Monthly Archives: April 2011

TOS Crew: Greek ‘n’ Stuff (Hey, Andrew!)

Members of the TOS Crew were privileged to receive materials from Greek ‘n’ Stuff, a publisher of Greek and Latin materials starting in preschool (yes, preschool!) and up, as well as Bible studies (King James or NIV-based, late elementary and up).

I’m going to be talking about what our family received:

Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! Level 3

Youngest was particularly excited when this package arrived, some months ago. She claimed it for herself and disappeared with it, emerging a couple of hours later to announce that she was learning Greek! And all this without me! Talk about self-teaching.

We received Level 3 because our youngest is 12, and could benefit from a faster pace of instruction. The publisher’s website gives guidance on where to start with your student, from preschool (starting with The Reader), onward. There are eight levels in all. You can buy pieces of each level individually, or in sets. There’s even a set you can buy that gives you all eight levels at once.

Sample pages

Sample pages, including a Table of Contents for each level, are available at the publisher’s website. Scroll down the page to the link for sample pages from the Greek, Latin, and Bible studies. The Greek curriculum is also available for French-speaking students.

A year of study at each level

Each level has 36 lessons, enough material for a year of study at each level, and by the end of Level 8 your student will have translated the New Testament epistles I through III John. The materials are designed so that your student completes a page a day, progressing at a steady pace.

Slow and steady wins the race

The pace is deliberately slow, so that the student never hits the wall, i.e. “faces a steep learning curve, becomes frustrated, fails to internalize the language, and develops an aversion to foreign language study in general.” (Been there. Done that with another program, not Greek, and not this publisher.) Youngest actually complained that the pace was a little too slow for her comfort, so she got a little bored, and yet she was able to keep plugging away without any input from me except the occasional progress check.

In Level 3, the student does a quick review (or learns in the first place) of the Greek alphabet, learning to write and pronounce the letter names. Next vocabulary words are introduced and practiced, going from Greek to English and English to Greek. The author varies the pages — one day you might be writing the current vocabulary word, another day you might do a matching exercise (helping Greek word arrows find their English word targets, for example) or filling in a crossword puzzle. Before long, you’re translating sentences!

The written materials provide pronunciation cues, and a pronunciation CD is also available which includes a Greek alphabet song as well as pronunciation of new vocabulary for Levels 3 and 4.

I really like the simple, uncluttered format of the pages. It’s fairly easy for Youngest to accomplish a page in about ten minutes or less.

Price list

Here’s the price list for Hey, Andrew, Teach Me Greek! Level 3, taken from the publisher’s website:

Student Workbook ($21.95)
“Answers Only” Answer Key ($4.00)
“Full Text” Answer Key ($21.95)
Quizzes/Exams ($5.50)
“Flashcards on a Ring” ($8.00)
Pronunciation CD for Greek Levels Three and Four ($10.00)
Pronunciation Cassette Tape for Greek Levels Three and Four ($8.00)
“Short” Set — Student workbook, “Answers Only” answer key, Quizzes/Exams, Flashcards on a Ring — ($39.45)
“Full” Set — Student workbook, “Full Text” answer key which includes teacher tips, grammatical charts, and translation helps; Quizzes/Exams; Flashcards on a Ring — recommended for those with no previous Greek experience — ($57.40)
Bible Copybook – The Gospel of John ($25.95)
Sheet Music for The Greek Alphabet Song ($2.95)
Set of  five (5) Koiné Greek Alphabet Bookmarks ($6.00)

Student workbooks and Full Text answer keysrange from $14.95 for the lowest level to $28.95 for the highest level.

We got a Complete Answer Key with our set. I really love this as opposed to the “Answers Only Key”, as it reproduces the student workbook pages with the answers written in. The additional teacher helps were invaluable.

The result of our months-long test

Youngest is so excited now about learning Greek that she has begun learning the gospel of John. In Greek. On her own. This is my reluctant reader. Who would have thought it?

I always was a little intimidated by the idea of learning Biblical Greek, but the Hey, Andrew! materials make it so easy! It reminds me of the old riddle: How do you eat an elephant?

One bite at a time.

To read more TOS Crew reviews of Greek ‘n’ Stuff products, please click here.

