Friday, April 1, 2011

TOS Homeschool Crew Review: Z Guide to the Movies


Zeezok Publishing Z Guides are a wonderful way to turn movies into homeschool supplements. We received a copy of The Adventures of Robin Hood Z Guide to use. This Z Guide is for the High School level, but there are also some Middle School level guides.

The Adventures of Robin Hood - z-guide to the Movies CDOur Z Guide included a 5 day plan for using the guide with the 1938 version of The Adventures of Robin Hood, starring Errol Flynn to delve into topics such as Medieval English History, Ethnic Conflict, Chivalry, and Civil Disobedience. The Z Guide provides historical background information, an overview of the movie, and ten learning activities to create a thorough study of the film.

Kirk was the tester for our Z Guide. We rented the correct Robin Hood film from Netflix and printed out the Z Guide. Kirk’s first task was to watch the movie and answer the review questions. These are designed to help your student stay tuned into the movie and pick out important moments or events. Next he was lead to learn more about King Richard and Prince John. This research was completed with an encyclopedia, a G.A. Henty book (or two) and an internet search. Eighteen questions really helped him gather specific, relative information.

Day Two activities were further questions, these designed to help you see the differences between the Normans and the Saxons and the Feudal System. I think Kirk enjoyed the short answer format with occasional fill-in-the-blank questions. I liked the depth of the questions. These are thought provoking questions that uncover historical and cultural lessons.

Day Three moved away from questions to answer. Kirk was instructed to compose and record an oath defining how he would live his life. A discussion of Robin Hood’s excellence in archery further challenges the student to be the best he or she can be and they are given the assignment of choosing an activity they desire to be proficient in and setting up a practice schedule to provide accountability.

Day Four was a word search and a challenge to practice the Golden Rule. Kirk was encouraged to think of someone he doesn’t get along with and work hard for one year to do something nice once a month for that person.

Day Five included a Worldview Activity, asking students to consider and discuss the actions of characters in the movie. These were tough questions! Sometimes the line between right and wrong can be so blurry. The final activity for Day Five was a discussion that brought out many interesting techniques used by the filmmakers.

Finally were questions designed for family discussion. We did watch the movie several times as a family and enjoyed arguing about who was right or wrong and why.

We really enjoyed the Z Guide for The Adventure of Robin Hood and will definitely buy further Z Guides. They were meaty enough to be worth the $12.99 , and simple enough to include in any study. I learned a lot just from watching the movie and the discussions sparked by the Z Guide.

Zeezok Publishing has a number of Z Guides available for movies, some of which are:

They have an amazing variety and also offer the movies for sale (The Adventures of Robin Hood DVD is a very reasonable $12.98). Check out the full listing by clicking here.

Click here to see what other members of the TOS Homeschool Crew thought about Z-Guides.


**Any products reviewed by me as a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Crew have been given to me free of charge in order for me to provide you with an honest review of the product and/or how we used the product within our family. I do not receive any other form of compensation for the reviews posted on this blog.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Garden 2011 - The Saga Continues...

The Homeschool Village is hosting Garden Challenge 2011 and even though I just posted about our garden, I decided to join the Challenge! I learned about it from WonderMom over at The Fantastic Five blog. Today is the first day of the challenge so there is still time to join in. To share your garden, or potted plants all you need to do is post these four things:

  • PHOTO — 1 current photo where you will be gardening (actual location)
  • PLANS – what you are/have/gonna plant – (seeds / starter plants / herbs)
  • RESOURCES — books, magazines, verses, unit study, etc.
  • INVOLVEMENT — homeschooler’s reaction / participation / anticipation

Some of this was covered in yesterday’s post, but I will recap that and add a little more information. Oh, in case you are new to my blog, there won't be just one photo! ~grin~

The area we will be gardening is a sloped area to the west of our house. We have had a smaller garden in the past, but tilled up more than twice as much ground this year. Our garden measures about 70 feet by 20 feet. We added composted cow manure and a little peat moss to enrich the soil. Our soil is very sandy and not nutrient rich.

About three years ago we planted our first heirloom tomatoes and found that they were much easier to grow than the hybrid tomatoes we had grown in the past. They taste much better too! Since then we have found Seed Savers and Botanical Interests and order most of our seeds from there. I love to find unusual varieties and I read the description on each seed packet before I buy so I can find varieties that can handle the heat and humidity here in East Texas.
Some of last years potatoes and sugar snaps (2010)

So far this year, we have planted 4 varieties of potatoes, sugar snap peas, 4 kinds of carrots, a couple of types of lettuce, red and yellow onions, and strawberries. Dad and Kirk set up this fencing for the sugar snaps to climb. Since the garden is reclaimed from a field of Coastal Bermuda it is very hard to control the ‘weeds’. If you try to pull up the little grass blades you will pull up your plants as well because they have underground runners. We weed carefully and try to wait for the plants to be well established. In another couple of years there will be much less invasive grass coming up in these rows (hopefully!)

We will be adding lots of tomatoes and peppers, watermelons, cantaloupe, yellow squash, zucchini, okra, beans, corn, pumpkins, and many more vegetables to our garden in the coming months. The weather has been so warm that I am very tempted to get those plants in the ground, but we always get one last little freeze right before Easter, so I am patiently, patiently waiting.

Picking potatoes last year (2010)
We don’t really use specific book studies as we garden since this is something we do each year, not just as a homeschooling project, but to feed our family. However, we have many educational resources. By far the favorite educational garden-related resource is the Texas Bug Book : The Good The Bad and The Ugly. This is where we turn to determine if our pests are beneficial or harmful. Unfortunately for me – those humongous spiders that love my garden also help protect my garden. We have learned which insects need to be water gunned off the plants and which will eat the ‘bad guy’ insects. My new favorite resource (by the same authors as the Texas Bug Book – J. Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck) is Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening.
FRitW with his first Homely Homer tomato (2010)

The kids are very much a part of our garden each year. They participate from the first shovelful of dirt turned to the making of the Salsa and stir-fry. They are learning how to decide which varieties are good for our area, how to recognize a plant by its first leaves, how to control pests and encourage beneficial insects, and ways to use fresh produce. This year for a little added fun, we got each child a special plant. Dad and I were on a date at our local Atwoods (oh yes – we know how to have fun!) and found a ‘Homely Homer’ plant. We bought one last year and FRitW adopted it. He waited and waited for the tomato to ripen - so sure it would form a face like on the picture on the plant spike. He has been asking to plant another Homely Homer and yippee! – on this visit to Atwoods, Dad spotted a Homely Homer. Once it was in the cart, we decided it would be fun to look through the wide selection of 4 inch pots and find a plant to fit each of the other kids.
MT, lover of all things orange, got an Orange Oxheart tomato plant.
Maggie, currently in her purple phase, received a Lilac Bell Pepper.
We chose a World’s Hottest Pepper for Kirk because it just seemed to fit.

Our compost pile is another source of educational involvement. We are learning which scraps are good for creation of compost and watching the breakdown of plants, leaves, and food scraps as they become nutritious soil. All of the kids help with adding scraps, turning the pile, and watering it to maintain moisture.

Thanks for visiting my garden! Click here to visit other participants in the HSV Garden Challenge. I visited a few already and was pleasantly surprised to find a mixture of new gardeners and established gardeners.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Garden 2011 – The Saga Begins…

Last year you might remember seeing weekly posts about my garden. If so, you might know

…that I get impatient waiting for tiny green leaves to make their appearance.

…that I love to try new things in my garden especially if they are an unusual color or have a fun name.

…that I am not always successful, but keep trying.

…I love to take pictures of our efforts.

planting potatoes

This year we made a few changes to the garden. First it is more than double in size. We ran out of room last year, so I am excited about the expansion! Second, we are using a more traditional (orderly Dad-type) row form. I have a tendency to be more scattered, messy, and creative, but that is not very effective in the garden – so Dad got his way with neat orderly raised bed rows. This will also help conserve water on this sloped surface. The third change is a big one. I’ll call that change – education – and I’ll explain it a little more later on.

We also added some new tools to our arsenal. We purchased our own tiller – and of course Kirk is always available to run it for me (it has a motor – ‘nuff said!) We also found this cute, but very useful little greenhouse for starting plants, and I repurposed an old table for a work surface.

Now back to ‘Change # 3’ – education. It is my education in particular. For the last few years we have attempted to garden in a more organic way. We have resisted the use of pesticides and fertilizers and instead used more manual methods. I chose the manual method because I knew very little about organic fertilizers or pesticides. Our manual methods, although often fun, were not terribly effective and last year by late July, all of our squash, pumpkins, corn, and melons were dead. Admittedly, it was a very hot, dry summer and the plants all suffered because of that, but the cause of plant death was not heat, but insects.

This year I purchased Texas Organic Vegetable Gardening by J. Howard Garrett and C. Malcolm Beck. I love this book. I have another book by these authors and besides being quite entertaining in the way they write (and the humorous anecdotes they share) they are very knowledgeable. I am learning so much about organic fertilizers and natural insect controls and am finding them to be effective so far.

I also started a compost pile. After the Great Compost Failure of 2010 (don’t ask!) I wasn’t sure I would venture in to compost territory again, but I borrowed some books from my sister in law and have been much more successful this time. MT loves to carry the compost bowl out to the pile and dump it and FRitW can usually be counted on to water and turn the pile. I find myself checking on my compost pile almost as often as I check for those sweet tiny leaves to make an appearance!

I end this post with a simple warning: This is not the last you will see of my garden this year…


For last year’s garden posts look for the Garden tag at the bottom of this page.