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Moving Beyond The Page ~ Review

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Moving Beyond the Page provides literature-based homeschool curriculum, on a vast number of topics, in the areas of language arts, social studies, and science. Their curriculum is broken down into a series of units, organized by age level, from ages 4-5 all the way up through ages 14-15. Their unit style works particularly well for gifted and hands-on learners. My family has recently had the opportunity to use a couple of the units from their 10-12 age group, the language arts unit, Albert Einstein, and the accompanying science unit, Force and Motion. Today, we are happy to share our experience and review.

About the Curriculum

The Moving Beyond the Page curriculum is broken down into concepts covered over the course of the year. Each of these concepts is further broken down into a series of smaller units. These units each cover one particular theme relating to the main concept. The concepts and units can be studied in any order, however, allowing a very personalized learning experience for each child. The units can each be used independently, though some (like those my family has chosen) have also been written to work in conjunction with each other.

Each unit includes a Note For Parents page, which describes the structure of the curriculum, explains each component of the lessons, and provides a sample week’s schedule. It goes even further to explain the structure of each lesson, and finally, an example of a typical day, and time allotments for unit activities.

Each lesson is then clearly laid out in the curriculum guides, with checklists to ensure you have everything you need, ideas to think about, and things to know before you get started. The lesson then begins with the reading passage and accompanying questions, a series of corresponding activities, and finally a “wrapping up” section for reinforcement or further study.

Albert Einstein

einsteinThis language arts unit is available in either printed ($48.93) or online ($44.87) form, which includes the curriculum and all additional required materials. For the purpose of this review, we were given the online version. The unit is broken down into 8 lessons, plus a final project. It is made to accompany the biography, Albert Einstein by Kathleen Krull.

The lessons not only help guide students through the book through the use of lesson review questions, but also provide opportunities for activities such as mapping of various countries in which Einstein lived and worked, constructing a timeline of his life, research of other notable scientists that influenced Einstein, and much more. In the final project, students will use all that they have learned in order to construct a biography scrapbook of Einstein’s life and work.

Also included with this unit is a Rummy Roots card game, which is written right into the activities section of the unit. This game teaches children ages 8 and up 42 different Greek and Latin roots, providing an excellent vocabulary builder. The curriculum also includes a vocabulary list, as well as weekly spelling lists to correlate with the unit, making this an all-inclusive language arts curriculum.

 

Force and Motion

Force_motion_graphicThis science unit is also available either in printed ($50.07) or online ($46.01) form, which includes the curriculum, accompanying book, and experiment kit. The unit’s 8 lessons and final project are made to accompany the book The Quest for Personal Best: Individual Sports by Lisa Greathouse. Through the study of various sports and the athletes that participate in them, students are introduced to several physics concepts. Some of the fascinating topics covered include gymnastics and balance, bicycles and friction, skateboarding and gravity, and more.

Like the literature unit, this curriculum provides a series of review questions related to the required reading book, but then goes further by providing a variety of hands-on activities for reinforcement. In this unit, that includes a number of worksheets (included within the unit) plus simple experiments, which use the items from the experiment kit. Because this unit covers force and motion, the experiments involve simple activities such as using a spring scale to measure mass, using marbles to demonstrate Newton’s Laws of Acceleration, or a ball drop experiment to illustrate directional changes. The curriculum provides all necessary instructions for conducting these experiments, as well as forms for students to record their data and conclusions.

This unit also includes a list of vocabulary words covered in the study, as well as a unit review sheet to ensure understanding of the unit’s key concepts.

How We Used it & Our Final Opinion

We decided to follow the units as suggested in each of the curriculum guides, and I must say, the suggested schedule was very helpful in implementing the studies. I was admittedly overwhelmed at first receiving the curriculum, but after reading the introduction notes and suggestions, it was very easy to get up and running. I was also a bit nervous at first about the amount of hands-on work, as my youngest can sometimes get sensory overload by too many activities. However, this curriculum was extremely well balanced, providing plenty of reading and written work in addition to the fun experiments and activities. The hands-on activities are long enough to enforce the concept, but short enough to keep students focused and on task. Follow-up report forms are also helpful in ensuring students understand the purpose of the experiments, and how to interpret their findings.

As the parent, I loved the fact that everything was either included with the kit, or involved simple, household items. For activities that involved outside sources, such as online articles, everything was provided right in the curriculum, which saved a lot of time searching for resources. Having everything all in one place made teaching a breeze. It made it so easy, in fact, that older students could even use this curriculum independently, with minimal parent assistance.