Disclaimer: We received a set of Level 3, Hey, Andrew! Teach Me Some Greek! for personal use and review purposes. No additional compensation was involved. Opinions are our own.

Praying for those in the tornadoes’ way

Just read this update by Kelly of Generation Cedar. Thanks to Stacy McDonald for sharing the link.

Generation Cedar: God is Mighty to Save: All is Not Lost

Blogging and Busyness

Does this happen to you?

As I’m out and about, I think of all sorts of blog topics and series. I’m ready to write, energized and enthusiastic.

(I think I need to slip a notepad and pencil into my pocket so I can jot down ideas as they happen.)

So… I get to my scheduled computer time (it’s quiet, the busyness of the day has not yet kicked in, I have half an hour or so before I need to jump into the day), and… my mind is a blank.

Actually, what I’d really like to do this Monday morning is crawl back under the covers. Woke up to rain, and more rain and high winds are predicted later in the morning. The dog and I really should get our morning walk out of the way sooner than later. However, she’s doing what I’d like to be doing: snoring! I mentioned the magic word (walk) in her ear a little bit ago, and she didn’t even twitch.

But then, she’s always been a fair-weather walker. I guess the rain musses her Beauty Queen perfection, or something like that. She does seem to be afraid she’ll melt if she goes out in it.

Well, it’s time now to jump into the day. I bet an hour from now I’ll have ideas for all sorts of blog posts.

Looks like I need to add “notepads” to my shopping list.

TOS Crew: See the Light

I am not much of an artist. Oh, I try. I’ve sketched in a nature journal, and sometimes those sketches come out remarkably lifelike. (And sometimes they don’t…)

I sat in on an introduction to watercolor and learned some amazing things about brushstrokes, coming out with a picture of tulips that looked as if they were swaying in a breeze. Believe me, what I did to make those tulips was completely counter-intuitive, and yet tulips emerged on the paper. Amazing.

I know the frustration of seeing a picture in my mind’s eye, and being unable to translate it onto paper. In one way, art is drawing what you see, and yet, sometimes to make a picture real, you do things that aren’t obvious at first.

It’s like an artist told me, while she was describing how she’d painted a portrait in oil. First she primed the canvas with green. That green undertone got covered up, and yet the fact that it was there made the subject’s skin look real, not unnaturally rosy.

Anyhow, before you get to these subtleties in creating art (painting what you don’t see to get a result that looks real and natural to your observing eye), it’s important to learn some basics, or drawing what you see. You’ve probably heard terms like line and shape, and composition.

Members of the TOS Crew received the first of a set of DVDs from See the Light, with a series of 10-minute art classes. There are four classes on the first DVD.

Tools of the Trade: The first class introduces you to the art supplies used in the course. You’ll be happy to know that you don’t have to go out and buy a whole lot of expensive things. You’re likely to have pencils, paper, crayons, and colored pencils in your house already. You might need to get a white eraser and kneaded eraser, if you don’t have one already, and an art pencil that’s softer than a #2, and a charcoal pencil or stick.

It All Starts with a Line: This brief lesson introduces you to different kinds of lines, which are the basics of drawing. It’s all very elementary, but of course this is an art class aimed at elementary ages and up.

The last two lessons, Contours & Composition and Draw What You See, continue the exploration of line.

The lessons follow art basics that were already familiar to us; contour drawings of fruit and shoes have come home from the girls’ art classes in the past. Of course, they spent a lot more than 10 minutes per class to come up with their drawings!

…and that is the point of these short lessons. Each lesson introduces a skill, and the student is expected to practice that skill before the next lesson. The lessons are short, suiting a young student’s attention span. There are no flashy animations (I like that), just a teacher talking about what she’s doing as she does it. She maintains rather a slow cadence appropriate for young children, yet our teen did not find the slow pace tiresome.

Each lesson introduces a skill, as I mentioned, followed by suggestions for practice, and concluding in a short devotional that relates the lesson’s subject to some Bible theme or character quality.

The See the Light Art Class set of 36 lessons on 9 DVDs is available at the publisher’s website for $99.99. You can get the same DVD the TOS Crew got for free, if you want to check out the first few lessons yourself.

