Homeschool in the Woods, A Review

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Pre Disclaimer – Although this is a re-cap of our composer studies, it is also a review of  Home School in the Woods and their Hands-On History Activity-Pak: Composers . The FTC would like us to make it clear in the beginning – so there ya go – and here we go ~


P1080636This year we have been working on 6th  and 9th grade Artists and Composer studies. We were in the  Ancients time period. The 6th grade curriculum for music had us studying the Orchestra.  The year started out ok. Sort of boring. I’d introduce an instrument, and the boys would say – ok. We get that. No spark. No interest.  Just a review of the orchestra pieces.  We read through quite a few living books from the library, but the boys were not sparked enough to continue on with the studies. As the year went on, we just sort of dropped the Orchestra part.

Then, we were able to review a Lap Book Activity Pack from Home School in the Woods for the Composers called Hands-On History Activity-Pak: Composers. I was excited. I really didn’t think Jon had received the ‘big picture’ during our studies.

Homeschool in the Woods promised that we would work through 6 activities studying 42 composers from the Middle Ages to the Modern Day.

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P1080641 The biggest part that caught my eye was the layout of the orchestra, especially in different eras. I quickly downloaded the activity pack and worked through the files to print the pieces for the back of the stage, the folders, and the orchestra pieces. There are also period cards to let you know which instruments would be in different time periods.
P1080643I had Jon help me to cut them out, and he was fully in charge of making the folders. As we talked about the instruments, I tried to have him give me a description of the music that it would produce. The sound. The feeling. If he couldn’t describe it, Nate would look it up on Youtube. We had several days of reviewing the Orchestra instruments.
Note: It was not necessary to use YouTube as the Activity Book download comes with over 90 minutes from 29 movements. We had already listened to many of them. Again, this is meant to be an introduction, and we were using the product for our year end review.
Not to shock you, but my boys really like a variety of music, and have favorite YouTube channels.  Nate quickly found the Viola and listened to the modern classics such as Payphone, Pirates Black Pearl, Rolling in the Deep, Pumped Up Kicky, Somebody I used to Know, Firework and One thing.  Yes, wonderful classical Viola pieces.  They listened to Super Smash Brothers and Bumble Bee on the Oboe, and the classical Lady Gaga Bad Romance played on the Bassoon.  Did I mention I have middle school and high school boys? Does it show? The point is, they found a spark – and an interest, and started looking at these instruments in the here and now, and not just in the middle ages.  They really enjoyed it! Maybe I should make a suggestion for their “Suggestions for Other Resources” that comes with the instruction guide.  They list 14 books, several audio sources and 6 movies to help give a big picture.  Their resources and instructions are super simple and easy to follow with many photos of each process.
P1080644While Jon worked on the Orchestra, I worked on the keyboard full of vocabulary words.  We went through several words as he narrated them and used copy work to set them to memory. Many are in his vocabulary through our last two years of Composer studies.  Again – This Activity Book is a GREAT year end project to summarize what we have learned.
I created a little envelope for the extra Orchestra Pieces and a flap for the Periods – 20th Century, Romantic, Classical and Baroque. They start with  around 8 instruments in Baroque to the 18 instruments and sections of the 20th Century. Fascinating to the mom, not quite a spark to the boys, but I liked it. We did have some larger discussions with the 9th grader on how the sound is so much different and how full and varied we can create music now with so many different sounds. He is in an internship with the Cultural Center to learn how to do the lights and sound. Sound is his life right now.
Even though we have been long time Lap Booker’s, I forgot to fold my manila folder in thirds and left it folded in the middle. Mine turned out different than the instructions when it all got put together. I like having a lot of cardstock on hand to make the folders stiff, but you may use construction paper or regular printer paper.
The one area that we didn’t print yet, is the composers.  We got a little burned out of matching faces to names last year – however,  now that we have spent two years learning of a new composer every 4-6 weeks – this part would have been great to grow as we went along. I think it will be a great project this summer to review who we have studied so far.
For those wanting to use this as an introduction – I’d suggest to focus on one composer every month and create that part of it slowly to not overwhelm. 
The timeline is fantastic, especially since we have been learning our composers as part of our history.


(As you can tell, I took these photos this evening –
the original photos of putting it together were lost in the great hard drive crash.)

This is intended for grades 3-8. Since I have 6th and 9th grade this year, they were able to put the Lap Book together on their own.  Homeschool in the Woods offers a CD and Download version. CD is 19.95 and the Download is 18.95.  They would like you to know that the MP3 portion of the download is approximately 150 mb. If that will be hard on your internet connection, the CD would be a great choice.
One thing I did find lacking in this Activity Pack – was the how.  Oh – they had a lot of great color photo detail on how to put it together, but it did not have lesson plans.  Please do not expect this product to help you know how to present this to your child day by day.  All supplies are digital. You will need to have manila folders, paper, cardstock, colored pencils, and a way to print it out. Scissors, glue sticks, paper cutters – the works for Lap Books will be needed. We used a bone folder to create the folders for the instruments.
In case I have not made it clear – this was the perfect product for our spring year end review of the Orchestra.  It will help us with time line projects in the future with our continued composer studies – and I’m thankful to have so many MP3’s of great music. A mom can’t listen to YouTube for long!
If I were to use it as an introduction, I’d spend quite a bit of slow time introducing and putting the Lap Book together over time. We spent a few weeks as it was doing the review, but you could turn this activity pack into a year long study.


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About +Angie Wright

The Transparent Thoughts of an Unschooling Family of Boys - Answering the question - What DO you DO all day?
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1 Response to Homeschool in the Woods, A Review

  1. We’ve been using this very lap book over the last two years, and I’m thrilled with it! We go slowly, doing about 3-4 composers a year. At that rate it’ll take a while to cover all of the composers that come in this pack (I probably won’t cover all of them), but I see it as more of a long term project — a record of what we have learned in our composer studies over the years.

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