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Easy breezy summer learning in Florida

Summer learning opportunities abound in Florida
Summer learning opportunities abound in Florida
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Nothing says Florida like tourists, temperatures and tons of learning opportunities for homeschoolers all summer long. Where else but Florida can families find such an exciting variety of attractions and entertainment all within easy commuting distance? Whether you've completed your homeschool year, or are just beginning, it's alright to loosen schedules a bit and let a little bit of summer in!

So, what kinds of things will your homeschoolers be doing this summer? Here are just a couple of educational ideas to get them started, and then you can figure out the rest!

Butterflies! Butterflies!

Though many of the butterflies in your backyard may be gone by now, there are still plenty to study in Gainesville. Head over to the Butterfly Rainforest to try your hand at identifying some of the hundreds of variations of butterflies and moths on display or fluttering about the greenhouses. Continue your studies back home by adding some butterfly-friendly plants to your garden this summer. Wrap up studies by printing and labeling butterfly diagrams, making a butterfly lapbook, or building your own butterfly house for next year.

Exploring Tidal Pools

Can you remember the fun of wading through tidal pools as a kid? Give that experience to your child by visiting your local beach at low tide. Just use this Tide Table to find out when to visit (change zip code if necessary), pack a bag and head on out! Carefully catch, examine, and then release any live finds (if creatures hold on too tight, leave them alone). Rinse off and collect other specimens (empty shells or sea beans) for examination back at home. Young kids can have fun using web sites like Tide Pools and The Intertidal Zone from Enchanted Learning. Older children may enjoy learning about the moon's gravitational pull or watching a online documentary like PBS's Life at the Edge of the Sea.

Turtle Habitats

Turtles can be seen all around the state and they're especially busy during these dry months of year. Set out to discover turtle nests, either wild in nature or at a museum and research facility like the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet. Extensions for the littles can include making a turtle green book, reading about turtles on How Stuff Works or reading some turtle story books from the library. Older students may be interested in joining a turtle conservation group, building a mock turtle nest, or completing National Geographic's turtle lesson plan.

Hydroponic Gardening

A recent trend in gardening can be both educational and rewarding for families who'd like to give it a try. Though it has been around for some time, the green movement has called new attention to hydroponic gardening at home. Kids and their families can take an online hydroponics journey to learn all about it, courtesy of Kids Gardening. Some K-12 hydroponics science activities can be found right here. Finally, Jax-area families may want to visit First Coast Hydroponics to learn even more about this virtually soilless but nutrient-rich method of backyard, rooftop or container gardening.

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Dr. Marie-Claire Moreau writes about homeschooling, education and parenting topics here at Examiner and all over the web. Find her home base at Quick Start Homeschool, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Dr. Moreau's new book, Suddenly Homeschooling, on sale now!

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