Moving Beyond the Page {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

Moving Beyond the Page Review

We fell in love with Moving Beyond the Page during a previous review.  We were thrilled to review some of their individual units again.  The difficult part was choosing which units.  The littler learners are enjoying more free time this summer, so I settled on the older girls.  That narrowed down the options a little.  MBTP offers units for a wide range of ages (4-5 year olds up to 12-14 year olds).  We finally agreed on A Single Shard ($19.92 for the online language arts package) and Earth Cycles and Systems ($41.97 for the physical science package).  Both of these units are listed as Age 11-13 units.  My girls using this are (rising) 5th, 6th and 8th graders.  

We enjoy unit studies, and especially literature-based ones and that is what Moving Beyond the Page is.  You can order individual units or a full year’s worth of curricula; just the guide or a full package.    One of the wonderful things I enjoy about Moving Beyond the Page is how complete a unit is.  When you order the full package, you will get not only the guide but the needed books as well.  For some of the science units, this includes kits of the hands-on materials.  For those units where kits are not included, the materials we have needed have all been on hand or very easy to obtain.  But, even the online unit includes a physical copy of the literature sent to your door.  Awesome!  As much as we love our library, it is nice to not have to track down books.  It is also wonderful to have all the needed things arrive at the same time.  No skipping an activity because something hasn’t arrived yet (or Mama forgot to pick it up at the store).
Our language arts unit was based on the book, A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park.  The story is set in Korea during ancient times (mid- to late 12th century).  The main character, Tree-ear is an orphan around 12 years of age.  He lives with Crane-man, a crippled father-figure to the boy.  Tree-ear longs to be a potter, just like Min, the master potter he secretly watches work.  Through an unfortunate incident he has the opportunity to work for Min.  Because of Crane-man’s influence on him, Tree-ear tries to do what is right and honorable – not always an easy task.  These elements make the story one that all can relate to.  We also enjoyed learning about the time and place and people.  Historical fiction is something we all enjoy, so I read the story aloud for all of the children.  
There are 11 lessons (10 lessons + a final project and test), some taking more than one day.  The typical unit is intended for 2-3 weeks work.  When using Moving Beyond the Page as a full curriculum, the year is divided into concepts (4 for this age level), each intended for 9 weeks of study.  Within a concept are three units.  These units are what can be used individually.  This same layout is used for all three subject areas: language arts, social studies and science.  As with any unit study, there is some overlap in discipline.  In our language arts guide were expected activities working with parts of speech (pronouns in this unit), vocabulary, writing (comparison and contrast writing) and learning more about the author.  There was also some social studies covered with map work, learning about Korean culture – including a recipe to make kimchi (you know how we love tastes around the world!), and information on making pottery.  We went out and dug up some dirt from our yard and determined how clay-y it was.  This crossed over into our science unit, too!   
Our science unit was titled Earth Cycles and Systems.  Through the readings in the three non-fiction books included in the package (Ecology, The Water Cycle, and Carbon-Oxygen and Nitrogen Cycles), we learned about the earth’s cycles, the things that live and interact in these cycles (plants, worms, bugs, etc.) and how they are interdependent.  The lessons started with learning what matter and energy are then relate this to ecosystems.  We then studied the earth cycles and farming practices (all types, not just conventional practices – yay!).  The final project was on nitrogen – manipulating the amounts and observing the results.  We also happened to be working on just this with our garden.  That really drove home the purpose in having the variables controlled in an experiment.  In our garden, we applied the same nitrogen evenly to all the plants.  In their experiment, this was the variable.
We continue to be impressed with Moving Beyond the Page.  There are so many units and combinations that these can be used in almost any way.  The online units provide a download pdf of all the student activity sheets (printing as needed for your family only).  The physical units are for individual users (no copying pages allowed).  Because we were working as a team on the science activities, this worked well for our family.  For the language arts units, we did copy some of the pages for each learner.  When you purchase an online unit, you have a limited time in which to use it that begins when you ‘activate’ the unit.  If you need an extension on this time, you need only e-mail to have that done.  If you wish to re-do a unit (say with a younger sibling at a later time) you can re-purchase the unit (guide-only if you still have the books) at a reduced rate.  This information was found within my account.  This is a really flexible curriculum to work with.
Read more reviews to see other ages and units used in other Schoolhouse Review Crew members’ homes.  To learn more about Moving Beyond the Page, visit their website.  I found the ‘Purchase’ page the most useful when looking for individual units.  You can also browse by age level to view the full year and other options.
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Thank you Moving Beyond the Page!

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Moving Beyond the Page a Schoolhouse Crew Review

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.

There are so many units for all ages (Ages 4-5 and 12-14 are coming soon!) – learn more at Moving Beyond the Page and from the other reviews.   

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