Oklahoma Homeschool Newsletter - July/August 2006


July 19, 2006

Dear Oklahoma Homeschool Subscribers,

Hello everyone! I hope you are having a great summer. It's been a long time since I've written my email newsletter but I've decided it's time to put it on my top priorities list. I'm going back to a monthly issue of this newsletter beginning September 1st. This will be the July/August issue. If you know of anyone new to homeschooling that would like the email newsletter, be sure to send them to my website to sign up: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/newsletter.html

Personal News: My seasons of life keep changing - now I'm getting ready to go into the retirement mode - actually my husband is. Well, not retire really, just make a big change. He retired from working at COTM in June in order to do what's always been on his heart - photography. So besides doing Macintosh computer consulting, he's been busy preparing to take on this new venture. It's been an adjustment for him and me (he's here 24/7!) but we're looking forward to using this new endeavor to not only supply our financial needs during retirement but to also use it for ministry. Last week we went on a field trip with Lisa Watson to the Horse and Burro Adoption at Paul's Valley. We took photos of her trip: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/FTCHorseAdopt.html. That was fun. If any of you are taking a field trip and need a "staff" photographer, let me know. We might be interested in going. I hope to use our photos for articles I will write for magazines or children's books so all attending will need to sign a photo release.

Another change in my life is my new ministry. I'm now doing hospice visitation. I have one "patient", a dear lady of 93 years of age, who I visit weekly. She makes me cookies! (Bad for the diet!) I am writing down all her memories and going to make a little booklet out of it. After she passes, I will give it to her family.

This summer I also had the honor of being interviewed by The Old Schoolhouse for their magazine. You can read the interview in the summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse magazine (available in July at most bookstores) on page 64. By the way, this is my favorite homeschool magazine. If you haven't read it, you should check it out.

Finally, I'm scheduled to do a workshop in Tulsa, next Saturday, July 29 (9:00-3:00), and another workshop in Edmond on Saturday, October 7th (9-3). For more information about these workshops, check my website: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/speaking.html. Be sure to let your new or almost new homeschooling friends know about the one in Tulsa coming next week! There is limited seating and it's almost here! I'd love to see some of you there also!

That's all the newsy news. I hope you enjoy this issue of the Oklahoma Homeschool newsletter.

Have a great summer!

Cindy Downes

Oklahoma Homeschool Newsletter, July/August 2006 (Oklahoma Edition)


What's New on the Oklahoma Homeschool Website?

1. Revised Oklahoma History Online course. I spent the summer updating the links and resources on the Oklahoma History Online course. I think you will find it better than ever. This is an ongoing project. I had eighty-nine families signed up last year for the course and received all good feedback. Check it out at: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/okhist.html

2. Recipes for Learning - I've added some new "recipes" for learning on: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/recipes.html

3. Freebies - I added a couple of new Freebies to my website: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/freebies.html

4. Field Trips - I added a few new field trip suggestions: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/fieldtrip.html

5. Don't forget to check out my blogs where you can get news about Oklahoma activities and tips on homeschooling early: http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/EmptyNestMom/ and http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/Oklahoma/

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Book Reviews:

1. Learning with the Movies Review. If you do unit studies or just like to enrich your homeschool program with videos, you have to have this book by Beth Holland! This is another resource I discovered at the OCHEC convention and immediately purchased. Learning with the Movies includes a listing of cinema movies and made-for-TV movies. The beauty of this guide is that all the movies are organized chronologically beginning with Bible Times and Ancient Egypt through 1900's.

If you are doing a study on Rome, simple look through the section on Ancient Rome! For instance, in the Rome section, she has included Ben-Hur, Demetrius and the Gladiator, fall of the Roman Empire, Julius Caesar, Jupiter's Darling, Quo Vadis?, The Robe, Sign of the Pagan (about Attila the Hun), and Spartacus. There is also some blank space for you to list additional movies as you find them.

Finally, she has also included movies related to the Music/Arts (example: The Agony and the Ecstasy which is about Michelangelo), Biographies (example: Abe Lincoln in Illinois), Sports (example: Brian's Song), Science/Nature (example: Apollo 13), Horses (example: Miracle of the White Stallions), Medicine (example: The Girl in White), Literature (example: A Christmas Carol), Holidays (example: Miracle on 34th Street), and Family Films (just plain fun).

Each movie listing includes its production date, Beth's star rating, and the parental guidance rating (PG, G, etc). An alphabetical listing is in the back of the book.

2. Balancing the Sword Review. I made another great discovery at the OCHEC Homeschool Convention - a Bible study resource called Balancing the Sword. So many times, parents ask me what they should use for Bible study and I usually tell them - the Bible! I know that seems obvious but parents are so used to doing curriculum for everything that they think they need a curriculum for studying the Bible. Unfortunately, Bible curriculums are usually structured around someone else's theology or philosophy so it's hard to hear what God is saying to you personally.

Balancing the Sword is different. You simply read a chapter in the Bible and then refer to Balancing the Sword for questions about that chapter. You must also read the cross references listed to find all the answers. The cross references follow the theme of one verse throughout the Bible. By time you get done reading everything, you've learn so much more about the topic and all through reading the Word, not someone's commentary. it's amazing what you learn!

For instance, in the first chapter of Genesis, I learned:

1. God created light here on earth. There is no sun in heaven - He is the light.

2. Night time is the beginning of the Jewish day. We once walked in darkness but now we are in the Light.

3. God gave stars as signs for seasons, days, and years. These will remain as long as the earth remains, but will disappear at the Day of the Lord. A star was used to show the location of Jesus at His birth. Man uses stars to interpret the weather, but most are unable to interpret the signs of the times.

4. God wants us to be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it using its vast resources in the service of God and man. God gives dominion to whom He chooses for His purposes.

There are two volumes. Each of the two volumes cover all 66 books of the Bible but with different questions so you can go through the Bible two times using the two books. You can do it from Genesis to Revelation or start anywhere in the Bible that you want to. Although it is based on the KJV, it does not seem to require that you use that version. I use the Amplified and The Message and had no problem.

You are given permission to make copies of the questions for your own family so you can give each child a blank sheet of questions to answer. (I would probably do this orally as a family - maybe once in a while writing the answers to keep in my portfolio as records.)

Check it out. This might be just what you are looking for!

See some sample pages here: http://www.balancingthesword.com/PDF_Files/Samples_of_Both_Volumes.pdf

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Teaching Without Textbooks:

1. Music Biographies Back in Print!. Some of my favorite biographies which were written in the 40's and were out of print are now back in print - the Great Musicians series by Opal Wheeler. Some of the titles include:

2. Teaching Kids about Money.

Learn about the history of money before computers, how the digital revolution changed the world, and download free lesson plans: http://www.pbs.org/opb/electricmoney/

Free comics on money from the Federal Reserve. I just received my copies and they are really fun! Order them here: http://www.ny.frb.org/publications/result.cfm?comics=1

After you do that, visit Dave Ramsey and find out the truth about debt! http://www.daveramsey.com/
While you are there, visit Junior's Clubhouse: http://www.daveramsey.com/etc/cms/index.cfm?intContentID=2630

3. Forensics in the Classroom - FREE Unit. Court TV has made available Forensics in the Classroom - free units based on forensic science for middle - high school students.

The Cafeteria Caper: The cafeteria at Park Haven H.S. was trashed, and the evidence left behind bears a suspicious similarity to the initiation rights of an underground club. Students conduct an enzymes test, as well as hair, blood and DNA analysis to find out who’s responsible.

It's Magic!: Who snatched Magic, the award-winning pooch, from his master’s home? To find out, students perform handwriting analysis, a pH test and paper chromatography.

The Celebration: A city’s football victory prompts some excessive celebration, and police are called. Students must run a gunshot residue test on various clothing samples from people at the scene in order to determine who may have fired a weapon.

The Car That Swims: A car is found at the bottom of a river. How did it get there and to whom does it belong? Students must use footprint casting and scientific reasoning to see through a young girl’s shaky explanation and get to the bottom of the story.

Renters Beware: A makeshift chemistry laboratory, strange vials of liquid, and a money-hungry landlord all combine to create this puzzle. To solve the mystery, students will first use a flame test to determine the contents of the vials, then a Kastle-Meyer test and fingerprint matching to find the owner of the lab and uncover the plot.

To download these free units, go to their website at: http://www.courttv.com/forensics%5Fcurriculum/

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FREE Forms:

Check out the free forms on my website. I recently added the Bible Character Study worksheet: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/forms.html

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The Checklist & Multi-Level Teaching:

If you are thinking about trying some multi-level teaching with units, be sure to read through my webpage on the subject: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/MultiLevel.html.

If you are still wondering what curriculum to use, be sure to go through my Step-by-Step Guide to Choosing Curriculum: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/CCstepbystep.html

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Internet Resources:

1. Lynda.com: Technical Training Resource - Computer, Website Design, and more. Last week, I decided that I wanted to learn Dreamweaver so that I could do more with my website. In the process, I discovered Lynda.com Online Training. This is a GREAT program. I've gone through 10 lessons so far and learned SO MUCH! It is well worth the price. I am doing the monthly program.

If you have kids who want to learn website design, computer animation, digital photography, audio, or presentations, you need to check this out. Courses in all kinds of software are available including: Acrobat, CORELdraw, Excel, Filemaker Pro, Dreamweaver, Photoshop, iTunes, Garage Band, Quark, Windows XP, and much more. The cost is $25/month for unlimited access. You can't beat that. If you want to enroll for the year, it's $375 (this price includes the exercises). For those of you who have several children spaced out, you might want to purchase the CDs so that you will have them from year to year. There is an educator discount available, but I haven't found out if it's available to homeschoolers. Even without the discount, this is a great deal and well worth the price.

PS: Since I already knew something about website development, I didn't need the exercises. They would be worth having if I hadn't had previous experience. In that case, I would have enrolled in the yearly program or purchase the CDs. I may still do that if I decide to take another course.

2. Book Cover Creator: http://www.readwritethink.org/materials/bookcover/

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE: This newsletter is ©Copyright 2006 by Cindy Downes. All rights reserved.

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Have a great day!


Cindy Downes
Oklahoma Blog:

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