"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Moving Beyond the Page...A TOS Crew Review


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Have you ever heard of Moving Beyond the Page?  Moving Beyond the Page offers a complete, literature-based homeschool curriculum for ages 5-13 that:

--encourages critical and creative thinking,
--provides challenging and engaging projects, and
--supports different learning styles

I HAD heard of Moving Beyond the Page, especially in terms of how well they gear their products toward creative and gifted children.  I had often even visited their website and browsed through, but had never actually made the decision to purchase.  So I was thrilled to be chosen to review some of their products for the TOS Crew!  

First, why don't I tell you a little bit more about how Moving Beyond the Page is set up.  This curriculum is not split by grade levels, but by age range and by skill level.  There is a page on the website that details the prerequisites of each level, so that you can properly place your child in the level that is best for them.  You can view some sample curriculum pages and explore through the Frequently Asked Questions to get some more information about this company.  There are also some excellent "Getting Started" videos that will help after you receive your curriculum.

Each level of Moving Beyond the Page is split up into "Concepts", and each of the Concepts is split into units. Each unit is designed to last for 2-3 weeks and ends with a final project that helps the child process the information that he or she learned within the unit.  Ideally, you would complete four concepts over the course of a school year.  Since this is a comprehensive unit study-style curriculum, the subject areas that are covered are:  Language Arts, Writing, Science, and Social Studies.  Math is covered in the Ages 5-7 and Ages 6-8 levels, but beyond that it would need to be added in another way.

Although you can purchase the complete curriculum, you can also use Moving Beyond the Page as a supplement, and buy the units individually.  Many of the units pair up beautifully, where a Language Arts unit and a Science or Social Studies unit cover different aspects of the same information.  That is what we received for this review.

What Did We Receive?

For this review, we received two units from the Ages 8-10 curriculum to use with Firefly, who is ten and beginning the fifth grade.  We chose to study Native Americans, so we received the Native American Social Studies Unit, and The Sign of the Beaver Language Arts Unit.  These units were both part of the Interdependence Concept.  The other three concepts for the 8-10 age level were force and power, similarities and differences, and exploration and survival.

For the Native American Unit, we received the physical copy ($27.97), which came with the curriculum book ($16.99), the book If You Lived With the Cherokee ($6.99), and the book The Very First Americans ($3.99).  The curriculum book was a 121-page spiral bound book that included an introduction on how to use Moving Beyond the Page, an introduction to the unit with a materials list, a vocabulary sheet, and unit review sheet, and then the lessons with a suggested timetable of days to spend on each lesson.

Each of the seven lessons was further divided up into Big Ideas, Facts and Definitions, Skills, and Materials, so that you could get a good overview of what each lesson would include before you started.  Then there was a brief introduction followed by a list of activities.  There are many suggested activities each day, and some of the activities even have several options for use, depending on the interests and abilities of the student.

All of the "worksheet"-type activities are also included in the spiral curriculum book, and can be completed in there, but Moving Beyond the Page recommends also keeping a separate journal.


For the Sign of the Beaver Unit, we received the online version of the curriculum ($19.92).  This included the online curriculum book ($12.93), and the physical copy of The Sign of the Beaver ($6.99).  The online curriculum was set up in much the same way.  There is information on how to use the curriculum, a skills summary and review sheet, student activity pages to be printed out, reading and question pages to be printed or used orally, and then the thirteen lessons and final project section.  Each lesson begins with an introduction, lists activities to complete, and has a "wrapping up" section.  There is also a sample list of spelling and vocabulary words.  When the lesson is completed, it can be checked off online.

Several literary concepts, grammar definitions, and writing techniques are addressed in this package, such as: prepositions, stereotypes, persuasive writing, setting, theme, values, and plot.

All online access is for 90 days, but can be extended with a call to Moving Beyond the Page.

How Did We Use This Curriculum?

First of all, let me start by saying what Moving Beyond the Page recommends.  They say that a "typical" day would include approximately three hours on science, social studies, and language arts lessons.  Adding in math, vocabulary or spelling review, and outside play could last another two plus hours, and then they also suggest that you can choose to spend time on more in-depth exploration of the topics, reinforcing skills, or real-life applications.

Yeah.  I don't exactly have kiddos who would have that kind of attention span.

Or so I thought...

So while we spent a good deal of time on the curriculum every day, we didn't spend THAT kind of time.  But I think we maybe could have (which I'll get to later...)

