The Florida Everglades: A Unit Study

The renowned Florida Everglades is a large area of swamps and sawgrass prairie that floods in regular cycles. It is significant in its staggering amount of flora and fauna — with representatives of marsh, swamp, and woods. On December 6, 1947, President Harry Truman dedicated the Everglades National Park, recognized for its diversity of plants and animals, as well as its unique climate.

What’s In a Name?

The Florida Everglades’ name is believed to be a corruption of “River Glades” — a fitting name for the clear marshland of the area. The Everglades is not just a swampy mess; it is in fact mostly marshland, with occasional swamps and even forests. The key to the Everglades’ uniqueness lies in the fact that it is basically one wide shallow river, moving slowly over an enormous amount of land, with its only deep spots being the “gator holes.”

The Everglades was for the longest time considered a dangerous, swampy waste by all but the Seminoles. Few were the white men who ventured into these swamps, and those were primarily daring explorers. It was only in the late nineteenth century that the land was seriously inhabited, and finally, in the early twentieth century drainage canals and land clearing enabled farming of the land.

The undrained area that remains shows a magnificent array of marshland, sawgrass prairie, and swamps. The diversity of trees is incredible, the most significant types being mahogany, gumbo-limbo, and orchids. The park also contains the scarce alligators and crocodiles, along with manatees.

Everglades National Park

The Florida Everglades: A Unit Study

The Everglades National Park lies at the southern tip of Florida in the heart of the Everglades as a whole, where visitors can see the fascinating and also in some cases bizarre scenes. The Everglades National Park consists of roughly 1,560 square miles of land. Perhaps a significantly noticeable feature is the abrupt transition from swamp and woods to sawgrass prairie with no corresponding change in elevation — a swampy woodland seems to appear out of nowhere!

Traversing the marsh and swamps through the maze of channels and canals that the area is riddled with is primarily done by boats driven with above-water airplane propellers — there are too many bizarre plants growing out of the water for a normal propeller to survive.

It is because of this large and unique collection of plants and animals — some of which the park is one of the few habitats for — that the area is significant.

Further Investigation

Learning About the Everglades
From the National Park Service geared toward young people covering history, wildlife, habitats, and more!

A look at some of the vegetation at the National Park Service.

And the various creatures.


Take a look at what is happening on the Anhinga Trail.

Notes from the Field: Everglades
A fascinating look from public television.

Everglades Mountains and Valleys
Videos from the National Park Service.

Water Cycle Poster & Placemat {Free!}

Water Cycle Poster & Placemat {Free!}
Activities and information.

Finding Your Way Through the Everglades
Informational game from

The Florida Everglades: A Unit Study

Everglades Wildguide {Free eBook}
Written by Newbery medal winner Jean Craighead George and issued by the National Park Service.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Create a Food Chain
Lesson plan from the National Park Service.

A Little Birdie Told Me
Lesson plan from the United States Mint.

Notebooking Pages & Printables
The Florida Everglades: A Unit Study

Florida Everglades
Map with information.

South Florida National Parks
Map for notebook.

Everglades Park Map
For notebook.

Life in the Everglades
Beautiful free download/printable from the National Park Service.

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