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Moving Beyond the Page--Curriculum Pack Review by Tammy Walker

Epiphany Curriculum, LLC
(919) 308-2234
3110 Buckingham Rd.
Durham, NC 27707

Moving Beyond the Page is a literature and concept based curriculum. The creators believe that concept-oriented, big picture learning is more valuable than theme based or fact-oriented learning. Quite a bit of time is spent on the website explaining their approach and its value. The chief components of their curriculum according to the website are:

1) Starting with the state standards so that you may be confident your child is learning what he needs in each subject area.

2) Use these standards in concept based learning so children learn to see big ideas.

3) Differentiate the curriculum to meet the needs of various student levels.

4) Be aware of different learning styles. Children learn differently.

5) Work with your children's strength by utilizing each of the multiple intelligences.

6) Encourage the many dimensions of critical and creative thinking.

7) Implement project based instruction to reinforce real-world application.

8) Utilize interdisciplinary curriculum to help children to see connections among subjects.

The curriculum packs are broken down by age level: preschool, 5-7, 6-8, 7-9, 8-10, and 9-11. Each year-long pack covers the following subjects: math, language arts, writing, science, social studies, and spelling. Within each year, four concepts are covered. Within each concept pack are three units. Each concept pack would cover approximately 40 days of instruction. Therefore, the entire year's curriculum should cover 120 days of instruction with weeks left purposely open to further explore other topics of interest. Two concept packs would be taught per semester.

Concept 3 is one of the 4 concepts that could be taught using the 6-8 year old curriculum. The other concept packs that could accompany Culture, would be Your Community (with a units titled Your Community, Citizenship, and Plants and Animals), Measurement (with units titled Measuring Amounts, Data and Probability, and Measurement in Your World), and Matter and Movement (with units titled the State of Matter, Earth, and Motion, Weight, and Balance). The Culture Concept is broken down into units titled Geography, People Around the World, and Stories From Around the World. Each unit within the concept is then further broken down into ten lessons.

The first thing you and your child will do for day one is to go over concepts relating to location, maps, geography, and culture. Activity 1 tells you to read "The Armadillo from Amarillo" and ask your child key questions written out in your Parent's Manual. Activity 2 tells you to choose one of two option pages from the student text titled "Where in the World Am I? Your child will finish statements such as, "I live in a home on _____________; and "My country is on the continent of ______________. Option one has key pictures in place relating to each statement. Option two allows students to draw their own pictures. Activity 3 involves using "The Usborne Children's Picture Atlas" to help children conceptualize geographical sizes on maps (places appear much smaller than they really are). The teacher is then encouraged to look at all kinds of maps, to use the internet, globes, and to take drives in the car. Activity 4 helps your child work with map symbols and keys. He will examine an unlabeled map and give names to symbols. He will then be encouraged to draw his own map and label it appropriately. The last activity of the day will involve writing a paragraph talking about a pretend trip to Texas. Parents are encouraged to use the internet to look up pictures of Texas.

The beginning of the Parent Manual gives a clear scope and sequence as well as mapping out what a typical day might look like using this curriculum. Another nice feature is a detailed shopping list at the beginning, which allows you to have all necessary supplies ready before you begin (basic craft supplies in addition to things like flour, egg cartons, pipe cleaners, medium sized balloon, an optional snorkel, jingle bells, a flashlight, etc.)

Concept 3 retails for $151.67 and includes the following:

• Parent Manual

• Student Activity Book

• All 12 required books

A Child's Calendar

Africa is Not a Country

Christmas Around the World

Greetings Asia

Paul Bunyan

The Armadillo from Amarillo

The Egyptian Cinderella

The Irish Cinderlad

The Usborne Children's Picture Atlas

Three Young Pilgrims

Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears


The entire year's curriculum, containing all four concepts and all required texts, retails for $542.57.

It is quite apparent that a great deal of research has gone into the development of this curriculum. The pedagogy is strong, its purpose and reasoning clearly articulated so that any instructor may know clearly what she would be doing and why. The Parent's Manual is very user friendly, offering step-by-step instruction that is clear and easy to follow. Many suggestions are even given for further exploration and research outside of the curriculum packet itself--a bonus for the less creative teacher! The final projects at the end of each of the three units seek to synthesize the information and materials learned throughout that unit so you can easily assess what your child has learned. The only con would be that three of the stories your student would read from around the world deal with one topic: Cinderella. Though this could appear to be a limiting factor, it is apparent that the author hoped to use these tales as a means for comparing how different cultures tell a similar and yet unique story. The Student Activity Book is well planned, contains nicely sketched drawings, and clearly relates to the concepts learned.

It really is hard to find cons with this curriculum. For persons who enjoy finding a curriculum in a box and following the instructions, they will find a finely researched set that is filled with quality literature and is easy to follow. I imagine this curriculum concept to be very similar to that offered at Sonlight.

