Sunday, June 30, 2013

TOS Review: Moving Beyond the Page

Not too long ago, Josiah made a passing comment about wanting to read a certain book that has been on our bookshelf for ages. Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, is an inspiring story set in Nazi occupied Denmark during WWII. You can imagine my delight when just a few days later I got word that I was going to have a chance to review a Literature Unit on Number the Stars by Moving Beyond the Page along with a the WWI and WWII Social Studies Package. What perfect timing. 

I love Unit Studies. And more than Unit Studies I love Literature Rich Unit Studies. There is something so personal and effective about teaching with books. Books make the whole word come to life. It is important to me that our learning experiences are meaningful. I think Moving Beyond the Page made that possible for us.  If you are homeschooling a boy, take a look at this article in the Reflections section of the website. 

What I Received (keep in mind that each product is available for purchase separately from of the package)


Curriculum – WWI & WWII by Kathryn Walbert, Ph.D.
All That Jazz - A History of US Book 9 by Joy Hakim
Where Poppies Grow by Linda Granfield 

Online Curriculum – Number the Stars by
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry (physical book)

How It Works and How We Used It

Moving Beyond the Page is a full, literature rich curriculum. It is also designed to stretch our kiddos reach his or her full potential. There are no textbooks.  Instead, students are given hands-on learning opportunities and are encouraged to become lifelong learners (Amen and Amen!) You are able to purchase curriculum for entire year at a time (minus the Math) or you can use one unit at a time at your leisure.  This guide discusses choosing the right age level for your child. At the moment, Moving Beyond the Page offers curriculum for ages 7-13 with ages to come.  

The students studying in the Ages 10-12 bracket cover 4 concepts within a year.  They are divided into Social Studies, Science, and Language Art Units. Each concept is expected to take 9 weeks of instruction and each Unit can be accomplished in 19 days. These are the concepts covered. 

  1. Environment and Cycles
  2. Force and Power 
  3. Change
  4. Systems and Interaction

Both of Josiah’s Units fell in the Force and Power Concept.  Of course, if you chose to piecemeal your curriculum one Unit at a time Moving Beyond the Page makes that possible as well.
These are the prerequisites required for the Units in the Ages 10-12 bracket directly from the website.

  •     Able to read and comprehend novels at a late 6th or 7th grade reading level
  •     Able to write multiple paragraphs on a topic
  •     Familiar with the five paragraph essay
  •     Usually used by children in the fifth or sixth grade.

This link will take you to the Getting Started Page. From there you can view each age bracket separately. There is a lot of information found here. 

Because I reviewed two different Units, I will talk about each one separately. 

Did I mention that there are no textbooks? Instead, the student gathers information from a variety of sources, one of them being All That Jazz - A History of US Book 9 by Joy Hakim (which is available for purchase on the Moving Beyond the Page website). Another book used is Where Poppies Grow: A World War I Companion by Linda Granfield. I didn’t own either of these (they came in the Package), but check to see what might be lurking on your bookshelf that might be used in one of the Curriculum packages. I’ve found a few other books on my shelf that can be used with other units. 

I am more of an eclectic homeschooler. Therefore, I love being able to use what floats my boat (or Josiah’s) at the time. Moving Beyond the Page allowed us the flexibility to do that. Within the WWI and WII Package there are 9 lessons, plus a final project. Honestly, there was no way Josiah could complete the unit in 19 days. We had a little thing called “vacation” happen. Also, this curriculum is challenging. It is not simply a read and “fill-in-the-blanks” kind of program.  Facts are important to know, but how have the facts impacted history or our day-to-day lives? I don’t want Josiah to learn facts just too simply regurgitate them back out. 

The Curriculum itself comes in a spiral bound book. It contains instructions on how to use Moving Beyond the Page, a required list of books and materials, a vocabulary list, Student pages, Parent overview, and more.  I felt that it was very easy to navigate and gave Josiah a clear outline of what was expected. 

My first impression of this Unit was “Wow!” I loved it. It really challenged both Josiah and me to think critically about the impact of war.  

You can check out this sample of this particular unit and how it works here. Please keep in mind that the link will take you to the online sample. I received a physical book. 

I’ll give you just a little example what Josiah learned in Lesson 5: Mobilizing for War. In this lesson, we learned what happened initially after the attack on Pearl Harbor and all the different ways Americans got ready for the war to come. 

We read, A Date Which Will Live in Infamy, the speech given by President Roosevelt to congress on December 8, 1941. We were also able to go to a website and listen to a recorded expert of the President’s speech from the National Archives.   

Some of the questions Josiah had to answer included; “Does President Roosevelt seem certain that the correct course of action is to go to war? Does he seem certain about the outcome of the war? If you heard this speech on the radio, what might be thinking and feeling?”

Here is Josiah’s answer.
President Roosevelt was sure that America needed to go to war. If I would have heard this speech I would probably be a little excited, but also scared. Maybe someone I know would have to go to war.
No fill-in-the-blank questions here!

We learned about persuasion and how posters were used to drum up support for the War Effort. We discussed rationing and how it affected families during wartime. 

