Thursday, February 18, 2010

Zeezok Publishing: building our children through quality materials

I had never heard of Zeezok publishing when I found out I was selected to review some of their classical composer studies.  This small publishing company was established in 2003, with the goal of "building children rather than repairing men."  They publish quality literature and educational materials for the training of our children.

(pictured set is not the one we received)

We were sent one of the double Great Musicians composer study special offers: 

  • Stephen Foster and his Little Dog Tray book

  • Stephen Foster study guide, 

  • Edward MacDowell and his Cabin in the Pines book

  • Edward MacDowell study guide

  • the companion CD for the two books is included free. 

This set sells for $35.80 at the Zeezok website, which saves you $7.95 (the cost of the companion CD).

The two softcover books ($12.95 each) that we received  are both written by Opal Wheeler and Sybil Deucher in the early 1940s.  They include pen and ink illustrations by Mary Greenwalt, and are intended for elementary students.   The books are interspersed with sheet music of some of the composers' more famous works, and the companion CD includes printable sheet music.  The companion CD also includes audio files of the music, and coloring pages for each chapter. 

While I enjoyed the stories of these composers' childhood and adult life, I did wish that they were written with shorter chapters.  Each book has only 4 or 5 chapters for 144-172 pages.  This made the chapters quite long for my younger students to sit through.  My 6 and 8 year old sons began to dread the story reading, although my 10 year old daughter looked forward to them.  I would recommend the parent pre-read the chapters and find stopping points within each chapter to break it up into shorter lessons.   You could also have an older student read it to themselves and then join you for discussion of each chapter.

The study guides by Judy Wilcox ($4.95 each)  include maps, timelines of the composers' lives, points of interest to expand upon the story, reading comprehension questions, and character qualities to discuss with your children.  It does not provide laid-out lesson plans, but it does give you information to continue the discussion.  The Edward MacDowell study guide also included 3 fun puzzles for the kids.  Each of the softcover study guides are about 30 pages long.

Overall, I enjoyed the two Great Musicians composer studies that we reviewed.  They are a fun way to study a composer and his music, for the classical or Charlotte Mason homeschool.  The stories help bring the composer to life as a person, not just a historical figure.  They are reusable, resalable, and non-consumable -- which makes them a good value.  You can use them with multiple children, homeschool co-ops, or sell them when you are done to recover some of your expense.

In my opinion, there are only two negative things about these composer studies:

  • I think they will be enjoyed more by girls than boys.

  • I think that the chapters need to be broken into smaller sections for reading aloud. 

If you're looking for composer studies to add to your music curriculum, be sure to check out Zeezok Publishing's Great Musicians series.

This item was provided free for our review as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew.  We received no other compensation, and this review is our honest opinion.  Click the TOS Homeschool Crew banner at the top to read more reviews on this product by other Homeschool Crew members.

Trusting In Him,

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