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Moving Beyond the Page - a review

My girls have discovered Laura Ingalls Wilder and her books. Sarah Grace read the first book earlier this year and fell in love with it. Recently, we had the opportunity to pair up with Moving Beyond the Page to do a unit study on it. They sent us two sets: the Language Arts Package - Little House in the Big Woods and the Social Studies Package - Westward Expansion.

Moving Beyond the Page Review

For the Little House in the Big Woods package ($19.92), we received an online guide and the book. We were happy to have another copy of the book so that both girls could enjoy it at the same time. The online guide can be purchased separately for $12.93 and the book for $6.99. This set is intended for 8-10 year old students.

This goes beyond your basic reading comprehension questions. The study includes grammar, spelling, writing, and more. The guide is online and organized by day. The package includes printables to go with each lesson, as well as many external links to study even more.

I appreciated some of the little details, such as a link to a picture of a "Brindle", so my girls could have an accurate picture of what Laura's dog, Jack, might have looked like.

Each day's lesson involved reading from the book, comprehension questions, and various discussions and activities. Lesson One introduces the book and the first activity involves introducing the author. Here is an excerpt from that activity:

If you are using the full-year package, you received a "Mark-It Timeline of History." On your timeline, record the birth of Laura Ingalls (Wilder) in 1867. Explain to your child when she lived and show him where she lived on the U.S. map (Wisconsin). Tell him about her family members (an older sister Mary and a younger sister Carrie) and how she wrote these books so that children would know more about pioneer life. Let your child look at the cover and point out clues which indicate that the book took place many years ago.
Note: To make this introduction even more interesting for your child, dress up as a pioneer woman and pretend to be Laura Ingalls Wilder. Introduce yourself and tell about your family and your life as a pioneer.

While I did not dress up like Laura, we did enjoy the activities. Many of them are discussion-based and I enjoyed the conversations that stemmed from them. I love that we didn't just use "Setting" as a vocabulary word in a worksheet, but we talked about different settings, we looked up the settings for Little House in the Big Woods in an atlas, we studied Wisconsin and compared it to our state. The lessons felt real. The girls grasped the content and owned what they learned.

There are 11 lessons in the study, plus a Final Project that is scheduled to take 2 days. Activity pages are included in each lesson, through links to PDF files. There are ideas for field trips and plenty of other things to explore. We skipped a lot, but we still did a lot. The program is jam-packed with fun learning.

The social studies set we received was unrelated to the language arts package. It fit in well with our history lessons and the spirit of the Little House stories.

For the Westward Expansion set ($52.88), we received:
*Westward Expansion Guide (physical book, can be individually purchased for $16.99)
*Going West! Journey on a Wagon Train to Settle a Frontier Town (purchase separately for $12.95)
*How we Crossed the West: The Adventures of Lewis and Clark (purchase separately for $7.95)
*Oregon Trail, 5th edition software game (purchase separately for $14.99)

This Westward Expansion package is intended for students ages 9-11 and is appropriate for students in 4th and 5th grade.

The Westward Expansion Guide is very similar to the online guide we received with the other package. All of the material is printed and spiral-bound. There are 6 lessons in the guide, which are scheduled to last 10 days. Each lesson tells you up front how long it takes to finish. These are jam-packed full of activities though, and could easily take twice that time if you were fitting it in with other lessons.

The lessons tell you what material you'll need to have on hand, the points you'll be driving home, and words and names that will be taught in the lesson. There are several activities listed with each lesson and the printables you will need are included in the book, just after each lesson description. I loved having the physical guide I could sit in my lap for lessons, but the downside to the hand-outs being included in the physical book is that you cannot photocopy them without written permission from the company.

The activities include mapwork, timelines, and such. There is a lot of writing involved in many of the activities. Mine love that, but not everyone does, which is why I mentioned it. The questions contained in the guide are challenging. I love that! It is not a time-filler; it's a real thinking-gig. All in all, I would say the age range it provides is accurate. My 8 year old would not have been able to handle this package on her own. Alongside her 10 year old sister and with lots of mom-involvement, it was fun, but it could be overwhelming otherwise.

Going West! is a great book that both of my girls looked forward to reading each day. The Westward Expansion Guide lines out which pages you are to read each day. In addition to the activities in the Guide, Going West also includes some activities that support the reading material. For instance, when they read about boats traveling westward, the book explains how boats travel up hills through the use of canal locks. A two-page spread walks them through building their own Canal Lock with half gallon juice cartons. They use 3 cartons to build lock chambers and sluice gates. The reading and the activities are fun and they help the students really get to know the people, the land, and the life of the pioneers.

How We Crossed the West is a fun book to read and includes fabulous illustrations. My girls enjoyed reading it to themselves several times.

My girls, who don't really play on the computer much, have loved the Oregon Trail game. I'm surprised by how much they've enjoyed sitting down to play it. They get to invent their character and travel west with a wagon train. They follow a journal story of children traveling west to be with their father, who set out before them. This was worth the whole package for us.

We have used Moving Beyond the Page in the past and we really like it. It includes some great hands-on activities and plenty of variety. I had forgotten, however, how much I do NOT like online guides. I'd rather have it printed in front of me. I had also forgotten how inefficient it is cost-wise. With an online guide, you lose the material when your subscription date ends. If you get side-tracked mid-study, you have to re-subscribe if you want to finish the program. If you want to do the same study a year later with younger siblings, you have to purchase the material again. I really enjoy this material, but I think that online guides (at full-price) are just not for us.

You can follow this link to view some samples of how the program works. You can explore reviews of a huge variety of the Moving Beyond the Page units by clicking the box below.

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1 comment:

  1. We love Laura and her family! This looks like a unit set we should get. Thanks for sharing your review!

    ReplyDelete

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