For those who like to pick and choose the various components of their curriculum, this curriculum may not be the best choice. Though I am one such person, I do plan to use this Culture pack when my oldest children are in the 6-8 year range. I will use this alongside our history curriculum as a geography and culture activity. I trust this will be an enjoyable addition to their learning as social studies is their favorite subject, and they have already greatly enjoyed the books we have read from the pack. The books chosen for the curriculum are of a high quality, the activities incorporated around the texts require a wide range of deeper thinking and application on the part of the student. This curriculum, in part or whole, should interest and challenge most students.

"A Child's Calendar" by John Updike; illustrated byTrina Schart Hyman: A Caldecott Honor Book. Contains delightful seasonal poems--a poem titled for each month of the year.

"Africa is Not a Country" by Margy Burns Knight and Mark Melnicove; illustrated by Anne Sibley O'Brien. A beautifully informative look into the continent of Africa. Peer into the lives of African children around the continent to see how they spend their days. Mantoh lives in a village in Cameroon and sells fresh milk; Mona, Basma, and Hala walk to school on the jammed sidewalks of Cairo. This book will dispel some of the stereotypes about African culture and people.

"Christmas Around the World" by Mary D. Lankford; illustrated by Karen Dugan. This is a multicultural look at how 10 different countries celebrate the Christmas season--when they begin, the customs, foods. Your child will become acquainted with the countries of Australia, Canada, Ethiopia, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, Guatemala, Italy, Mexico, the Philippines, Sweden, and the United States (Alaska).

"Greetings Asia" by April Pulley Sayre. Filled with actual photos from all over Asia, this non-fiction picture book will acquaint your children with many interesting facts about this continent--it's many animals, it's deserts, mountains, and plains. Captivating photos detail the lives of individuals living in India, Vietnam, China, and many other countries.

"Paul Bunyan" retold and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. A well-illustrated and funny version of the legendary hero who stands feet above all other men, whose strength cannot be matched. In this tale, Bunyan wrestles grizzlies, destroys a pack of ogres, and carries his men through many unbelievable circumstances before reaching the coast of California.

"The Armadillo from Amarillo" written and illustrated by Lynne Cherry. This book wonderfully brings geography down to a conceptual level so that children might actually understand it. An armadillo starts off in Texas, flies higher above his state, his nation, his continent, and the earth itself, with the help of an eagle. Through this journey, he is able to answer his long sought question, "Where in the world am I?" I loved it!

"The Egyptian Cinderella" by Shirley Climo; illustrated by Ruth Heller. In this rendition of the famous fairy tale, Rhodopis is a foreign maiden from Greece who was snatched by pirates and brought to Egypt. She is disliked by her three fellow female servants, but wins the admiration of her master with her beautiful dances. He gives her gilded rose-red gold slippers to match her talent. When one of these slippers ends up in the hands of the pharaoh, he vows to not stop until he finds its owner, whom he must marry.

"The Irish Cinderlad" by Shirley Climo; illustrated by Loretta Krupinski. In this "Cinderella" story, a young lad named Becan is the hero. He is mistreated by his stepmother and stepsisters, who often mock him for his very large feet. So, his only companion becomes a magical cow. The cow is both of help to him while alive (he feeds the boy) and dead (the boy is given special power). Becan uses this power to destroy a beastly dragon from the ocean before it kills the princess. When he leaves his very large boot behind after his bravery, the princess searches everywhere until she finds him...and they marry.

"The Usborne Children's Picture Atlas" by Ruth Brocklehurst; designed by Doriana Berkovic; illustrated by Linda Edwards. What makes this a special atlas for children is that the majority of its content is conceptual, less abstract. Your child will read much text, before even seeing maps, about the universe, countries and cities, people, getting around, different types of climates and land surfaces. All of this will help prepare little ones to understand the purpose of maps and then to actually use them.

"Three Young Pilgrims" by Cheryl Harness. This beautifully illustrated tale should find its way in every home with young children. Harness tracks the lives of three small children: Bartholomew, Remember, and Mary, as they brave the harsh reality of Plymouth. This little piece of historical fiction is filled with interesting facts, details about the Mayflower, and information about real passengers, real Indians and even the food eaten by the Pilgrims. A wonderful little picture book.

"Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears" by Verna Aardema; illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. This quaint little picture book is the recipient of the Caldecott Medal. It tells the playful tale of the iguana who plugs his ears because he does not want to hear the lies the mosquito tells. Because his ears are plugged, he cannot hear python talking to him; python fears an evil plot against him and slithers into rabbit's hole; rabbit runs out in fear and causes a domino effect in the jungle. This whimsical tale seeks to explain the reason why mosquitoes annoy people so much with their buzzing. Very cute and colorfully illustrated.

"Yeh-Shen" by Ai-Ling Louie; illustrated by Ed Young. All Cinderella stories have to have animal helpers and shoes. This "Cinderella," Yeh-Shen, befriends a fish when her stepmother is cruel. After the fish is killed by the stepmother, he passes on magical power to Yeh-Shen, which allows her to go to a feast beautifully dressed. When she leaves an elegant slipper behind, the king, of course, must find the owner of such a rare and delicate slipper. He devises a plot to find the beautiful maiden, and they are married.

Product Review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, February, 2009