Vacay in the Sunshine State

Beautiful beaches, Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, Everglade airboat rides, and even real live mermaids- Florida is definitely the place to be for summer vacation so I thought it would be fun to take a virtual trip around the sunshine state with a week of Florida themed activities! Buckle up as we travel from Cape Canaveral to Key West and learn all about why Florida is America’s #1 vacation destination! Don’t forget to drive on over to my toddler post “Rockets, Disney and Fun in the Sunfor more great Florida vacation themed ideas like a palm tree sunset painting and Jello beach sensory play!

Literacy:

-Sunshine letter match: This is such a cute, fun activity to practice letter recognition- even my toddler wanted to give it a shot! So you make little suns out of yellow paper plates (you can always paint plain ones yellow too!) I added little faces too to make them cute! Then you write the capital letters around the edges of the plate (it’ll take more than one- my plates were smaller so I needed 3). Then write either the lowercase or capital letters (or both- one on either side!) of clothes pins and have your little match the letters on the pins to the letters on the plate to make a sun! I got this idea from Super God not Super Mom.

-Sun rhyming words: Florida is the sunshine state, so I decided it would be fun to make a list of words with my little that rhyme with sun! I wrote them down on the board in a sun shaped web as he thought of them. As I wrote the words, I said each letter’s sound then read the whole word to review phonics. We also talked about how the sound -un has different spellings!

-Beach sand ABC hunt: You don’t have to go to the beach to have a beach day! Just fill a cake pan or plastic shoe box with play sand and ABC magnets and have your little match the letters they find to the ones on a laminated page where the letters are written.

-Beach vocabulary: To practice using phonics to read words, I printed this set of beach vocabulary words, laminated and cut them into cards. Then I pointed to each letter and said its sound and had my little put the sounds together to read the word.

-Florida book list:

Math:

Beach subtraction page: I printed this subtraction practice page and had my little read the first number sentence. We reviewed what the subtraction sign is and what it means. Then I had him count the sea creatures that went with it on the page. I asked him how he could use the sea creatures to figure out the answer to the problem- this took a bit of math talk with me asking him questions, re-explaining what it means to subtract, and him discovering that the number of sea creatures matched the first number in the equation. He figured out that he could cross off the amount of the second number in the equation and count the leftovers to find his answer. (Was this harder than just telling him how to do it? Yes! But getting them thinking and making connections is soooooo much better for their math learning than just giving them the strategy up front! Not only will they be more likely to remember the strategy if they figure it out themselves, it builds their understanding of mathematics and makes them thinkers.) After figuring out the strategy, I had him use it to solve the other problems on the page. By the last 3 or so he was able to do it without guidance!

Ocean count on page: For this page I had my little trace and say the first two numbers in each row then count on to find the next one and write it on the line.

-Mickey mouse number ordering: If you’ve been following me for awhile you may have a set of Mickey silhouettes cut out from last summer that we used for a color sorting activity on my toddler page- if not you can make some by tracing a Mickey cookie cutter then cutting them out (I usually fold the paper into 4ths so I can cut out 4 at a time). I wrote the numbers 1-20 on the Mickeys and had my little put them in order. This was the first time I’ve had him order past 10, so we used math talk to figure out what 11 looks like….ie. it’s one more than 10, so it has 1 ten and 1 one. We used this strategy to identify 12, 13, 14, and 15, then my little noticed SIXteen has the word six in it (as do 17, 18 and 19) so those were a bit easier to identify.

-Rocket count down: Kennedy Space Center is one of Florida’s most fun places to visit! First we watched a video compilation of Rocket Launches, and practiced counting backwards from 10 as the ships got ready to blast off. Then I had my little complete this counting backwards work page.

Science/Social Studies:

-Florida on the map: I printed a maps of the state of Florida, the United States, North America, and the world. First I had my little color the state of Florida and I pointed out important landmarks like the capital of Tallahassee, Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, Tampa Bay, lake Okeechobee (the largest lake in the state), the everglades, the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. Then I gave him a map of the United States and had him find and color Florida. Then he found and colored it on a map of North America and a map of the world. He noticed that Florida got smaller and smaller on each map and we discussed why that is (he figured out that we were “zooming out” and that when things are further away they look smaller).

-Everglades read and discuss: Firstly- this book is a bit over preschooler’s heads as it’s definitely written for adults, however it’s a fantastic springboard for lots of great discussion regarding the everglades, the animals that live there, the people who live(d) there, and how humans have effected it in both negative and positive ways. We didn’t read the full text, but looked at the pictures and read the captions and used them to spur our discussion. Also, it’s a bit dated so have your phone handy to look up any questions you have regarding the animals or people. We looked up several of the animals the book said were endangered and were pleased to learn our conservation efforts have brought most of them from the endangered list to the protected list.

-Alligators and crocodiles: Florida is the only state with crocodiles and one of the few with alligators, so we read and discussed this book to learn more about these interesting creatures. You can also ask Alexa to play “alligator”- it’s a pretty cute kid’s song!

-Florida weather: Florida- the Sunshine State- is known for its sunny weather of course, but did you also know Tampa, Florida gets more lightning strikes per year than any other city in our country!? Florida also the strike zone of hurricanes and the only state outside of tornado alley where tornados are super common. To learn about these powerful storms we read and discussed these two books. We also practiced ducking and covering in case a tornado ever happens to come by our house.

-Weekie Wachee Springs virtual field trip: In 1946, a former Navy man named Newton Perry decided to create a new road side attraction on the west coast of central Florida. He purchased and cleaned out the Seminole named Weekie Wachee Springs, trained girls to perform underwater ballet using the air hoses he invented to allow them to breathe and thus the Weekie Wachee mermaids were born! The mermaids still perform to this day and the site has since added a river boat cruise, a water slide park, and a reptile show. Take a virtual field trip to the springs to watch the mermaids perform their various shows on YouTube- we watched their “Greatest Show” rendition, but they also do a Little Mermaid show that’s great! If you want to get more historical, I also found clips of a mermaid show in 1961 which is cool to watch!

Art:

-Sand art: Florida is known for its beautiful sandy beaches, so I thought it would be fun to do some sand art this week! I got this sand art kit from Amazon for $5 and it didn’t disappoint! You peel off each section of the picture your little chooses (like just the sea weed) then have them carefully pour the color they want onto that section of the picture. (I placed a sheet pan underneath to catch any spills and to shake the excess sand on.) Then you shake off the extra sand and peel off the next section they want to do! They turn out so pretty and sparkly!

Supply/shopping list:

  • paper plates (preferable yellow if you can find them)
  • clothes pins
  • sand
  • cake pan
  • tornado/hurricane book(s)
  • alligator/crocodile book(s)
  • sand art kit
  • do-a-dot marker

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