Finding Florida

Florida Off the Beaten Path- Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

I know when the topic of Orlando comes up the first thought is THEME PARKS! I know that is where my mind first heads! I have been visiting Orlando for years and never ventured past the central hub of theme park central! Now that we are permanent Floridians we have made it a goal of ours to explore our new home state. I don’t know if you know this or not…but Florida? IT IS HUGE! Like, really huge! There are so many fun and exciting places to visit!

If you ever find yourself visiting Orlando and you want to find something off the beaten path to do…look no further than the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive! Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is just about 30-40 minutes away from Walt Disney World…but it will feel like a completely different universe! I’m talking dirt roads, birds, snakes, turtles, OH…and gators…LOTS of gators!!!

lake apopka wildlife drive

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is an 11 mile drive along a one way road. Now you may be thinking…11 miles? Do I really want to drive 40 minutes for an 11 mile drive? The answer is YES…yes you do! The 11 mile drive took us approximately 2.5 hours…for real! They recommend allowing 1-3 hours for the drive and there are a couple of reasons for this. The first reason…it is a 10mph road…it isnt intended for you to blast through it like you are driving on I-4…anyone who has had the pleasure of driving I-4 surely knows what I mean! Second…you are going to want to make several stops. Throughout the drive there are spots where you can pullover to see all kinds of wildlife and beautiful scenery…remember those gators I mentioned?! Now, we were traveling with 3 kiddos…so you can imagine that we made several “bonus” stops to find missing goldfish crackers, use the port-o-potty, and let the kids walk off some energy…but I would plan on at least 90 minutes to complete the trip!

Not only is this an absolutely gorgeous drive, but it is absolutely FREE! Free is really good when visiting the Orlando area, am I right? The drive even has a self-guided audio tour that you can listen to as you drive. Pretty neat, hunh? I also highly recommend checking out their website before heading to visit…they have some really helpful information! I was able to print out a map, a butterfly checklist, and a birding checklist before we went…which for a homeschool Mom was like solid gold! You better believe I turned this drive into a homeschool lesson!

HELPFUL TIPS:

  • Make sure you have gas in your tank…would totally stink to get stuck out there
  • Pack lots of water and snacks
  • Camera! So many beautiful things to take pics of
  • Binoculars! These were so helpful to see birds far out in the trees
  • Animal Identification books/pamphlets- here are our favorites for Birds, Reptiles and Amphibians, and Butterflies
  • Wet Wipes- not necessarily for the drive…but if you go anywhere with kids…just have wet wipes…plus…port-potties…

The Apopka Wildlife Drive is open from Sunrise to Sunset on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Federal Holidays. This is an awesome opportunity to really get to experience Florida wildlife. We saw many different species of birds including herons, egrets, cormorants, osprey, and several more. We saw snakes…and a snake getting eaten by a bird! Cirlce of Life stuff folks! We saw tortoises, fish, a soft shell turtle, and no less than 26 alligators. It was truly an awesome experience!

Do you have any favorite places to visit in Florida? We are always looking to add more places to our Florida Bucket List!

 

 

Finding Florida

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida- A Must See for Nature Lovers!

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida collage

During our week-long visit to Naples, FL, the kids and I were looking for some fun and educational places to visit. Boy did we find that place when we found The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. I stumbled across an ad for The Conservancy when I was flipping through an area guide that I grabbed in my hotel lobby! It sounded like exactly what we were looking for…it was close by, the price was great, it was educational, and it was FUN!

We packed up our notebooks (as all good homeschoolers do, right?!?!), grabbed some waters and snacks, and hit the road. When we arrived at The Conservancy I was pleasantly surprised by how BIG it is…and there was plenty of parking…which is awesome! It was a super quiet day being that it was off season…the only “crowds” we saw were a couple of small summer camp groups!

We followed the signs to the entrance and were immediately greeted by a couple of very warm smiling faces. I wish I had written down names because everyone was SO friendly…and HELPFUL! Every person we ran into was so full of information and knowledge…it was a homeschoolers dream!

The first thing we did was reserve our spot on the Electric Boat Tour. The tour is 45 minutes long and included in your admission price!! Because it was such a quiet day we had the entire tour to ourselves! Captain Rick was our guide and he was wonderful. It was a gorgeous day for a boat ride. We saw lots of birds, native plants, invasive plants, and even mangrove crabs! Captain Rick explained to us all about the different types of mangrove trees and their importance. It was a wonderful experience…I highly recommend taking advantage of the boat tour! When you are at the dock getting ready to board your boat, be sure to look UP at the gigantic Oar Fish sculpture! Yikes!

After our boat tour we spent some time wandering around the Learning Labs and Discovery Center. So much fabulous information on conservation and wildlife! We absolutely LOVED the touch-tank! We learned all about Sea Turtles as well!! This was such a fun places for the kiddos! You can even be turned into a human ninja turtle…which apparently my kids are too cool to try…whatever lol 😉

One of the highlights of our trip was meeting volunteer Bob outside of the animal hospital. Bob was so friendly and so full of information! The Von Arx Wildlife Hospital is dedicated to caring for injured wildlife in such a way that limits their exposure to humans such that they can be successfully reintroduced into the wild. Bob brought us into the viewing area which was amazing. You can see in through the window but the staff and animals cannot see you. We were able to see many animals, mostly birds that day, being fed and weighed. The doctors, nurses, staff, and volunteers are so dedicated to helping these animals…it was wonderful to see! Definitely be sure to stop by and see the viewing area…it was amazing.

We explored around a little more and then ending up meeting up with Bob again for a private lesson on how The Conservancy got started and some lessons on how we can help! It was so informative and we really appreciated the time he took to talk to us.

If you ever find yourself in Naples, I highly recommend spending some time at The Conservancy of Southwest Florida. They are such a wonderful organization that is dedicated to protecting the environment and wildlife.

For more information head on over to their website at https://www.conservancy.org/

The Conservancy is located at:

1495 Smith Preserve Way in Naples, FL

They are open from Monday-Saturday 9:30AM-4:30PM

Finding Florida, Uncategorized

A Picture Perfect Day at Naples Botanical Garden

Naples Botanical Garden photo collage

Last week we had the opportunity to do some exploring around Naples, Florida! If you ever get the chance to visit I highly recommend it! It is an absolutely gorgeous area with a TON of stuff to do! One of the top items on our list was a visit to the amazing Naples Botanical Garden! If you find yourself in the Naples area, The Naples Botanical Garden is a must see! It is fantastic!

The Naples Botanical Garden is one of the most gorgeous gardens I have ever had the pleasure of visiting! It is stunning! Situated on 170 acres, the Naples Botanical Garden is known as “Gardens with Latitude”. This refers to the fact that the gardens feature an amazing array of plants that grow between the 26th latitude North (where Naples is located) and the 26th latitude South. Some of the gardens featured are from Asia, Brazil,  the Caribbean, and of course Florida!

We strategically planned our visit on a Tuesday so that we could be there during one of their Dogs in the Garden days. We don’t have a dog…but my kids LOVE dogs! The gardens offer several times during the week when dogs are permitted. Check out the website for an up to date schedule of events!

Upon entering the garden you will immediately feel like you have stepped into a tropical oasis…it is beautiful. Armed with our map we headed straight for the Asian Gardens. For some reason I always tend to head left and move clockwise…I have no idea why! In hindsight I wish I had started at the Children’s Gardens…they were virually empty at that point and we could have done lots of exploring! Anyway…off to Asia!

The Asian Garden is beautiful…full of water features, ponds, temples, and ruins! It was a beautiful way to start our journey!Asian Garden Sign

 

Our next stop had to be one of my favorite spots in the entire garden. It was a very quiet day so we got to spend quite a bit of time just enjoying all of scenery. The Overlook has an amazing waterfall and looks out over the lake…it is breathtaking! There are loads of shady spots to sit and escape the Florida heat…which was such a relief on a scorching June day!

