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May 10, 2016

Zeezok Publishing LLC TOS Review

After struggling to find appropriate homeschool curriculum for their own children, the founders began a business of their own which eventually morphed into Zeezok Publishing, LLC.  The result is the marriage of traditional subject matter and techniques with modern delivery.  The reprinted Great Musician Series by Opal Wheeler, one of the projects undertaken, are included with Music Appreciation: Book 1 for the Elementary Grades collection, which we are reviewing.  Besides music appreciation, I noticed Zeezok also offers products for government, penmanship, movie guides, and literature.

This collection meets national standards for K-6th grade at the time of publication.  The collection includes:
  • A Student Activity Book, 
  • Music Discs, 
  • Lapbook CD,
  • Seven composer biographies from the Great Musician Series.
The composers included for study are:
  1. Mozart
  2. Handel
  3. Haydn
  4. Beethoven
  5. Bach
  6. Paganini
  7. Schubert
I love Mozart's music. Since I didn't think the boys had a major preference, I didn't ask them for input.  Well, thanks to The Peanuts Movie, it turns out they *do* have a favorite composer.  They may have also recently seen for the first time another movie which mentioned this composer, but they called him Beeth Oven there.  So, Beethoven will be our next in depth study.  Part of the beauty of this curriculum is that there is no wrong order to learn about these amazing men.  Choose a family favorite and run with it.

The student activity book is a whopping 354 pages.  It begins with a detailed five page scope and sequence which aligns history, music in different cultures, types of music, written music and vocabulary, and more with each of the composers.  It includes ideas for hands on activities as well as discussion and comprehension questions for the reading material.  It's designed to be used by a single child, though we often used the discussion questions as a family.  Even Merrick (age 4) enjoys listening to our read alouds and trying to be involved in Q and A time.

I love that this book covered character traits for each of the composers, highlighting areas where each man (or boy, depending on the chapter!) shined.  For Mozart, these comprised of energetic enthusiasm, eager learner, industriousness, and generosity, among others.  It seems he was a lively character who loved to entertain and be entertained by everyone.

Mozart's section of the student activity book also incorporates interesting tidbits, geography (Mozart traveled often and for long periods.  When I think of traveling with the Littles for nine hours at a time, I feel pretty privileged to live now with good roads, fast cars, and a bit of technology.), learning about opera, and instruments around the world.  They even were exposed to a bit of German.  Mozart also met and befriended many other composers from that time period.  I had never really thought about who the contemporaries of each of them were before.

No matter what learning style your children are, there are activities that match them.  The answers are at the back of each section and lapbook instructions can be found in the pages.

Amazing music CDs are included.  We listen to all the Mozart tracks several times a week as well as specific tracks as prompted in the biography.  I like that the books and CDs are linked like that.  We'll be reading along and read about a piece that Mozart wrote in his childhood and be able to go to the track on the disc and hear that same piece as we follow along with the music in the book.

The many enjoyable books are written by Opal Wheeler (and some co-authored by Sybil Deucher) and illustrated in a neat black and white style by Mary Greenwalt (one is illustrated by Henry S. Gillette).  They tell of the true lives of each composer from childhood into their adult years.  These books are *not* historical fiction.  The pages are full of samples of the composer's music that you can play, if you know how.  If not, you can listen to the CDs!  Mozart the Wonder Boy is 126 pages long.  The first 92 pages are his biography with a few pages of his music throughout.  The balance of the book is more of his sheet music for playing or following along while listening.

The PDF of the lapbook is on a disc.  This is a very big file (215,000KB).  Some *pages* were 64MB!  It seems that this did make it difficult to print.  I had no trouble printing a couple of pages at a time, but when trying to print large numbers of pages at once, I just couldn't get it to work.  I took the CD to Staples to have all seven lapbooks printed at once.  Even their industrial printers would stop after every twenty pages or so.  They never were able to print the last nine pages of the final lapbook.  This is a beautifully done file and it's a shame there seemed to be an issue with printing.  I only mention it here because I think it's an important part of the curriculum for aiding with retention.  Taking the disc to have it printed and dropping it off for the day is a viable option.

I chose to have our lapbook elements printed in black and white (I'm cheap frugal) and the pages were very clear and readable.  The lapbook copyright allows for use by multiple children in a family, so both Mal and Xav worked on those each week.  They learned vocabulary, the kinds of opera, and made a Mozart timeline.  I did change up the design a bit.  I generally leave a file folder folded as is, rather than refolding to close in the center of the front.  We glued the front of the second folder to the back of the first folder which makes it more like a book.  That just meant moving a couple of elements around so nothing was sitting in the fold.

I think the lapbooking and the read aloud time were the favorite parts for Mal and Xav.

Are you intrigued by this homeschool music program, but no longer have an elementary student?  Music Appreciation: Book 2 for the Middle Grades is in the works.  Chopin, Schumann, Wagner, Foster, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, and Mac Dowell will be included in that series, which is for grades 5-8.

Some of the other Crew members worked on other composers.  If you'd like to see what everyone else did, please click the banner below.

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Music Appreciation for the Elementary Grades {Zeezok Publishing LLC Review}

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