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Moving Beyond the Page: Ages Eight to Ten / Concept 2: Force and Power Review by Maggi Beardsley

Kim A. Howe
3110 Buckingham Road
Durham, NC 27707

What is Moving Beyond the Page? 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." This is a review of Moving Beyond the Page's curriculum for ages 8-10, Concept 2: Force and Power. When we unpacked the box, the first thing the children wanted to do was open the science kits. The Force and Motion kit looks like a loop-in-the-air racetrack. It grabbed their attention, and they were ready to find out just what else was inside the box. Concept 2 comes with three books for the student (Ben and Me, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and The BFG), guides for each of the books, Science in Nutshell Magnet Magic kit, ScienceWiz Electricity kit, Idea Factory: Force and Motion, and the book Can You Feel the Force? The author expects the unit to take about nine weeks to complete.

There are three units, each based on one of the books. In the first unit the student examines the life of Benjamin Franklin through the eyes of a rodent. In the process, the student learns about magnetism and electricity. Discriminating between fact, fiction, and opinion is also developed. The second unit, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, covers the power of people. While studying the theme of good versus evil, the student writes a report from rough draft to final copy. The unit on The BFG covers the forces of nature. The student learns about the culture of London and the role of the Queen. The student writes a newspaper report in language arts and studies cause and effect in literature.

Here is how all of the concepts for ages 8 to 10 are organized:

Concept 1: Interdependence

Unit 1: Dirt and plants
Unit 2: Native Americans
Unit 3: Ecosystems and Ecology

Concept 2: Force and Power

Unit 1: Magnetism and Electricity
Unit 2: The Power of People
Unit 3: Forces of Nature

Concept 3: Similarities and Differences

Unit 1: Africa and Asia
Unit 2: Rocks and Minerals
Unit 3: Europe

Concept 4: Exploration and Survival

Unit 1: Animal Adaptations
Unit 2: Early Explorers
Unit 3: Work, Tools, and Simple Machines

The concepts are available for individual purchase or as a total package. Adding a separate math curriculum would make this a comprehensive curriculum. In the first few pages of the Parent Guide, there is a list of materials that will be needed during the study. Some of the items I had readily available at home, while others were ones that I needed to purchase at the supermarket.

Each of the three units in Concept 2 is designed to take 2-3 weeks. The introduction suggests taking 2 to 3 hours for the lesson each day: 30 minutes of independent reading, 20-30 minutes reading aloud to the child, 1 hour on your separate math curriculum, 15-20 minutes reviewing spelling and vocabulary words, and 30 minutes of physical activity.

A family that enjoys using literature as the basis of their curriculum would enjoy Moving Beyond the Page. There are excellent daily guides for each book that suggest activities and that go beyond the reading comprehension style of questions. A family that is new to homeschooling might enjoy Moving Beyond the Page--not only for its literature base and curriculum guides, but also for its website resources that connect the curriculum to national and state standards. The website also details a summary of skills that a student acquires with each unit. The company designed the curriculum for gifted and creative homeschooled children, but many other children would enjoy the curriculum as well. If your child enjoys filling in the blanks of a worksheet after each chapter, the structure of Moving Beyond the Page might not be to his/her liking.

I have a child that a dislikes worksheets. But there was enough variety in the activities that he didn't mind the occasional worksheet, such as "Meet the Author." Other activities, such as "Vocabulary Dice" or "Make a Snowflake," exercised the more creative side of his brain. I liked the fact that the activities did not simply ask the student to retell the story. There were critical thinking exercises and creative ones too. My children really enjoyed the science kits that were included in the box. The Force and Motion kit enabled all of my children to participate and learn a little science at their own level. The children enjoyed Science in Nutshell Magnet Magic kit and ScienceWiz Electricity kit too. I appreciated that I could rebox these science kits, put them in the closet for a few months, and bring them back out for more discoveries.

If I could change one thing about Moving Beyond the Page, it would be their website. There is a lot of information there, but the organization of the information seems to target a different audience than a typical homeschooling mom. There is a lot of good information on the website about why their style of instruction is beneficial, but I wanted to experience a little of the curriculum upfront without having to click and click to find it. I had trouble navigating through concepts like "multiple intelligences" and "learning styles" and "concept-based curriculum." While I knew that my child was not a fill-in-the-blank student, the website didn't help me really understand how this curriculum might be better or different. When I finally read the curriculum guides, I could see how the activities were very much meant for students like my child.

If you have a bright child who speeds through books and you would like to stop on occasion and develop the story or concepts in the book, Moving Beyond the Page is a company that you should explore.