Oasis Waterfall
Beautiful Waterfall in the Overlook area
Scenic Overlook
Enjoying the beautiful view!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We meandered back through the Asian Garden again and made our way toward the Water Garden. Again…crazy beautiful!!! Things were in bloom everywhere we looked. The greens and purples were so vibrant!

Water Garden Collage

 

One of the main focal points of the gardens lies within the Brazilian Gardens. A stunning waterfall. Words don’t do it justice so I will just leave a photo below for your enjoyment! Gorgeous isn’t it?

Naples Botanical Garden Waterfall

On to the Children’s Garden. I am sad to say that I didn’t get any pictures in there…not because it wasnt gorgeous as well…but we happened to arrive there at the same time as a summer camp and it was super busy. We meandered around a bit but ended up only staying a few minutes. They have tree houses, a water area where kiddos can cool off in the fountains, a rolling hill, and so much more! Also next to the Children’s Garden was the butterfly house which was absolutely gorgeous. We saw many species of butterfly.

We could have spent so much more time here! We already have a list put together for when we return in the future! There are a couple of trails around the lake we would like to check out…and a birding tower to climb! We would also like to check out the labyrinth and spend more time in the Children’s Garden! We also didnt get a chance to check out Fogg Cafe which looks like a great place to grab a bite and get a drink!

I highly recommend that anyone in the area take a few hours and visit the Naples Botanical Garden. The staff was so amazingly friendly, the grounds were beautifully maintained, and it was an awesome (and educational) way to spend the day!

Another awesome thing we noticed was that they had water fountains to drink from all over the place…not only for the two legged patrons, but for the four legged visitors as well. So awesome!

Water Fountain

Admission was $14.95 for adults and kid ages 4-14 were $9.95. We were able to find a coupon online as well so be sure to check that out!

The Naples Botanical Garden is located at: 4820 Bayshore Dr in Naples, FL

For more information head on over to: https://www.naplesgarden.org/

Animals of the 7 Continents

 

Books!

Get Lost in a Book This Summer! 3 Great Reads for the Adventure Lover!

Book Recommendation, Middle Grade, Book Review, Thisby Thestoop, The Explorer, Arlo Finch

 

Summer is the perfect time to get out and take some family adventures! Trips to the beach, hikes in the mountains, camping trips…whatever your idea of adventure is, summer is a great time to get out and explore! Summer is also one of my favorite times to get lost in a good book…ok, pretty much any time is a good time to get lost in a good book…but summer reading is just the best!!

I have 3 awesome books for you that are full of excitement and adventure! These were 3 of our favorite family read alouds this year and I can’t wait for you to check them out! These are all middle grade books but were enjoyed immensely by all 3 of my kiddos…ages 7, 9, and 11…and their Mama…her age is irrelevant to this post ! 😉

First up is The Explorer by Katherine Rundell. This book kept us on the edge of our seats from beginning to end! The book begins with a young boy named Fred on a plane with 3 other children. They are heading to England from Manaus. The pilot stops breathing and the plane crashes. Fred awakens to find that the pilot has died and that he and the 3 other children are alone in the jungle. Rundell writes in such a way that you actually feel as if you are trapped in the jungle with the kids. Fred, Con, Lila, and Max have to fight to survive in the jungle…how will they ever get home…and are they actually alone?

 

The next book that you must read is called Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August. This is the first book in a brand new series. I read this book by myself first and I loved it so much that I am currently re-reading it aloud to my kids. This book is fabulous! If you love a good mystery, wrapped up with amazing adventure, with a splash of the supernatural…this is the book for you! Arlo Finch is brand new to the town of Pine Mountain. It doesn’t take long before he realizes that this small town is far from ordinary. From the ghost dog in his uncles front yard to the mysterious purple goo that makes bell sounds when it moves…Pine Mountain definitely holds some secrets. August is a master storyteller…a great read aloud for all ages! The second book in the series is due to arrive in Spring of 2019 and we can’t wait to get our hands on it. The second installment is called Arlo Finch in the Lake of the Moon and is due out in February of 2019!

