St. Augustine Explanation

I am going to be frank by informing you my utter fascination regarding “America’s Oldest City”, St. Augustine, began when I was quite young. It was not because my class went on a field trip or even because my family headed there for a vacation, because I did neither. We could not afford the visit at the time. As a matter of fact, I never even experienced this incredible place until I was seventeen years old, visiting Flagler College for the first time (after applying, mind you, sight unseen). I was rather fascinated because my grandparents were frequent visitors; they brought me books, brochures, photographs, and souvenirs. Collecting them over time, I learned a great deal about the Castillo de San Marcos, the St. Augustine Lighthouse, Flagler College, the Fountain of Youth, and the Oldest Schoolhouse. After graduating from Flagler College (and scorning at tourists who asked me probing questions like I was a historical expert, which I was not), I was hired as a fourth grade teacher who would one day be known as the teacher who brings her students to St. Augustine on an air-conditioned charter bus every May.

Which Sunshine State Standards does this trip address?
  • SC.4.L.17.4: Humans impacted St. Augustine in many ways. They tapped into natural resources like coquina rock found in quarries on the Atlantic coast to construct the Castillo de San Marcos. Resources were used to construct the dwellings from the Second Spanish Period (particularly “wattle and daub” and “tabby”). Native Americans (the Timucua tribe) used surrounding resources to construct wigwams and longhouses. Erosion has also occurred on the St. Augustine shoreline in the past ten years as well, and measures had to be taken. SC.4.E.6.3: All the resources mentioned above are renewable resources.
  • SC.4.E.6.6: Some of the resources available in the St. Augustine area are the Atlantic Ocean, Matanzas Inlet, and coquina rock quarries.
  • SC.4.N.3.1: Students are able to view numerous models when visiting the museum at the St. Augustine Lighthouse. There is a model of the light station from the 1800s, for example. They also spot a display of knots where they can also tie their own knots by looking at step-by-step instructions. The students are also able to lift a bucket as heavy as the ones the light keepers had to haul up the lighthouse every day (they toted oil). This standard states: Models can be three-dimensional, two-dimensional, an explanation in your mind, or technological.
  • SC.4.P.10.1: The class observes properties of light at the St. Augustine Lighthouse when they view the first-order fresnel lens that is at the top. Reflection and refraction are two words the class is exposed to before they visit. They also learn basic facts regarding light and heat energy.
  • SC.4.P.10.2: Energy has the ability to cause motion or create change, as they can observe at the top of the lighthouse.
  • SC.4.P.11.2: Students are able to view conductors and insulators while visiting the lighthouse as well.
  • SS.4.A.1.1: Primary and secondary resources are shown to the students prior to the trip, and they also are exposed to a plethora of resources about St. Augustine while on the trip.
  • SS.4.A.1.2: Of course, Jasztalville uses print and technological resources to prepare for the St. Augustine trip. One technological resource we use is a virtual tour website where they can “visit” the Castillo de San Marcos. They also watch a video of the lighthouse and fort, which you can view at the end of our classroom website’s Florida Studies page.
  • SS.4.A.2.1: Two main tribes our class learns about are the Timucuan and Calusa tribes because those were the tribes Ponce de Leon (the explorer who named our state La Florida) was exposed to. The Timucuan tribe resided in the St. Augustine area while the Calusa tribe resided on the other side of Florida in the Mound Key area, south of Tampa Bay.
  • SS.4.A.3.1: What motives did explorers like Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez de Aviles have? They wanted to aquire land, drive native Americans off the land, and use the natives for different purposes (to gather resources, help construct, and convert them to Christianity).
  • SS.4.A.3.2: If you think about it, our land may have never been the same if Ponce de Leon and Pedro Menendez de Aviles as well as Rene Laudonnaire, Jean Ribault, and Sir Francis Drake had traveled to La Florida. Ponce de Leon saw flowers on Florida’s coast in the spring, so that is how our state was named. Pedro Menendez de Aviles established St. Augustine as the first European settlement. The French constructed Fort Caroline while the Spanish constructed various wooden forts leading up to the strongest fort of coquina rock standing since 1695- The Castillo de San Marcos. The Spanish endured an extremely challenging time with money and resources as they constructed the fort over the course of twenty-three years. Sir Francis Drake looted and burned St. Augustine to the ground in 1586. The turbulence between the Spanish, French, and British sparked many problems.
  • SS.4.A.3.3: How significant is St. Augustine? It has the oldest wooden schoolhouse and even the oldest house in the United States. It has the longest standing fort in the entire United Statesas well. It is history at its finest. The site of the Fountain of Youth is fascinating because that is around the area where Ponce de Leon landed, apparently.
  • SS.4.A.3.5: Though my students do not visit Fort Mose, they certainly learn about it through an interactive lesson. Fort Mose was established to help African-American settlers who came to St. Augustine. Fort Mose symbolized freedom!
  • SS.4.A.3.6: Spanish rule most certainly affected Florida because it affected St. Augustine’s architecture a great deal (as well as Henry Flagler, a businessman from New York, later on). The houses that stand in downtown have a side porch with a side entrance, where one cannot enter the houses from the cobblestone streets. Additionally, the architecture of these two-story dwellings constructed of either tabby or wattle and daub is fairly simplistic. Spanish rule also affected Florida because of the significance of the Castillo de San Marcos as the longest-standing fort and how one man’s naming of the land as La Florida was the origin behind our state’s name.
  • SS.4.A.3.7 reviews how Spain, France, and England contributed to Florida prior to it becoming a state. Spain ruled our state twice. When one enters the Castillo de San Marcos, (s)he will immediately notice all the flags that hang from the ceiling. Of course, the Spanish, French, and British flags are among those flags.
  • SS.4.A.4.1: The St. Augustine Lighthouse uses a great deal of technology to operate the first-order fresnel lens.
  • SS.4.A.4.2: Pioneer life in St. Augustine is shown when the students embark on a trolley tour through the downtown area, where they see the oldest house. They write journal entries prior to the trip about living during the 1500s-1600s. They learn, for example, that smoke filled the dwellings because mosquitoes were rampant.
  • SS.4.A.6.1: St. Augustine’s main industries are travel and railroads (which run through St. Augustine all the way through Key West). Henry Morrison Flagler arrived in the late 1800s, where he constructed two luxury hotels. The Ponce de Leon Hotel, constructed in 1888, became Flagler College in 1967. The railroads were constructed by Flagler as well. (There were actually three railroad tycoons named Henry, but that is besides the case. Students will learn about fellow tycoon Henry Plant with another field trip this year, hopefully.)
  • SS.4.A.7.3: Students learn about the world wars when they visit the lighthouse. The museum includes valuable information about the Coast Guard from that time period.
  • SS.4.A.8.4: The man who originally focused on how Florida could become an amazing tourist attraction, Henry Flagler, devoloped our state and particularly St. Augustine in fascinating ways.
  • SS.4.A.9.1: Students create timelines of St. Augustine prior to the trip.
  • SS.4.E.1.1: This standard covers entrepreneurs from various backgrounds. Students learn about Henry Flagler, particularly, in preparation for this trip.
  • SS.4.G.1.1: What are the physical features of Florida and St. Augustine? St. Augustine is situated on the Atlantic Ocean, south of Jacksonville and north of Daytona Beach. The Matanzas Inlet separates the mainland from the coast. SS.4.G.1.2 and SS.4.G.1.4 are also reviewed when students receive maps of St. Augustine to learn about and keep.
  • Students also review many language arts standards through reading assignments, studying text features of brochures and maps, and putting on our class play in the cafeteria one week after we return from the trip.

