Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Composers Activity Pak (Grades 3-8) Review

     Have you ever wanted to know more about classical composers?  Well, today I have an awesome product to introduce you to.  This product would work perfectly for any music appreciation subject, music history, or an add on to your normal music lessons. 

     As some of you know our family has been having so much fun this year with learning to play piano.  The girls have had some introduction to classical composers with that.  So when I was offered the opportunity to try out the 'Composers Activity Pak' for Grades 3-8, I jumped at it.  I was thinking - "this is perfect timing".  I thought it would be a great little compliment to our music homeschool.  It's done by Amy Pak from Home School in the Woods.

     I've actually seen and used her work previously, so I KNEW it was going to be an awesome and quality product.  We've had her Timeline Figures in our home for many years.  I love them so much that we have used them a LOT.  I think every year since I purchased them actually.  What can I say?  We love history and her artwork is astonishing beautiful.   It was one of those indispensable History tools that I don't know how we would of got through without.  They are a must, but I seriously digress.  Today I want to tell you about her Composers Activity Pak

{ Check out what's IN the Pak~!! }

{ About the product }

Inside you'll find 8 separate activities:
  •  Periods of Music
  •  Keyboard Vocabulary
  •  Collection of Composers
  •  Composers Timeline
  •  Pieces with a Purpose
  •  Music Appreciation
  •  The Orchestra File Folder Display
  •  Composers Cards

     The first 6 are for the lapbook, the next for a separate file folder, and the last for a game.

     You'll meet 42 Composers from the past and learn about different periods of classical music.  Each composer is carefully and beautifully drawn.  They are realistically represented so that you could easily pick out who they are if you were to see them in an encyclopedia, art museum, or other historical work.

     Each activity is modeled and has clear concise information on how to put it all together.  For non-lapbookers, and non-crafty peoples this is still a very viable and easy product to use. 

     Amy also gives a page for suggestions for additional resources.  That would also be handy if you wanted to get into more depth on the subject.

{ What We Received }

     We received a full complimentary pdf version of the Composers Activity Pak for Grades 3-8.  

{ How It All Came Together }

     There is a fair amount to print.  Everything from instructions to the printables that will make up the lapbook and resources.  One should take the time as you progress through each activity to think about what colors you want your printouts to be in.  

 1.  We selected our file folder and got to work on the cover.

2.  We worked on our Periods of Music.

There is a cute little information packed Periods of Music book.

3.  Then we tackled some Keyboard Vocabulary.  I must say that the girls found this quite a novel little thing.  Especially since it presented in the form of a keyboard.  There are two sides to the Keyboard Vocabulary - I've only given you a picture of the left hand side here.  Each note lifts up to give a definition of a vocabulary word underneath.  When they are all closed it looks like a normal piano keyboard.

4.  Then we started work on the Collection of Composers.  Now this little collection did take some time.  Each composer { and remember there are 42 of them } got cut and put into little booklets.  I printed the booklets in red and composers in white.  So there was some nice color differentiation going on between the background, booklets, and composers.

5.  Then of course we started looking at specific information on some of the composers.

6.  Then we had some fun with putting the Composers Timeline together.  I printed the base of the timeline out on blue paper.  That way it would really highlight the composers who were in white.  The timeline is presented as an accordion book which folds up nicely and hides underneath the Periods of Music fold out.

It's a reasonable length too when it's unfolded.  It's 5 x A5 in length.  I noticed that Chloe { my 8 year old } recognized a few of them by sight.

7.  Next came the Pieces with Purpose.  The girls LOVED those.  Not sure if they were curious about the information or not, but the crown and purse sure got their attention.  It actually might of been a little distraction at their ages { 8 and 6 } since they were very focused on those pieces.  Anyway, moving right along.  There's information that's printed, cut out, and stuck to each picture.  I did have to use a split pin for one of the pieces too.  

They thought they were so cute.  I had to print out EXTRAS so that they could play with them separately.  This is what they did with the crowns and purses.  I think Hannah ended up with a set as well.

8.  Next we looked at the Music Appreciation activity.  Amy has provided beautiful notebooking styled pages for this activity.  

     I gave this particular activity to my two teenager boys.  That's why there's NO pretty pictures in there.  They're boys.  What can I say?  But they did enjoy the activity.  There are 18 different composers with samples of their works to listen to.  In fact there's over 90 mins of classical music to whet your childs classical appetite.

9.  Then we moved on to checking out the The Orchestra file folder display.  

     I decided to NOT turn it into a separate file folder.  So I just taped up the two sides together once it was printed and cut down.

     We then put the cover on the outside, so it opened it up like a book.  This kept it's size down so that we could keep it with the lapbook.

It shows where all the instruments are located in an orchestra according to their periods.  There are 4 different periods to choose from. 

Just swap in / out which period you want to display.

10.  Lastly we checked out the Composer Cards.  To use the game cards as a matching exercise / go fish / concentration was a bit difficult.  So what I'm thinking is that we will make booklets with them so that we have the composer on one side and their matching information on the other.  

There are 20 different composers for the game.

And their matching backs / information.

