Monday, June 24, 2013

Moving Beyond the Page {Schoolhouse Review Crew}

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Moving Beyond the Page is a complete literature-based curriculum designed especially for homeschoolers. Unlike a traditional or classical approach to education which can often lead to boredom in some children, Moving Beyond the Page provides hands-on, creative, and gifted children with an exciting, integrated approach to learning.
Through eight different strategies: (1) Concept-Based Curriculum, (2) Differentiation, (3) Learning Styles, (4) Multiple Intelligences, (5) Critical Thinking and Creativity, (6) Project-Based Instruction, (7) Interdisciplinary Curriculum, (8) and State and National Standards, this curriculum will help children become critical and innovative thinkers. Children will also be able to visualize connections between subjects when using Moving Beyond the Page's unit studies which blend science, social studies, and language arts. Art, drama, and music are incorporated as well. The overall goal here is to foster a love of learning and to create lifelong learners!
Currently there are complete curriculum packages for ages 5-13. More ages are coming soon!
Moving Beyond the Page sent us one Language Arts Package (unit) and a corresponding Science Package (unit) for ages 7-9. My daughter and I reviewed Concept 3: Lifecycles (Science Unit) and Poppy (Literature Unit). Both of these units can be used independently but are also designed to be used simultaneously.

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Our package included the following items:
  • Lifecycles curriculum
  • Poppy (novel)
  • Poppy Literature Guide (online)
  • What is a Lifecycle? (book)
  • Who Eats What? (book)
  • Green Earth Butterfly Kit
  • Owl Pellet Kit


Science package (Lifecycles) - $45.92  Online - $41.86

Literature package (Poppy) - $29.97  Online - $25.91

*As an exhaustive curriculum that covers an entire year, your child will explore four concepts, and within each concept, he will work through three science and social studies units and three literature units. The complete curriculum package for ages 7-9 costs $676.63. Online package is $587.96. These packages do not include math. Math can be ordered separately here.


To use the curriculum for ages 7-9, your child should be able to read at a third or early fourth grade level, should be able to answer comprehension questions in a journal, and should be able to write three to four sentences on a topic. Typically, this age level is used by children in second and third grades. Personally, I would recommend it for third graders unless you have a particularly advanced learner.

A typical day when using Moving Beyond the Page as a complete curriculum will take about 5 hours or more. This includes time spent on math, spelling, and P.E. Additional activities and further study may take more time.

Of course, any of these units can be used as supplements. However, it is recommended that all three literature units be taught so your child can better connect themes and characters across novels.

Just a quick reminder that I am only going to be discussing Concept 3 - Lifecycles and Poppy - in the 7-9 category.


Poppy is a 161-page novel by Avi. Poppy and the rest of her deer mouse family are fiercely ruled by a great horned owl named Mr. Ocax in Dimwood Forest. In exchange for absolute obedience, Mr. Ocax promises the deer mice protection from the terrible porcupine. When Ragweed, Poppy's fiancé, dares to defy the owl, he suffers the ultimate consequence - death. The rest of the story is filled with suspense and adventure as Poppy seeks permission from Mr. Ocax to move the growing deer mouse family and dares to disobey when her request is denied. Along the way, it is ultimately discovering the truth that leads to freedom from unjust authority.

Online Guide

The accompanying online guide provides in-depth instructions for how to use Moving Beyond the Page including a video presentation. It also includes reading and question pages, student activity pages, a materials list, spelling words, and vocabulary words.

Detailed lesson plans for each chapter are provided in this guide. Lesson plans cover Questions to Explore, Facts and Definitions, Skills, Materials, Introduction, Activities, Conclusion, and Life Application. Some chapters will take more than one day to complete, and this is noted in the lesson plans.

Reading and Questions pages cover 2 chapters at a time. Worksheets can be downloaded and printed. Many of the questions ask how and why to help your child think critically.

Spelling words are provided for each semester, and a sample weekly schedule is included for your convenience. Spelling worksheets are provided for Monday-Thursday of each week.

In addition to comprehension questions, activity pages are provided for further research and fun. Activities include making puppets, writing a poem, practicing grammar concepts, doing crossword puzzles, researching about mice and owls, and more.

What We Did

My daughter, who just turned 8, was able to read Poppy on her own. Before she began, she completed the Deer Mouse Research and Great Horned Owl Research activity pages with my help. We had to use the Internet to find out about habitats, food sources, predators, etc. Each time she finished reading 2 chapters, we discussed the reading questions out loud together. I was able to learn a lot about the story this way! Our most memorable project was dissecting an owl pellet; this kit was included with the literature unit.