This curriculum makes learning even difficult concepts easy and fun. I would definitely recommend this not only to typical hands-on learners, but to all homeschoolers. With the wide variety of subjects available, parents are sure to find something that appeals to every child. And, with the clear explanations and easy to follow instructions for each unit, it really takes the stress out of lesson planning. My boys definitely enjoyed this curriculum and are asking for more units from Moving Beyond the Page!

 

For more information, please check out the Moving Beyond The Page website, or follow them on FacebookPlease also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

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Progeny Press Literature Study Guides ~ Review

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Progeny Press is the publisher of a huge assortment of literature study guides for students of all ages, from young readers all the way through high school. These study guides fill a unique niche in that they approach literature study from a Biblical worldview, so parents rest assured that the content of these study guides will align with their Christian values. The guides are conveniently organized according to grade level, making it easy to find the right story for each child. For the past several weeks, my boys have had the pleasure of using a couple of the Progeny Press study guides: The Door in the Wall (upper elementary level) and The Giver (middle school level). Today, we are happy to share our experiences and review.

About the Guides

Progeny Press interactive study guides are an easy, flexible way to incorporate literature study into any curriculum. They all come in PDF form, available either on CD or as a digital download. The PDFs can be opened and printed out as needed. The best part is that they are also interactive PDFs, meaning students can also type their answers directly into the form, and then save their file or print it out for their records. This feature is wonderful for those who might not be good at, or enjoy, a lot of written work, or for those who need extra practice with their keyboarding skills.

The guides begin with a note to the instructor, explaining how to use the study guide. This is followed by other helpful information, including a story synopsis, a brief author biography, background information concerning the time period or setting of the story, and suggested pre-writing activities. The next several sections include chapter-by-chapter review questions, followed by a listing of additional resources (suggested books or videos) to round out the study. The answer key is also included at the end of the guide.

The Door in the Wall ($16.99)

DoorinWallEGuideMy younger son worked through the study guide for The Door in The Wall by Marguerite de Angeli. This study guide is intended for students in upper elementary level, approximately grades 4-6.

The study guide is broken down in order to review 2 chapters at a time. These sections all include vocabulary work,which may include using a dictionary to define words, multiple choice questions, or matching exercises. The guide then presents a series of questions, including those based on the events of the story, some that are based on elements of a story, and then some that call for personal reflection by the student. “Dig Deeper” questions often include Scripture references, and ask students how they might relate that to the story. Some chapters also include additional questions for discussion, as well as extra activities on topics such as fact vs. opinion, and similes and metaphors. The conclusion section of the guide then asks questions regarding the overall plot and theme of the story.

 

The Giver ($18.99)

GiverEGuideMy older son used the study guide to accompany The Giver by Lois Lowry. This is from Progeny Press’s middle school offerings, and intended for students in grades 7-9.

This guide has many of the same features as the upper elementary level guide, plus some additional activities. Because this book is longer, the guide is broken down into sections of 2 or 3 chapters at a time. Each section begins with vocabulary, which can include writing definitions, matching, fill-in, finding synonyms and antonyms, and understanding connotative meaning. The questions are also much like those in the upper elementary, but in greater number and depth. This guide also includes a summary section that includes several question regarding elements of a story. Following the summary, this guide includes a number of writing prompts for student essays, which are expected to be 1-2 pages long.

 

How We Used the Guides

For both boys, I thought that completing one section per week would be a good, steady pace for us. Because we try not too do much of our schoolwork on the computer, I decided that printing out the week’s section would be the most sensible option. For the first day or 2 of each week, at our typical reading time, they read the chapters for the current section, and then the remainder of the week was devoted to completing the study guide questions. The boys loved the flexibility this offered them. They could complete the questions in any order they liked, as long as the section was completed by the end of the week. They also liked the idea that they did not have a set daily schedule with it. If they wanted to work faster, they were free to do so. Or if we had to skip a day here and there due to an activity or event, we knew it was no problem, as there was no danger of messing up a strict schedule. They also

Our Final Opinion

We really enjoyed working through these study guides. We love the idea that we can pick and choose the guides we want to use, rather than being locked into a series of books found in a structured literature course, which may or may not include stories that appeal to us. We also love the flexibility they have offered us, both with regards to scheduling, as well as format options of either computer or print. I personally like the variety of activities offered in the guides, especially the extensive vocabulary sections, and the questions requiring personal reflection. These guides have been a great help to us for improving reading comprehension, expanding vocabulary, and studying elements of a story. They are simply the best study guides we have ever used, and we highly recommend them!

