Homeschool Unit Study: Florida State Facts
The very first region of the continental United States to be explored and settled by Europeans was the area now called “Florida.” Interestingly, though, it was over 300 years before it became the 27th state to join the Union. And that is just one fascinating fact that your homeschooler can learn about this southern state. This dedicated Florida unit study is part of Time4Learning’s full series of United States unit studies. You can also download our list of PreK-12 interactive lessons that align with your study of interesting facts about Florida.
Florida Fast Facts
|Became a State||March 3, 1845|
|State Song||“Old Folks at Home“|
Historical Facts About Florida
There were three main native tribes in the Florida territory in its earliest known settled history: the Timucua, the Calusa, and the Apalachee. The first documented Europeans to discover the area were led by explorer Ponce De Leon of Spain. He landed there around 1513 close to what is now St. Augustine. Other Spanish and French explorations occurred throughout the 1500s, and eventually most of the area was claimed for Spain. It was also during this period that the native peoples of the area began to be decimated by diseases that the Europeans carried with them when they arrived.
Following the French and Indian War, the territory of Florida transferred from Spanish to British control. Native tribes from other areas began migrating to Florida territory. They became known as “Seminoles” from the Native American word meaning “outsiders.” When the American Revolution began, Florida actually stayed loyal to Britain and even became a place known to harbor Tories (British Loyalists). At the end of the Revolution, the territory was returned to Spain in the Treaty of Paris.
Spanish Florida began having extreme conflict with neighboring Georgia over Seminole-related issues, that even led to the First Seminole War around 1816-1819. Spain was unable to defend its territory against military invasion by the Americans, so they ceded control of the area to the states in 1821. Many Seminoles remained in Florida, though, until the Treaty of Payne’s Landing, in 1830, promised them the lands west of the Mississippi River if they would leave. Fifteen years later Florida finally was admitted into the Union as the 27th state.
Here are some more historical facts about Florida that your homeschooler may find interesting…
- Amelia Island in Florida has actually served under eight different flags: Spanish, French, British, Patriot, Green Cross, Mexican, Confederate, and the United States.
- Ponce de Leon gets credit for naming the state when he called it “La Florida,” Spanish for “land of flowers.”
- In the 1860 presidential election, not a single Floridian voted for Abraham Lincoln.
- Commercial aviation initiated in Florida when Tony Jannus flew the first passenger service airline from St. Petersburg to Tampa in 1914.
- On June 6, 1959, three thousand pieces of “missile mail” were delivered to Mayland, FL via a cruise missile from a Navy submarine.
- When Fidel Castro took over Cuba in 1959, it kicked off a long-term mass exodus of Cubans migrating to Florida.
- Walt Disney World opened in Orlando, FL in 1971 at a cost estimated between 500-600 million dollars.
- The first manned space shuttles launched from Kennedy Space Center in FL in 1981.
- In 1982, the Florida Keys “seceded” from the United States due to a Border Patrol issue. For about two minutes, prior to surrender, the Key West mayor declared it as the “Conch Republic.”
Geographical Facts About Florida
Florida, the southernmost state in the southeastern U.S., is bordered by both the Gulf of Mexico on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east. This is just one of the interesting facts about the Sunshine State’s geography that your homeschooler will find interesting. To enhance your unit study, explore a map of the state and then download our printable Florida map (below) and mark it up with your child. Here’s a small survey of some of the things you and your homeschooler may want note about Florida’s geography and its unique features.
- Florida is the flattest state in the United States with its highest point, Lakewood Park in the southeast, being only 345 feet above sea level.
- Kennedy Space Center, on the eastern coast of the state, has been NASA’s primary launch center for space flight.
- Speaking of Kennedy Space Center, Brevard County, where it is located, has the area code “321” in honor of the countdown sequence that spacecraft experience before liftoff.
- In the northeastern part of the state, the city of Jacksonville is the largest city, by area, in the United States.
- Fort Lauderdale, in southeast Florida, is known as the “Venice of America” due to having over 180 miles of inland waterways.
- No location in the state of Florida is further than 60 miles from a beach.
- More than half of the United States supply of cane sugar is produced in Florida.
- Greater Miami, in southern FL, is the only metropolitan area to encompass two national parks — Everglades and Biscayne.
- Florida’s unique sandy soil and subtropical climate make it ideal for growing citrus fruits. It produces more than 70% of the oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and tangelos in the entire U.S.
Florida State Map
Download our FREE Florida state map printable. Use it as a coloring page or use it to plot the state’s geographical features.
Activities for Children in Florida
If you homeschool in the state of Florida, you may or may not be aware of all the great day trips that will offer your families opportunities for both recreation and learning. If you are visiting the state, this list will be especially helpful as well. Enhance your Florida facts unit study with these field trip ideas.
- Amelia Island Museum of History (Fernandina Beach) — with a human history dating back to at least the year 1000, Amelia Island is full of stories to tell. The museum houses exhibits that highlight the diverse cultures that have inhabited the area through the years.
- Florida International Museum (St. Petersburg) — a Smithsonian-affiliated museum focused on educational, cultural, and historical exhibits. Homeschool groups get the same discounted admission fees as school groups: $5 per student.
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park (Homosassa) — a place where you can view manatees any day of the year from the park’s underwater observatory. The children’s education center offers hands-on nature experiences, and you can take pontoon boat or tram tours through the park as well.
- Kennedy Space Center (Orsino) — whether you are visiting for a special space event, or just to find out what the space center is all about, your homeschooler will never forget this field trip experience. Allow at least a full day for the trip since the center includes a bus tour, a shuttle launch experience, a Journey to Mars experience, and more.
- Pensacola Museum of Art (Pensacola) — located on the campus of the University of West Florida, this museum is focused on modern and contemporary art from the 19th through the 21st centuries. In addition to the permanent exhibits, students will enjoy the ever-changing visiting exhibits as well as ongoing art classes and summer art camps.
For additional field trip options in Florida, visit A2Z Homeschooling’s Florida Field Trips with Kids page.
Florida Freebies and Deals for Homeschoolers
- Brooker Creek Environmental Preserve (Tarpon Springs) — this 8,700 acre preserve offers FREE admission and a chance to experience guided nature tours, educational exhibits, and almost five miles of hiking opportunities.
- Chocolate Kingdom Factory Tour (Orlando) — on special homeschool days, families receive the group discount price to this destination that shows you how chocolate is made.
- Legoland Florida Resort (Winter Haven) — on specific Homeschool Days at the resort, groups of 15 or more can receive deeply discounted tickets with a free chaperone ticket for every five student tickets.
- Museum of Science and Industry (Tampa) — bring proof of homeschooler status to MOSI to get 50% off a yearly pass for a family of 5. Your pass includes reciprocal admission into 250 science centers around the country, as well.
- Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota) — on Mondays, the official state art museum for FL, hosting over 10,000 pieces in its collection, offers FREE admission to everyone.