 

The last book I have chosen is a brand new release called Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain by Zac Gorman. Again, we were hooked from the very first pages. Thisby Thestoop is the Gamekeeper for the dungeon of Black Mountain. She is in charge of all of the creatures that reside in Black Mountain…some not so scary creatures…and other creatures that you wouldn’t want to run into in the day time let alone at night. The day of the official royal inspection arrives and suddenly Thisby finds herself on an adventure deep within the darkest part of the dungeons. She is in charge of escorting the Princess Iphigenia out of the dungeon after she has become separated from her twin brother and all of her guards. Thisby must keep the princess safe from all of the beasts, attempt to find this missing Prince Ingo, and save her precious dungeon from the threat of creatures even worse than the ones she cares for! Not only is this book edge-of-your-seat entertaining, but is is also a hysterical and heartwarming tale of bravery and friendship! It is a fabulously well written and gorgeously illustrated book that I know you will love. Just a word of warning…if you have a younger reader who is sensitive to scary things and monsters you  may want to pre-read the book ahead of time. The book can be scary at times and does have a few scary illustrations! My youngest is 7 years old and he didn’t have any issues with the scariness…but I did want to mention it just in case!!

 

I hope that the adventure lovers in your life will enjoy these awesome books!!

 

Do you have any favorite adventure books that I can add to my reading list this summer??

Books!

Magic Awaits…A book review of The Crowns of Croswald

 

If you are looking for an escape from reality then The Crowns of Croswald is the perfect book to get lost in! I was hooked from the very first pages! Author D.E. Night creates an amazing world of magic and adventure. This is a fast-paced story that keeps the reader wanting to turn the page!

The book is about a young girl named Ivy, who thought she was forever doomed to spend her life tending to the fire-breathing scaldrons at Castle Plum. Little does she know that her entire world is about to turn on its axis! Ivy finds herself at the Halls of Ivy…a school for magic…and what’s more…she discovers that she herself can do magic!

This is the perfect middle-grade fiction novel for lovers of magic, mystery, princes and princesses, and adventure. The pages are full of mystical creatures, secret rooms, and lots of twists and turns. I am thrilled that D.E. Night is working on a sequel… because I am not done with Ivy’s story! I didn’t want the book to end…there is so much more I want to know…and I think there is so much more that IVY wants to know as well!!

I really enjoyed this one…to grab your own: https://amzn.to/2G8HbZB

For more information on author D.E. Night head on over to her site: http://denight.com/

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review*

 

Uncategorized

My Promise to ME…

self care, homeschool mom, happiness

A very wise friend once told me, “You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first”.  I realize now, that she wasn’t just speaking in general terms…she was speaking directly to ME! She knew me well enough to know that I needed this reminder. She could see that as a homeschooling Mama of 3, I was SO focused on taking care of them, that I was neglecting myself.

Now, being who I am, I of course DID NOT take her advice. I listened. I listened and I didn’t forget her words…but I didn’t take her advice. It wasn’t until many months later that I realized that I needed to take this advice…not only for myself…but for my entire family. My focus had been so fixed on being a mom and a teacher that I had forgotten to do things to make myself happy! I was getting burned out. SO, I made a promise to ME, that I would start doing something for myself every.single.day. It didn’t have to be huge, but it would be something! And do you know what? It has made a world of difference!

So, what is it that makes me happy? Well, I am glad you asked! 🙂 I am such a visual person, that I decided I needed to create a visual list of things that bring me joy. You can create a journal page, a digital list, a vision board…anything that helps you keep tabs on your happiness!! I started out with a page in my journal…but my handwriting is terrible…so I converted it over to a pretty little image in Canva…anyone else obsessed with Canva???? So…here is my little list…it’s not huge…but it makes me feel GOOD! (ps…the act of making this list…SOO much happiness…I love being creative!)

