St. Augustine, FL is a fabulous place for the homeschooling family. The oldest city in the continental United States, it is the perfect place to jumpstart an appreciation of history in your children. There is something for everyone here, from the colonial-era fortifications to the Industrial Age grandeur- economic, architectural, cultural and political, St. Augustine has it all!
If you only have a day in St. Augustine, we recommend that you visit the Fort – otherwise known as the Castillo de San Marcos. Located on the waterfront overlooking the harbor and Matanzas River, it is run by the National Park Service. Children 15 and under get in for free, and children and adults 16 and older must pay a $6 entrance fee.
Various exhibits within the rooms of the fort display artifacts and explain the history of the fort. Since the 1670’s, when the fort as it stands began being built, it has changed hands and has been under four flags – French, Spanish, British and American. Each left its mark on the fort. In addition to canons and artillery there is a 17 minute video that plays on a continual loop depicting how the soldiers would load and fire the cannons.
A visit to the fort can encompass many areas of study, including:
- Phyiscs: ballistics based on the cannons & their use
- Architecture: why the fort was built the way it was and the advantages of its design
- World History: how the fort played a role in strengthening Spain’s stronghold over the region
- US History: how the fort played a role in the Civil War and WWII.
Park Rangers are available to answer questions and at set times during the day they give informative talks. Below you will see Part 1 & 2 of one of the rangers as he explains various things about the fort. On certain weekends during the month there are artillery demostrations where they fire off cannons!
Here’s a link to the fort’s National Park Service website: http://www.nps.gov/casa/index.htm
Here is a video showing a cannon firing re-enactment: