May 1, 2008

Dear Oklahoma Homeschool Subscribers,

Sorry I'm late with this newsletter. I just finished semester #3 of college and had to have a few days to unwind!

The first thing I did was go to the OCHEC Homeschool Convention and visit with some old friends! I so enjoyed chatting with many of our wonderful homeschool moms here in Oklahoma - some of you I hadn't seen in a long while! I got a chance to visit with Sally Williamson (current editor of The Informer), Betty Smith (Considering God's Creation), and Linda Thornhill (TRISMS). (I'll be writing a review of Linda Thornhill's new work "Age of Revolution" later this summer.) And finally, I was blessed to eat at Zios with my friend, Ellen Latimer of OK Homeschool Moms Info Network. I also spent two hours looking around at the new (and old) products, and I spotted several that I will comment on in future newsletters. All in all, it was a terrific, relaxing day!

The next thing I allowed myself to do was to catch up on some fun reading! I read Sophie's Heart by Lori Wick in one day. What fun to just read for pleasure! An excellent book for teen girls and moms, by the way! My next fun read is Day of Infamy. (I know, that doesn't seem like fun, but for me it's a blast into my family's past. My dad, now with the Lord, was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed.)

The next thing I did was to finish putting in my garden. This year, I planted a lot of butterfly and honeybee attracting flowers as well as some tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peppers. I mostly did container gardening. My hubbie even built me a raised bed that holds three self-watering containers and one raised bed. Isn't he wonderful!

Now, it's time to get back to some other work. My plans for the summer are to write my newsletters, edit and add new information to my Oklahoma History Online Curriculum, take photos for my Oklahoma Scrapbook, write some new unit studies, review some new (and some old) curriculum, and work a new Web site I am putting together (secret!). I'm also studying to CLEP out of American History and American Government. When I have completed that, I will receive my Associates Degree!

Whew! I'm tired just looking at this list. I hope I get it done! I'm sure you have a packed summer, also! I hope you will fill it with fun, learn something new, and enjoy your family!

Have a great summer!

Cindy Downes

Oklahoma Homeschool Newsletter, May 2008


What's New on the Oklahoma Homeschool Website?

Updated Curriculum Reviews! So you won't have to go to each newsletter separately, I've recently updated my Curriculum Review page with all my reviews from past newsletters.

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Curriculum/Book Review:

1. Review of Day of Infamy by Walter Lord.

I started reading Day of Infamy because my dad was at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed in 1941. If you are studying World War II and would like to know more about this subject, this is a great book. It's easy to read and VERY interesting! Highly recommended for high school and up.

2. Review of The Declaration of Independence by Syl Sobel.

The Declaration of Independence is not a very colorful book, but it does provide the basic facts of America's fight for Independence. The illustrations are black, white, and blue drawings. The text is easy to read; however, there is a lot of text on each page. Although I do recommend it as a good resource for studying the Declaration of Independence, my one disappointment is that it does not mention Federalists and Anti-federalists nor anything about states rights. I would recommend this book for 4th to 5th grade and up to 8th grade as an introduction to the topic. Published in 2008 by Barron's. 48 pages

3. Review of Time Travelers by Amy Pak.

If you're looking for a fun way to teach an introduction to American History, look no further! The Time Traveler series is the perfect resource for those of you who like unit studies and prefer a visual, hands-on approach. I can assure you that when your children are done with this series, they will REMEMBER much more than we did with our traditional history textbooks!

Units currently available in the series are: New World Explorers, Colonial Life, The American Revolution, and Early 19th Century. I had a chance to review complete copies of Colonial Life and Early 19th Century, as well as sample pages from the other two.

I love how this curriculum is organized! It's easy to find what you are looking for and the interface is pretty, too! Each Unit comes on a CD that opens in your Internet Browser. From there you can access all the instructions, files, and templates. Each is easily opened and printed. The art work and typesetting is excellent.

