As Osceola County teachers gear up for another school year, we thought it might be fun to offer up a few history lessons to use this year. Sprinkle some of them into your first week back with students as fillers between the “get to know you” activities and the “let’s learn the rules and procedures” talks. You could also save a few as lessons to teach throughout the school year (some would make great field trip ideas, and we have a post coming later this month to fill you in on all the Osceola County Historical Society has to offer as far as field trips are concerned, too!). We hope these lessons will help you ease back into a great 2014-2015 school year here in Osceola County!
Hamilton Disston Land Deal Lesson. Hamilton Disston was a land developer and industrialist who purchased millions of acres of land in Florida in 1881 spurring growth throughout our state. Disston, because of this growth, was responsible for creating Kissimmee and St. Cloud, a pretty important fact for us Osceolans! With your students, you can explore the Hamilton Disston Land Deal by making rock candy, seeing as Disston founded a 20,000 acre sugar plantation which led to the creation of St. Cloud as refineries for the plantation were constructed in Kissimmee.
Rodeo Day vs Presidents Day. Teaching in Osceola County, you will quickly learn (if you did not grow up here yourself) that the holiday teachers and students get off for in February is Rodeo Day, not Presidents Day. For many outsiders, they find it hard to believe that our county bypasses Presidents Day (a day to honor two important U.S. Presidents whose birthdays fall during the month) for a celebration of bull riding and barrel racing! This tradition is long standing and one most Osceola natives relish. The Silver Spurs Rodeo dates back to 1944, seventy years of exciting history. Who’s to say you can’t celebrate both holidays? A fun activity for students might be to write to the prompt, “If George Washington were a bull rider…” or maybe, “If Abraham Lincoln wore a cowboy hat…” to mix the best of both worlds.
Seminole Indian Lesson. The heritage of the Seminole tribe of Florida began long before the first pioneers moved into central Florida. In fact, Osceola County itself is named after the famous Seminole warrior, Osceola. After the Seminole wars of the 1800s, the U.S. government abandoned efforts to relocate remaining Seminoles, and the Seminoles moved farther south through Florida, traveling through central Florida. They built Chickee structures from bald cypress logs and palmettos. They were true pioneers of the area. To introduce students to the Seminole Indians and pioneer life in Florida way back when, visit www.floridamemory.com for a great multipart lesson for 4th graders in Osceola County.
Picnic Field Trip to the Lakefront Park. With all of the renovations that have taken place at the Kissimmee Lakefront Park, it would be an ideal time to create an easy and laid back field trip to visit this historic area. While much has changed about the Kissimmee lakefront over the years, there is a strong story behind it. Steamships were an important part of early Osceola History and Captain Clay Johnson ran a successful line of steamers on the lake and up and down the Kissimmee River. The dock in which he brought supplies was located just south of the present city dock. Students can explore the area following a picnic lunch and imagine what life was like during the time of steamships and local cargo trade.