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Composers Activity Pak Review by Kathy Gelzer

Amy Pak
Home School in the Woods Publishing
3997 Roosevelt Highway
Holley, NY 14470

Here is another great lapbook project from Home School in the Woods. Composers Activity Pak, available in downloadable and CD versions, profiles 42 different composers from ancient to modern time periods. Some of the composers featured are Vivaldi, Sousa, Wagner, Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev, and Gershwin. Students will also learn about various musical time periods and musical terminology, create a timeline, and discover some of the reasons composers wrote pieces.

One of the more interesting projects is the interactive Music Appreciation worksheets, which accompany the hour and a half of music files in MP3 format. On these forms, there is a place for the student to record the title, composer, musical period, and interesting facts as well as a space to draw a picture inspired by the music.

There are two projects included in addition to the lapbook and its components: The Orchestra File Folder Display and Composer Cards. "The Orchestra" illustrates where all the musical instruments are positioned in an orchestra and provides a blurb of information about each instrument. The 20 Composer Cards can be used as flash cards or for games.

We chose to try this out this activity during our summer vacation. The instructions couldn't be more straightforward. Designed for grades 3 through 8, this product was a perfect fit for our children, who range in age from 8 to 14. The Composers Activity Pak was a great equalizer of mixed ages, and even though each child made his own lapbook with all the mini-components, we found it to be a fulfilling collaborative effort with plenty of interaction and conversation. Even though we spread this out over many days, my eight-year-old wanted Mommy to help with the cutting after a while, and we found a paper cutter to be a big time-saver.

Don't be put off by the assumption that this requires artistic ability or creativity. My 14-year-old son is not artsy-craftsy, but he enjoyed constructing this lapbook almost as much as he likes assembling his Star Wars Lego sets.

One of the activities is making little booklets for each of the 42 featured composers. There is space inside to list compositions and interesting facts. It is suggested that the child "research and record information inside each booklet." To my delight, my children rose to the occasion and, with little assistance from me, did just that. We decided to break it up a bit by filling in only three booklets per day in addition to the hands-on projects they were already working on.

I highly recommend The Composers Activity Pak. We found it to be an excellent use of our time--most enjoyable and educational

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, August 2009