She really liked reading Poppy and wants to visit our library to pick out more titles in this series. This literature unit has definitely fostered a desire in my daughter to learn more. :) I think that equals success!
The Lifecycles Science Unit is comprised of a 124-page spiral-bound notebook. Included in the notebook are instructions for using Moving Beyond the Page, Required books, Materials List, Vocabulary list, Unit Review Sheet, and detailed plans for each lesson. Also, all worksheets that need to be completed by your child are contained within the notebook. Concept 3 contains about 40 days of instruction, but can vary depending on any extra time needed to spend on certain skills or on the final project.
The notebook is divided into 9 lessons:
  • 1: Characteristics of Living Things
  • 2: What Is A Life Cycle?
  • 3: Life Cycle of Animals
  • 4: Insect Life Cycles
  • 5: Plants and Soil
  • 6: Circle of Life
  • 7: Energy and Food Chains
  • 8: Food Webs and Energy Pyramids
  • 9: Animals' Design
Lesson plans follow a similar format to the literature unit: Big Ideas, Facts and Definitions, Skills, Introduction, Activities, and Life Application. For each lesson, the introduction tells you, the teacher, what your child will be learning for that day. It also explains what you will tell your child prior to the activity portion of the lesson. Each activity is explained in detail and any worksheets that need to be completed follow the lesson. Though there is a lot of information and work to be done, everything is presented clearly and in order.
What We Did
Lessons are very activity driven which is great for active, hands-on learners. Both my daughter and I can tire easily from too many projects, so we didn't always do every single one. Following is a sample of some of the activities we enjoyed doing together.
The egg experiment from lesson 3 was really neat. We found out how to tell the difference between a fresh egg and a hard-boiled egg just by spinning it. This was a concept that was even new to me. :) My daughter also had fun depicting a butterfly life cycle with pasta, cutting out plant parts, making food chains, and sipping nectar from a flower with her "proboscis."
I would have to say that the most wonderful and memorable of all the projects was the Green Earth Butterfly Kit. In fact, I am positive that this project is, by far, the best science project we've ever done!
I can't tell you how exciting it was to receive live Painted Lady caterpillars in the mail. They came with all of the food needed to survive the caterpillar stage. My family (including my 2 boys and hubby) eagerly watched the caterpillars eat and grow every day.
True to the butterfly booklet, the caterpillars attached themselves to the top of the cup after 12-18 days and began the chrysalis stage. After 8 days, the first butterfly emerged on Father's Day. The rest of the butterflies followed suit, however, one was deformed. It's wings stayed crumpled and never completely opened. My daughter appropriately named it Nemo.
We kept the butterflies in captivity for about a week and fed them the recommended sugar/water solution. I even spied 2 butterflies mating, but we didn't have the privilege of seeing any of them lay eggs. We decided to let the butterflies go, and we enjoyed seeing them explore our backyard and eventually fly away.
My Opinion
I think Moving Beyond the Page is a very creative and thorough curriculum. This curriculum is perfect for families who love unit studies with lots of hands-on projects. It also works well for parents who like to teach concepts that tie all of their child's subjects together and for parents who like to follow detailed, day-to-day lesson plans.
With Moving Beyond the Page, you won't have to worry that your child is doing enough. In fact, for me, there were too many projects within each lesson. It's not really a complaint about the curriculum, though, since I always adapt any homeschool subject/program to fit my own children's needs.
Moving Beyond the Page will work better for our family as a supplement instead of a comprehensive curriculum for a couple of reasons. The cost for just one child to use the complete curriculum for one year exceeds our homeschool budget. We spend less than that on 3 children per year. Also, I like to teach history chronologically, so the social studies units wouldn't work very well for our family.
Truly, though, this is a quality curriculum. If you like all of your child's subjects to be included in one curriculum package, and if cost is not an issue, I recommend that you check out Moving Beyond the Page. We enjoyed reviewing Lifecycles and Poppy, and I may look into other literature units for future use.
Other Schoolhouse Review Crew members reviewed a wide variety of literature, science, and social studies units. Be sure to read all of the reviews!


Cristi said...

I think I've found a new possibility for my youngest daughter's curriculum for next year. She'd love doing these studies!

Thrift Schooling said...

I may need to order some some these! Awesome! I so pinned this post..visiting from the crew!
~ heather v.


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