Moving Beyond the Page – Product Review

by Dawn Oaks on July 1, 2013 · 0 comments

Moving Beyond the Page is a company that specializes in the study of literature. The literature studies utilize a book as the platform for all things language arts related. The science and social study units use pieces of literature as well.  In these instances, the literature is the springboard for studying a specific related topic. Our family reviewed a literature study on The Family Under the Bridge.  We also reviewed the social studies unit on Economic Cycles. Both of these products were intended for ages 7-9. These studies are designed to complement each other in the study of economics, but could also be completed independently.

Our family loves literature and tries to incorporate it into every aspect of school. Prior to working with the materials from Moving Beyond the Page, our family had worked with literature studies in studying individual pieces of literature. However, if we were studying a science or history topic, we would use a textbook or group of non-fiction books to learn about the topic and then supplement it when possible with living books to help bring the topic alive. The concept of using fictional works as the primary text for the study of a main science or social studies topic is new to us. Another very interesting aspect of Moving Beyond the Page was that they have paired a literature unit with each of their science and social studies units so that the learning between language arts and these other core subjects is synergistic.For more information on the integration of these units and proficiencies that are needed by your child in order to complete this curriculum successfully, I invite you to visit the vendor’s site for an overview of the age 7-9 program by clicking here.

Social Studies Unit on Economics:

In being a family that is self employed and concerned about teaching our children about a good work ethic, I was excited to see a social studies unit for this age range on the topic of Economics. This unit was based on the book, If You Made A Million, which was also shipped with the study guide.

This study like others in the Moving Beyond the Page offerings is designed to be completed in a total of 19 days. The Economic Cycles unit is broken down into eight lessons with a final project at the end of the unit. If the schedule listed in the curriculum is followed strictly, this unit could be accomplished in 13 days.  We took a more relaxed pace since this was a special summer unit of learning and was not being used during the heavier part of our school year.

Our 9 year old son thoroughly enjoyed using this unit.  He has watched his older siblings earn money over the years from working on our farm and also witnessed the benefits they experience from being paid for the work they do. He is old enough to be putting the pieces together in his mind and wants to get in on the action. This study came at a perfect time in his development as he had just asked his dad for a “real job” just a week before we got started.

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I found the Economic Cycles study guide to be very thorough in introducing this sometimes difficult topic to youngsters. It began with an overview of the Economic Cycle, ways of making money, things to spend money on, planning a weekly budget, spending within your budget, and some real life lessons related to responsible shopping. This section of the unit was designed to be completed in two days. We could have easily built more simulations and hands on activities into our experience and stretched these two days of curriculum into a full week of instruction.

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The second lesson focused on Jobs. Within this lesson, we covered the earning capability of different professional lines of work, employment and sales tax, and some career exploration specifically for our son based on his interests. We had fun imagining him twenty years older and what his life will be like. After this, we moved into the literature section of the study. He was anxious to read, If You Made A Million, both to himself and out loud to me. We discussed the different ways that the children were able to make money by doing jobs, gain interest on money that is deposited in the bank, and debt when borrowing money for items that we want but do not have the money to purchase without a loan.

Some of the other topics covered in this study are capital and natural resources, services versus products, producing compared to consuming, opportunity costs, supply and demand, local economies, and business and advertising. The study concluded with a final project on becoming an entrepreneur. Our son is wired as an entrepreneur. He digested the example provided in the curriculum and then ran with it. He is now helping to organize and run a yard sale that we will be holding to help raise funds to purchase farm land for our own family business. He has gone through lots of his capital resources searching for things to sell, started his advertising, and is now weighing the supply and demand issues in setting prices on items.  We may still have a bit of work to do on this last piece.  Like most, he desires to gain back the worth of all his memories in the selling price of his items.

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Literature Study:

As part of this review, we also got to complete the corresponding literature study on the book, The Family Under the Bridge.   This study guide was quite comprehensive in the way that it addressed the various aspects of studying a piece of literature. Contained in this unit were:

  • Character Study Activities of the main characters in the book and how they evolved through the chapters.
  • Reading Comprehension questions.
  • Vocabulary studies using webs that help to analyze word meaning, antonyms, synonyms, and use in a sentence.
  • Analysis of the setting of the book including physically locating the city on a map, the culture of the area, the celebration of Christmas as a holiday, and fashion of the culture.
  • Grammatical Analysis in applying various forms of punctuation and their use in the book.
  • Creative Writing Assignments
  • Spelling Word lists in the Appendix of the study

Our son was able to read and comprehend the book being studied. He was also able to complete the assignments asked of him. He and I both witnessed that there was significantly more written work with the literature study than the social studies unit.  This is understandable, but he certainly wished it were more hands on like the Economic Cycles unit. This literature unit did fit in nicely with the Economic Cycles unit as the student was asked to explore the main characters view on work, opportunity costs of not working, and the impact of these decisions on his life.

