DATE April 1, 2008

Dear Oklahoma Homeschool Subscribers,

Unfortunately, this is going to be a short newsletter. I am entering my last four weeks at OSU this semester and have a TON of work to do. I just havent' had time to do much else. I am planning on finishing this semester and then take the summer off. I am going to try to CLEP out of some courses this summer, but take no classes. Wish me luck!

I've included an article I wrote about using a microscope that I hope will be helpful, a few interesting Web links, and a World War II lesson plan.

Finally, as some of you know, I was interviewed in January for a program about homeschooling that will air on OETA -PBS in April. I hope I represented you all well. I haven't seen it yet so I don't know if they presented it friendly or not! The Segment is called "Stateline;" the program is subtitled, "Ready for Life. It will air on OETA/PBS (Oklahoma Channel 11) 4 times:

  • April 1st at 9:00pm
  • April 15th at 9:00pm
  • April 27th at 11:30am
  • April 29th at 10pm

After viewing note: The others interviewed on the program were Paula Neal and Brian Ray. They both did an excellent job! Overall, I would say that the program gave a fair representation of the pros and cons of homeschooling from the respective points of view of homeschool families versus the public school teachers and administration. If you miss the TV showings, you can see it online here.

Have a wonderful April!

Cindy Downes

Oklahoma Homeschool Newsletter, April 2008


Lab Science - Using a Microscope by Cindy Downes

First of all, you need a microscope that works. Don't try to buy a cheap one at the local toy store. Try Great Learning Tools or GreatScopes. They specialize in selling microscopes to homeschoolers.

For those that are unable to afford a microscope, why not get together with your support group members and buy one together that can be lent out on a weekly basis? Charge a deposit to make sure you get it back and in good condition. Charge a small rental fee that can be used to purchase prepared slides to borrow and examine. Because of health reasons, you should require them purchase their own blank slides to use to make their own slide specimens.

After you obtain your microscope, you need some directions on how to use it.. I've located three resources that will help you in this area and all should be available at your local library.

Greg's Microscope by Millicent E. Selsam is a good introduction to the microscope for early elementary students. This is a science "I Can Read" book.

Microscope: How to Use It and Enjoy It by Eve and Albert Stwertka. This book is recommended for students in grades 4-6 and up. It relates a brief history of the microscope, some biographical information about Robert Hooke and Leeuwenhoek and how they used the microscope, how a microscope works, how to handle a microscope, and then provides lots of ideas for using your microscope to explore the microscopic world. Unfortunately, it's out of print; however, there are a few used ones available at your library on purchase online.

The Ultimate Guide to Your Microscope by Shar Levine. This in-depth guide explains how to put bugs, water, food, plants and pollen, and even parts of the body (like fingernails) under the scope for a close-up glimpse.

What can you do with a microscope? You can look at salt and sugar crystals, look for protozoa in pond water, examine plant cells, cheek cells, blood cells, and insect legs. Rather than just read about science, they can actually do it! Kids will love it and it's much more effective than filling in blanks in a textbook. When I prepare curriculum recommendations for homeschool moms, I always schedule science two times a week and history two times a week for one hour or more at a stretch. This is more than enough time to finish your curriculum and add in some lab work. Try it! Your kids will thank you for it.


Simple Microscope. Here is historical information about the microscope plus information on how to make one!

Virtual Microscope. Look at "specimens" under the microscope and then try to identify them.

Interactive Microscope. Look at onion root mitosis and moon rock!

Glass-Sphere Microscope. Learn how microscopes were developed, how to use one, and see some samples of what you can do with one.

Microscopy Ideas. Here are lots of ideas on using a microscope along with directions for doing it.

Great Scopes. Lots of microscope activity ideas from GreatScopes. Also includes excellent information on how to buy a microscope. This company is operated by homeschoolers.

MicroScape. A virtual microscope lab. Awesome! You are shown a microscopic view of something then the Quicktime movie zooms out so you can see what it is.

Teacher Resources from Museum of Science. Find out how to build your own microscopes, set up a microscope lab, how to stain specimens, and more.

Microbe Zoo. Microbes in the news (learn about ancient, heroic, strange, and dangerous microbes), read tales of amazing microbes, and see the microbe of the month.

Cells Alive. Another fantastic site of microscopic images only this is done with graphics instead of photos. This one has images of human cells, plants cells, and much more.

Label the parts of a microscope worksheet.

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FREE Forms:

WWII Activity Book. I discovered this on the National Park Web site and thought you might like to add it to your WWII unit.

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Oklahoma Information and Resources:

1. Information about the Oklahoma Quarter. Includes FREE lesson plans!

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

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

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

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Internet Resources:

1. English Grammar and Style - A great resource for everything grammar!

2. If your kids are looking for a Facebook group of homeschooled kids, check this one out: I am Homeschooled not Amish. You must be signed in to Facebook to view and/or join the group.

3. Teaching the Constitution? Here's a free resource from the Iowa Bar Association.

4. Speaking of microscopes, here is a free, Forensic Science Unit that will give your children experience in using a microscope.

5. The Virtual Body - More science fun!

6. This is really fun! Test your knowledge of the U.S. States.

7. Top 100 Preschool Web sites! Lots of links to help those of you with preschoolers.

8. I just discovered a product created by Art of Eloquence called, Say What you Mean: Defending the Faith. After being in college and around a lot of people who are curious about what I believe, I can assure you that a course like this would be a great benefit to your child. I haven't used it but the sample looks excellent.

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"By learning you will teach; by teaching you will learn." — Latin Proverb

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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