 

For more information, please check out the Progeny Press website, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Please also click below to read the other Crew reviews!

 

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Spelling You See Review

Today I am very excited to share our review of a brand new spelling curriculum. The publishers of the well-known Math-U-See program have just released a new curriculum called Spelling You See, which offers a unique and inexpensive alternative to typical spelling programs. If you are looking for a spelling program that is more than just rote memorization, but rather one that allows students to learn to spell new words in the context in which they are used, then Spelling You See might be for you. My children and I have been using, and loving, Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E) for the past several weeks, and I am so happy to share our review with you.

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Program Costs

Spelling You See is currently available at 5 different levels. These levels do not directly correspond to grade levels, but rather are based on student ability and developmental stage. A readiness guideline is available on the website, so that you can find out exactly which level is right for your student.  Costs of each level are as follows:

Spelling You See: Listen and Write (Level A)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $20

Spelling You See: Jack and Jill (Level B)
Instructor’s Handbook $16
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: Wild Tales (Level C)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American (Level D)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

Spelling You See: American Spirit (Level E)
Instructor’s Handbook $14
Student Pack $30

At this time, the levels are equivalent to elementary level work, though higher levels of the program are already in the works.

About the Program

Most spelling programs have the same basic premise: spelling is best learned through memorization of a given list of words. True, some programs may have games and activities to make spelling more “fun”, but most still fall back to this same foundational idea. Spelling You See is something completely different. There are no lists to memorize. Instead, children focus on a passage for the week, presented in the form of copywork and dictation, in which the student is introduced to new words. This allows students to see the word as it is used in its proper context, rather than as just another word in a list. Because the student reads the passage, then copies it, and finally writes it from parent dictation, this method involves all of the senses, which helps greatly with learning and retention.

 How the Program Works

This program is meant to be done in small amounts every day. Each week’s lesson is broken down in the student workbooks by day, consisting of a 2-page spread for the day’s activities.  These activities consist of 2 sections. In section one of each day, students first listen to the parent read the week’s passage, then read the passage together with the parent, and finally go through the passage again in order to identify irregular letter patterns, such as double vowels, consonant blends, word endings, etc. The student marks these patterns with colored pencils. The program refers to this as “chunking”. The second section of each day’s activities is where the copywork and dictation come in. The first 2 days of the week, the student copies the passage, marking the “chunks” afterward. On the last 3 days of the week, students write the passage as it is dictated by the parent. The passages gradually increase in difficulty over the course of the program, and the “chunking” activities get a bit more extensive, but the structure of the program remains the same. There are no lists and no tests. Students learn spelling naturally. It really is that simple.

What We Liked About the Program

There are a number of things that set this program apart from other spelling programs on the market. Here are some of our favorite features:

  • The program done daily, in small amounts. By doing a bit each day, rather than cramming for a couple of days a week, students are truly learning, rather than memorizing only to later forget.
  • Parent involvement is essential. Students are not sent off to memorize on their own. Parents are directly involved in the learning process every single day.
  • The program combines the activities of copywork and dictation, vocabulary, spelling, and handwriting all into one package.
  • Students learn to pay close attention to detail. The copywork especially helps them to pay close attention to each word, as well as the punctuation used in the passage.
  • There are no tests, and no anxiety. As a firm believer that tests do not necessarily reflect ability or skill, this is a huge plus.

Final Opinion

My children and I really love this method for learning to spell. I have never been a fan of spelling lists and memorization. I believe that there is a HUGE difference between memorization and true learning. In fact, until reviewing this program, we have gone a long time without a spelling curriculum in our homeschool at all for this very reason. I think Spelling You See is perfect for parents who, like me, want students to truly learn to spell, rather than just learn to memorize a list of words. I only really have 2 issues/ suggestions for the program. I do wish that there was a cursive option for the student books, since my children are past the printing stage. However, we were able to do the dictation portion in cursive, since the workbook just has blank lines for that activity anyway. I also hope that the program is extended to include other topics. American Spirit (Level E) focuses on American history. I hope that in the future, the publishers might consider other options as well, such as literature-based passages. These things aside, however, I think this is a fantastic program, and definitely one of the best options I have ever seen for teaching spelling naturally. I think students can benefit more from this method of teaching than from methods found in most other programs.

For further information, please visit the Spelling You See website. You can also follow Spelling You See on Facebook and Twitter.

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