This set is handy for homeschoolers as it uses basic materials, easily obtainable. The lessons are short and, from what I’ve seen, easy to follow. It’s not hard to schedule in a 10-minute viewing once a week, and then encourage the kids to practice during the week. (If your children are anything like our girls, they draw a lot on their own, anyhow.)

If the price doesn’t fit your budget, you might go in on the purchase with another family or several families together and do an art co-op class, culminating in an art show at the end of the year. Sounds like fun!

To read more TOS Crew reviews of this DVD, click here.

Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew received the first DVD in the Art Class 1 Year Set for review purposes and personal use. No additional compensation was involved.

TOS Crew: Zeezok Publishing

Zeezok Publishing, home of the Great Musicians series (reprints of Opal Wheeler’s biographies of famous composers, along with study guides and lapbooks) and more, have introduced a new product line: the Z-Guides to the movies! (Click the link to browse the titles.)

When the Crew was offered the opportunity to review any of the new Z-Guides, it was hard to choose just one. There are lots of choices, making it easy to find one or more to fit the historical period you’re studying.

What is a Z-Guide, you ask? It’s a way to incorporate movies into your homeschool studies, but rather than just watching and discussing the movie, you have your choice of activities, covering various subject areas. Z-Guides are available for different levels (Elementary, Middle School, and High School).

In our case, I finally settled on the Z-Guide to My Side of the Mountain, for several reasons. Our high school students are heavily involved in a history-literature-worldview class. Right now they’re in the middle of writing term papers, so it wasn’t the best time for them to engage in another study. Our middle school student struggles with academics. She doesn’t really like the “studying” part of school, so unit studies (such as this one) are a relief to us both.

Unfortunately, I chose the wrong movie. It turns out she hated My Side of the Mountain. I have fond memories of reading the book when I was younger, and I didn’t remember the movie at all. We didn’t have a copy of it in our library, so I bought the DVD to go along with our studies. If I had picked, say, Kitt Kittredge, things might have gone better. She really didn’t want to have anything to do with the study guide after seeing the movie.


Why did she hate the movie?

– Too different from the book. The boy in the book seemed older, for one thing. The boy in the movie seemed too young to do all he did.

– The girls were upset with the fact that the boy ran away, leaving only a note. They imagined how worried his family must have been, and saw him as immature and selfish.

– The falcon died. Middlest was incensed at this departure from the book. Not to mention all the sequels to the first book, in which Frightful the Falcon takes a part, are suddenly rendered useless.

– “Bando” was portrayed as a wandering musician, rather than a professor.

Of course, all these differences between the movie and the book made a good discussion of how movies almost always differ from the books from which they’re taken, and why some of the changes might have been made.

The Z-Guide for My Side of the Mountain contains a movie synopsis, ten activities, and a suggested five-day schedule if you’d like to devote a week to the unit. You can pick and choose from the activities, or add more activities to your study. For example, one of the activities in our Z-Guide was to design a wilderness shelter. This fits right in with our science topic for this term: Wilderness Survival (which includes using a GPS unit, first aid, orienteering, making a debris hut shelter, identifying hazards and edible wild foods, and more).

Other activities include researching peregrine falcons, planning a wilderness adventure (on paper, though I suppose you could go the extra mile and actually carry out the plan), a grammar worksheet, a speech to memorize (instead of assigning it as memory work, I used it as a springboard for discussion of the topic, civil disobedience), and more. A bonus activity word search puzzle is included, as well as movie comprehension questions and discussion questions.

The Z-guide also has an answer key for your convenience.

I plan to order one or more Z-guides next year, when we’ll be studying the Middle Ages. There are a number of movies to choose from, including one of Youngest’s favorites, The Adventures of Robin Hood. Since I already know she loves the movie, I’m pretty sure she’ll enjoy the unit study to go with it…

Zeezok Publishing’s Z-Guides are available for $12.99 each as PDF downloads, or on CD-Rom, from the publisher’s website (see link at top of this review).

Note from the publisher: Use of the guide is licensed to the original purchaser and is not to be resold. Permission is not granted for classroom, district-wide, school-wide, system-wide, or co-op use. You can contact Zeezok publishing for a site license.

Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew were given a free Z-Guide in PDF format for the purposes of review. No additional compensation was involved.