Monday, August 5, 2013

Summer Series: 50 States - Florida


Today, we will look at Florida, the 27th state.  This is the southernmost state on the East Coast.  Being a peninsula, it boasts approximately 1200 miles of coastline, 663 miles of which are beaches.  

Florida (FL) is known for many things.  Oranges and grapefruit are grown everywhere.  In fact, 80% of America's citrus is grown here.  The Orange Blossom is the state flower, and orange juice is the state beverage.
Florida is also known for alligators; they are, after all, the state reptile.  When moving here last year, we were advised how to avoid alligators.  I have yet to see one in the wild.  Of course, a person living near the Everglades would have a much better chance of seeing them than someone who lives in Northern Florida.  St. Augustine has an Alligator Farm where you can view various species of alligator and walk over a bridge that spans a large lake filled with hundreds of hungry gators.  It is slightly disconcerting.

Florida is also known for its hurricanes.  In the past 100 years, 26 major hurricanes have struck.  Hurricane season runs from June 1 through November 30.  There are also a lot of lightning storms.  Some of these spawn from hurricanes; some just pop up randomly.

FL is the 22nd biggest state.  It officially became a state on March 3, 1845.  The population is the 4th largest in the U.S.  Many "snowbirds" travel South during the winter to escape the cold and snow.  Folks who live here are known as Floridians.  Some famous Floridians are Jacqueline Cochran.  She was the director of the WASP (Women Airforce Service Pilots) during World War II.  Even though she passed away in 1980, she still holds many aviation records that no man or woman has been able to break.  Chris Evert is a famous tennis player.  Jim Morrison was a famous singer who died in 1971.  Bob Ross was known as "The Happy Painter."  Vanilla Ice was a rapper and now has his own home improvement show.  There have been many actors and sports stars born in Florida as well.

Florida was so named by Ponce de Leon on Palm Sunday in 1513.  He named it in honor of the Spanish Easter festival, "Pascua de Florida," or "Feast of Flowers."  The capital is Tallahassee.  This was not always the case, however.  In 1824, when East and West Florida merged, Tallahassee was chosen as the capital because it was halfway between St. Augustine (capital of East) and Pensacola (capital of West).  St. Augustine has the honor of being the oldest town in America.  Pedro Menendez de Aviles came to San Augustin in 1565 with 800 colonists to claim the land for Spain.  They expelled the French and captured Fort Caroline which they renamed San Mateo.  The French recaptured San Mateo two years later.  The Spanish built forts and missions all the way to South Carolina.  In 1586, Privateer Sir Francis Drake looted St. Augustine and burned it down.

When the English colonists came in 1607 and 1620, they pushed Spain southward, and the French traveled down the Mississippi and pushed Spain towards the east.  The English colonists, aided by the Creek Indians, destroyed St. Augustine in 1702, but they were unable to capture the fort, Castillo de San Marcos.  Two years later, they destroyed the Spanish missions between St. Augustine and Tallahassee.  The French were able to capture the city of Pensacola in 1719.  The English controlled Georgia by 1733, and Georgians attacked Florida in 1740.

By 1763, England gained (Spain lost) control over Florida as a result of the Treaty of Paris after the French and Indian War.  England chose to split Florida in two - East Florida and West Florida.  British rule, however, only lasted 20 years before they lost (Spain gained) Florida as a result of the second Treaty of Paris after the American Revolution.  The United States was able to purchase Florida from Spain in 1819 for just five million dollars.  It wasn't officially occupied by the U.S. until 1821 and became a territory in 1822.

When white settlers began moving into the area, they clashed with the Native Americans already living there.  These settlers asked the government to remove the Indian groups.  Osceola is one of the most famous Native Americans from the area.  He was a Seminole war leader who refused to leave.  The U.S. government ended up spending some 20 million dollars trying to forcefully remove the Native Americans.  Many lives were lost.  In the end, some Seminoles were sent west while others escaped to the Everglades.  Several Indian reservations exist today in Florida.

The next big event in Florida's history was the Civil War.  Although Florida was the third state to secede from the Union, January 10, 1861, there were no decisive battles fought on Florida soil.

The flag was adopted in 1900 and has a red cross of St. Andrew on a background of white.  The state seal is in the center of the flag and has a Seminole woman, flowers, the sun, a cabbage palm, a sailing steamboat, land, and water.
Florida's nickname is The Sunshine State, for obvious reasons.  The motto is "In God We Trust."  The Mockingbird is the state bird, and the state mammal is the Panther.  The manatee is the state marine mammal.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of places to visit in Florida.  Many people travel from other countries to visit places like St. Augustine, Walt Disney World, and Miami.  Orlando, where WDW is located, also has Sea World, Busch Gardens, and Universal Studios Orlando.  One new park is Legoland Florida, located in Winter Haven.  This park opened on October 15, 2011.  The Daytona 500 is another reason for folks to visit Florida, especially NASCAR fans.

Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral offers space enthusiasts a closeup look at the Space Shuttle Atlantis.  Key West, at the southernmost tip of Florida, is a prime destination place for fishermen and beachcombers.  The Everglades is a National Park in Florida and is home to many different species of animals.  Here is a kid page for learning about the Everglades.  There are many zoos, aquariums, and museums all throughout Florida.  The Gulf Coast also provides its own flavor of attractions.  There is no shortage of interesting things to do and learn in this state.

Here are some links to children's activities related to Florida:

Next, I will share a list of books that relate to Florida in one way or another.  I am an affiliate with Christian Book.  If you choose to purchase any of these items, I will receive a small percentage.  (Thank you for your support.)

495089: Florida Jography, Grades 3-8 Florida Jography, Grades 3-8
By Gallopade International

Geography activities include information on rivers, museums, historic places, sites of interest, bordering states, climate, topography, crops, and more! Approximately 30 activities and 200 geography-related places and facts are covered. This book is filled with exercises that reinforce learning, sharpen research skills, and provide a lively resource about the state. Includes: Fast "Fax", word search, multiple choice, and more! Reproducible. Available for all 50 states! Grades 3-8; ages 8-14.

914451: Florida Florida
By Sandra Friend / Charlesbridge Publishing

When you think of Florida, you probably think of sunshine, beaches, and vacations. It's true that, as the southernmost state in the continental U.S., Florida gets plenty of sunshine. It has 1,200 miles of coastline, so you're never far from a beach. Millions of people visit Florida on their vacations. But there's more to Florida than sun and beaches. Florida's name comes from the colorful wildflowers that grow everywhere. When Ponce de Leon came here in 1513, he called the land "La Florida," the land of flowers.

264096: Voices from Colonial America: Florida 1513-1821 Voices from Colonial America: Florida 1513-1821
By Matthew C Cannavale / National Geographic Children's Books

478146: Florida Manatee Florida Manatee
By Louise Spilsbury & Richard Spilsbury / Heinemann Raintree

494481: Florida Pocket Guide, Grades 3-8Florida Pocket Guide, Grades 3-8
By Gallopade International

The perfect reference guide. This handy 4" x 6", easy-to-use guide is divided into seven color-coded sections which include: basics, history, geography, people, places, nature, and more! Riddles, recipes, and surprising facts make this guide a delight! Available for all 50 states! Grades 3-8; ages 8-14.

506421: Alligator Alligator
By Patricia Whitehouse / Heinemann Raintree

This book introduces you to alligators, including their size, diet and everyday behavior, which highlights differences between those in the wild and those living in a zoo habitat.

405115: Seminole Indians Seminole Indians
By Caryn Yacowitz / Heinemann Raintree

The only undefeated tribe in the United States, learn what makes the Seminole Tribe unique! Photos and clear, short chapters highlight their clan structure, clothing, religion, ceremonies, food production, land, games, the leaders that refused to surrender to the US, and the Seminoles today. 32 pages, softcover, with index and glossary.

685561: DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Walt Disney World Resort & Orlando DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Walt Disney World Resort & Orlando
By Michael Sasser & Jonathan Schultz / DK Publishing Inc.

Make your trip unforgettable for all the right reasons. DK Eyewitness Travel Guides will provide you with the information you need to explore Walt Disney World Resort & Orlando in comfort and security. Packed with photographs, illustrations, and maps, travelers will find listings of hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops alongside detailed transportation information and general traveling tips.
Recognized the world over by frequent flyers and armchair travelers alike, Eyewitness Travel Guides are among the most colorful and comprehensive guides on the market. With beautifully commissioned photographs and spectacular 3-D aerial views revealing the charm of each destination, these amazing travel guides show what others only tell. 208 pages, flexiback.

813244: Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker Childhood of Famous Americans Series Walt Disney: Young Movie Maker Childhood of Famous Americans Series
By Marie Hammontree / Simon & Schuster

A biography concentrating on the boyhood of the cartoonist and filmmaker who created Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. For ages 8 and up.

726310: Driven by Faith: The Trevor Bayne Story Driven by Faith: The Trevor Bayne Story
By Godwin Kelly / Zondervan

Trevor Bayne is the youngest race car driver ever to win the Daytona 500. Throughout his career, from his early start driving go-carts to his incredible win at NASCAR's biggest race, Trevor attributes his success to God -both on and off the track. His amazing story will inspire young readers as they read the story of a boy unafraid to share his faith and a man who gives all the glory to God.

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