I love literature based home schooling! In 2013 we had the opportunity to review two packages from Moving Beyond the Page so when they came up again this crew, Tailorbear expressed super high interest. I mean she was super excited and did the research to give me her first and second and even a third choice!
She chose her language arts package based on the book that interested her most and she chose the science package that coordinates with it as her first choice. I wish I had a picture of her reaction when I told her that we would be reviewing Language Arts Package - The House of Scorpion /Online and Science Package – Genetics and DNA.
Moving Beyond the Page is a research based, comprehensive, integrated curriculum with activities designed so that students not only understand the materials but learn how to apply them. It can be used alone as a complete homeschool curriculum for Language Arts, Social Studies and Science, or it can be used as a supplement.
Individual units can be used alone, however, the Language Arts Units are designed to complement the Science and Social Studies Units. MBtP also integrates art, music and drama creating an integrated full year program. The integrated approach helps students apply knowledge from one field to another. This helps students see how the fields are related. This is especially noticeable when using a Science (or Social Studies) Unit with the complementary LA Unit.
The units we received are both from the Age 12-14 section. The product page for The House of Scorpion LA Unit states that you must be able to read chapter books on an 8th-9th grade level and that this is usually used by students in 7th or 8th grade. Tailorbear is 15 and finishing up 9th grade. This was not below her at all. There is so much depth to this unit that I can’t imagine using it with a child only in 7th grade! At this level “students are responsible for working through the units independently.” (Science Unit page 4 but is speaking about the program in general at the 12-14 year old level.)
Although the program states that you should be able to complete each unit in approximately three weeks, I found that pace to be overload for both Tailorbear and I. In the how to use this program section it states that a typical day would include a minimum of 4 hours a day on the Moving Beyond the Page Subjects of Science, Social Studies and Literature. This would not include math. They also recommend another 20-30 minutes a day for vocabulary review and another 30 minutes a day in physical activity. That makes for a very full day!
We only received LA and Science and found that taking two to three days to complete a day’s worth of assignments and activities fit our home school. If I were using this with a student in 7th grade, I would consider dropping some of the activities in addition to slowing them down or just slowing the pace down even more. For a hands on learner like Tailorbear the activities are important so we completed most of them.
The Language Arts Package
We received the Online Package which included a physical copy of the literature book, online access for three months to the Language Arts Unit and a clear plastic ornament to be used in one of the lesson activities. The three months of access does not begin until you activate the unit. If three months is not enough time, you only need to email them and they will extend your access.
The Language Arts Package – The House of Scorpion/Online has 14 Lessons. Each lesson is well laid out and divided into: Intro, Activities, and Conclusion. Lesson 1 is a multiple day lesson and is clearly divided into what the student should complete each day.
Each lesson intro includes:
- An overview telling the student what will be done such as reading chapters 34-36, preparing for the unit test and responding to a holiday in the book.
- Stuff You Need; a list of materials needed to complete the activities
- Ideas to Think About
- Things to Know ~ Cultural things such as the Mexican holiday referred to in the book or vocabulary
- Reading and Questions ~ This is not in the intro section of Lesson 1 because Lesson 1 covers 4 days. Lesson 1 does have a Reading and Questions section but it is on day 3. I really love how this section is laid out! The student clicks on the keyboard icon in the upper right corner and a window pops up with the questions and a space for typing in the answers. The student can then click print and it will download a PDF of the answers! I had Tailorbear email that pdf to me. It worked great for us and saved paper!
Activities range from learning how to create source cards and write 5 paragraph persuasive essay to creating an advertisement. Tailorbear also learned more about logical fallacies and one activity included playing a game: create logical fallacies to support an argument. She loved the book. She did not follow the reading pace but rather finished the book in couple of days and then referred back to the book when completing the questions. I think her favorite activity though was the completing the comparison with a Venn diagram. I appreciated the grammar review activity pages and I liked that there were two options so I could pick the one best suited for her needs. After completing the exercises for passive versus active voice she said to me “ok, now I am really understanding passive voice.” Yay for Moving Beyond the Page!!
The final tab of the lesson is Conclusion and restates or summarizes the main points of the lesson content.
The last lesson, number 13, includes a 4 part Unit Test and an Essay Reflection as the only activities.
The Science Package
First I’m just going to state up front the topic of Genetics and DNA intrigues me and I was thrilled that it was Tailorbear’s first choice. I know I learned from this unit and I had fun playing with the chromosome models!
This package included the physical Genetics and DNA Unit along with the two books required. Page 7 of the Unit includes a Material List of items you will need. Most of them are easily found around the house such as salt, rubbing alcohol, coins, timer, tape, glue, scissors etc. Other items are easily obtainable for me such as pipe cleaners, strawberries, or cheesecloth. I had plastic forks, spoons, and colored beads on hand. The material list also notes whether or not these items are optional or if they are included as part of the Kit that you can receive if you purchase the full year package.
Like the ONLINE LA package, the lessons are well laid out and follow the same framework. Each lesson has a Getting Started (called Intro in the LA ONLINE package) which includes the same categories as the LA:
- Stuff you Need ~ This includes the specific materials you will need for the lesson such as small funnel and does indicate if it is from the kit.
- Ideas to Think About
- Things to Know ~ This is primarily vocabulary
- Reading and Questions
The Getting Started Section is followed by the Activities. The Lesson ends with a Wrapping Up Section (called Conclusion in the LA Online). Any work pages, charts etc. for the lesson follow the Wrapping Up section. Sometimes this confused Tailorbear because even though it is marked in the upper right corner with the activity number she would not realize which sheet went with which option. I tended to look ahead and put the specific page number next to the activity in the lesson.
One thing I really like about the physical version is the the check box to indicate that the activity is complete. I do wish there was same way to mark each component of the online lesson as finished instead of just the whole lesson.
Genetics and DNA has 8 Lessons plus the Final Project. 3 of the Lessons are divided into 2 Days (and are clearly marked in the table of contents and is clearly labeled as Day 2 in the lesson itself). The Final Project is divided into 4 Days. Like the LA unit, we often divided a days worth of work into 2 days.
I loved that with this unit we got to extract DNA from from a strawberry, build model chromosomes out of of pipe cleaners and then use those to explore recombinant chromosomes. In the LA unit we explored cloning from social and moral perspectives and in in the Science unit we explored the science of genetics and DNA. Lesson 8 focuses on cloning and what makes cloning a possibility.
The Final Project which involves designing your own creature, and also includes a Unit Test.
When I reviewed this last year I was leaning towards preferring the Online Version but my ideal would be a combo. I included a list of advantages and disadvantages of both formats. Tailorbear has a clear and and strong preference for the Online Format and I have to say that though I generally prefer physical over online, I am now fully in the Online Format preferred camp.
These two Units as well as the two units we reviewed last year, are challenging and engaging. I don’t think it fits my home school to use the full year packages but as break or supplement? Yes. Especially the Language Arts. I know there is at least one other (Watership Down) Language Arts package that Tailorbear wants to do. I think I’ll be adding that to my wish list.
- The Vender: Moving Beyond the Page
- The Product: Language Arts Package – The House of Scorpion /Online and Science Package – Genetics and DNA
- Format: LA Package is ONLINE format and the Science Package is physical
- Age Range: Both packages are labeled Age 12-14
- Price: LA is $23.67 and Science is $34.97
- NOTE: You can view samples of both Hard and Online Copies of the Age 12-14 Units.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.