Saturday, September 7, 2019

Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection Review

My family had the privilege of trying the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Zeezok Publishing is a Christian provider of enriching educational materials for homeschoolers. They strive to supply the best and most affordable homeschooling textbooks and supplementary materials that will compliment your educational needs. Zeezok Publishing is continuing to expand its curriculum, books, and supplementary materials to help the homeschooling family have the opportunity to give the finest possible education to their children.

Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection, minus Nutcracker Ballet book.

Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades is more than just teaching music theory or music appreciation to your student. This collection is from the Great Musicians Series. The collection includes a student activity book and nine composer biographies. This is geared for grades 5th-8th and a variety of learners including: auditory, kinesthetic, visual, etc. It also meets all national standards for music appreciation.

What is included in detail:
  • Student Book: This soft cover book by Elisabeth Tanner and Judy Wilcox starts off with a Table of Contents, Introduction, Scope & Sequence, and Music List. Then it has each of the seven composers listed, each with 4 weeks of hands-on activities that include:  American and world history, grammar, geography, music studies, concert etiquette, timelines, character trait studies, and so much more. The activity book ends in Endnotes, a bibliography for each section. This is a great companion to the biographies and they suggest getting one of these for each student being taught. Comes with Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App–QR codes and their app website that provides easy access to all the songs from the biographies, interactive quizzes, and a variety of additional website links to enhance the learning experience. MSRP $59.99
  • 9 Composer Biographies: Nine different biography books for seven composers studied. Included is: Frederic Chopin, Robert Schumann, Richard Wagner, Stephen Foster, Brahms, Peter Tchaikovsky, and Edward MacDowell. These biographies describe the childhood and adult life of each of these composers. These are true and accurate with every important event mentioned. These also have written music and lovely pictures throughout.

Music Appreciation: Book 2 Collection includes one Student Book and the following nine composer biographies: 
  • Frederic Chopin, Early Years
  • Frederic Chopin, Later Years
  • Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff
  • Adventures of Richard Wagner
  • Stephen Foster and His Little Dog Tray
  • The Young Brahms
  • The Story of Peter Tchaikovsky
  • Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet
  • Edward MacDowell and His Cabin in the Pines

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I used this set with my daughter, Teela, who is just starting 6th grade. We focused on Frederic Chopin and the book Frederic Chopin, Early Years and some of the Frederic Chopin, Later Years for the 4 week study and this review. First we looked through the Student Book and found that besides a nice table of contents, each composer had its own colored tab along the side to find the pages easily. The tab colors also go with the some of the reader colors. When we flipped to Frederic Chopin on page 17 we found the Weekly Lesson Outline layout for each of the four weeks. These Weekly Lesson Outlines are given for each composer too and is very well structured and spelled out for you so you know exactly what to do and when. At the end of the 5 weeks they also include an answer key to help the teacher with grading.

I noticed a few things when we received the set through the mail. We received all but one of the physical books in the series because of an error in shipping. We were instead given a digital download of the Peter Tchaikovsky and the Nutcracker Ballet, the last one we were missing, but I would have rather had the physical book. There is also a lapbook and coloring book that we did not receive and that are sold separately to go along with the materials. Also, I noticed that one book, The Young Brahms, was a hardcover not softcover like the rest.

In the Student Book there are Music Appreciation for the Middle Grades App–QR codes and a link to an app website that provides easy access to all the songs from the biographies, interactive quizzes, and a variety of additional website links to enhance the learning experience. We couldn't use the QR codes because we don't have a device to read them, but had a lot of fun with the website link which had all the same information. There are also activities in the student book that are starred and this means that those certain activities are required in order to meet national music appreciation standards.

Chopin Weekly Lesson Outline and an illustration in the reader.

The Student Book had 5 weeks about Chopin. Each week we had different things to work on; some included: chapters to read from the biographies, comprehension questions to answer, character qualities to read about with page numbers from the biography to correspond with, tidbits of interest to read about with page numbers from the biography to correspond with, listening to tracks, vocabulary to learn, musical parts to learn, recipes to try, etc.