Happy mom, self care, list

You will notice that some of these things aren’t huge, monumental, life changing tasks…but…they make ME SMILE! The simple act of drinking my coffee in the quiet without interruptions is HUGE! If I can start my day this way I am almost guaranteed to begin the day with a clear head. Those 10 minutes to wake up and get my brain centered and ready for the day can make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

You will also see that there are some Usborne related items on this list. Books bring me JOY! Being in a position to help other moms earn free books for their kiddos gives me more joy than I can even tell you. After we started homeschooling I let my book business take a back seat…and I missed it! I missed hosting Facebook parties. I missed introducing people to these amazing books and seeing their reactions when they got their hands on our books for the first time.

The act of writing this post and creating this blog has brought me so much happiness. I love to write…I always have. I can count on one hand the amount of times that I allowed myself the time to write since having my first child. I am SO excited to have created this time for ME. I am excited to see where it takes me.

So I have a challenge for YOU!!! I challenge you to create your own list! What makes YOU happy?? Once you have your list, I want you to put it somewhere that you will see it EVERY DAY! I want you to pick something…one thing…to do every day that is just for you. Something that will put a smile on your face and make you feel good! Please come back and share your list! I would LOVE to see it!!

All Things Art!, Books!

Amazing Artists – Introduction to our Unit Study!

art unit, homeschool, secular

I am so excited to share a brand-new Art unit that I have been working on!! Do you have children that love creating art? I know I do! My kids are obsessed with all things art! Whenever they have a free minute they can be found destroying my house creating masterpieces! Because of their love of art, we have a very art rich curriculum. I try to integrate art into so many of our daily subjects. I love seeing them show their grasp of a subject by creating something with their hands!

I wanted to add something more into the mix. I wanted to have a dedicated art curriculum where we would learn about art, art history, and famous artists. How fun would it be to learn about Picasso and then have a chance to create your own Picasso-style masterpiece?? Well, stick around, because we are about to find out!

Enter this amazing book…The Usborne Art Treasury. I adore this book…seriously…I hear angels singing when I open it. This was the starting point for my unit. Throughout this book, they teach us about different artists and each artist will have a hands-on project to go along with it. Exactly what I was looking for.

In addition to my beloved Art Treasury book I discovered a wonderful series of books on famous artists by author/illustrator Mike Venezia. Fan-tastic books! These are written for young minds. They are so easy to understand but full of amazing information about the artists’ life, their art style, and many photos of their artwork. Not only do I love these books, but my kids do too!

Lastly, I turned to YouTube. Now, I am what you would call “crafty” …an artist I am not! I knew that I wanted to incorporate more than one piece of artwork for each artist and for that I would need some serious help! YouTube is an amazing resource…I found a ton of wonderful instructional videos on creating art. I can’t wait to share them all with you!

So, what’s next? Well, I am glad you asked! Every 2 weeks I will be sharing a unit on a different artist. I will share the books I used, the art supplies needed, links to the YouTube Videos, and our finished projects! These are designed for you to go at your own pace. If your kids become enthralled with a particular artist and want to learn more…then go for it!

So, in addition to creating our masterpieces, we have also created an art gallery in our home. We have dedicated a wall that will serve as our gallery. It will feature the art we create based on the particular artist we are learning about. Once we move onto the next artist we will start from scratch!

In addition to the gallery wall, we have also created a timeline of great artists! We thought it would be fun to show the time the artists lived in relation to one another…and Mama loves timelines 🙂

So…without further ado…our very first artist will be Pablo Picasso! Please join us as we create some zany and brightly colored art in the style of one of the greatest artists of all time…Picasso! Stay tuned…

Books!, Homeschooling

My Top 10 Usborne Books for Homeschooling- Part 1

(The following links go to my personal Usborne Books & More website, as a consultant I do receive commission on purchases)

My obsession with Usborne books came long before our decision to homeschool! I fell in love with these amazing books. My home has always been filled with books…picture books, fiction books, poetry…but never non-fiction! I am not sure why, I was just always drawn to fiction so that is what I filled our shelves with.

