Moving Beyond the Page ~ Product Review

by Dawn Oaks on July 10, 2014 · 0 comments

Moving Beyond the Page Review
Over the years, I have found our homeschooling style changing more and more to a literature rich, unit study approach.  I was excited when we were offered the opportunity to review two of products from Moving Beyond the Page.  Because he seems to be the highest utilizer of unit studies in our home, our 14 year old partnered with me in using the Language Arts Package  for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and also a Social Studies Package for the American Revolution. Both of these studies were designed for students between the ages of 12 and 14.

The Company:

Moving Beyond the Page is a publisher of homeschool curriculum.  There products are designed with children between the ages of 4 and 14 in mind.  The company’s focus is on developing quality unit studies in the areas of Language Arts, Science, and History.  The studies are sequenced so that when partnered with a handwriting and math curriculum it can serve as a complete full year curriculum.  Each of their units can also be purchased individually for those seeking a particular unit of interest.  Samples of the units can be here.

For each age range in the curriculum, the company publishes prerequisite skills that they recommend that a student possess before using the units in that particular range.  Our son was using the middle school units designed for those between the ages of 12 and 14.  The prerequisites on the website for this age range were as follows:

  • Able to read and comprehend novels at an 8th or 9th grade reading level
  • Able to write multiple paragraphs on a topic
  • Can write a five paragraph essay
  • Usually used by children in the seventh or eighth grade

Each unit consists of a study guide portion which outlines the lesson plans and provide worksheets and other materials for the student to work with.  These study guides can be purchased in an on-line format or physical copy.  In addition, there are usually literary works associated with each unit.  These are available for purchase through Moving Beyond the Page when you purchase the study guide or the study guide can be purchased separately if you happen to already own the books needed.  The science unit studies may also have a science kit that would be purchased to do the activities in the units.

Language Arts Package – The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The curriculum package we received for this unit contained an on-line study guide as well as a physical copy of the book, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, that was shipped to our home.  This package as we received it can be purchased on the vendor’s website for $22.88.

Huckleberry Finn

In receiving the on-line version of this study, it took a bit to get oriented to where things were.  Once this was initially done, it was very easy to follow along with what was next and how to be prepared. When first entering the on-line area of the website and finding the study we were working on, I found a complete materials list for the entire study.  There were also some pdf files to download.  These three files contained the Student Activity Pages, the Reading Questions, and a Handy Guide to Writing and Grammar.

We decided to pre-print these materials for the whole study and stick them in a binder so that my son could work as independently as possible without having to wait on Mom to print off the next day’s work.  We sequenced the pages so that the activity pages were directly behind the reading comprehension pages for each lesson rather than having two distinct sections in his binder.  The writing assignments that were completed were put with the corresponding lesson as well.  Below the header section that contains all these materials to get prepared to start the study is the Table of Contents for the lesson plans.  This Table of Contents is set up with hyperlinks so that you simply click on the lesson you want to go to.  Once you had started the study, each time you logon the site will take you to where you left off.  In between the introductory downloads and the Lesson Plans, there is an option to turn the Parent Overview on or off.  When this is on, the rest of the study guide acts as a parent answer key with all of the appropriate information filled in the spaces that would otherwise be blank for your child to complete.

The Language Arts unit for The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has a total of 12 lessons plus a final project.  Most of the lessons are designed to be completed in a single day with a couple spanning two days.  Within each lesson, there are three sections:

  • The Intro – this is where the new teaching happens as well as assigned reading and reading comprehension pages.
  • Activity – these outline the Activity Pages to be completed as well as writing assignments
  • Conclusion – discussion questions are presented in this section of each lesson along with main points to review before moving on to the next lesson

Our thoughts on the Language Arts Package:

The folks at Moving Beyond the Page are correct in referring to this as a Language Arts Package rather than a Literature study guide.  Throughout the unit, the student is not only reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and answering reading comprehension questions each day.  He is also provided instruction on literary devices.  This unit focused on Point of View, Irony, and Figures of Speech.  Finally, the student is guided through the process of narrative writing, expository writing, and persuasive writing.

I feel that this is a very well written and high quality unit.  It was a challenge for our son who is still finding his way in doing more formal essay writing, especially when a new assignment was given almost daily.  In being completely honest, he was more than thrilled when we reached Lesson 8 and he was given the opportunity to make a wooden model raft.  This linked much closer to what he would have rather been doing which was…

IMAG0304

But in the end, he did well with the writing assignments.  I think learning to write more formal essay works within the structure and context of a literature study helps the student a great deal.  The topic was already provided, which many times can be half the battle.

There was a final project and test at the end of the unit to help the student bring closure and review to all that was learned throughout the unit.  It challenged him in pulling it all together.

There were many links throughout the study to additional slideshows or media presentations related to a lesson.  This worked out well as long as we had the computer easily accessible during each lesson and followed it closely.

Social Studies Package – Revolution

For this review, we received physical copies to the Moving Beyond the Page Social Studies Revolution Guide as well as copies of Great American Colonial America Projects : You Can Build Yourself and We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History.  When purchased with all physical products as we received, this social studies package sells for $65.93.

IMG_0806

Social Studies – Revolution guide:

This spiral bound printed copy of the Social Studies – Revolution unit has all of the same components as the on-line Language Arts unit reviewed above.   It is collated so that everything needed for each lesson is found with the lesson in a consistent order throughout the book.  Prior to beginning the first lesson, key vocabulary terms for the unit as well as a Unit Review Sheet of the main concepts of the study are presented.  After this introductory section, the lessons follow the same general format:

  • The Getting Started Section – Contains a brief introduction to the lesson, a list of materials needed, main ideas or questions to ponder during the lesson, and concepts you should know
  • Reading and Questions – This section clearly outlines the reading assignments for the lesson and provides generally 3-4 reading comprehension questions.  Adequate space is provided so that the student can write directly in the study guide.
  • Activities – There are multiple activities presented in each lesson.  For some lessons we did all the activities and for others the student is given the option to choose.  The activities ranged from writing movie reviews, completing activity pages, mapwork, and creative writing assignments.  Many of the activities utilize additional internet links or outside resources.
  • Wrapping Up – This is a brief summary of the lesson’s key concepts.

At the end of the study, there is a final project for the student to complete as well as a unit test.  The answers to the unit test as well as the other assignments throughout the book can be found in the back of the study guide.  It is wonderful to not have to buy an additional teacher’s edition, but parents should be aware that it can also be tempting for some students to just copy their responses rather than do the work.

Great Colonial America Projects: You can Build Yourself

Upon first receiving this book, I was assuming it was simply an arts and crafts book that would be used to help incorporate a hands-on component to the unit.  That assumption proved to fall short of what was truly presented in this resource.  Great Colonial America Projects does provide step by step instruction on projects related to Colonial America, but it is also rich with wonderful historical background and context.  It is truly a history book incognito.

We Were There, Too! Young People in U.S. History

This text is a collection of short biographical sketches of young people that were fully involved in the settling of the colonies right up through the 1990’s.  It is a wonderful addition to any homeschool library.  These vignettes tell the story of our nation through the eyes of our young people in a poignant way.  It literally makes the history come alive off the page.

Our Thoughts on the Social Studies Package

I was thoroughly impressed with the organization of the study guide and the excellent selection of supporting texts.  This study was not just about a war.  It was about the culture that existed, the political dynamics that arose, and the impact on the common man.

Many of the activities were not just about filling in the blank.  The material presented brought about a deeper level of thinking and really required the student to use some critical thinking skills to dig a bit deeper.  This is wonderful preparation for students of this age to begin preparing for upper level work they will face in high school.

In Conclusion

Our family has thoroughly enjoyed the materials from Moving Beyond the Page.  Last year, we had the opportunity to review some of their elementary materials.  That review can be found here.  These materials are wonderful for the homeschool family that enjoys unit studies as their main homeschooling style, but is also a wonderful change up for any family when you feel yourself getting in a rut and need something a little different.

After using both on-line and printed copies of the study guide, we see advantages to both formats.  The on-line version allows you to download the activity sheets and reading comprehension questions.  This makes it possible to use the study with multiple students.  However, once the on-line study is activated, the purchaser only had access for 90 days.  Customers can contact customer service to have this extended, but it is not a lifetime ownership of the materials.  The printed study guide is yours forever, but due to copyright laws is not meant to be reproducible.  This means that a family wishing to use the study with multiple students would need to purchase more than one study guide.

The study guides are definitely written to the age range that is printed on the front of the study.  This is good because you know that the unit will be age appropriate.  For families with children in multiple age ranges, it would be best to purchase units that are age appropriate.  For those that find that they love the Moving Beyond the Page materials, it can be purchased as a complete language arts/science/social studies curriculum with multiple units in each of these subjects areas provided for use throughout the year.

As always, these are our observations and thoughts on the materials from Moving Beyond the Page.  For more information about the company, you can also find them on Facebook.  To see what others on the Review Crew have to say, please click on the graphic below.  Members of the crew were reviewing all of the various age ranges of materials from Moving Beyond the Page, so feel free to check out those that reviewed materials that align with your child’s age.

 

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

 

 

 

Be Sociable, Share!

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: