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An Elementary Writing Curriculum

Review of Moving Beyond the Page- Literature Based Unit Studies

I've always preferred to teach using unit studies. And I believe the best unit studies are those that are literature based. I've never heard of Moving Beyond the Page, but I was very excited to receive a set of unit studies from them to use with my kids this summer.

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I received two of their units- both geared toward ages 9-11- Immigration and Poetry.

I received Immigration as a hard copy, and I received all of the books that go with it. The hard copy sells for $32.07 and came with the spiral bound curriculum, If Your Name Was Changed at Ellis Island, and Immigrant Kids.




I received Poetry as an online version, and I received all of the books that go with it. The online version sells for $61.86 and includes access to the curriculum online, Love That Dog, My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States, and R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet.





The individual components of each study can be purchased separately. The online access is activated when you first access the curriculum and access is only available for a certain length of time. But you can request additional access to the curriculum.

After some time spent studying the site, I learned that this can be used as a complete curriculum- except for math. Moving Beyond the Page has units for ages 5-7, 6-8, 7-9, 8-10, 9-11, 10-12, and 11-13. The site says material is coming soon for ages 4-5 and 12-14. Prices for the complete curriculum range from about $400 to $900 depending on whether you choose online or hard copies and what grade level you are purchasing. There are science, social studies, and language arts units, and the site recommends several different math programs. When you choose an age group, you're taken to a page that allows you to buy a complete curriculum- including the literature- for online or hard copy. Or you can choose to check out the supplemental page where you can purchase any unit for any grade individually.

I like that you have the option to choose either the complete curriculum or the supplemental units. I'm not sure I would use this as my complete curriculum. It isn't a specifically Christian worldview curriculum, and that matters to me- especially with science. But I did really like the social studies and language arts curriculum I used, so I would love to use some other units to supplement.



First of all, I was beyond excited when I received the package. I love, love, love all things books. So this package of curriculum and books was right up my alley. I was impressed right away by the quality of the books chosen. And by the fact that- even though the curriculum was consumable- the literature would not have to be repurchased if you used the units over for multiple children. This is always a plus for me.

The books are included when you buy the curriculum as a set. There were three books included with the poetry unit and two were very nice anthologies.

There were two books included with the immigrants unit, and they were both well-written nonfiction books.




The hard copy curriculum included an overview with description and a list of the skills covered in the unit, daily lesson plans, and the worksheets needed for the activities. The online version includes exactly the same information, and the activity sheets are in PDF format to be printed off. The only think I really didn't like about the online version was that it couldn't be sent as a file to my Kindle, so I had to read it off of the computer. If you had an ipad that could access the full web site easily, this might be okay. I could pull up the site on my Kindle, but the size was not great.



As I got started with the curriculum, I really liked that the website is set up to help you make the most of the curriculum. There is a sample center, so that you can choose what to buy since the grade levels overlap. And there is a "Making the Most of Moving Beyond the Page" site which has videos showing how to get started with each age group's materials.

The lessons are written so that older students could easily work independently. I chose to do the lessons with my kids instead since I wanted to see how it worked for the review. I did the lessons with a 7, 9, and 12 year old. My 7 year old was slightly young, and my 12 year old was just over the age, but I like to do whole family teaching, and I'm using this as a supplemental summer unit. There are guidelines on the site for figuring out which age levels to choose.

The curriculum is designed so that you do one science or social studies lesson per day and one language arts lesson per day. Some lessons are broken up into multiple days, and the book shows you where to stop and where to pick up each day.

We did a lesson from the Immigrants unit and a lesson from the Poetry unit each day. Some of our lessons took tow days. Most of the lessons started with reading some of one of the literature books included. Because we were doing this together, I read aloud; but the site gives a guide for reading level expected for the different units. The reading was very age appropriate. I think my nine year old would have had trouble reading some of it independently, but she is not a strong reader.



After the reading, each day's lesson had multiple activities. These were not just answering comprehension questions. There were some questions meant to be answered in a journal that the student keeps, but there were other activities. Some were hands on. For example in our Immigration unit, one activity had us set up a pretend examination room to "inspect" the immigrants coming in. Some activities involved the vocabulary words that were introduced at the beginning of each unit. The "Make the Most of Moving Beyond the Page" site has ideas for how to use the vocabulary words.

The activities were also mostly age appropriate for my kids. Sometimes there were alternate activities to chose from- easier or harder. My nine year old needed a good bit of guidance on some of the activities. She isn't a very strong reader, and she's also a perfectionist, so if she thinks she doesn't know what to do, she gets frustrated. My almost eight year old really struggled, and I had to walk her through each activity. The activities that involved writing were too much for her.










Some activities involved looking up particular websites. One of our favorite was a virtual tour of the immigration station at Ellis Island.



I really liked these literature units. I could definitely see looking at some others as supplemental units later on.

Summary Thoughts:

1. The curriculum is not specifically from a Christian worldview. This may or may not matter but is something to consider if you are going to use the complete curriculum.

2. The website particularly states in several places that the unit are written to conform to state and national standards but to reach beyond each standard. Again this is a personal choice. Some homeschoolers want curricula that meets the standards. Some don't.

3. The materials can be purchased separately and not just as a package. This makes it nice for using with another child later.

4. There is so much information on the site for getting started and using the units in the right way. I really liked this because I felt like I could get the most out of the material.


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You can find out what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members thought about these units and several other units from Moving Beyond the Page by clicking below.


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