Thursday, July 10, 2014

Schoolhouse Review: Moving Beyond the Page #hsreviews

Moving Beyond the Page Review

I like books.  I like to hold them in my hands and turn their pages and look at pictures.  I like being able to pull several books off of my shelf that center around a similar topic and I like integrating them with one another as we study and learn.  I really like the different books that Moving Beyond the Page pulls together to teach the full measure of each of their individual units.  You might remember that we reviewed two packages last year from Moving Beyond the Page (MBtP) and loved them.  Such a positive prior experience had the Princess excited about reviewing two more packages this year.

Such LOVELY books
One of my favorite things about using the Moving Beyond the Page curriculum packages is that you can completely tailor your choices for the very best individualized learning experience for each of your children. My husband and I had recently discussed must-read literature and agreed that Animal Farm was really an important read.  We spent weeks this school year studying the Stalin-era and labeling maps that coordinated with those studies so I knew my daughter would find the Animal Farm literature unit interesting.  Lucky for us, we were able to review both the Language Arts Package:  Animal Farm  for 12 - 14 year-old students ($22.92) and the Social Studies Package:  The Age of Discovery for 11 - 13 year-old students ($98.83). What a perfect summertime study package to fill in the long, hot, lazy days and keep us motivated, reading, and learning.  I've been looking to add a little excitement to life around here, and MBtP is perfect for that. The best part about the MBtP study packages is the fun, relaxed atmosphere provided for optimal learning.

Each set gives you the option of either an online guide or a physical guide PLUS additional physical components.  For example, we studied Animal Farm in an online format so the learning guide was accessed via the internet BUT the book was a hold-in-your-hands softcover book.  The Age of Discovery was a physical guide so we had a comb-bound lesson plan written directly to my 13-year-old AND four great books to teach geographical concepts and explain scientific changes.  She especially loved the Great Medieval Projects You Can Build Yourself -- and her 15-year-old brother liked it, too.

So how does it really work?

Each unit in MBtP is designed to take 3 weeks to complete.  You can use it throughout the year as a completely integrated curriculum connecting science, social studies, and language arts (just add math) or you can use it as a supplement to any curriculum you already use.  We have used it as a "filler" during the summer to help bridge the learning gap and keep the interest in traditionally studied subjects.  In The Age of Discovery, my daughter has enjoyed looking at objects under the microscope, creating timelines, and studying inventions such as the telescope, barometer, and thermometer.  I appreciate the ease of use as she is able to follow daily directions as she works to complete the unit's assignments.  Tests and projects are included in the 7 lessons and there is a Final Project to conclude the unit.

With MBtP,  I can easily choose units of study based on my child's interests and can allow her freedom to complete all activities (including activity pages) on her own timetable.   Each lesson clearly states what is needed, what is expected, and how long it should take.  The Princess begins each lesson by gathering all supplies needed from the checklist at the beginning of the lesson.  For the most part, these supplies are easy-to-find items such as glue sticks, index cards, scissors, poster board, and art supplies.  She knows which books she will utilize and which activity pages she will complete.  After gathering her supplies, she is ready to begin.

Each lesson starts with a few questions designed to get students thinking about what they'll soon learn in the Ideas to Think About section.  This is like a teaser for the information to come.  Vocabulary words are presented in a brief Things to Know section and then reading assignments are completed and comprehensive questions answered before moving into the hands-on activities.  Each lesson is broken down further as students complete each day's work.  Each "day" of work takes my daughter about an hour to finish -- and she's been know to do two or three days worth of work at a time when she gets enthralled with the material being studied.  I consider that a major plus.

Lessons end with a Life Application that allows you to take the love of learning one step further through links for recipes and video clips.  Tests are completed as part of the lessons so there is no panic moment for your child and answer keys for all assignments are found in the back of the learning guide.

The entire learning process is the same whether you choose the online guide or the physical guide.  In the online guide, students can print each page for questions to be written in or can type the answers directly online and then print their completed work.  The Princess found it easiest to type in all answers and then print the pages to 3-hole punch for her notebook.  Activity pages can be downloaded and printed all together or students can print specific activity pages as they get to them.  For us, it was less overwhelming to print these as they were needed.

Animal Farm is a tough read for some, but MBtP made it easy for my rising 8th grader to tackle.  She enjoyed the personification of the animals and understood the political inferences as she worked through the given activities.  She enjoyed what she was reading as she read through assigned chapters and thought the coinciding activities were fun.  I like that she was not the least bit intimidated as she tackled the  Russian Revolution and studied political satire.  The Princess even found the grammar "fun" when it corresponded to her reading.  She didn't even mind writing the formal letters required for the Final Project.  Learning that is fun and is approached without complaint makes it easy to recommend Moving Beyond the Page.

Make sure to check out Moving Beyond the Page on Facebook.  There is definitely something for everyone to study from ages 4 - 14 (and even beyond).    We look forward to our next unit study because it really is the way my children want to learn.

Crew Disclaimer

I was given the opportunity to review Moving Beyond the Page as a member of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew.   You can check out the Crew Review and see what other members of the Schoolhouse ReviewCrew thought of this and other products as well (or just click on the banner below.)

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