Homeschool Share: an online homeschool curriculum cooperative hosting over 500 unit studies, lapbooks, printables, and other resources.

My Great Aunt Arizona Unit Study

My Great Aunt Arizona

 Author: Gloria Houston
Illustrator: Susan Condie Lamb

Arizona, a child of the Blue Ridge, is named by her older brother, a cavalryman out West. As she grows up, she longs to visit the faraway places she learns about, but life doesn't offer her those opportunities. Her mother dies and she takes on family responsibilities. Still she becomes a teacher in spite of the obstacles in her path. For 57 years, she teaches generation after generation of students in her one-room schoolhouse, describing for them the wonders of the larger world that she herself has never seen and inspiring in them the satisfaction of learning. Even after her death she still walks with those whose lives she has touched. 

Level 3 unit study written by Karen Robuck



Read Proverbs 8:33 in the translation of your choice. Copy it in your best handwriting.


Language Arts

Put your stories, poems, or play in your notebook. Use your best handwriting.

(1) Pretend you are a student in a one-room school. Write a story or act out a scene about how you spend your day.


(2) What are your dreams? Write a poem about one of them.


(3) Write an essay (3-5 paragraphs) about this question: Arizona never fulfilled her dream of traveling. Was her life a failure because she couldn't fulfill this dream?


(4) Do one of the writing activities from the Social Studies section below.




According to the cataloging information at the beginning of the book, Arizona was born in 1876. Use that date to answer these questions:


(1) Arizona taught school for 57 years. It wasn't unusual for teachers to be as young as sixteen when they started. If she was, how old was she when she retired? If she was 18? If she was 20?


(2) If she was 16 when she started teaching, what year did she start? If she was 18? If she was 20?


(3) If she was 16 when she started teaching, what year did she retire? If she was 18? If she was 20?


(4) Since she was 93 when she died, when did she die?


(5) How old was she when:



Answer any or all of these questions in paragraph form and put in your notebook:

(1) Research the process for making maple syrup.


(2) What animals are found in the Blue Ridge Mountains? Write a report and find a picture of two of them (younger students). Older students will find four pictures.


(3) What are galax and ginseng? Why were they important to mountain people?


Social Studies-Geography

(1) Locate North Carolina and the Blue Ridge Mountains on a map


(2) Locate Arizona (where her uncle lived) on a map


(3) Color a map of NC and put in your notebook


Social Studies-History

Answer any or all of these questions in paragraph form and put in your notebook.

(1) Why was Arizona's uncle in the cavalry in Arizona in 1876? What would his job have been?


(2) Research and write a report on one-room schools. How much training would Arizona have needed to teach in one?


(3) When Arizona was born, there were no cars, no airplanes, no electricity, no running water. There were few libraries or stores, and most of those were far away. What were some of the changes she saw in her lifetime?


(4) If she had been able to travel, how would she have done so in the 1890s and early 1900s?


(5) Since there were no phones or email when she was born, how did people communicate with the outside world?


Social Studies--Family Relationships

Your great-aunt is the sister of your grandmother or grandfather, or your grandparent's brother's wife. In the book, Arizona is the author's grandfather's sister.


(1) Do you have a great-aunt who is still living? Contact her in some way and ask her to share some favorite stories with you. Record them. Then, using your best handwriting, write them down. Younger children may need a parent or older sibling to help with the writing. Put the stories in your notebook.


(2) Ask your parents to tell a story about their favorite aunt. Record it and write it down.  (Use your best handwriting). Put the stories in your notebook.


(3) Look at family photos. If you have a great-aunt still living, ask her to share some of her favorite family photos with you. Create a scrapbook page with the photos. If you don't want to cut the pictures, either photocopy them or make a digital scrapbook.



(1) Listen to or sing some old-time gospel hymns. One possible site for them is


(2) Listen to or sing some mountain folksongs. They are also available at



(1) Make snow cream. When it starts to snow, place a large bowl outside to collect the flakes. When you have about 1 gallon of snow, stir in sugar and vanilla to taste. Add just enough milk for the desired consistency. Serve immediately.


(2) Eat maple syrup on homemade pancakes.


(3) Make homemade biscuits to eat with ham


(4) Make fried apple pies. Arizona's mother would have used dried apples, which she would have stewed first. An adult or older child will have to cook the apples and fry the pies at the stove. Younger children may help form the dough.



(1) Make your own chalkboard. Arizona used fresh lumber and shoe polish. What can you use?


(2) Create the scrapbook page described above.



(1) Watch and maybe even learn a simple square dance step.



(2) Play William Matrimmatoe

Character Trait-Attentiveness

In Arizona's day, the students said their lessons at the same time. As a family, try to do this for fifteen minutes. How much do you remember? How much attention do you have to pay to your own lessons in order to remember? Is it easier to pay attention if everyone is whispering, speaking in a normal voice, or shouting?