Florida is a southeastern state, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. There are lots of places to visit all across the state, and a rich history! A state research project is the perfect summative activity for any U.S. Region, Geography class, or general research unit of study. Research is an important skill for children to learn at a young age; it exposes students to expository text, gives them practice determining important information, and enhances note taking and presentation skills. Students will enjoy learning all about Florida, and why it is such a wonderful place to live and visit.
Date of Statehood: March 3, 1845 (27th state)
State Motto: In God We Trust
State Nickname: The Sunshine State
State Bird: Mockingbird
State Tree: Sabal Palm
State Flower: Orange Blossom
Tourist Attractions: Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Kennedy Space Center, Everglades National Park, South Beach, Sanibel Island, Busch Gardens, and St. Augustine.
Famous Citizens of Florida: Chris Evert, Jim Morrison, Bob Ross, Sidney Poitier, Faye Dunaway, Emmitt Smith, and Roy Jones, Jr.
Capital City: Tallahassee
Major Cities: Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, St. Petersburg, and Hialeah.
When Ponce de Leon had first arrived in Florida in 1513 in search of the Fountain of Youth, Native Americans had been living on the land for thousands of years. Many of the various tribes died out over time, due to the diseases that the Europeans brought with them. Ponce de Leon returned in 1521 with many other settlers, but was attacked by local natives, later dying from his wounds. Over 40 years later, the first European settlement was established by French Protestants, and a year later, the Spanish built the city of St. Augustine in 1565.
The Spanish ruled Florida until 1763, but gave up control after losing the Seven Years’ War to the British. The British ruled until the end of the American Revolution in 1783, when the Spanish regained control due to the Treaty of Paris. In the 1800s, the United States Army fought the Seminoles in Florida, partly in response to the tribe helping runaway slaves. After the invasion led by Andrew Jackson in 1817, part of Florida was under the control of the United States. The Seminoles did not want to give up their land, and two more wars were fought before ending in 1858.
Florida’s population grew a great deal since it was established as the Territory of Florida in 1821, and was large enough to be a state. However, since slavery was still allowed in Florida, it didn’t become part of the Union until 1845, when Iowa was admitted as a free state as part of a compromise. In 1861, when Abraham Lincoln became president, Florida joined the Confederacy, and was readmitted into the Union after losing the Civil War in 1868.
Students will create a historical timeline, a postcard, a spider map, and a fun facts storyboard showing what they have learned about Florida. Creating these visuals gives the students the opportunity to show their creativity and their unique view of the state that they have researched. In addition, the combined use of words and illustrations allows students with different learning styles to show what they know in an exciting and eye-catching way.
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