What a wonderful trip first graders took to the charming, nearby community of Gulfport, Florida. The field experience enhanced their study of community.
The tour started at "Big Blue," otherwise known as North End Village. First Grade Teacher Mrs. Oman's husband owns a construction company, and that was one of his projects. He was there to tell the Chargers the dream behind the building, how it was constructed, and what function it serves in the community. He showed a slideshow of what the land looked like before (two houses were torn down), how he built it stage by stage, and then everyone stood on the completed 3rd floor, which has a view of Beach Drive and Boca Ciega Bay. This is the only building in Gulfport that has business offices, apartments (five), and retail all in one place!
Next, first graders walked to the Tuesday open air market equipped with clipboards to mark off photos of the places they might see along the way. They talked to many vendors who were eager to share how they contribute to the community and about the products they were selling. They smelled candles, spoke to a farmer, watched a man roll cigars by hand, were greeted by an artist from an art studio that gives lessons, received banana bread from a baker, saw products made of recycled goods, and were intrigued by a traveling pizza oven that looked like a piece of art. Next, they walked on the pier, saw fish, saw the Don CeSar in the distance, and peeked into the windows of the Gulfport Casino Ballroom, which they found out has never been a place of gambling, but is a community gathering space that hosts many different events.
After seeing many varieties of housing, restaurants, shops and a great map of the city, their tour ended at the Gulfport Public Library. They saw the library's original book from the early 1900s, where each check-out over a twelve-year period was recorded by hand! The Gulfport Library hosts many different family and kid-friendly events. If you ever get the chance to go, you should -- and it's all free!
The Chargers ate lunch under a covered pavilion near the water, and their grand finale involved tasty Italian Ice. It was well-deserved after all that walking!
Once the first graders got back to their classrooms, they started creating their own map of the city. This is still a work in progress, and it is coming along nicely!
The following week, Mr. Raul Quintana visited first grade with slides, information, and inspirations about the new St. Petersburg Pier that he took a lead role in planning.
This new Pier is the perfect place to bring the local community together for experiences that will bring joy to people of all ages. From amazing art to exciting playgrounds, picnic areas to restaurants and shops. It is a place to walk, bike, sunbathe, splash, and enjoy music, vendors, etc. The students were thrilled with seeing the awesome photos Mr. Quintana shared of the old Piers, the work in progress building the new Pier, and what the finished Pier will look like.
In response to Mr. Quintana's awesome presentation, the children were inspired to team up and build their own versions of the Pier with LEGOs, blocks, and drawings. First graders hope to visit the new Pier in the spring of 2020.