When I was first introduced to Usborne Books & More I was blown away at the high quality non-fiction titles! I was also blown away by my complete lack of non-fiction at home! How could a book obsessed Mama completely gloss over and entire genre of books? So, I ordered The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia…among a ton of other titles! This book? This book is one of the reasons I became a book lady. It is fantastic. When you hear the word “encyclopedia” do your eyes gloss over? Yeah, mine used to as well! This encyclopedia…all of our encyclopedias…are fascinating, engaging, and FUN! Kids, and parents love these books! I loved this book so much….and then I discovered that it was Internet Linked…say what??? The book has safe links for your kids to go to to gain more information on a particular subject. Ah-Mazing! More on internet links another day…did I mention the ah-mazingness?

Long story short…my wishlist of books was ginormous…so I decided to become a consultant. I have never looked back. Love it! Again, story for another day!

SO! Over the course of a year I had accumulated an insane amount of books! When we began homeschooling I was SO excited to be able to put these amazing books to great use…and boy have we! I can honestly say that these are the books we use all day. I use them for lesson and unit planning, my kids use them for research, we use them for the internet links…they are a huge part of our daily life.

I want to share my favorites with you. Yes, this is much like picking a favorite child. I set out to share my top 5 homeschooling favorites with you…which of course turned into 10. This is just the tip of the iceberg…but these are the top 10 that I cannot live without! I have decided to break this down into two parts…because I am what you could call “long winded”…So…without further ado…my first 5!

1.) The Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia– I adore this book. It was the first Usborne book that I have ever purchased! (I later found out that some of my favorite baby books were also from Usborne Books & More…but those were gifts!) This book is internet linked and has QR codes that allow you or your child to simply scan the barcode on each page with a smartphone or tablet and instantly be brought to a child friendly website for more information. My husband and I spent 2 hours one Friday night visiting the various sites in the book…yeah, we are very exciting people! We took a tour on the US Space Station…given by an astronaut! He showed us how astronauts sleep, make food, and even brush their teeth. So fascinating. This book takes education to the next level!

2.) The Usborne Geography Encyclopedia– You guys…this book is gorgeous. If you are a geography nut like me, YOU.NEED.THIS.BOOK.  It is full of fantastic information and has excellent photos and illustrations. This book covers all aspect of geography! A bookshelf essential! Truth be told…I bought this book long before I started homeschooling…and I bought it for myself.

3.) The Usborne Science Encyclopedia– another must have. I use this book all the time. Not only is this one internet linked…but it has QR codes. You can just scan the barcode with your tablet or smartphone and it will take you straight to the Usborne Quicklinks site. TONS of amazing information. This book is wonderful for anyone interested in science or for planning science curriculum!

4.) The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History– much like the other encyclopedias that we offer, this is a must have for your homeschool! Internet linked and full of amazing information! It is the perfect addition to any homeschool bookshelf!

5.) The Usborne Art Treasury– my new obsession. This book is fun-tastic! Throughout its pages you will learn about different artists, their styles, and it will include a project based on that particular style. This is the book that I am planning my entire art curriculum on this year. It is awesome! Check out some of my blog posts on our art lessons…click here for an introduction!

For Part 2 of my favorite books click here

 

 

Homeschooling

Visiting 6 Countries in 1 Day!!

disney, epcot, homeschool

 

Have you ever wished you could visit 6 countries in 1 day? Yesterday we visited Mexico, Norway, Germany, Italy, China, and the USA…all in one day!!! Impossible you say? Not if you live in the great state of Florida…and have an Annual Pass to Walt Disney World! Yesterday we visited one of my favorite places on the planet…Epcot! Our goal was to visit all 11 of the countries featured in The World Showcase at Epcot…but it was HOT, and crowded, and HOT…so our goal fell short! BUT, we did get to visit 6 countries and it was a blast!

For those of you who have never visited Epcot, it is just the best experience. When you travel through each of the 11 countries, you truly feel like you are a part of that country. The sights, the smells, the sounds, the tastes…amazing. It is one of the most beautifully themed places in all of Walt Disney World…and that is saying something! It is even more magical after dark…everything is so beautifully lit…I just love it.

