OKHS Newsletter, December 2005


December 1, 2005

Dear OKHS Subscribers,

Can you believe Christmas is almost here and school is almost 1/2 done for the year! Unbelievable! Time is going way too fast for me. Probably for you too! Just remember, you don't have to stress out over the holidays. Take it a little easier and then make up time by doing an occasional Saturday or over the summer. I used to school year around, taking off from Thanksgiving through New Years! We did reading and math during this time and lots of hands-on stuff. I combined several short days into one day for my log book, so I still got to count a few days of this time towards my 180 days of school. It worked great for us. Maybe it will for you, too.

This issue has a two Christmas units that I have written and two free forms, as well as a couple of book reviews. I hope you enjoy this issue of the Oklahoma Homeschool newsletter. Have a great December!


Oklahoma Homeschool Newsletter, December 2005 (Oklahoma Edition)


What's New on the Oklahoma Homeschool Website?

  • New Forms: See below to download the Country Report Theme paper and Revolutionary War Theme Paper.

  • New Field Trip Cruisers. I've added photos from my trip to Arbuckle Wilderness, Great Salt Plains, Oklahoma City National Memorial and the Railroad Museum. Check them out at: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/FTCruiser.html

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Oklahoma History Resources:
  • Oklahoma Travel Guides. If you're like me and love to learn Oklahoma history by traveling, check out my new listing of Oklahoma Travel Guides. I've included my favorites that I use when hubbie and I go picture taking for our Field Trip Cruisers. http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/teachOKH.html#travel.

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Book Reviews:

1. Cozy Grammar Review. Let me proceed this review with some facts: My maiden name is Edwards. My favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice. I've read every Agatha Christie mystery written and I love Earl Grey tea. So, how could I not love Cozy Grammar!

Cozy Grammar, produced by Splashes from the River, is a video teaching resource. Splashes from the River produces several video courses that teach basic grammar, intermediate grammar, punctuation, and essay writing. This review relates to the Basic Cozy Grammar Course.

The main character in this video is the author, Marie Rackham, an active, full-of-life, senior citizen and retired school teacher who lives in British Columbia. In her preface, the author says, "I wanted to get out of the classroom - to present grammar in an everyday setting. The coziness of a home, the familiarity of a garden, the fascination of a beach, and the ever changing moods of the Pacific Coast weather combined to make a stimulating, but non-threatening, setting for teaching a potentially dry and boring subject."

I can assure you that she did exactly that. She used the beautiful setting of her home in the Pacific-Northwest to teach basic grammar skills. For instance, in the first lesson, she teaches about the kinds of sentences while welcoming you into her home and drinking tea. In the second lesson, she teaches about subjects and predicates with a demonstration of chopping firewood, building a fire, and then relaxing in front of it. She illustrates nouns by having a dinner party with friends. She uses name plates to teach personal nouns; she sets the table to show common nouns; she serves the meal while teaching collective nouns, indefinite nouns, pronouns, etc.

I thoroughly enjoyed her slightly English accent, her somewhat "stuffy" English ways, the beautiful scenery, and the background music consisting of piano compositions from composers such as Bach, Chopin, and Beethoven. The experience was pleasant and relaxing, as well as informative. After viewing each segment, there is a worksheet to complete that reinforces what has been taught, as well as tests to be given as needed.

There are a few segments that may bother some Christian homeschooling families. One is the segment where Marie is having a dinner party and she pours red and white wine in her guests glasses. The other is when she uses a buddha and yin/yang symbol to talk about adjectives. These incidents are brief and I think so minor to the program that they shouldn't present a problem for most families, no more than seeing them in a TV ad or at the mall. I would use these segments as talking points, if desired.

I highly recommend this series for children who are visual and/or auditory learners. I would begin the Basic Grammar course with children who are reading fluently and ready for formal grammar instruction. The course is simple to use and is an enjoyable way to learn grammar, especially for those who dislike the traditional textboook approach.

Unfortunately, I think most teenagers are will think this series is a little too "cheesy" for them. I don't believe you'll find many of them volunteering to watch it. However, I have an idea! Why not assign your older teen to watch it with your younger child to "help him" learn grammar. That way your teen can save "face" and it would give you time to work one-on-one with another child or do housework while this is going on!

My suggestion for this company is that they should create additional sets of Cozy Grammar with new actors and call them, "Wild West Grammar" for the western folks and "Shopping Mall Grammar" for the metropolitan type. That way everyone can enjoy watching them as much as I did!

For pricing and more information, log onto to their website at: www.splashesfromtheriver.com.

2. Ancient History Portfolio & Timeline by Barbara Shukin, Review. During the years I ran a support group, we would have portfolio night, where everyone brought their portfolio to show off. Of course, the winners were always the ones who were scrapbookers! Their portfolios were beautiful, colorful, and exciting while ours were dull, practical, and boring. Oh, if I had only know about Barbara's book, I could have given them a run for the money! It may not be scrapbooking, but when finished, it IS a work of art!