7:30 a.m.- We depart from our school on a charter bus to St. Augustine. 
10:30 a.m.- We arrive in St. Augustine, tour the St. Augustine lighthouse and museum, and then eat lunch across from the lighthouse for about twenty minutes. 
1:00 p.m.- Trolley tour through St. Augustine: Students are able to ride past the oldest school house, Castillo de San Marcos, Flagler College, the oldest house, several of the architectural wonders like the churches, Zorayda Castle, the Lightner Museum, waterfront, and the Casa Monica Hotel. 
2:00 p.m.- We tour Flagler College and see the gorgeous architecture for about 15 minutes. 
2:30-3:45 p.m.- Sightseeing on St. George Street
3:45 p.m.- Castillo de San Marcos cannon launching and tour
5:00- Ripley's Believe it or Not
6:45- Students eat dinner. 
7:15- We head back home to arrive between 10:30-10:45 p.m. 

What students receive from me prior to and after the trip:

  • Map of St. Augustine that includes cultural and physical features (free of cost)
  • Brochures of major historical attractions (free of cost)
  • A rock I paint with a beach or lighthouse scene
  • A piece or two of coquina rock as well as some shells (found along the coastline in St. Augustine)
  • A postcard or two
  • Vial from the Fountain of Youth

The most amazing thing about the St. Augustine trip is the students are exposed to historical sites firsthand and they remember the trip for quite some time. My students from every  year still come to me and tell me how this wads the most incredible field trip they ever went on. For an elementary school student, St. Augustine is incredible beyond words, and I would never exchange the trip for anything.