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Thursday, May 2, 2013

Home School In The Woods-Composers

This is a review for Home School in the Woods.

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Every spring, I sit down make a list of what I thought went well in our school year. I also use that time to make a list of topics or subjects that we didn't cover or something I want to cover in the next year.

For the last 2 years, orchestras and classical music has been on my list.

Yes, 2 years.  I know. 

I was reading something and it talked about the woodwinds section....and the brass section....and the percussion section and I thought, "Oh no.....I haven't taught my kids that!  I better do that next year!"  And then, next year comes around and it somehow falls off the to speak.....

But, this year we got to try a product from Home School in the Woods.  (For the record, I love the name of that company.  It sort of brings to mind what I want for my in the woods.  I used to love to take my freshly checked out library book out into the woods and find a comfy place to sit down and read.  I would look up and around long enough to enjoy the birds and squirrels and just soak in the beauty too.)

Anyway,  this company specializes in hands on history and timeline lessons.  They have lessons from the Great Empires, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution through the Great Depression, and,what we got to use, Composers.

The Composers lessons are something called an Activity Pak (or a Lap Book) and is designed to be hands on.

Ours didn't look as pretty as that when it was done...partly because A-man is not big on coloring and partly because I had packed up all of our "non-essential" supplies to get the house ready to sell.  Which included our file folders.  So, we improvised, as any good homeschooler would do, and used cereal boxes....not as pretty, but just as effective in the long run.

Here is the start of his Collection of Composers and his facts about Leonard Bernstein, Johann Sebastian Bach, and Ludvig von Beethoven.

Underneath each picture, A-man researched the composers and wrote some basic facts about is what he had to say about Leonard Bernstein.  This was probably his favorite project from the Activity Pak options.

My favorite part was that this Activity Pak included audio files, so we could play snippets of some of their more famous pieces.  I didn't have to go try and find them somewhere on-line on my own or dig out my old CD's of what I played at my was right there in an audio file on my computer.

I will say that A-man did not exactly follow the exact directions for his lap book.  He took the basic premise, asked A-girl to help him and off they went.  They jumped in where they wanted to....with the composers.....I showed them how to access the audio files on the computer and gave them some suggestions for finding out about the different composers and they were off.

Not exactly picture perfect like the example shown above from Home  School in the Woods.  But, he knows a lot more about classical music and even modern day composers than he did when he started.  So, I am happy.

There are 6 official acitivities (plus 2 bonus ones) included in this Activity Pak and A-man and A-girl only scratched the surface so far. 

This is a really fun, hands-on way, to get to learn about new things.  Next time, I will probably supervise a little more closely so he adheres to the directions....and even where to start.  But, again, he is actually learning stuff and asking questions when he hears classical music now.

We didn't get around to working on the orchestra material in great detail....but I have it all now, so it is ready for us, when I can find my file folders again, right?  I am intrigued by the different orchestra seating there was for the different time periods and types of music.

When their Activity Pak is completed, it will have sections on Music Appreciation, Music Vocabulary, Pieces with Purpose and all your information on the Composers.  It is actually pretty detailed stuff.

The Composers Activity Pak is designed for grades 3 through 8  and costs $18.95 or $19.95 depending on whether you want the downloadable version or the CD version.  The audio files do make the download version pretty big, so if that is a concern for you, you probably want to go ahead and get the CD version.

Home School in the Woods let the TOS Review Crew try different acitivty paks....and, believe me, a lot of theirs are pretty like the example (not like A-man's cereal box interpretation!)


or.... go take a look and see that they thought of Home School in the Woods.