October 4 , 2007

Dear Oklahoma Homeschool Subscribers,

I hope you are having a great school year. As you have probably noticed, I haven't been as faithful in sending out my newsletters as I should have been! This semester I'm taking Statistics, Introduction to Mass Media, Writing for Mass Media, and Symbolic Logic. It's a lot more work than I anticipated leaving me little time to do much else.

September was a very exciting month also! I was the subject of a feature story that aired on Good Morning America on September 7th. It was a story on Boomer women going back to college. What an honor to be selected! You can view that video on the ABC website (Click on the video on the right side of the page. You may have to wait through a 30 second ad.)

I also have two articles coming out in the Fall issue of the Old Schoolhouse Magazine. One features an interview with a local homeschool dad - David Sugiyama who is a Forensic Scientist at the Tulsa Police Department, and the other is a unit study on Hometown Heroes. I hope you enjoy these articles. (By the way, this magazine is now available at Borders, Barnes and Nobles, as well as Mardel.) Now it's back to work!

This newsletter focuses on World War I as a thematic unit. There seems to be plenty of homeschool curriculum that covers American history up to the Civil War and perhaps a little beyond; however, there seems to be very little available that covers the late 1800s through current day. So I thought I would work on filling some of these gaps by creating some multi-level lesson plans that focus on this time frame. I hope it will be helpful to you.

Have a great day!

Cindy Downes

Oklahoma Homeschool Newsletter, September 2007


Curriculum/Book Review:

1. Review of Ancient China, To the Great Wall and Beyond by Judy Wilcox

I am extremely impressed with Ancient China, To the Great Wall and Beyond by Judy Wilcox. Judy has created a resource that is fun, easy-to-use, and chock full of information about China (from ancient time to modern day). It was written to be used with K-6 grade, but I believe it would make a terrific supplement for 7-12 also. There is enough "meat" in this unit that your teens will learn as much or more about China from this than from most junior or senior level textbooks. The best part is that they will have fun doing it!

The unit is scheduled for a twelve week period and is divided into daily lesson plans. Each lesson includes a reading in the book and timeline information. Projects are included with each lesson that involve research, reading, composition, map work, art, music, science, hands-on activities (crafts, models, recipes, etc), and field trip ideas.

The lessons begin with the geography of China, then progress through history by dynasty, and conclude with information about modern China. At the end of the book, there is a test for the unit as well as a glossary, a list of books for further study, timeline figures, and maps.

From the moment I picked up this book, I was "hooked." I read the book cover to cover, wishing the whole time that I was still homeschooling or that I had had a chance to be exposed to this kind of learning when I was a young student. The information is presented logically and simple enough that anyone can understand it. I particularly liked how Judy integrates Christianity into the curriculum and includes projects that has students compare the religions of China to that of Christianity.

I can't recommend this unit enough. Ancient China has a fascinating history and plays an important role in our world today. You will be doing your children an injustice not to expose them to the history of China. Now, there is a resource that will help you do just that! And when you are done, you can check this off your copy of The Checklist.

PS: I have added an update to The Checklist to incorporate this unit. Those of you who already own The Checklist can add it to your notebook. Those of you who don't can view a sample here: Ancient China (updated September 2007): http://oklahomahomeschool.com/Cklist_Rev.html

2. Wonders of Old, A Blank Timeline Book of World History.

If you need a resource for teaching history using a timeline and love the look and feel of a "real" book, you'll love Wonders of Old! This is more than a school book - it's a family keepsake! Terri has created this oversized, hardcover book to "help your students understand and 'see' the progression of history with interactive and engaging timelines. It includes decorative pages on which to write historical events or attach timeline figures. Terri has also included significant dates for each period and a place for notes in the back. This is a homeschool resource that will be treasured for years.

3. Signs & Seasons: Understanding the Elements of Classical Astronomy by Jay Ryan.

My first impression when I picked up this curriculum was - how do I read this? The author uses fonts and text that emulate the style of Colonial Almanacks. Those of you who use a Classical method of homeschooling will feel quite at home; however, for those of us who do not, it presents a bit of a challenge. Once you get past the preface, however, a majority of the text is in a modern style.

The purpose of the book is best explained by the author, Jay Ryan: "Unlike other astronomy books, Signs & Seasons is based on the Biblical purpose for which the Sun, Moon, and stars were created - for signs and seasons, days and years - as it is written in Genesis 1:14. Signs & Seasons includes extensive Bible quotes from classic authors - philosophers, poets, and historians, Christian and secular alike. . . The purpose of Signs & Seasons is to help the reader become an observer of the celestial bodies and to understand the clockwork of the heavens."

The book covers:

- why the stars rise and set
- the motion of the planets and the moon among the stars,
- the reasons for the seasons
- the names of the principal constellations
- why they seem to change with the seasons.

There are seven chapters with black and white drawings and an appendix. The appendix includes suggestions for further reading, astronomical tables, brief biographies of quoted authors "with an emphasis on their relevance to classical astronomy," a glossary, and field activities. The section on field activities offers ideas on creating a field journal, as well as many hands-on activities that will make the unit much more meaningful. For instance, in Chapter 1, you will create a backyard compass which will be used throughout the year for observing the skies. There are also instructions on how to sketch the earth's rotation, and the sun's daily motion. A globe activity helps students understand the geocentric and heliocentric theory. Directions for creating a volvelle to illustrate the daily motion of the sun are included as well as a journal entry suggestion for a classical astronomy timeline. Also included is a pair of Eclipse Shades for safe solar viewing.

Personally, I found the quotes mixed in with the text confusing and the information more in depth than I would have taught based on my own children's learning styles and interests. However, I would heartily recommend this book to those who enjoy the Classical method of homeschooling as well as those who desire to give their children an in-depth look at astronomy from a Biblical perspective.

I don't think there is another curriculum out there like this, so it would be well worth your time to check it out and see if it will meet a need in your homeschool.

3. Check out the other reviews of products on my Curriculum Review page.

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Teaching Without Textbooks - World War I

Topics to Cover (Excerpt from The Checklist):


1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria-Hungary Assassinated
1914, Panama Canal Opened
1914, World War I Begins in Europe
1914, Charlie Chaplin Films Are Produced
1915, Germans Sink the Lusitania
1917, United States Enters War I
1917, Balfour Declaration, partitioned the Ottoman Empire
1918, Armistice and World War I Ends
1919, Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations
1920, Radio Broadcasting Begins
1922, USSR is Formed
1926, Hirohito Become Emperor of Japan
1927, Talking Pictures Begin


  • Churchill, Winston (England, 1874-1965)—Soldier, Writer, War Strategist
  • Clemenceau, Georges Benjamin(France, 1841-1929)—Premier of France during World War I
  • Lawrence, T. E. (Wales, 1888-1935)—Soldier and Author: Lawrence of Arabia, Army Intelligence, Revolt in the Desert
  • Lloyd-George, David (England, 1863-1945)—Prime Minister of Britain: 1916-1922
  • Lodge, Henry Cabot (Massachusetts, 1850-1924)—Politician and Author: League of Nations
  • Nicolas II (Russia, 1868-1918)—Russian Czar: Joined Allies in WWI
  • Pershing, John J. (Missouri, 1860-1948)—Army Commander
  • Rickenbacker, Eddie. (Ohio, 1890-1973)—American Ace, fighter pilot WWI
  • Thorpe, Jim (Oklahoma, 1886-1953)—Athlete
  • Wilhelm II, Kaiser ( Germany, 1859-1941)—German Emperor (1888-1918)
  • Wilson, Woodrow (Virginia, 1856-1924)—28th President (1913-1921): Prohibition, Women’s Suffrage, Clayton Antitrust Act, Child Labor Law, League of Nations
  • York, Sergeant Alvin C. (Tennessee, 1887-1964) —American corporal, WWI Hero



2. And don't forget! When you're done, be sure to add what your children did for World War I to your copy of The Checklist!

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FREE Forms:

Thematic Paper. World War I writing paper: http://www.oklahomahomeschool.com/forms.html

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Oklahoma Centennial Events:
cowboy with rope

October Events:

Guthrie Centennial Wild West Show
Oct 13, 2007 - Oct 14, 2007
Guthrie - Festivals/Events
A two-day Centennial Wild West Show at Logan County Fairgrounds will feature performances that present the history of Oklahoma during territorial and statehood days such as horse-drawn hitch teams, trick roping and other western events.

The Centennial Parade
Oct 14, 2007
Oklahoma City - Premier Events
The largest parade in Oklahoma history will be held in downtown Oklahoma City for all Oklahomans on Oct. 14, 2007. For more information or to apply to participate in The Centennial Parade visit: The Centennial Parade

Tulsa's Tour of Historic Homes
Oct 14, 2007
Tulsa - Festivals/Events
Most of the homes in Brady Heights, built between 1904 and 1930, feature leaded glass, carriage houses and broad porches, reflecting Oklahoma's early elegance. The tour will focus on Oklahoma's early political, spiritual and social leaders as told through the architecture they left behind. Most of the homes in Brady Heights were built between 1904 and 1930. The houses of Brady Heights, with leaded glass, carriage houses and broad porches, reflect Oklahoma’s early elegance. The self-guided tour will offer printed educational information about Tulsa’s early history and its history-makers. Ticketed Event
Contact: Michelle Barnett 592-9135

Tulsa's Oktoberfest
Oct 18, 2007 - Oct 21, 2007
Tulsa - Festivals/Events
The festival offers fun for all ages and interests: A children's tent and carnival, Sports Café , a beer house, a eating tent and garden and open market featuring authentic German food and merchandise. More than 60,000 people attend the festival.

El Reno's Centennial at Fort Reno
Oct 18, 2007 - Oct 21, 2007
El Reno - Festivals/Events
Living history depictions and tributes to the people (politicians, homesteaders, boomers, U.S. Calvary, Buffalo Soldiers, drovers, and Native Americans) as Oklahoma and Indian Territory transitioned to statehood. The event will involve Post Cemetery tombstone tales, living history camps on the historical parade grounds, educational interpretations, Civil War and Indian War Military camps and event reenactments.

Beaver's Oklahoma Panhandle (No Man's Land Centennial Festival)
Oct 20, 2007
Beaver - Festivals/Events
Festival includes story telling, singing, and music from Oklahomans to celebrate Oklahoma's 100th birthday. Displays of Oklahoma heritage and culture are placed throughout the park to illustrate the way of life in 1907.

Talihina's Fall Festival
Oct 27, 2007 - Oct 28, 2007
Talihina - Festivals/Events
An annual Fall Foliage Festival including arts and crafts, food, live entertainment, and a car show. The festival coincides with the peak season for the foliage in the Ouachita Mountains and along the National Scenic Byway, "Talimena Scenic Drive."

2. For discount coupons and more travel info about Oklahoma, check TravelOK.com.

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Internet Resources:

1. Make your own quizzes, crossword puzzles, etc. at Quiz Center from Discovery School.

2. Make your own worksheets at Make Worksheets.com

3. Create a crossword puzzle at EdHelper.

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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: 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