Last updated: September 7, 2018
Build Your Own Fort
- Grade Level:
- Upper Elementary: Third Grade through Fifth Grade
- Social Studies
In this post-field trip activity, students will draw their own fort and identify its parts using historic forts such as Fort Caroline, the Castillo de San Marcos, and Fort Matanzas as examples. This activity may allow students to make connections between other sites they have visited and make comparisons between the building materials used and geographic location.
The worksheet provided has pictures of three forts: Fort de la Caroline, the Castillo de San Marcos, and Fort Matanzas. Explain that the Castillo de San Marcos is located in St. Augustine and was built by the Spanish more than a hundred years after Fort Caroline; that Fort Matanzas is south of St. Augustine and was a Spanish outpost for the Matanzas Inlet, where long before its construction many of the French soldiers and settlers from Fort Caroline lost their lives.
This activity requires writing utensils, paper, and attached worksheet on types of forts.
This activity is intended as a post-visit lesson. Please either schedule a field trip by calling 904.641.7155 or have your students explore the Fort Caroline section of our website.
Ask the students to do this activity with the mindset of a French soldier who just arrived in Florida, who had to decide what materials to use and how to use them, without knowing anything about the land. On your field trip the ranger would have talked to the students about finding building materials in the natural surroundings, which for the settlers of Fort Caroline included mostly wood and earth, which is vastly different from the coquina used at the Castillo. Coquina must be quarried and that requires a substantial amount of time, planning and knowledge. Why would coquina not have been a good choice for the French settlers at Fort Caroline? Remind students that the forts were used for war, but were also important for the protection of people as temporary homes in times of bad weather or until their individual homes were built.
Pass out the included worksheet. Using these pictures, your students will design their own fort. Once they come up with an idea, have them label the five parts that they think are the most important from the list on the worksheet. Then, on the back of their drawing, have them write those five parts in the order of their importance to the settlement and explain why each was necessary.
This activity does not have a right or wrong answer. Justifying their choices for the most important aspects of a fort allows them to use role-playing and their imaginations. They may even come up with important parts of the fort or settlement on their own!