Barbara has put together a mini portfolio for history. She has designed each page so it's neat and orderly and then gives you all the ideas you need to complete the boxes. The assignments include reports, narration, vocabulary, copy work, and timelines. You can look at her website for color pictures of sample portfolios (http://www.homeschooljourney.com/index.html).

Barbara created these resources to be used "by an individual, child or adult, and will become a unique record of the student's "journey through history", a beautiful history book of the student's own making, something to refer to later as the student's interests grow and expand, and above all, something to treasure."

I recommend this resource for those of you who have children who are Read/Write and Visual learners (especially if they love to make booklets) and for moms who would like help in creating a portfolio of your child's history work.

3. Anthony and the Magic Picture Frame by Michael S. Class, is an innovative book that will stimulate your child's interest in history. Although written for ages 12 and up, this can easily be used as a family read-aloud for younger children.Your child will be transported back to the time of important historical events using real photographs of "Anthony" superimposed on historical photos of the people he visits including Charles Lindbergh, Lou Gehrig, Thomas Edison, and Dr. Jonas Salk. While on these "visits," Anthony learns about the Apollo Moon Mission, The Great Depression, Immigration, Polio Vaccine, WWII, the Holocaust, and more. Real quotes from real people make the story come so alive that you almost believe Anthony is there!

Included in the book is a list of books, movies, museums, and music related to each topic as well as footnotes that are lessons in themselves. I also like that the author chose to include references to God and Bible scripture rather than make this "politically" correct.

The author, Michael Class, wrote the book to encourage "young people to become productive, honest, thoughtful, moral citizens—and to contribute in a positive way to American society and the world." He has done an excellent job of fulfilling this mission. I highly recommend this book for everyone, even adults. Website: http://magicpictureframe.com"

4. Great Lives CDs. This series of CDs is a must for your auditory learner, but will be equally enjoyed by all. Each CD is professionally done and well worth the investment. Great Lives searches "stories from the finest biographies - many of which are no longer in print - and brings them together into an easy-to-listen-to audio CD." Each month you will learn about someone new such as Gandhi, Alexander Graham Bell, Mary Bethune, and Abraham Lincoln. Subscription: $8.95/month. www.storiesofgreatlives.com.

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Teaching Without Textbooks:
1. Teaching Kids About Money. Here are some free resources for teaching elementary-age kids about money:

Internet Games:

Internet Teaching Resources:

2. 60 Ways to practice spelling: http://teachers.net/gazette/DEC02/spelling.html

3. Reading Readiness Tool. Try this Reading readiness tool to help you determine if your child is ready to read: http://www.readingrockets.org/families/recognizesigns/getready

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Free Forms:

1. Country Report Theme Paper, wide lines (pdf document)

2. Country Report Theme Paper, thin lines (pdf document)

3. Revolutionary War Theme Paper, wide lines (pdf document)

4. Revolutionary War Theme Paper, thin lines (pdf document)

To access these forms, go to: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/forms.html. Scroll down the list to the appropriate title. You must have the latest version of the free Acrobat Reader software (available at www.adobe.com) installed to print these forms.

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The Checklist & Multi-Level Teaching:

1. Free Christmas Unit by Cindy Downes: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/christmasunit.html


2. NEW UNIT STUDY by Cindy Downes: Handel's Messiah - a Short Unit based on The Checklist

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Internet Resources:

1. Border Paper. Try this resource for creating your own border paper for handwriting and creative writing projects: http://www.2learn.ca/kids2learn/Kpaper.html

2. Narnia Unit Study. Here is an excellent unit study for the Chronicles of Narnia: http://www.thehomeschoolmagazine.com/e_newsletter/Unit_studies/Unit_Studies_E_Newsletter_11_01_05.php

3. 2006 Educator's Calendar - FREE from TeacherVision: http://www.teachervision.fen.com/page/34621.html?wtlAC=GS_2005-11-

4. Multiplication to Music (Classical Math to Classical Music) by Fred & Sarah Cooper is to the answer to learning the multiplication tables, especially for auditory learners who like classical music. Learn the time tables (2-12's) while singing along with classical music written by Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and more. Each song is sung four times. The first three times with answer; the last time your child has to sing the answers on his own. Purchase at SingNLearn: http://singnlearn.org

5. Free Trees. You can get free trees from Free Trees and Plants.com. Order now for your spring botany and gardening unit. All you have to do is pay shipping. Check it out at http://www.freetreesandplants.com/FreeTreesandPlantsWhyWeDoThis.html.

Merry Christmas!

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Have a great day!


Cindy Downes


Website: http:www.oklahomahomeschool.com

Email: cindy@oklahomahomeschool.com

Cindy's Blog: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/EmptyNestMom

Oklahoma Blog: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Oklahoma/

Have you seen The Checklist? It's an assessment tool, lesson planner and K-12 Recordkeeper created for Christian Home Educators: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/checklist.html

Oklahoma History Online is now available! Check it out at: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/okhist.html

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Copyright © 2004 - by Cindy Downes