We learned a great deal about Chopin's early years. Not only did we learn about his life, but we also learned about his birthplace, Poland; music, foods he ate with recipes of a similar facsimile, etc. Some of the things we learned was that he went by many names, he weighed only 100 pounds even as an adult, he liked doing smaller recitals than large concerts because he played softly and some people couldn't hear him, and that his sister died of tuberculosis.

All of the parts of this curriculum complement each other really well. We loved how easy it was to follow along each week in the Student Book. It was really fascinating to learn about Chopin's life in the Frederic Chopin, Early Years biography reader. The link, instead of the QR codes, worked better for us for the tracks of music to listen to for each composer, videos about his life and music, and there is a quiz at the end of comprehension questions about the reading. As you can see there are a lot of different activities besides reading.

Teela is excited to learn about the other composers in this collection as well. We are going to finish Frederic Chopin, Later Years soon and then start on the book, Robert Schumann and Mascot Ziff. We can't wait to learn more about Chopin's life and other musicians in the series.

We highly recommend the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades Collection! If you are looking into a great classical music appreciation curriculum or homeschool music program look no further. This would be a great summer music program too! Also, look for the Zeezok Publishing Music Appreciation Book 1: for the Elementary Grades Collection if you have children in that age group. Book 1 includes: Bach, Handel, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Paganini and Schubert. I have loved learning about these composers.

Retail Price is $185. 54. Sale Price is $169.99. Save 10% when purchasing the complete Music Appreciation Book 2: for the Middle Grades collection!

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Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book Review

My family had the privilege of listening to the Britfield & the Lost Crown audio book for this review to use in conjunction with our own curriculum at home. This is a Homeschool Review Crew Review. All opinions expressed are my own or those of my family.

Britfield & the Lost Crown is a book authored by C.R. Stewart. It is a fast-paced adventure novel that starts off in Northern England, Yorkshire, as two orphans, Tom and Sarah, narrowly escape from Weatherly Orphanage, a place owned by dreadful Mr. and Mrs. Grievous and watched over by the corrupt caretaker, Mr. Speckle and the terrifying guard dog, Wind. Before this daring escape Tom finds out something about his past that will change his life forever and with only a clue word sets out to find out more. They are chased by Detective Gowerstone and his police force and gain altitude by taking flight in a found hot air balloon over central England.  Will they get the help they need to get to their destination? Will they ever stop being chased by Detective Gowerstone? What other secrets await to be uncovered?

This book has a 83-page pdf study guide that goes with it. It is an e-book that can be downloaded and printed. The study guide is intended to be used over eight weeks (or longer) taking students through the book chapter by chapter. This is available online at the Britfield Institute as a free gift for teachers and homeschoolers. It contains vocabulary, comprehension, further in depth questions, and enrichment activities that go with each chapter.

What the Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book looked like in Audible.

How We Used This and Our Thoughts:

I received the audiobook sent through Amazon's Audible. This book is authored by C.R. Stewart and the audio book is narrated by Ian Russell. The whole audio book is 9 hrs and 25 mins. The book is 17 chapters long. This mystery novel is a great first book in what is going to be a five part series. My daughter Teela who is going into 6th grade listened to the whole book with her sister Zari who is going into 3rd grade. They loved the action and adventure in this and enjoyed listening to the narrator tell the story.

Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book Chapters and length in Audible.

I too listened to the entire book with Audible. I had never tried Audible before and downloaded it to my personal computer. It was surprisingly simple to use and downloaded the book to it easily. My daughter Zari won a Kindle Fire from her school because of all her reading accomplishments so I borrowed it to listen to the story while I did dishes. This book was had me on the edge of my seat at times not knowing what would happen next. The narrator was wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed his narration of Britfield & the Lost Crown. It was very entertaining.

My favorite part was when Tom and Sarah were navigating the skies in the hot air balloon. They come upon more balloons and people that greeted them in different languages and to Tom's astonishment Sarah knew all 4 languages. Teela's favorite part of the story was the Grievous' car being stolen and crashed by one of the orphans in the chaos that ensued while Tom and Sarah are trying to escape. Zari laughed when the orphans of Weatherly Orphanage filled their bellies with food from the kitchen and liked the kind man that helped them on their journey to the train station. Both Zari and Teela were glad that the owners and the caretaker really couldn't punish the orphans fully because they all were to blame and the work couldn't be stopped or the owners would loose money.

We all loved the imagery of the story. You could definitely envision everything happening because of the great detail of the people, landscapes, buildings, and places. The suspense and bit of history is wonderful. In the book you are taken through places like: Yorkshire, The Midlands, Oxford, Windsor, Richmond, London, and Canterbury. The website has maps, information and pictures of these places as well.

We didn't use the study guide this time. But I did look it over and boy is it thorough. It goes through vocabulary study, comprehension questions, going deeper questions that make you think more, and learn more with technology sections that has you search stuff online to learn more about certain subjects related to the book. Chapters 1&2, 3&4, 5&6 are together and then the other chapters (7-17) are separate. It also has a synopsis and about the author in the beginning and additional resources and answer key for the vocabulary study and comprehension questions at the end.

We recommend Britfield & the Lost Crown Audio Book to everyone that loves a good English history thriller. It would be a perfect juvenile-fiction, middle grade, teen, or young adult novel. We cannot wait til the next book in the series is released. We are going to try to wait patiently, but I hope it is going to be soon. The suspense of what is going to happen next is going to kill me.

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Friday, August 23, 2019

Friday August 23rd, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Balloons are bad for the environment!

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

I hate balloons 🎈. I didn't as a child, but now that I know how much they are bad for the environment and that some balloons are even made by children in 3rd world countries, I despise them. They are supposed to be a symbol of happiness, but how can I be happy when they do so much damage. I recently saw a documentary about the children that work in balloon factories. They do not get to know the joy that balloons usually bring. They breathe chemicals all day from the fumes and latex. People are also so careless and let them go into the heavens because they think it is fun to watch, but it is detrimental to animals and pollutes the earth. Wildlife gets entangled in them, chokes on them, and dies from getting strangled by them. Balloons whether made of Mylar or latex are not biodegradable and contribute to our litter problem as well. This is why I do not buy balloons any more for parties. It is all so very sad and certainly nothing to celebrate.

I want to make some things for my garden and orchard. Here is the list:
  • Compost tea maker
  • Worm Vermiculture Bin
  • Rain collection system off the roof 🌧️
  • Bat House(s) 🦇
  • Better Chicken Coop 🐔
  • Aquaponics with home grown Tilapia 🐟

I would also love to get my garden and orchard up to specifications so that I can have certification with:

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Thursday August 22nd, 2019...Morning Thoughts

Our economical Chevrolet Impala with Coastal Playground Whale license plates.

Things I’m thinking this morning in no special order....

We exchanged our 2017 Chrysler Pacifica van in for a 2018 Chevrolet Impala recently. We hated the Pacifica. It had so many issues even though it was brand new when we bought it. It was the single most worst purchase ever. We were glad to get rid of it even though it could hold our whole family. Our Impala drives like a dream. It is a wonderful car 🚗 and it was still under warranty when we traded it in. We got a few minor things fixed on it, like: the temperature gauge wasn't reading right. Now it is perfect. It saves us gas money and is eco-friendly because it uses less gas as well. Besides helping the environment with our purchase of a more economical vehicle we are also helping support Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute with our purchase of our new license plate. The “Coastal Playground” license plate features a mother gray whale 🐋 and its calf swimming somewhere off the Oregon coast. The plate also has a lighthouse and rolling waves in the distance. Oregon State University’s Marine Mammal Institute will receive $35 of the $40 surcharge on each plate, which will help the school fund research and education projects.

My hair is starting to go grey. I knew this would happen eventually. I don't know if I want to just let it go grey naturally or cover it up and be a red head :) I have always wanted to try henna hair color. Is is more natural than the chemical hair dye and better for your hair. Maybe I will take the plunge.

I want to start growing sprouts 🌱 again. I used to grow different kinds, mostly: mung beans, alfalfa, and broccoli, and lentils. We have a Kitchen Crop 4-tray Seed Sprouter. I loved adding nutritious sprouts to soups, salads, sandwiches, stir-fry, bread, omelets, and more.