The prerequisites for this level of literature study are:

  • 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
  • Usually used by children in second or third grade

I would recommend parents to consider these prerequisites seriously. Our son has just completed a traditional third grade level of curriculum. This literature study felt like a good fit for where he is currently at.  I think if we had completed this study when he was 7 or even a young eight year old, it could have felt very overwhelming to him.

Things to Consider:

Complete Curriculum or Supplement – Moving Beyond the Page can be used as a complete curriculum or as a supplement. If being used as a complete curriculum, the company does offer some options for purchase of math programs to cover that discipline as well. As a parent, I was thrilled with the thoroughness of the social studies unit. I was left with some concerns over the small amount of vocabulary and spelling incorporated in the literature study that was geared to ages 7-9. If using this as a complete curriculum, I was recommend parents considering adding a spelling curriculum in addition to the math.

Product Format – Each unit can be purchased as complete physical copies, an online study guide with physical copies of the literature, or the online study guide alone. I am an individual that likes to have a physical copy of something in my hands and find it cumbersome if I am trying to teach and am having to refer to my computer for my next section of notes. For this reason, I like the physical copies of the guides. However, due to the copyright restrictions, you would be legally obligated to purchase a separate study guide for each student. In addition, I found it difficult to have my son complete his assignments while I was teaching because the sheets he was to complete were spiral bound into the study guide and the pages were not perforated. The online guides are nice in that you can print multiple copies for several children. This does convert into additional printing costs.  In considering printing, there is no way to print the parent part of the study guide. This was very frustrating as someone that likes to do school at the kitchen table or on the couch with my son. I felt like I had to keep checking back with my computer which made a lot of downtime in our schooling. The other thing to be mindful of with the online units is that from the time that you first start using the unit, you have 90 days to complete it. After this period, you no longer have access to the curriculum.  Not being able to use it in a year with other children that are now ready, makes this a hard selling point. It almost feels like I am renting the material rather than buying it. The company is very amenable to extending your 90 day window if you are not quite done with a unit, but this would not be for an unlimited extension.

Cost – As complete physical copies, the Economic Cycles unit can be purchased for $23.98 and The Family Under the Bridge is $29.99. The online study guides alone can be purchased for $12.93 each. You can then either purchase the pieces of literature from Moving Beyond the Page when you order the online guides, purchase them elsewhere, or borrow them from your local library. The complete physical copies come with both a hard copy of the study guide as well as the books needed for the study. For a full year use of this as a complete curriculum, there are 24 study guides for this age level.

Our Final Thoughts:

My son and I absolutely loved the Economic Cycles social studies unit. I felt that it was well paced and very thorough. He loved it because there were so many real life applications and hands on activities. I would love for us to use more of these studies. My ideal option would be to be able to purchase only the physical copy of the study guide and then either borrow the books from the library or try to find them independently.

For an active 9 year old boy, there seemed to be an inordinate amount of written work expected each day in order to complete the whole unit in the specified time. The expectation from the vendor is that your student will spend approximately 3  hours on science, social studies, and language arts lessons; one hour on math; 15-20 minutes on vocabulary or spelling words; and 30 minutes of physical activity. In addition, parents are asked to consider an additional 30 minutes of in-depth exploration of topics in the curriculum, 30 minutes on re-teaching or reinforcing things presented but not yet mastered, and 30 minutes for real life application.  This seems a bit rigorous for most 7 year olds and a stretch for 9 year old students to truly remain focused on solid course content. Our family would definitely use a bit slower pace and really enjoy the process of learning.

In being marketed as a complete curriculum, I would love to see a scope and sequence document, especially for language arts. Through our years of homeschooling, I have grown to love unit studies and their role in our children’s education.  However, if I am utilizing them as my primary curriculum for language arts, it would be reassuring to see that all the necessary grammatical and literary skills are covered over the years.

As always, that is just my opinion.  See what others from the Review Crew have to say about the products from Moving Beyond the Page.

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