Tag Archives: Florida

Kelly Park – Rock Springs

pics_2_017While visiting in Florida, we took a day to visit Kelly Park in Apopka, FL. If you are ever in the area during the spring or summer, this park is a must-see.

The main feature of the park is Rock Springs, a clear, cold freshwater spring that comes up from a break in a rock outcropping. The spring becomes a stream that visitors can lazily float down on inner tubes, and it eventually empties into a pool where they can swim before continuing on a little further. Lifeguards are stationed along the stream and around the pool. The park has a well-build boardwalk to follow as you enter or exit the stream, and there’s also a sandy beach where small children can play.

Although the floats aren’t provided, you can rent a tube from $3 – $5 per day from nearby businesses, or you can bring your own. We did some of both — took a few floats we had on hand and rented a couple more, but the kids also enjoyed swimming down the stream with no inner tube at all.

Our other favorite activity to do at the park is search for shark teeth. When we reach the end of the first part of the stream, everyone hops out of their floats, reaches down to the bottom, and pulls up handfuls of shells and rocks. We carefully search through them, looking for very small shark teeth or some other treasure. This past trip, we found a different kind of tooth, which we believe to have once belonged to an alligator.

You’ll also find playgrounds, pavilions, and picnic tables at the park, along with a couple of bath houses and a concession booth. Entrance to the park was just $1 per person or $5 for a carload of eight. All in all, it was a great way to spend the day. It was also the impetus of a new homeschooling investigation: Just where do all those shark teeth come from?

Fun With a Garden Hose

hoseWe’re still in central Florida, and the temperatures have been high!  Last week they were in the mid-90s, but with the humidity, the weatherman said it felt more like 105 degrees. I’d say he was right. 

But this past Saturday, there was a lot going on in the house, so we moved all the young cousins outdoors — yes, even in the afternoon!  The children played on a tire swing tied to a large shade tree in the yard, but the fun didn’t last long. It was just too hot. That is, until we brought out the hose. 

We started by connecting it to a wide, rotating sprinkler that sprayed water overhead. I had suspected my five-year-old would enjoy it, but I was surprised when my two-year-old nephew joined in. Perhaps it was because his cousins were laughing as they were splattered, but he smiled too, even as he was sprayed squarely in the face. 

After about thirty minutes, one of the children picked up a cup and started filling it with water from the sprinkler. I went in to get some more, and soon everyone was filling up their cups and dumping the water on each other. We then pulled out the little wading pool, and soon they were trying to fill it up with the water in their cups. We unhooked the sprinkler and used the water directly from the hose, making the chore go a little faster.

 About thirty more minutes had past when some of the older ones realized it was going to take a lot of cupfuls to get the job done. We then unhooked the sprinkler and put the hose directly in the pool. A little dishsoap, and the pool was soon full of bubbles. They put the bubbles on their heads, their faces, each other. They put bubbles in bowls and stirred them up. They threw bubbles all around the yard. 

Who knew they’d have so much fun? About three hours since we first brought them out, the children were ready for supper, which was served on card tables outside as well. Then they all resumed playing until it was time to get ready for bed. It was a  well-spent afternoon – few quarrels and a good time together. I’m going to give it a try at home too — right after I buy a new hose.

Outside Time

3476198340_db42244b50This week we’ve been spending time with family in Florida. Besides an occasional storm that comes up in the late afternoon, the days have been hot and sunny. With twelve children ages 1 to 15 looking around for things to do, we’ve had to designate the morning hours, which are generally a little cooler, as “outside time.” 

And it’s been a bit of a struggle. Usually, everyone is cooperative for the first thirty minutes or so; after that, they begin to whine and complain and ask to go inside. We’ve brought out scooters, rip sticks, bikes, bubbles, chalk, a hose, and a little wading pool, and still they’re asking to come in. They want to sit inside and watch T.V. and play on the computer. Granted, it’s more comfortable with the air conditioning, but they can come in during the afternoon to take a break and do those things. 

Should we keep enforcing Outside Time? I think so. Besides the fact that it’s a lot of kids with a lot of energy to have running around in only a couple of rooms in the house, it’s important that they learn how to entertain themselves with other things. Even if the outdoor toys are limited, and all that’s available to play with is a few sticks, some dirt, and a rock, chidren need to know how to use their imaginations and make up their own games. 

Often we think of creativity only in terms of the fine arts, but creativity is important in play as well. In fact, that’s where our creative processes begin, and sadly for many children, that’s where it ends as well, as their free time is consumed by television and video games. I’m determined, though, not to allow that to happen to my children. They’ll be glad to know (or maybe they won’t) that once we get home again, I’m instituting a daily “outside time.” I want those creative juices to flow!

Lessons from a Lizard

mf7After leaving the putt-putt course in Alabama, we headed to Florida to visit more family – aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandma. My children always find a lot to do when we visit, and one of their favorite activities is trying to catch the lizards that run around outside my mom’s house. This took on a whole new dimension, however, when the cat chased a lizard inside.                                 

We were sitting around the table with my mom finishing up breakfast when the cat raced through the door that had been propped open. I saw it pounce on something under my mom’s chair, then I saw a tail underneath its paws. 

“A lizard! Get the lizard!” I shouted, and everyone started looking around in confusion.

“What? What?” My mom shouted. By this time the lizard had gotten free, but the cat was still holding onto it’s tail. The tail had come off and was wiggling on the floor. 

“The lizard!” I shouted. “It ran into the bedroom behind the door!” A lizard in the house has nothing to eat, and it usually dies and dries up. “Get the lizard!”

Four children were still sitting around the table, and my mom was still hollering “What?” and laughing. The cat was the only one looking for the lizard, and the tail was still wiggling on the floor. 

I pulled John (age 12) from his chair and took him into the bedroom. The lizard was hiding behind the door against the wall. An easy place to catch him, or so I thought. 

“Get him, John!”

“I can’t.” 

“Why not? Look – he’s right there. Get him!” 

“I don’t think I can.” 

“He’s going under my foot. Ah!  He’s under my foot. Get him!”  I said. 

But within a moment the lizard had slipped out from under my foot, under the door again, and back into the kitchen, where the cat chased it under a bookshelf. The tail was still wiggling on the floor. 

“Somebody pick up that tail,” my mom said. John sat back down. Everyone else stayed in their chairs, laughing. 

“Oh, I’ll get it,” I said, grabbing some paper towel. I picked up the tail and threw it in the trash. There were quite a few lessons here, I thought. The first two were obvious: How To Catch a Lizard and How to Pick Up a Tail. But there are some good homeschooling lessons as well. What is the natural habitat of lizards? What do lizards need to survive?  Why do the lizards tails come off? Besides cats, what other predators attack lizards?

Life events do lend themselves to learning, don’t they?