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Jul 10, 2014

Moving Beyond the Page - A Two Unit Review

Moving Beyond the Page has a complete homeschool curriculum available in both print and online versions.  They have units suitable for ages 4-14; preschool, elementary, and middle school curriculum.  I was offered one online unit (Language Arts Package - Sarah, Plain and Tall - Online), and one physical unit (Science Package - The Land) for review.

Moving Beyond the Page Review

Both of our units are from the 7-9 age range, so approximately for 2nd to 4th grade.  The prerequisites for the age 7-9 guides are as follows.
  • Able to read and comprehend chapter books on a 3rd or early 4th grade reading level
  • Can answer comprehension questions about a chapter in a journal
  • Able to write three or four sentences on a topic
Each unit takes approximately three weeks to complete.

Science Package - The Land  $24.98
Includes the reference book Maps and Mapping
  1. Where You Live
  2. Types of Maps
  3. Reading Maps (2 days)
  4. Natural Resources (2 days)
  5. Conserving Natural Resources
  6. Environment of the United States (2 days)
  7. Farming in the US (2 days)
  8. My Environment (2 days)
  9. Final Project: My Own Island
The print guide serves as both the teacher's guide and the student workbook.  Copyright does not allow copying for use with multiple children in the same family.  An additional set of student activity pages can be purchased for $4.99.  These would be useful for using the same unit with more than one child or if you prefer to not use the guide for the student's work. 

The physical guide has an explanation of the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum, what the unit covers, the required book list (included with purchase), and a materials list for each lesson.  Each lesson consists of three sections; Getting Started, Activities, and Wrapping Up.  Getting Started lists the topics, definitions, skills covered, materials needed, and an introduction for each lesson.  Activities lists, well, the activities.  There are several activities for each lesson and some activities have more than one option, based on the student's abilities.  Wrapping up is for discussion and applying the knowledge gained from the lesson.

Love Mal's cows!  We started with electrical items we never or rarely use.  It got harder, the farther along we got!

Talking about natural resources, we had a funny conversation that somehow devolved into boys being made of "frogs and snails, and puppy dog tails" while Malachi calculated how many tails it really took to make a boy.  We had several (ahem) interesting conversations during this unit.  Here the boys answered the question, "What comes from a cow?".  Xavier's impression of what goes on at a pastoral farm was a bit concerning.

We learned that our small scale "farm" would be considered mixed farming.  You know, assuming you consider a few raised beds of veggies and five hens a farm.

Though we used Maps and Mapping for several lessons, I didn't really feel like it was a necessary addition.  It was a nice little resource with several extra activities and a nice glossary, we didn't use it as much as I had expected.  Most homeschoolers probably have several books in their home libraries that would serve just as well.  

Even though I didn't have a guide for The Land for Mal to write in, we kept him involved with us during discussions.  He helped with some of the cut out projects, and dictated.

Language Arts Package - Sarah, Plain and Tall - Online $18.92
This online version of the guide includes a print copy of the book Sarah, Plain and Tall

  1. Getting Started
  2. Story Elements
  3. The News
  4. The Letters
  5. The Arrival
  6. Life on the Prairie
  7. The Dune
  8. Work and Play
  9. Writing (2 days)
  10. Neighbors
  11. Squall
  12. The End of the Storm
  13. Final Project - Welcome to Kansas (2 days)
The online version can be printed for use by as many children as you'd like to use it for in your family.  Online access does not last indefinitely though.  Once a unit is activated, access is available for three months.  However, you can repurchase access to previously purchased units for half-price for use with younger children.  Some of the pages with comprehension questions can be filled in online and then printed or downloaded as a PDF.  This would make great typing practice for your students.

Access begins immediately after purchase, enabling you to prepare or even begin lessons while you wait for the physical components, such as books.  You will need high-speed internet, a printer, and a notebook for journaling, in addition to various materials for the activities.

Each Lesson has tabs for Intro, Activities, and Conclusion.  Simply choose the online unit, select a lesson, and use the tabs to navigate around.  The Intro tab covers vocabulary, ideas to explore during that lesson, skills covered, materials needed, and more.  The Activities tab lists the activities and has links to any PDF files you will need to print.  This section also has writing assignments and topics of study.  The Conclusion tab has discussion ideas for each lesson or book chapter.

IdeaShare is part of the online guide.  This is where other users of each unit have shared resources they have found to complement the online units.  Sarah, Plain and Tall has 22 items listed on IdeaShare.  Some of the submissions have more merit and more relevance than others.  Check them out ahead of time to see if they suit your needs.

The language arts units cover vocabulary, grammar, writing, spelling, story elements, and figurative language.

I shared Sarah, Plain and Tall with the Bigger, back when he was a Little.  I was excited for the chance to read this memorable book with my punks.  Even though, it isn't suggested, I also borrowed Skylark from the library.  This second installment in the Sarah, Plain and Tall series made it so much easier for the boys to see the differences in the Kansas/Maine environments.  I recommend doing the same, if you have time and opportunity.

The boys were to keep a journal and write in the first person with Anna's voice.  They are already writing a lot in school and seemed to have trouble thinking about themselves as a girl, so they either just told me what they would write or skipped the journaling part.

Some of the assignments in this section included writing a want ad for a wife, drawing a book cover for a story about themselves, learning about story elements, and using a hamburger paragraph organizer.  We've since used the hamburger method for other writing assignments.  It has made it much easier for them to organize their thoughts.
Their book titles are Mal, Mean and Tall and Xav, Funny and Skinny.

Even though the two units are meant to be used together, I didn't even try to keep them running concurrently.  There didn't seem to be anything to marry the two units lesson for lesson, so we just went through each as we felt like using that unit that day.

I really liked these units and we had a lot of fun completing them.  The only thing I struggled with was the thought that some of the parental direction was kind of vague.  I like things more detailed when I use unit studies.  I don't have time to be the student and though it didn't involve a lot of effort or even every lesson, there were some points I needed to do a bit of research before discussing things within these lessons. 

Though I prefer the physical copy, there are benefits and drawbacks to both of the types of units available from Moving Beyond the Page.  I've tried to be thorough with each review, but there is a lot of information to pack into this one.  I hope you will use what I've provided and read some of the other Crew reviews to determine which is right for your family.

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