Jun 30, 2013

Schoolhouse Review Crew: Moving Beyond the Page

As you know, we lean toward a Charlotte Mason atmosphere in our school, which means, (among other things) that we tend to be literature heavy. In fact, our history curriculum is entirely literature now. Well, literature and projects that give the kids a way to interact with the stories. But the projects can be a little hard to find, so I was excited when we were offered two units from Moving Beyond the Page  that I could use in our current journey through American History. These units were The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (language arts) and Native Americans (social studies).
Moving Beyond the Page is intended to be a complete curriculum: math, language arts, science and social studies, based on literature and unit studies. But it can also be used as a supplement to your regular curriculum by just buying individual units. You have the option of buying either a physical book for your Teacher's Guide or an online guide. Either option comes with the physical literature books needed to do the unit.
We received Native Americans as a physical book. It came with a Teacher's Guide and two literature books. The Guide is a spiral bound, paper-cover book and contains not only the teacher's information but also all of the student sheets.

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The Guide starts by explaining the concept of Moving Beyond the Page, offers an overview of how it works and suggestions on how to use it, even to how to schedule your day. It lists the required books, and gives a complete Materials List broken down by lessons. (I love it when TGs do that!)
Each lesson is carefully laid out in the Guide, starting with the Big Ideas, Facts, and Skills being presented and then giving a simple description of what needs to be done, what to call your child's attention to, "narration" questions, and how to wrap it up.
The lessons take from one to two days and the activities are divided between the two days. Most of the activities are filling out student sheets, but there are some projects in there as well. For example, cooking a Native American Corn Dish (my kids disliked eating it, but they had fun making it) and making a model tipi. The sheets were some maps and a lot of drawing/listing type of thing, like this:

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The online Guide is set up pretty much the same way, except you can only access it online and only for 90 days. The student pages are linked throughout the Guide, as you need them, and you can also download them in one fell swoop from the Table of Contents page. So you easily know when you need them, but you don't have to download each one individually. Very convenient, that!
Since we do our history as a group, using this product was a little tricky. The Ballad of Lucy Whipple (which we received in the online version) is intended for 9 to 11 year olds, so a lot of the activity pages were a little over the heads of my 6 and 7 year olds, although my 10 year old enjoyed them thoroughly. They all enjoyed the book, though. Native Americans is for 8 to 10 year olds, so it was the perfect thing for my group, but, the physical guide does NOT allow copying, not even within the family, so we had to divvy up the activity sheets and take turns. And if you have more than one kid you know how easy THAT is! So, for our family, the physical TG is not a good option.
The books themselves, however, were excellent and the kids learned so much from them. I was, I admit, a little dubious, when I first saw how thin the two Native American books were, but they were packed with information and the kids enjoyed listening and looking at the pictures.

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What we loved about Moving Beyond the Page:

  • the literature was awesome
  • the materials list at the beginning of each unit
  • that the TG is spiral bound and I could open it and lay it flat while teaching. This also made it easier for the kids to work on the Activity Pages.
  • the thought that obviously went into creating these units
  • how much my kids learned from each unit
  • how easy it was, for me, the teacher to use the units. 
  • the artwork on the front of each unit. Silly, maybe, but those cute pictures made me want to be creative!

What we didn't love so much:

  • that we couldn't copy the student pages in the physical TG. 
  • that there weren't more projects included. I liked the activity pages, but I would have liked more options for hands-on projects
  • that they were so short... the units only took us about two weeks, and then we felt a little bereft

Bottom line, I would definitely recommend Moving Beyond the Page to anyone who is looking for a quality, literature-based curriculum. We want to do more, ourselves!
You can read what other Crew members think on the Crew blog

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