Saturday, August 30, 2014

Curriculum update: Moving Beyond the Page (early review)

I've gotten a few questions via email over the years on the curricula we use in homeschooling our two boys. I'm always a little hesitant to answer because we have been trying different approaches to see what is a good fit for the boys and what isn't. The latter group doesn't necessarily mean it's a bad approach…instead it may just mean it didn't click with them and their learning style.

One curriculum that is definitely clicking this year is the Language Arts subject from Moving Beyond the Page. I'm using the Ages 10-12 package for the fifth grader and the Ages 8-10 package for the third grader and they seem to be a perfect fit. Based on an n of 1 for each package I can say I'm enjoying them as much as the boys.

The younger boy just finished reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. The lessons often focus on the concept of interdependence…how the family was dependent on and impacted the environment around them. The lessons provide for plenty of topics to cover, weaving in grammar lessons along the way. I estimate we did about 75% of the activities in the lessons, substituting other activities to explore in areas he expressed interest. I liked the mix of activities, and even the ones we didn't use gave us ideas for things we did want to do. As a side-benefit, it's a book I enjoyed reading, too.

The older boy finished reading The Wanderer by Sharon Creech, a story about 13-year-old Sophie, her cousins, and her uncles sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. Told through journal entries of Sophie and her cousin Cody, we saw the challenges they faced and their development from the experiences. One thing I liked in both workbooks was the book-long recording of a particular topic. For The Wanderer the focus was on Sophie's and Cody's character development during their journey. There were also a lot of other fun lessons focusing on storytelling, grammar, and writing. Then there were the subtle mysteries just below the surface, resolving nicely at the end of the story. I'd say this was appropriate for the fifth-grade level.

The variety of the lessons in the accompanying workbooks was the high point for us. Since I'm not using the other subjects I can't comment on how well the other curricula offered tie in with this subject, but it's apparent from the way they approach Language Arts (and the books selected) that there is a perfect opportunity to tie other subjects in with these books. A caveat: because I felt Language Arts was the area I didn't cover best with the boys last year I really wanted to focus on it this school year. While the Language Arts package appears to cover areas of the topic well (including grammar, spelling, etc.), I'm going to supplement the curriculum with another one. It has nothing to do with any perceived shortfall on MBtP but reflects the additional emphasis I'm placing on this subject this year. The cost of the packages can be pricey, but it's nice that there are several options based on whether you can provide the books yourself as well as choosing e-copies vs. physical workbooks. Also to keep in mind is that the pricing is for the full year. We've been very happy campers so far, admittedly early on, and plan to update and post on the books as we go along…especially since I'm looking forward to all the books we'll be reading together!

1 comment:

Jean said...

I'm not familiar with this curriculum--thanks for the info!