Moving Beyond the Page is one of our favorite curriculum companies. Back when we first started out homeschooling, this is the first program I tried with Bug, and it’s one we come back to again and again. They offer both full curriculum options, and individual units, and we have found the separate units make for wonderful unit studies to enhance our year and core curriculum. We tend to use them mostly for their literature units, but every once in a while we try other units as well. For this review, I was sent two units, Language Arts Package: Pedro’s Journal and Science Package: The Human Body. I used both units with my 4th grader, Bug.
I received the online version of this package, which includes:
Pedro’s Journal Curriculum
Pedro’s Journal (book)
The Island of Skog (book)
Pedro’s Journal is a historical fiction novel about a boy who sets sail with Christopher Columbus to the east indies. Pedro is chosen for the trip because he can read and write, so he serves as a cabin boy, and keeps a record of the trip. This books, while fiction, is based off the journals and other documentation from Columbus’ travels.
We choose this unit because Bug had been learning about Explorers with his other history program, and I thought tying a literature unit to his history studies would help increase his understanding of the topic, and make the history come more to life for Bug. He really enjoyed Pedro’s Journal, and ended up reading it aloud to Mr. Man and I.
The unit itself is very well done, and packed in a ton of skills in the 12 days or so it took us to complete this unit. I really enjoy the language arts units in particular, because I feel like they do a wonderful job incorporating everything from grammar, mechanics, and literary elements into the discussion of the reading.
In this unit, Bug learned more about similes, practiced appropriate quotation usage for dialog, and kept a journal of the characters, setting and events. One of my favorite parts about this unit was the use of outside research to beef up the study. For example, in the first lesson, Bug needed to go online to find out more about Christopher Columbus. They did include a couple websites to start for this assignment, but he was still required to read for information and put in the work to learn more. Another assignment required him using an encyclopedia to learn more about navigational tools back in the time of Columbus’ voyage.
This unit also used a picture book, The Island of the Skog as a way for Bug to compare characters and plots across literature. We haven’t done much work comparing and contrasting books this way, so it was fun to read the picture book and have Bug look deeper into the characters, motives, and plot to find similarities between this story, and Pedro’s Journal.
This level is parent lead, and requires some parental guidance for lessons. Basically, all you need to do is open up the manual and follow along with the suggested questions (answers are included in the manual), introduce the activities and worksheets, and guide your child.
Human Body Science Package (9-11 Level)
I received the hard copy version of this package, which includes:
The Human Body Curriculum
Human Body, a Visual Encyclopedia
Smart Lab: You Explore It- Human Body (Science Kit)
This unit covers a huge amount of ground. It covers everything from the senses, to teeth, body systems, nutrition, and more. The unit comes with a really neat science kit with removable body parts so your child can see how their anatomy is laid out, and then each topic has more hands on activities (like looking at meat to see tendons, or looking at an egg to learn more about cells) and paper models to demonstrate different systems.
It is intended to be completed in about 3 weeks time, and each day’s work took Bug about an hour to complete. This level (9-11) is intended to be child-led instead of following the same teacher led format of the younger levels (including the 8-10 level shown above). The manual is broken down into two sections, the first section is written to the student, and the second section contains parent support materials.
In the student section, the material is written directly to the student, and includes everything from the assigned reading, to the materials list, activity instructions, and worksheets the child needs to complete the unit. Your child writes directly into the guide to answer questions, and each small bite of the lesson includes a check box for them to be able to easily track their progress.
The parent support pages are in the same book, and contain all the answers for the assignments and final test, so you may want to remove these pages if your child is likely to feel the urge to look at the answers.
I did make a bit of mistake in placement with Bug for this level. The more I use Moving Beyond the Page, the more I realize that writing ability, more than anything else, should guide placement. We choose this particular unit study because of increasing interest in the body and how it works, and while the content was ideal for him at this stage, the output expected was higher than he was capable of. I remedied this by requiring a little less of him that what was written in the guide, for example, there were plenty of academic worksheets, combined with quite a few “make it yourself” coloring models of the body. He isn’t much of a coloring kid, so I let him skip these assignments (we did a very similar craft project a couple years ago, and pulled out that model we made for lessons rather than re-creating them) and focus on the worksheets and hands on activities to save the extra strain on his hand.
This particular unit, The Human Body, is one of my all time favorites so far, and I have carefully packaged it away to bring out again in a couple years for Mr. Man (and to probably have Bug do again with more required reading and writing). All I will need to do to reuse it (since this was a hard copy product) is purchase the student pages again to use with Mr. Man.
Online vs. Hard Copy Curriculum
For this review, I received the online version of Pedro’s Journal, and the hard copy version of Human Body.
Moving Beyond the Page is interesting, because they offer these two different formats of their program. Which you prefer is a personal choice, because there are pro’s and con’s on both sides.
The Online version is less expensive than the Hard Copy curriculum. When you purchase it, you receive instant online access to the teachers and student materials online, and you are shipped the remainder of your materials (reading books, experiment kits and the like). If you choose to use the library for your books, this can save you a good chunk of change. The student pages are provided in a PDF, which you can save to your computer or print all at once, but the teachers materials are only accessible online through the moving beyond the page website. You must have internet access to view them, and they do expire after three months (so only activate your units when you are ready to use them!). These materials are not re-sellable, or re-usable, but you can purchase the unit a second time for use within your family (like for a younger sibling) at a discount.
The Hard Copy version is a little more expensive than the Online Version. When you purchase hard copy, you have to pay for shipping, and wait for the order to arrive instead of being able to start immediately. You don’t need internet access to complete your lessons, and you can re-sell your teachers materials, or re-use them with younger siblings. The Hard Copy never expires, so there is no time crunch to get the unit done. Extra student pages are available for all units (in hard copy form only) to be ordered separately.
My personal preference is the hard copy materials, although I love how the student pages are available as a printable PDF. Because I have been using this program for years, I have a huge stash of units, and have figured out my own system for ordering. I tend to get the physical copy of the materials, but also order a second pack of student materials, so I don’t need to rip out pages from my manuals, and can keep them new and nice looking (I’m a bit type A!). Recently, I actually purchased the online version of a physical copy I already owned (for my first grader) so I could print as many copies of the student pages as I needed for my perfectionist child. This wasn’t the least expensive way to do it, but it worked out really well considering I already owned the physical copy from when I used it with Bug, and needed access to those student pages instantly, instead of waiting for our (admittedly abnormally slow) mail to arrive.
Ideally, I’d love to see Moving Beyond the Page offer the student page PDF’s for individual sale, so I could get the physical unit, AND the PDF download student file, so I could have the best of both worlds when it comes to these units.
Language Arts Package: Pedro’s Journal Online Version retails for $25.91.
Science Package: The Human Body Hard Copy Version retails for $69.97.
You can see all individual unit offerings here, purchase full grade sets here.
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