Here is a picture from one of the Lessons Activities. Josiah was required to make tally marks for every time he consumed something using one of these projects. 

It might look like we’re doing well (no sugar!). I’m just glad he didn’t have to keep track during our vacation week. I guarantee you it would be a whole different story.

Josiah also learned about Victory Gardens during the Life Application portion of the lesson.  We are a bit acquainted with gardens. We have always had one or had access to my Dad’s beautiful garden. Josiah settled down with Papa’s seed catalogues and made a Victory Garden poster. 
He had to think about what he would plant for family and friends to eat if we had to rely solely on our garden for fresh fruits and veggies. 

He enjoyed that part of it. I have to say that it was like pulling teeth to get him to decorate his poster. We had to cover up where he wrote ‘Jaws’ and ‘I’m diving in’ in black letters. I should know better than to make the boy decorate on a beautiful day. We had to have cousin Maddy come and show us the fine art of “decorating.” 

By the way, the gentleman in the picture is actually a picture of Josiah’s Great Grandpa Michel just after the World War II era. I liked being able to add some of our personal story to the whole thing. 

I really loved this entire Social Studies package. For one, I think it allowed for some deep thinking. It also created plenty of hands-on experiences for Josiah. Which is a great thing in my book!

I have to say that if you haven’t had your kids read Number the Stars I encourage you to do so. The subject matter is a little heavy. If you have read my blog at all, you know that Josiah is dyslexic. Which seems that the Age Bracket we chose to study might be a bit challenging. However, just because Josiah might struggle with reading doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of dealing with some more complex subject matters. This required more participation on my part, but that’s what we do.

In addition to reading the book together, I also checked out an audio version from the library. We did some great listening in the car. 

I received the online version of the Number the Stars Unit. When you purchase an online curriculum package (also available in a physical copy) you are given a 3 month access to the curriculum. We navigated through the study by using a Table of Contents. There were PDFs available for downloading of the student activity sheets and a variety of other materials. 

Under the Getting Ready Section, I was able to download:
  • Student Activity Pages
  • Reading and Questions
  • Summary of Skills
  • And more.
You can view a sample here.

The student is able to log into the website, read that particular lesson, and complete the activities. Some lessons will take longer than others. There might be other sites to visit or activity sheets to print off.  There are spelling lists and vocabulary words to learn. A suggested schedule is available. A journal is also required for the Unit.

As the student goes through the lesson, he is instructed to move on. At the end of the lesson, the title text fades away and a line is drawn through it. That was good motivation for my visual/hands-on guy. He liked having “proof” of his accomplishments.

Speaking of “proof,” there were quite a number of proofing reading exercises. Obviously, Josiah moved through those a bit more slowly. We did enjoy a lot of interesting discussion.

Some of the activities directly tied in with things Josiah learned in the World Wars Unit. For example, in Lesson 3, “The Button Shop,” the assignment was to view war propaganda posters from both sides. Our conversation was quite interesting. I was afraid he might not be able to interpret the intent of the posters.  that they might be too far above his head. In one poster, Hitler is standing in front of a bright shining light, carrying a Nazi flag. Josiah’s interpretation? It looks like Hitler wanted to be the king of the world!  

I appreciated how both the World War Unit and the Number the Stars Unit worked together. It made our school day most interesting.

If I had my druthers, I would choose to purchase the Physical Curriculum as opposed to the online version. I didn’t hate it, but comparatively I prefer to have all the material in my own little hands.

Here are a few final thoughts.
  • In own little homeschool world, I like curriculum that provide Josiah many hands-on experiences as well as allow him to express himself creatively. I want him to think and to learn. I want him to be challenged.  Moving Beyond the Page did all of those things.
  • I love, love all the Unit Study possibilities. There are so many great choices. I am looking forward to picking out our next study.
  • Don’t be afraid to adapt the curriculum to your particular needs. Remember, this is a guide. The Navajo Code Talkers section is far too interesting to rush through it …Josiah found it fascinating. Because of his particular needs, I adapted to what suited us. I didn’t feel like it compromised the depth of the study at all.
  • I wouldn’t just focus on the Social Studies and Science units. I would add a Language Arts Unit into the mix every time.  Literature just enhances everything else. I found several Units (including in other age brackets) that I am excited to try.
  • Even if you are buckled down to a more traditional curriculum or program, Moving Beyond the Page is a great option for filler studies or even summer school (yes…we school in the summer). Spend some time on the website. They have wonderful tutorials, videos, etc. to explain their approach and why it works.
The Crew reviewed dozens of Moving Beyond the Page Packages. I’m sure you will come across one that catches your fancy. 


Friday, June 28, 2013

Cousin Camp Day 5: Float My Boat

Shew. Day 5 of Cousin Camp is almost at an end. I won't pretend that I am not bone tired.

But. As you will see in just a minute, Cousin Camp ended with a bang. I am just one causality. My Mom and Dad have been limping about the house tonight.