Yesterday our goal was to finally get stamps in the Epcot Passports our kids got for Christmas! If you haven’t seen these, they are fantastic! Each country has its own page and the goal is to visit each country and earn a stamp. These feel like actual passports…my kids loved it! In addition to getting stamps at each country, the passport also comes with various stickers that the child can decorate each page with, The stickers show different parts of the country in Epcot as well as the flag of the country.  To earn your stamps all you have to do is visit the Kidcot stops located in each country. These are great places for the kids to stop and catch their breath, even if you aren’t collecting stamps for your passport. The Cast Member that works at the station will help the child put the stamp in their book and will usually add a drawing or the child’s name or a saying in the language of their country. We had so much fun! Many of the Cast Member’s will teach the kids a word or phrase from their country as well. Such an awesome learning experience! If you don’t have a passport, don’t worry!! You can either purchase one right at Epcot, OR each Kidcot stop has a paper version that you can get for FREE to put stamps in!!!

epcot, homeschool, disney

 

We can’t wait to return in a couple of weeks to collect the remaining 5 passport stamps! This is such an awesome addition to any world geography unit! Each country has an opportunity to learn about the culture, hear the music, meet the people, see art, try the food, and so much more! I may have had to taste a hibiscus margarita in Mexico…for educational purposes of course!! Two thumbs way up! I am looking forward to many more visits to Epcot in the future…especially as we begin to study all of the countries! If you have ever been to Epcot, which is your favorite country to visit?

 

epcot, homeschool, disney

Finding Florida, Homeschooling

State Park Family Pass for the Win!

florida, homeschool, annual pass, passport

My fellow Floridians…are you aware of the sheer number of State Parks in this state?? My mind is seriously blown! They  are everywhere!! Not only are they everywhere…but they are amazing! Whether you are looking for a place to go biking, birding, snorkeling, camping, shelling, hiking, tubing, or just relaxing…Florida State Parks have you covered! The amount of educational opportunities at each park is mind-blowing…Florida is so full of nature and history it is a homeschoolers wonderland!

My family moved to the Sunshine State in January. We relocated from New Hampshire…cold and snowy New Hampshire. When we arrived, it was sunny and beautiful. One of our very first stops was to Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin. It is one of the most beautiful spots I have ever visited in my entire life. If I didn’t know I was in Florida I would have thought that I was on a tropical island. White sandy beaches, turquoise blue water, and dolphins…there were actual dolphins swimming off the shore. Postcard quality gorgeousness! We decided that day that we would be needing an annual pass to the state parks…even if just to go to Honeymoon Island. While at Honeymoon Island you can also enjoy a nature center, walking trails, and an osprey trail!

honeymoon island, state park, annual pass, passport

We purchased a family pass for $120…for the whole year! The family pass allows us to enter the parks with up to 8 people, with the exception of Homosassa Springs and Weeki Wachee Springs which allows 2 people.  This is an amazing value…even if we only went to Honeymoon Island 15 times the pass would pay for itself.

It wasn’t until I began exploring the State Park website that I realized just how many places there are to visit. My homeschooling mind got extremely excited. There are so many historic sites to visit, nature preserves, archaeological sites, beaches to study sea life…and so much more! SO, we set up a little challenge for ourselves. We want to visit ALL of the Florida state parks…yes, all! I love a challenge, and this is most definitely a doozy. To make things even more exciting…the Florida State parks offer a passport program where you purchase a book and travel to each of the parks collecting stamps. If you collect all of the stamps you earn a free family membership for a year in addition to a $120 Florida State Park gift card good toward camping or cabin stays! What?!?! This is music to my ears! For more info on the passport book click here.

Challenge accepted!!! Our Passport just arrived in the mail and it is FABULOUS!

I hope you will join us on our adventures and learn a little more about the Sunshine State! If you aren’t from Florida, consider checking out the State Park website for your state!! I am sure they will be full of great resources. I guarantee the parks will be full of awesome adventures and learning opportunities for you and your kiddos!