Not heard of Moving Beyond the Page? Until a short while ago, I hadn’t either. Read on to see why we have loved getting to know them through our latest review. Literature-based unit studies or complete curricula (math options too! – Right Start, Singapore or Life of Fred) – there are many options.
As a complete curricula, the school year is divided into four concepts. Within each concept are three units. Within each of these units there are 10 lessons (plus a final project). There are units from language arts that are planned to go with a unit in science or social studies. Using these units as delight-directed studies, you could use both units in a pairing or create your own or choose the subjects individually. For our family, utilizing the related units helps our day to flow and encourages the children to keep making connections.
To help narrow down our choices, I chose to select “paired” units for 8-10 year olds. After consulting with my little learners, we decided upon Ben & Me for our literature choice and the corresponding Magnetism and Electricity for science. Our language arts unit was the online package ($29.12). This means we received the actual guide as access to a landing page for the unit with each day’s lessons clickable from a menu and the student pages available to download as a pdf. The book Ben and Me and manipulative (a kite kit) were physical products we received. If you are only wanting the guide/student pages that is $16.99 for a spiral bound book; $12.93 for the online option. Extra student/consumable pages are $4.99. You do not have permission to make copies from the physical book. One of the advantages of the online option is that I can print whatever pages my girls needed.
Our science unit, Magnetism and Electricity was a completely physical package ($89.92). This package contains the spiral-bound guide, the book Electricity and Magnetism by Peter Adamczyk and Paul-Francis Law, the Science Wiz Electricity Kit and the Force and Power Science Kit. I was so thrilled in opening the box containing the Force and Power Science Kit to see all the supplies in separate bags labelled for the lesson in which it was used. I can pull together supplies for science experiments, but we do many more when those supplies are already together ready to go. There are the same options to purchase only the components needed (guide only $16.99/$12.93 or additional student pages $4.99).
I have children close in age yet differing in abilities. My 12 year old is not a strong reader, but her comprehension is well above grade-level. My 10 year old is mostly on grade level, but a little slow to “get” new concepts. My (newly-turned) 9 year old is mildly gifted – when she wants to, she leaps ahead in her learning and grasps new concepts quite easily. I chose to work with units from the 8-10 age level figuring it would fit the best for these 3. As we would be reading the literature and working through things together, the younger siblings were about as well.
The age recommendations are spot-on. While those younger siblings may have enjoyed listening as I or the eldest read our literature selection aloud, they certainly weren’t participating in much of the discussions. As we worked through the science lessons, they enjoyed playing along. They were not the target of our study though, the big sisters were. The 12 year old is definitely beyond most of what we were learning. She enjoyed “tagging along” and did get a much-needed boost to her confidence. Struggling learners need those. “What about those other sisters,” you ask? They were challenged and enjoyed learning. Things were right on target for them.
Each day’s lessons and activities are spelled out. The activities are explained in detail and sometimes include a couple of options to fit the needs or abilities of your child(ren). Any supplies (most were common things from around the house) we needed we would gather ahead of time and have ready to go. This makes it easy for your learners to be more independent in their work. I was still involved (and needed), but they didn’t need to wait for me to get things ready to begin.
We love using literature as the base for our studies. The biggest problem is stopping when each day’s reading is complete to move on to the activities. This is part of the reason I chose to read our Language Arts selection, Ben & Me by Robert Lawson, aloud. I then led the discussion using the online guide. The discussions covered comprehension, creative writing and other LA topics such as fact and opinion, etc. When there were worksheets for that day, I would have them printed out ahead of time. As this is a complete Language Arts unit, we also covered spelling words and vocabulary.
I really liked how the girls were encouraged to think and apply what they were learning. These units are not just “read and recite” type of work. Real thinking and application is required. I could see the girls stretching and growing as they worked through the activities. They enjoyed best the activities where they could work together presenting things as a skit rather than just a (boring) written assignment. Imagination and creativity were used along with thinking and writing skills.
The science unit not only explored magnetism and electricity but the relationships between the two. They were encourage to hypothesize the results of experiments and to record their findings. I loved it when they would have “light bulb” moments and make those connections. While some of the experiments were the same or very similar to other magnetism or electricity experiments we have done, the “Big Idea” questions had them thinking deeper and seeing applications in real-life.
A typical day as described by Moving Beyond the Page is to spend 2 hours on science/social studies and language arts (essentially the two current units), an additional 15-20 minutes for spelling/vocabulary and an 45-60 min. for math. Physical activity is encouraged (30 minutes a day) as well as additional time to dig deeper into a topic covered in the current units, review areas that are weak, independent reading and real use of the concepts learned. We never spend this long on math, but otherwise, the day is much like what our typical “school” day looks like. We “do school” 4 days a week, so these units took us just over 3 weeks to complete.
The theme of this concept is Force and Power. That seems obvious when looking at the science unit. We were also learning about government and specifically how Ben Franklin used his power and influence to help and better the lives of his fellow citizens. The lines between science/social studies/language arts are easy to blur when using literature as your base for your studies. In some of the other studies, there is even more overlap among subjects.
There are many, many studies and options available. The units are separated by recommended age (and color-coded, I love that!). Moving Beyond the Page utilizes methods for gifted students. When a unit is in the “Age 8-10” category, this is for a gifted 8 year old, an on-grade level 9 year old or a below-grade level 10 year old. Further guidelines for reading, comprehension and writing abilities can be found on the “Choosing an Age Level” page. At first glance, it can be overwhelming to figure out what to choose. But there is help. Material lists so you can see just what those science kits contain. There are numerous links – samples etc. – to determine the right place to start depending upon your needs.