Since we are in summer, "not school" mode, we went nice and slowly with this curriculum.  Firefly and I would do a language arts lesson one day, and a social studies lesson the next.  And while there may have been two to four activities set for a day, we usually did only one or two, and then finished the others on the next day.  Most days, we would spend about an hour on this curriculum.  And it held her attention beautifully the whole time.  If you haven't read previous posts about my Firefly, that is an amazing feat!


While some of the activities were worksheet-type activities, many others were hands-on.  Even the worksheets varied from writing to drawing to creative writing.  There were also things like cooking, mud-brick making, and timeline activities.

What Did I Think About Moving Beyond the Page?

In one word?

Wow.

I really loved this curriculum!  I loved that we could choose an area of study that Firefly was interested in and really go in-depth with it.

I loved that she did not ever complain about doing the lessons, even when they included a bit of writing, which she typically has trouble with because of the physical fine motor pressure.


I loved that Moving Beyond the Page mixed things up.  Just in the first set of lessons, Firefly was asked to write about different tribes of Native Americans in her journal, jot notes on how the different tribes depended on natural resources, map out where the different tribes lived, draw pictures of the different homes that they typically built, learn about tribes specific to our part of the country, and visit a local Native American museum.  For language arts, we learned about the state of Maine, its geography and historical background, the tensions between the early settlers and the Native Americans--which included her writing a paragraph about which she would rather be, and writing a poem about using natural resources.  (It actually turned out to be a poem about Native Americans, but at least she was writing!)


  The next lessons had us learning directions on a map, taking virtual field trips, hunting for ingredients in our pantry, making indian tools, cooking a Native American corn dish and a Johnnycake, creating a vocabulary web, and making a character timeline.

Wow, right?

I loved the books we used!  All three that we were sent were ones that we truly enjoyed.  The Native American books were read over and over and used as resources as we completed the activities, and The Sign of the Beaver was a beautiful story that we will go back to often.

I loved the unit study style of learning, which we tend to fall back on very often, especially with Firefly.  

I loved the connections that we could draw between the literature we were working on and the social studies lessons.  I thought the units complemented each other very well.

Would I change anything to continue to use this?  If I were going to use this as a full-time curriculum, which I am seriously considering, I would first of all go into this one unit at a time.  I think that the units would take longer for us to go through than Moving Beyond the Page suggests, but we're homeschoolers--we have that flexibility, right?

I would also use the print versions.  I had trouble remembering to print the pages / lessons / activity sheets that I needed, and so our social studies units always seemed to go much more smoothly than our language arts unit days.  I was also always forgetting where I had left the things I had printed out.  The spiral bound book worked beautifully for us, but that would also mean additional copies would need to be purchased for each additional kiddo to use.

I also had a little concern about the fact that the curriculum is not a Christian-based curriculum, which is why I opted for a social studies unit instead of a science unit.  For us, it is important to address our Creator, especially when explaining how things work scientifically.  

All in all, though, I was highly impressed with the units that we received.  I feel like the quality and amount of knowledge that we gained was amazing, and that Firefly will remember this study of Native Americans.


What Did Firefly Think?


"I thought that it was really fun, all the crafts and stuff.  It just gave you a lot to do on one day.  But other than that, it was awesomely fun to draw and to get all the information about what you like learning about.  Because if you didn't like learning about the subjects they have out for you, then don't bother in getting it, because it wouldn't be fun for you if you didn't like it.  But I thought it was amazing and cool and fun to learn about."  (Age 10)

I encourage you to go over and see what my Crewmates thought.  We received a variety of different products, and that will give you a good overview of what Moving Beyond the Page has to offer!


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2 comments:

  1. I am new to homeschooling and have been shopping curriculum for weeks. I have seriously considered MBTP, but like you I was also concerned about the fact that it is not Christian based. What science do you suggest? Did you ever end up using moving beyond the page for everything else? Please help me. Thank You so much

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    1. We recently were able to review MBTP again, and this time I chose a Science package. I still love it all! However, it is a bit cost-prohibitive for us right now. We use a lot of Unit Studies for Science--love Amanda Bennett's stuff, and this year my Firefly will be using Apologia Astronomy. I think that we could work around MBTP's secular stuff, especially when there is so much else about it that I love. Good luck in your hunt--I'd love to hear what you decide on!

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