      Amy also provides a beautiful matching "Composers" title piece to print out for each of your cards as well.  It just depends on how you want to use them as to what you'll print and how.

{ What We Thought }

     We just love Amy's art work.  It really makes History come alive for us.  

     In regard to the Composer Activity Pak, you'll gain an impressive amount of knowledge of the Composers by the time you've traveled through the lapbook and other resources.  There is a LOT to do.  I think that it could easily be spaced out to form a whole subject for a year.  Depending on the age of the child. The lapbook itself makes a beautiful keepsake that you can keep and use for years to come.

     I had 4 of my children help complete the lapbook.  Daniel - 17, Caleb - 15, Chloe - 8, and Phebe - 6.  They even recognized some of the composers, and they got to see and hear about a few more.  It was great to see that recognition in their eyes and hear them talk about them.

     As a general rule we wouldn't normally do any lapbooking in our homeschool.  It just hasn't been something that we've really ventured into.  After receiving the download and I realised how much material there was I did have a little initial worry about our ability to actually put it all together. As it turned out I never needed to have had that worry though.  There are plenty of instructions with pictures of the process as well.  It all came together beautifully without any hiccups at all.  

     Download the pdf today for $18.95 or purchase the CD for $19.95.  

     Thanks for visiting, and don't forget to tour Home School in the Woods for additional information about their product and other products that they have.  Oh and please do check out some of the other awesome reviews on the Composers Activity Pak ( Grades 3-8 ) done by fellow crew members.

Just a bit of a math chat

     When you're newly turned 8 the last thing you want to be doing each day is a ton of maths sums.  So this led me to making a deal with her.  Yep, sorry, I'm weak like that.  The deal was that if she did the first 2 rows correctly she would be free to leave the remainder of the page undone.  Forever.  But if I found any mistakes I would have to sit with her and walk her through another row, and then have her try another row by herself.  If she still got any mistakes then I would sit with her again and do another row of walk throughs and again let her try them out.  Well, that was the deal.  We've been working on this deal for a little while.  That way if there are genuine learning issues that need to be addressed I can get them addressed.  If she doesn't need to waste time doing the work, { once she has proven she is competent } well then, why put her through all that torture?

So here's her work for this morning:

She did BOTH rows without a single mistake.  That made both of us very  happy, not to mention shorten the lesson time considerably.  We did have to have a couple of mins discussion on the clocks { who knew skip counting by 5's would give a child so much more confidence and happiness when working out time? } and 1/2 dozen but wow, what an awesome lesson.  Doing a happy dance in my mind.

As for the big boys - good call on what I'm serving up this week.  It has been working most excellent.  Daniel and I had a heap of fun yesterday working through one of his skill sheets.  I really enjoyed myself.  I think Daniel really enjoyed me working through them with him too - as opposed to me just giving him the work and letting him just try and work it all out without me.  Might do a show and tell for him tomorrow.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Monday Book Delivery

Today was box day.   It wasn't a very big box mind you, but it was  an important one.

In it held two books.

The first being the latest installment of the Millers series.  Lovely short devotions with moral lessons and scriptural truth for children.

The second book:  Martyrs Mirror

Apparently Koorong tells people that this book is Out Of Print.  I know because while in South Australia I went to Koorong and asked if they had a copy.  Nope - they didn't, AND they said it was OOP.

Never mind - I found a place that sells them brand new and still in their shrink wrap.  :o)  So of course I ordered myself one.  A beautiful book on the inside, and great are the accounts of those who have gone before us that encourage us to endure to the end.  A timely read for those of us in the last days with tribulation almost upon our doors.

Do you own a copy of Martyrs Mirror?

ps.  I quit facebook again - I soooo badly need a rest from that horrid place.  { Just in case anyone was wondering. }

Friday, April 26, 2013

Week 13

This week we returned to our normal school schedule after having 2 weeks off.  Chloe started 305 for English.  We are almost half way through the course already, the year is going so quickly.

Hannah started Rod and Staff Unit 2 { for reading but not the workbook }.  I've been really swamped out with the other children and life in general, so I'm currently going to be minimizing Hannah's workload.

She also had a little fun with making words on our magnetic trays. I've since bought a nice big pink one for her to try out and use.

Phebe also started a new reader and workbook.

Science went well this week.  We've only done 2 lessons but the girls have already learnt some cool things.

I'm wondering if we should make a vocabulary book or not - since I know that there is a HEAP of vocabulary to come, or should we just ENJOY the book for what it is?

I managed to get some nice photos of the baby - one while she was reading, and one while she was playing "librarian" and pushing a trolley of books around until she was ready to put them back on the shelf.  Notice her handful of Pony Pal books. 

Phebe continued to work on through her CLE maths module.  As it turns out it has been a very good fit for her.

Phebe also worked on this throughout the week.  Today she got to color in the whale.  

I've been trying to encourage the girls to start giving me their oral narrations for me to write down for them to copy, but today they struggled, so I just gave them copywork out of the Activity book.  I love that I can fall back to that when we are tired and can't think for ourselves.

