Thursday, November 12, 2015

Florida History

Gretchen and I are learning about Florida history this year.  I taught the older girls Florida History probably about 8 or 9 years ago and we had fun visiting different historic areas and such.  This time, I am doing a class at our co-op, so Gretchen is able to do many of the field trips with her friends.

We started out learning about the first inhabitants of Florida and focused on the Timucuans as they were in our area.  A field trip to Fort Caroline allowed us to see what one of their huts looked like.  We got a better look at a Timucuan village when we visited the Fountain of Youth in St. Augustine.

We then moved on to learning about the Spanish and French explorers who came to explore the land. We learned about Ponce DeLeon who claimed Florida first and then Jean Ribault who led the French to establish a foothold here in the Jacksonville area.  Pedro Melendez came along and got rid of the French at Matanzas.  Let's just say the name means slaughter in Spanish. Then came the British for about 20 years and then Florida returned to Spain.  We enjoyed visits to Fort Caroline, Fountain of Youth and Colonial Quarters in St. Augustine to see some of this history.

Then we covered the indian tribe most known in Florida but not one of the originals - the Seminoles.  The Seminoles were actually Creek and other Indian tribes who were pushed into Florida and banded together forming the Seminoles in the early 1700's.  They were also joined by runaway slaves.  3 wars were fought to try and remove them from Florida but in the end, success was not achieved as they still have a presence here and are able to say they are the only tribe in America to not surrender.  Some of the students gave presentations about different areas of Seminole lives.  Gretchen talked about the clans.

We are now up to the time when Florida became a state and was part of the Civil War.  As part of learning that, we took a trip to Kingsley Plantation in north Jacksonville to learn a little of what slavery was like here in Florida.  We found it to be very interesting and Gretchen enjoyed learning more about the family she read about in Treasure of Amelia Island  I found the sea cotton to be very interesting.  It produces some beautiful flowers.  Hmm, wonder if I could grow any here?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Fall Fun!

Living in Florida, we don't really get to experience fall like other parts of the nation but what we do get to do is enjoyed.  On Wednesdays, Gretchen takes baton class at an art center not too far from our house.  This past week, she could dress up for class so we decided on a kitty cat because she could still move easily in the costume.  I think she made for an adorable one!

Thursday brought a field trip to a local, well somewhat local, corn maze.  The trip had been set up through an on-line homeschooling group but Gretchen and I didn't really know anyone in the group so we explored the farm together.  We raced on bikes around a track, rode the see-saw together, took the hayride, got lost in the maze and enjoyed lunch on a beautiful but warm day.  

We even visited the greenhouse where we learned about some different ways to do aquaponics growing and the really neat thing was the swimming pool that housed 2000 tilapia fish.  The waste they create is used to provide nutrients for the plants.  These are systems that they take around the world to orphanages to provide food.  Gretchen had a great time feeding the fish and letting them nibble on her finger.

Friday night, we hosted a pumpkin carving party for the youth in our church.  We had 8 other youth show up besides Hannah and Abigail so they spread out on our floor and started carving.  After everyone finished, one was only partially done due to a little more complicated carving, we lined them up outside and then the adults judged the most creative, most unique and an overall winner.  What a joy it was to have a houseful of teenagers!  We hope to do some more get togethers.

The older girls were at a singles get together at our pastor's house carving their own pumpkins.  Gretchen had been invited over to play with the pastor's children so she carved her pumpkin there too.  I love the creativity of everyone.


Hopefully, some actual fall weather will show up here in Florida soon and then we can really have some fun!