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Moving Beyond the Page: Ages Seven to Nine / Concept 3: Cycles Review by Maggi Beardsley

3110 Buckingham Road
Durham, NC 27707

What is Moving Beyond the Page (MBTP)? It is a company that describes its product as a “comprehensive research-based curriculum designed to challenge and stimulate gifted and creative homeschoolers.” Some might call it “curriculum in a box.” My children called it “fun.” They opened the box and found reading books, parent guides, and science materials. This is a review of Moving Beyond the Page’s curriculum for ages 7-9, Concept 3 “Cycles.”

The concepts are available to purchase as individually or all together (to cover a year). Concept 3: Cycles comes with the books Poppy, Charlotte’s Web, The Family under the Bridge, If You Made a Million, Who Eats What?, Life Cycles, Perfect Punctuation, and A Drop Around the World as well as parent guides for each literature book, a parent guide for the whole concept, a World Alive Butterfly Kit, and an owl pellet dissection kit. The concept is broken down into three units: Unit 1 covers lifecycles, Unit 2 covers the water cycle, and Unit 3 covers economic cycles. To make this curriculum comprehensive, you would need to add a math curriculum.

Here is the full-year curriculum for ages 7-9:

Concept 1: Environment

Unit 1: Amazing Weather
Unit 2: The Land
Unit 3: Sound

Sarah, Plain and Tall
Who Was Helen Keller?

Concept 2: Change

Unit 1: Environments Change
Unit 2: Communities Change over Time
Unit 3: People Change the World

Morning Girl
Communities and Cultures
American Heroes

Concept 3: Cycles

Unit 1: Lifecycles
Unit 2: The Water Cycle
Unit 3: Economic Cycles

Charlotte’s Web
The Family under the Bridge

Concept 4: Relationships

Unit 1: Rain Forest
Unit 2: Government and the People
Unit 3: Connected Cultures

One Day in the Tropical Rainforest
The Whipping Boy
Iggie’s House

MBTP strives to meet and exceed state and national standards, challenging the student to think critically and creatively, “solve complex problems, become introspective, research topics, develop products, and participate in real-life learning experiences.” The concept units connect literature to science or social studies. Each concept is designed to take 40 days of instruction.

To begin this study, the student must be able to ready and comprehend simple chapter books on a 3rd or 4th grade grading level. The student must also be able to write multiple sentences on a topic. My daughter, age 7, did fine this year with MBTP but would not have done well with it last year, as her reading level was on the 2nd grade reading level. The parent guide suggests taking 2½ to 3 hours for the lesson each day: 30 minutes of independent reading, 20-30 minutes of reading aloud to the child, 1 hour on your separate curriculum math, 15-20 minutes reviewing spelling and vocabulary words, and 30 minutes of physical activity. You can have two or more children using MBTP.

Each lesson in the parent guide has questions to explore, facts and definitions, skills to learn or practice, materials needed, introduction, activities, conclusion, and real-life application. Not all questions asked of the student have answers provided.

There is a spelling list in the appendix of each literature unit. Students keep a spelling journal as well as a daily journal to record ideas and writing related to the literature.

The owl pellet kit was a very exciting addition to the reading of Poppy. I appreciated exposure to new books. I had not read Avi before and found the writing to be excellent. My daughter loved the Perfect Punctuation book. It had great flaps that you could open and close to explore punctuation. I liked the variety of activities and the list of skills exercised during the unit. While I view MBTP as a literature/science/social studies unit, I could easily have incorporated religion. The website states: “Even though we are not a religious curriculum, it would be easy to supplement each unit with religious stories and lessons.” I like that there are a few samples of the curriculum guides at the end of the curriculum package. The guides certainly save me time in planning my homeschooling day.

If I could change one thing about Moving Beyond the Page, it would be their website. There is a lot of information there, but I would change the organization of the information. Because I know my child, I have a good idea of what works for her. I knew that I wanted to base her learning off of books, but without seeing the curriculum guides I didn’t have a clear understanding of what MBTP offered. When I read the curriculum guides, I could see how the activities were very much meant for students like my child. I appreciate that MBTP has now added a few samples of the guide on the website. I appreciated the spelling lists that MBTP provided, but for this age I felt that my child needed a more structured approach to spelling. So I provided that using a different curriculum.

We enjoyed the challenging, in-depth reading extension exercises that Moving Beyond the Page provided us. We appreciated the way that they connected the study of cycles to literature, science, and social science. We look forward to continuing our study.

Product review by Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March 2009