I love to do short unit studies with my kids, and I enjoyed being able to review a few from Moving Beyond the Page over the past several weeks. We got to try the Language Arts Package – The BFG ($23.98) and Science Package – Forces of Nature ($44.94), which are designed for students aged 8-10 years old. These two units can be done independently, but are really designed to be used concurrently, which we did.
If you are unfamiliar with how Moving Beyond the Page works, it is a comprehensive curriculum for homeschoolers that covers history, science, and language arts through individual units that can be used together or independently. For example, you can pick up a single language arts package, or you could order the full year package for any age range you’d like and receive all of the units for that age range, including science, language arts, and social studies. You can even choose an age range and a single subject and purchase a package with just those units. In fact, you can even choose to purchase just the curriculum guides and gather the required materials and books on your own, which is a good option if you have an extensive library available to you!
Each subject or grade level package or complete individual unit package comes with the curriculum, literature you will need, and manipulatives, if applicable. There are online curriculum guide options and hard copy curriculum guide packages available.
The individual units are great for supplementing your existing curriculum, and could even be used as an afterschooling activity for public school students. It would also be a neat option for filling in the time during breaks, like summer or holiday breaks, with educational and fun activities for elementary and middle school students.
Language Arts Package – The BFG (Ages 8-10)
I used this unit with my oldest 2 kids. They are aged 7 and 9. I chose this one in particular because they love Roald Dahl, so I knew they were bound to enjoy this book. I had never read it before, but it had been recommended to us by friends, so I felt like it would be a great fit for my kids.
I was surprised that my 4 year old chose to tag along quite a bit during our lessons. You see, instead of having my children read the story independently, I read it aloud to them. I guess you could say that I have a pretty awesome book-reading voice, because the kids really enjoy the different voices and volumes I use for each of the different characters!
Quick Unit Study
This unit took us about 4 weeks to complete because we have had a lot going on this summer. I think we could have easily completed it in about 3 weeks, but my kids didn’t mind the amount of time it took. There are 12 Lessons and a Final Project with this unit. We would read the book, about 2 chapters for each lesson, and then I would have them complete the suggested activities from the curriculum.
They loved reading this wildly imaginative book and then actually having activities to do that directly related to it in some way. For example, in one part of the story, the character Sophie concocts a plan to give the Queen of England a dream. My kids were delighted at this unusual idea, and then they got to research and discuss who the Queen is, what her job entails, see what she looks like, and discuss how her job is similar and different to that of our President of the United States.
Activities Span Beyond Language Arts
Not only that, but they got to create art pieces to reflect what they were reading about in the book, as well as things they had thought up on their own, inspired by the book. I was surprised at how perceptive the kids were while enjoying the story. There were subtle things mentioned in the book that I didn’t expect them to pick up at all, but when asked (per the curriculum), they were able to pop right out with the correct answers!
Besides the time it took to read the book for each lesson, the corresponding activities usually took us between 20 and 45 minutes to complete. Sometimes the kids wanted to spend what seemed like an eternity of the activities, particularly when there was artwork involved! Once you let my kids loose with some paper and markers or crayons, all bets are off.
Using the Program Was Easy
We had the online version of the program, which included an online curriculum guide, as well as a physical copy of the book The BFG. The online curriculum guide allows you to go through and look at all of the different activities for each lesson, and then click a button when you’ve completed it to check it off of your main lesson navigation page. Of course, you can always uncheck it if you need to go back in and look at something.
With the online version of the course, you have access to the online materials for the unit you are working on for 90 days, which is more than enough time to complete each unit. It is not activated immediately upon ordering, so you can purchase it and activate the online course when you are ready to begin.
When a worksheet is required, there is a handy link within the online curriculum to print it out in PDF form. I liked this, because it saved me from printing out a ton of pages for the unit. I was able to read questions from my computer screen to do the discussions with my kids, and I was able to read off my own instructions for activities from there. Then, I just printed off the worksheets that I needed as I went along. Sometimes I printed out 3 worksheets because my 4 year old wanted to get involved, and sometimes I just printed out one and had my kids share it. This was the case for vocabulary activities, for example.
Science Package – Forces of Nature (Ages 8-10)
This science unit has 7 lessons and a final project, and is designed to be finished in about 11-12 hands-on days of instruction. Some of the lessons are split between 2 days, and the final project can certainly take a little bit longer to complete as well. I also used this one with my 7 and 9 year olds.
As we did with The BFG, this Forces of Nature unit took us about 4 weeks. I love the flexibility of the program. It really is pick up and go! While I feel like it works better if your family regularly works on it, I could see being able to take a week off for vacation or illness and jumping right back in when you can.
Almost Everything Is Included
We got the print version of this science package. That means we got a hard copy of the curriculum guide, which includes all the worksheets needed to complete the unit. We also got the book Forces and Motion by Robert Snedden. Looking through that book at first glance, I was worried that it was going to be too difficult for the kids, but we read this one aloud together, as well, and it really felt like it was written right to their age group!
The only things you are left to gather are a few supplies for science projects. Honestly, there weren’t any weird requested items at all. You need simple things like index cards, straw, balloons, smooth string, marbles, a paper bowl, and things like that. I really appreciated this small fact, because gathering supplies for science experiments really makes me want to throw in the towel before even getting started! This curriculum totally got it right, and kept it simple for me!
Activities and Experiments that Make Sense
The worksheets and reading pages in the curriculum guide were easy enough to understand for my kids, yet challenging as well. It didn’t dumb down the concepts, but rather introduced it in a relevant way for their age. My kids enjoyed this curriculum right off the bat because they were doing experiments that were fun while also learning about and practicing scientific concepts, laws, and theories.
Their favorite experiments were the balloon rockets and also any experiments that called for using toy cars. This got my 4 year old and 2 year old to pay attention and come play, too. While that would normally be a hindrance, I used it as a way to expand on the lesson and allowed each child to try it out. This gave my older two a little extra observational time with each fun experiment!
A Deeper Understanding Through Research and Experiments
I really feel like my kids made lasting memories with the experiments in this unit. Because they will remember them through having fun, I’m confident that the educational content stuck in their brains for them to recall later on. I’ve already caught them informally talking about some of the laws of motion in passing at ordinary playdates. To me, that is a huge win! For them to be able to take what they’ve learned and apply it in real life? Priceless!
I also really liked how this curriculum encouraged the kids to do research and learn vocabulary words. They got an opportunity to experience science using many different learning methods and senses, which is essential to long term memory of the information in the lessons.
Moving Beyond the Page Is Great!
I love how thorough the activities are, and the literature is great. Using the curriculum guide was easy as the program is extremely well laid out and simple to follow. Additionally, I liked that many of the activities had several options to choose from, depending on your child’s skill level or preference.
I’m highly considering getting the package for the 4-5 year old age group for my 4 year old son who is certainly interested in learning and ready to get going with something that will teach more advanced concepts than the typical pre-k kid would encounter in other curriculums. From my experiences with Moving Beyond the Page, I’m confident that he would learn far more than he would if I just decided to wing it, and his older siblings would likely jump in to be part of the learning fun, too, which would encourage him even more!
Once again, we were very impressed with Moving Beyond the Page. You may want to read my Moving Beyond the Page review from last year that I did about their Communities and Culture and Communities Change Over Time for the 7-9 year old age group for an idea of what that is like. You can also click the link below to find more reviews on the various programs offered.