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Moving Beyond the Page: Similarities and Differences (Concept 2 for ages 5-7) Review by Courtney Larson

Kim A. Howe
Epiphany Curriculum, LLC
3110 Buckingham Rd
Durham, NC 27707

I received Similarities and Differences (Concept 2 for ages 5-7) from Moving Beyond the Page. This set includes a Parent Manual, a Student Activity Book, a set of Attribute Blocks, and three picture books (Icky Bug Shapes, Shapesville, and My Five Senses). It is one of four available Concepts for ages 5-7. Each Concept is intended to take about 9 weeks to complete. Within each Concept, there are 3 different units. The three units in Similarities and Differences are "Awesome Attributes," "Using Our Senses," and "We're the Same, We're Different." Each unit utilizes one of the picture books included in the package. In addition to reading the included books, you are encouraged to find other books on the topic to read to your child.

The Concepts from Moving Beyond the Page for ages 5-7 cover Math, Language Arts, Writing, Science, and Social Studies, and they can be used as a complete curriculum or as a supplemental curriculum. I chose to use it as a supplement to our regular curricula with my 5- and 6-year-old sons, doing a lesson 2-3 times a week. The lessons take about one hour to complete.

The Parent Manual is very easy to use and is broken down into three sections. The first section is called "Getting Started," and it is broken down into four bulleted lists. The first gives a list of questions that you will explore during the day's lesson. The second lists any facts or definitions you will need to know. The third provides a list of specific skills that will be covered. And the fourth is a list of materials that will be needed for the lesson. In addition to these lists, the "Getting Started" section includes an introduction for the lesson as well as simple activities, questions, and ideas for introducing the lesson to your child.

The second section in the Parent Manual is the "Activities" section, and it is the heart of the program. Each lesson includes two or more activities for you to do with your child, and many lessons also include handwriting practice. The activities in Similarities and Differences are quite varied, ranging from simple, fun worksheets to more complicated hands-on activities like measuring capacity, graphing information, completing a taste survey, or sharing a hobby with others. Some of the activities have options for modifying the activity so that it is most suited to your child's ability. Any handwriting sheets or worksheets needed are provided in the Student Activity Book, which is not reproducible.

The third and final section in the Parent Manual is the "Wrapping Up" section, which concludes the lesson by having your child review what was learned. Life Applications are included from time to time; these provide ideas for activities to do once the lesson is over (going on a scavenger hunt or cooking together, for example).

My boys really enjoyed this program and asked to do it almost every day. They enjoyed the worksheets and the hands-on projects and activities. This program was written by a homeschooling mom who has a background in curriculum development, and it is intended to be used in a one-on-one situation. I found the lessons to be simple to present, and I really liked the way the Parent Manual helped me guide my sons to discover the ideas and concepts, encouraging them to think and make connections on their own.

I tend to use programs in our homeschool that require minimal prep work from me, and it was difficult for me to get in the habit of gathering all of the items required for the day's lesson. When I was prepared, the lessons went very well and were rich with fun and information. My sons learned without realizing it. They had a lot of fun with the hands-on aspect, and they enjoyed sitting on the couch and listening to me read the included books. Since I'm more of an open-and-go kind of mom, I don't think I'll be able to use this program long-term. However, for the mom that doesn't mind spending about 30 minutes gathering and preparing items for the day's lesson, this is a fabulous curriculum.

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, May 2009