Operating since 1938, the Jacksonville Farmers Market overflows with fresh produce and teachable moments! For a hands-on math lesson, give your child $5 and ask them to see how much they can buy. Slip in a social studies discussion by sharing how farmers feed our community. Science comes into play when kids ask vendors how long it takes for a vegetable to grow or for bees to produce a gallon of honey. And when your kid wonders where that dragon fruit or kiwi came from, it’s a geography lesson in the making. Tip: Wear comfortable walking shoes – market stalls cover the length of nearly six football fields!
With 120 acres, seven trails (ranging from easy to difficult and appropriate for all ages), and 13 unique ecosystems, the Jacksonville Arboretum awaits discovery by budding naturalists. Interpretative signs identify different plants and trees, giving kids a chance to practice reading while brushing up on botany. The 0.3 mile Lake Loop trail is especially fun, since it contains plants used for food, medicine, and building materials. The Arboretum was started by a group of concerned local citizens who wanted to transform an industrial site into urban greenspace – a lesson in civic responsibility. Tip: To schedule a homeschooler’s tour, call 904-318-4342 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What kid doesn’t love a zoo? Take a walk on the wild side and challenge your children to explore different subjects by posing questions at the Jacksonville Zoo: What country do anteaters come from? What’s the difference between a reptile and amphibian? How many monkeys can you count in this exhibit? To add a language arts lesson to your outing, try this suggestion from local homeschooler Danielle Mazza: “When you come home, ask your child to write a story about the zoo by describing the setting and drawing pictures of what they saw. Younger children can share a verbal story.” Tip: Check out the Zoo’s early childhood education programs and Homeschool Zoocademy classes.
Combine sun, fun, sand, and learning on one of Jacksonville’s beautiful beaches. Watch the waves and talk about the tides and the effects of wind and water on the land. Play simple math games by counting the number of people wearing sunglasses or using umbrellas. Sort seashells by size, shape, or type. Explore marine biology while searching for fish, crabs, and other coastal creatures. With so much coastline, making family outings educational is easier here in Jacksonville. Tip: Slathering on sunscreen lends itself to a science discussion on the effects of sunlight.
Home to the nation’s largest urban park system, Jacksonville, Florida, presents plenty of easily accessible places to play and learn in the great outdoors. You can teach science concepts like gravity, force, and motion - all with the push of a playground swing. Study geometry by having children run in a straight line or circle and use chalk to draw an educational zigzag obstacle course. For a hands-on history lesson, visit Fort Caroline National Memorial. The park takes a deep dive into local lore, from Native Americans to French and Spanish explorers. Another #onlyinjax destination, Timucuan Ecological & Historic Preserve gives youngsters another glimpse into our region’s early days. Tip: Pick up a Junior Ranger booklet that kids eight and younger can complete at home or while visiting Fort Caroline.
As the name implies, MOSH is Jacksonville’s epicenter of science and history exploration. This beloved #onlyinjax landmark piques the curiosity of kids of all ages. Families can star gaze in the planetarium, get up close and personal with animals, learn about the body in an interactive exhibit, and walk through 12,000 years of Northeast Florida history. Tip: Register for an elementary or middle school workshop on the museum’s Homeschool Days.
Do your kids know where food comes from? There’s no better way to find out than by picking fresh blackberries, grapes or olives. A Jacksonville agritourism destination, the Congaree and Penn Farm offers summertime U-Pick experiences by reservation. Complete your agrarian adventure by booking a farm tour wagon ride and building a picnic from their farm stand. (A children’s menu is available. Bringing food from outside the farm isn’t permitted.) Little ones relish the 300+ acres of freedom and fresh air during the farm’s Family Hours, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Farm passes are required to visit and it’s best to book at least two weeks in advance. Tip: This is a working farm; areas besides the restaurant and patio are not stroller or wheelchair accessible.
Learn more about Jacksonville's Family-Friendly activities.