We are a music-loving family that understands the importance of good, quality music in our lives. That's why I was excited to review a product about music appreciation. Leighton went to college for a music major. We were both very involved in the music program while there (in fact, it was while playing in the handbell choir that we got to know each other and fell in love!) and continued to participate in various aspects of the music program in our church. You can often hear music playing or random singing while in our house. Yes, we love music. However, I've never incorporated music study into our days. Oh, I meant to; I just never knew where to start or how to proceed.
And then came the Music Appreciation: Book 1: for the Elementary Grades. We started our study with Bach and quickly learned that this wonderful homeschool music program from Zeezok Publishing LLC was exactly what I needed.
Zeezok Publishing LLC was started by homeschoolers in 1993 who wanted to offer top quality materials that complement educational needs. They have a variety of curricula and supplemental materials like their Z-Guides to the Movies, Civil War series, Presidential Penmanship, A Noble Experiment, literature books, and more. They continue to expand their resources and are dedicated to offering publications that will enrich, educate, and edify.
The Music Appreciation Book 1 Collection meets and exceeds all of the national standards required for music appreciation for kindergarten-6th grade. The set includes a student activity book, music discs, lapbooks, and individual biography books for 7 classical composers (dating from 1685-1828).
The curriculum covers 4 weeks of study for each of the composers:
The biographies are absolutely perfect for this age level. From the size of the book to the font to the writing style to the pictures, it's everything a child's book should be. My older 3 kids (ages 10, 8, 6) loved the book and begged me to read "just one more chapter" each day. The accurate story was written so the elementary ages can comprehend, but also has richer vocabulary woven throughout. It includes words like trudged, haste, nestling, oaken, and scarcely. Nearly every page or page spread has a black and white picture that seems perfect for the era. There are even portions of sheet music written by Bach sprinkled throughout the the book.
The student activity book contains the learning exercises for all 7 composers. The entire book is perforated and hole-punched, so you could transfer it to a 3-ringed binder for easier use. A sample lesson plan is given at the beginning of each composure section.
Week One of the Bach study looks like this:
- Read Chapter 1
- Answer Comprehension Quesions
- Character Qualities
- Tidbits of Interest
- Assemble Lapbook Folder
- Bach Family Facts
- Places that Bach Visited Map Activity
- Learning About Stringed Instruments Activity
This curriculum is very easy to use with multiple ages. I read the book aloud to the kids and then we completed the activities together. They always race to see who can answer the comprehension questions first, and I enjoy seeing how much they retained. There's so much more than just answering questions though. There are exercises about learning character qualities, mapping, random facts (did you know Bach's hands could span 12 notes? or that he had 20 children?), history of 18th century Germany, copywork, and plenty of sections dedicated to music (i.e. terms, instruments, styles).
While we've enjoyed all aspects of this study, our favorites have been the hands-on activities. We made a loaf of rye bread and enjoyed it warm, fresh from the oven like Bach. We preformed an oxidation experiment with pennies to understand why the top of St. Michael's church in Hamburg turned green. We even were able to pluck out some of Bach's compositions on our keyboard using the music in the book.
Along with the written music, the curriculum comes with discs so you can listen to the music, as well. The book gives a brief description of each song and lists the matching track number, making it incredibly easy to use over the course of the study. The kids and I all enjoyed listening to the beautiful music of one of the masters. We do listen to classical music at times throughout our days, so it was fun to watch the kids faces light up as they recognized songs. "Hey, this sounds familiar!" or "I've heard this before!" we commonly heard as the songs played.
The final component to the curriculum is the lapbook. My kids adore lapbooks. They're time-consuming and require much work, but they are such a fun way of learning. I like that my kids will look through their lapbooks long after our study is complete and recall what we've learned. Booklets, pockets, pieces, moving parts--they're all part of the lapbook charm. This one even includes an entire game board on the back that's focused around Bach's life.
As far as lapbook go, this one is easy to print and easy to assemble. There are no directions to print any of the pages on cardstock (though it would provide stability), so it's just a click of a button to get the whole thing to print at one. The pages print in color, which saves time during the assembly, as well. There are detailed directions in both the student activity book and the lapbook CD for the activities and assembly.
I am blown away at the quality of this curriculum. Seriously. It is packed full of information on not just the composer, music, and instruments, but incorporates much more, too. And not only that, it's fun! Between the reading book, the exercises, the hand-on activities, the music, the lapbook, there's something for every learning style--visual, kinesthetic, auditory. We've started our study Handel, and I can tell this one's going to be a hit, too.
If you are wanting to teach music appreciation in your homeschool, I highly recommend this collection.
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