiction about Florida:
• S Is For Sunshine: A Florida Alphabet Edition 1. (Discover America State By State. Alphabet Series) by Carol Crane and Michael G. Monroe (Oct 9, 2000)
• Freddy Goes to Florida by Walter R. Brooks and Kurt Wiese
• The Treasure of Amelia Island (Florida Historical Fiction for Youth) by M. C. Finotti
• Blood Moon Rider (Florida Historical Fiction for Youth) by Zack C. Waters
• Kidnapped in Key West (Florida Historical Fiction for Youth) by Edwina Raffa and Annelle Rigsby

7. Get some books about the odd and wonderful animals that you find inFlorida: dolphins, manatees, panthers, alligators, etc. Play charades using only the animals and birds found inFlorida.

Books for kids about Florida’s amazing animals and birds:
• Florida’s Famous Animals: True Stories of Sunset Sam the Dolphin, Snooty the Manatee, Big Guy the Panther, and Others by Jan Godown Annino
• Manatees (True Books: Animals) by Patricia A. Fink Martin
• I’m a Manatee: (Book & CD) by John Lithgow and Ard Hoyt
• The Endangered Florida Panther Margaret Goff Clark

8. Make an Alligator craft

making alligator craft

9. Learn about some of Florida’s famous sports teams.

Books for kids about Florida’s sports teams:
• The Story of the Florida Marlins (Baseball: The Great American Game) by Sara Gilbert
• The Florida Gators (Team Spirit (Norwood)) by Mark Stewart

10. Read some books by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings who loved and wrote about the people of Florida.

books by majorie kinnan rawlingsBooks for kids by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings:
• The Yearling
• Marjorie Kinnan and Rawlings and the Florida Crackers
• The Secret River
• Natural Writer: A Story about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Visit the Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park

11. Give each child a journal, rubber cement, etc so they can write about the trip, capture photos, postcards and other mementoes rather than waiting until they are back home. In the moment there is more excitement and enthusiasm for the job.

These fun ideas make learning about any state interesting and exciting. When you know what you have coming up for your family you can do a great many things to interest and excite your children. Just put the materials for one or two activities in your Closet each week. You can work on one family event for months before you actually go.

So all of you readers out there, where are some super places to go and things to see in Florida. Any other ideas for making the trip memorable, fun and inspiring?

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