{ The girls finished up Chapter 17 in SOTW III. }  

Todays SOTW copy work plus map:

We have now done the first 5 lessons from Life of Fred - Butterflies.  The girls have been doing great with learning to skip count by 5's and as a result are reading clock times much easier.  We've also started skip counting by 2's.  { We've obviously looked at these before, but are doing the rounds with them again because that's what are in the books. }  

Overall, this week has been a bit of hard work.  I am really feeling the weight of the 6 children - with 4 of them being full time homeschooling.  { The additional two little boys have gone home to mum permanently - so that is a good thing and has made the load a little lighter. }  I'm also struggling with a little resentment over the fact that hubby WANTS me to homeschool but has totally abdicated and left me to the job by myself.  I don't feel overly confident, or feel that I have enough mental stamina for the highschoolers.  Sure, I can provide work.  Yep, I can read and follow teachers manuals, but it's the overall process.  The time involved.  There is a LOT to run around in circles with.  I'm tired.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Highschool Maths

     I don't know about you, but Maths is NOT my forte.  No sir, it isn't.  At the beginning of the year I ummed and ahhed as to whether or not to even homeschool the two big stay at home boys this year.  I actually got to the point where I said, "Nope, don't want to do it."  In the end hubby and I both agreed that they had to get a job.  Now yes, they did actually go and got a job each, BUT that job is only part time - at best, still at this point.  Soooooo, the long story short was that I still ended up having to homeschool them.  So for the first 12 weeks we've been using 'Understanding Year 9 & 10 Intermediate Maths'.  I dunno, not entirely happy with it.  Not me, not my sons.

     Fast forward to today - Ok, I can see this book is NOT working for you so I'll just go out to the carport and DIG up an OLD textbook that I have { I have a few }.  I bring it inside and discover that it has an awesome little CD sitting in the back, and on that little CD is a HEAP { over 300 skill sheet pages } and I think - YES, we can use those.  Sooooooo, we'll be jumping over to trying these out.  Please, please, please let this be the biggest math success they've had all highschool.   I'm tired of homeschooling out of my league.

Here's what my big boys will be doing over the next fortnight:
  1. Addition and Subtraction of Integers
  2. Multiplication and Division of Integers
  3. Adding and Subtracting Decimals
  4. Multiplying Decimals
  5. Dividing Decimals
  6. Simplifying Fractions
  7. Multiplying Decimals
  8. Simplifying Fractions
  9. Converting an Improper Fraction to a Mixed Number
  10. Converting a Mix Number into an Improper Fraction
  11. Adding and Subtracting Fractions
  12. Multiplying and Dividing Fractions
  13. Converting a Percentage into a Decimal
  14. Finding a Percentage of a Quantity
  15. Calculating Index Notation
  16. Ratios Involving Fractions
  17. Conversion of Units

     I've printed them out and stapled them into two skills per set.   I figure they could cover 2 skills a day.  I've kept the answers separate for me.  All good to go.  :o)

     I'll let you all know how it goes next fortnight after we've had a really good go at them.

     Who knows, we may actually do MORE.  Now that would be something good.

Thanks for visiting.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Science for Grade 3

Today I decided that I was going to jump over to using Rod and Staff for Science.  I like to toggle between a couple of good curriculums so that we don't get bogged down and can quickly pick up enthusiasm again with a little change.

So, I pulled out our Grade 3 Rod and Staff student Science book.  It is hard covered and non-consumable.  Which means that you can use it again and again with additional children in the family. This is not the first time we've used it, I've used it for the older boys when they were younger, so we are definitely getting our money worth with it.

We also have the teachers manual as well, since even I need help with the answers sometimes. :o)  For those who would want the whole set - there is even a test booklet available.  I would also like to mention that this curriculum is very affordable too.  I think it is a great curriculum to keep on the shelves to use full time, or as a back up.  Certainly the cost of the materials would make it very attractive to purchase.

The Grade 3 book is divided up into seven units and covers these topics:

  • God Gave Us Water
  • God Gave Us the Materials We Need
  • God Promised to Protect His Creation
  • God Gave Us Heat and Cold
  • God Cares for Man
  • God Cares for the Animals
  • God Told Man to Care for His Creation

At the end of each unit there is a review included.  

At the beginning of each lesson new vocabulary is introduced and defined.  The course builds an impressive science vocabulary.

They include nice, but plain pencil drawings, with the occasional photograph within the book.  There are questions and experiments for each lesson.

Yeah, so I'll be using this book as a read aloud.  We'll do the questions orally.  I don't know about you, but I have found that my children can get tired and fussy when having to do so many written lessons.  So I just feel that science is one of those subjects that we can short cut a little on in the earlier years.  When I say short cut - I just mean not have to write everything out.

I'll also be including Phebe { 6 } in as well.  That way both girls will be doing science together and that in itself will save me considerable time.

What Science curriculums do you use?
Do you toggle or just use the one?

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Art - Lobster

This time we drew lobsters.  The girls painted theirs, and I just colored mine in with pencils.

{ by Phebe }

{ by Chloe }

{ by me }

Thanks for visiting.