The "Introduction" provides information on what each Unit will cover. The emphasis of the course is on penmanship, creative writing and composition, vocabulary, and critical thinking.

A section called "Tips" includes printing tips, a list of materials needed, and instructions on how to put your projects together.

The "Teacher Helps" section includes a day-by-day lesson planner, a list of additional resources (such as books, videos, and audio resources) for further research, printable binder covers in various sizes, teacher answer keys, and photos of finished projects.

The "Lessons and Projects Pages" include all the individual lesson plans and projects.

Typical lessons include creating a Lapbook® containing pop-up books, map work, and time-lines; learning vocabulary; composition projects such as writing a newspaper; penmanship lessons with copy work; and hands-on activities such as making a rope bed with straw tick, stenciling a box, and learning to weave using a loom that you build yourself. The Lapbook® activities are especially fun for kids who love to cut, color, and paste. The hands-on activities are particular suited to kids who like to "build" things. (There are more cut, color, and paste activities than hands-on.)

I particularly liked the way religious leaders and missionaries were incorporated into the curriculum. In the Colonial unit, students even create a timeline on "The Progress of Faith From Europe to the Colonies."


In this course, your child will learn about Colonial homes, clothing, food, family life, school, faith in the colonies, pleasures and pastimes, villages and cities, health and medicine, artisans, holidays, crime & punishment, and plantations and slavery. There is some brief historical information on how the Colonies were settled, how slavery was introduced and about the Great Awakening.


In this course, your child will learn about Washington, Jefferson and the Barbary Pirates; the Louisiana Purchase; Lewis & Clark; Inventions; War of 1812; Erie Canal; Trappers, Traders and Mountain Men; the first twelve presidents; other people of interest; Statehoods and the Alamo; Native Americans; Pioneer Life; The Wild West; Trails; Mexican-American War; and Ante Bellum.

Here is how I recommend using these resources:

If I were a textbook person, I would use the activities along with my textbook to make school more FUN! This alone is worth the price.

For those of you who prefer to do our own thing, this is the perfect resource for helping you do just that. You can pick and choose what you want to do when. You can supplement it with more reading, research, and term papers for older children or use the lessons as a read-aloud for your youngest children.

And for those of you who want to have FUN without doing all the work, you can use it just like it is!

For more information, check out the Homeschooling in the Woods Web site.

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Teaching Without Textbooks -

1. For those of you new to homeschooling, here are some suggestions to help you get started:

2. NEW! Revolutionary War Unit by Cindy Downes. I thought this would help me study for my CLEP test and help you at the same time!

3. And don't forget! When you're done, be sure to add what your children did for the Revolutionary War Unit to your copy of The Checklist!

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FREE Forms:

1. Thematic Paper. Use these two forms (wide lines and thin lines) when teaching about the Revolutionary War:

2. More free forms:

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Oklahoma Information and Resources:

1. Oklahoma History Online by Cindy Downes. An online, multi-level curriculum for teaching Oklahoma History.

2. Oklahoma Scrapbook: A Travel Guide and Memory Book for Exploring Oklahoma by Cindy Downes.

3. For more info and learning materials about Oklahoma history, check my website at:

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Internet Resources:

1. Primary Sources. Lots of FUN stuff here for primary grades! I love the tooth record in the science section.

2. Here's another fun one: An edible model of the earth!

3. Notebooking Nook has lots of free printables!

4. Free Hurricane Unit from Treasure Box Press.

5. Highschoolers can get a head start on college by taking CLEP tests for college credit. Here are some study resources:

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"Scripture Tree." — Scripture Tree Web site

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Please feel free to forward this to anyone who may be interested. Please forward in it's entirety.

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Have a great day!


Cindy Downes

Have you seen The Checklist? It's an assessment tool, lesson planner and K-12 Recordkeeper created for Christian Home Educators:

Oklahoma History Online is now available! Check it out at:

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Copyright © 2004 - by Cindy Downes