I am also finishing up a review (or two) and working on finishing a really cool yearbook project (review coming in a few weeks). So tonight (while I wait for a few pics to download for the yearbook), I am going to share one last Cousin Camp update. I might post a few odds and ends. But, this girl is due a week long nap.

I also must warning you (once again) that I am including a ridiculous number of pictures. These children's parents have been reading my updates...I want to be sure to make sure I'm not voted off the Best Big Sister in the Whole World Island.

Just after breakfast Papa took the gang out to Treasure Hunt (once again) in the pasture. I think they found some cool stuff. Though I can't remember what that cool stuff was exactly.

I do need to admit something about the little one's hat. I got it at the Thrift Store for .97. Only problem is that is personalized. It says "Brandon." I started to remove all the stitching, but got sidetracked. Oopsie.

While the Treasure Hunters Hunted, I piddled about the house. Nothing like good ole piddling. I also enjoyed this. An iced coffee. I can tell you I deserved every last drop.

After a morning of Treasurer Hunting, the Cousins gathered in to make a batch of Ama's famous Pulled Peanut Brittle. We used to make this when I was a kid. The deal is that this Peanut Brittle is a little painful to make. After it cooks, you must pull the hot candy and cut it with buttered scissors. We were only allowed to help pull it when we were 8 or 9...and promised we wouldn't cry. Nothing like a little bit of snot in the peanut brittle. But it's well worth the pain.

The Cousins have been begging for several years now to actually get make it themselves. 

This is line to stir the pot. All manner of craziness is going on in that line.

The Pot. The End of the Rainbow. The Final Destination.

We also had to butter our fingertips. Payge wasn't allowed to pull the peanut brittle (she is most certainly too young to be burnt willingly by hot, molten candy). She did get to butter her fingertips. Which was so much fun. If you don't believe me, try it.

Ama demonstrates the technique.

And so it begins!

These kids were troopers. Not a bawler in the bunch!

I did have to lay down the camera to help mom finish pulling the last little bits. There was a lot of "eating on the job."


Look at that tongue!

The finished product. 

That's some good stuff!

Cousin Approved. 

After we gorged ourselves on peanut brittle, Ama got out her old doll collection. Some of these she has had for years. The girls got to come in (one at a time) and pick out dolls to take home.

It was very sweet and precious. I also took a few dolls. One of these days I'll get a picture of my babies.

After a lunch of PB&J, applesauce, and some very yummy cupcakes my Aunt Phyllis brought over, the Cousins gathered outside for the Great Boat Races across the Big Pond.

They really just paddled across the shallower end of the pond. And everybody had a life jacket. I'm telling you. These kids could have done this everyday, all day.

Though I must confess something. We are just a little bit Redneck. And Cheap. The paddles were actually little plastic ping pong paddles. If you can paddle a raft on the Big Pond with Ping Pong Paddles from the Dollar Store....Let's just say that these kids are going places. 

Chris went first in his boat.  Dude had to have a few practice runs before we allowed him to carry passengers.

Kalynn had a bit more successful first run.

Ama sat on one side of the pond and Papa stood in the water on the other. I sat on a chair and laughed. That's just I way I roll.

Josiah is a seasoned Water Guy. Though he's a bit more comfy in the water than on it.

Cade  paddled that boat like a champ.

Alex in her boat. She was a pretty good little boater.

Maddy Paige. She's a hoot. 

Payge went for a pleasure cruise with Kalynn. At one point she yelled, "I need something to drink." She then insisted on taking a few turns around the pond. She's four. And we just all kind of do what she wants.

 Brynn and Kalynn. Brynn was just a bit to short to paddle her own boat, but she is just so stinking cute!

At one point it was all too much for Josiah. He swam his way across the pond. Keeping his head up the whole way. I wouldn't want to put my face in that water.  Don't worry. He had permission.

Payge did a little bit of sunning.

Ama got in the boat.  She grew up on Lake Taneycomo in Branson. She just couldn't help herself.

And all the Cousins got in the water. And proceeded to have a wonderful time. It almost looked like a good old fashioned Baptism service.

We are considering building a dock. Just for Ama. She had a little bit of trouble getting out of her boat.

Notice our fancy dancy paddles? I guess the good thing is that at least you can color coordinate them.

That's all for now, friends. Night!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Cousin Camp Day 4: It's Hot Out Here!

Hello from Cousin Camp. It's Day 4. Well. At least, it has been Day 4. All day, in fact.

The Cousins have piled on the living room floor on a variety of cushions. The Jammies are on and a movie has been put in the DVD player. And as soon as I've finished with this post I am going to bed. I'm honestly so tired I don't really care who is still up. I'm just hoping everybody eventually falls asleep.

It's been a long, hot day. We had a heat advisory today and had to miss some of our outside adventures. Ama (my mom) did take most of our annual Cousin Camp pictures. I'll share a few of those in just a minute.

Today in Cooking School we made cornbread. We knew Company was coming (my aunt, uncle and my very own cousin) for supper. I had Cowboy Beans on the menu. And what goes better with Cowboy Beans than cornbread!

I'm not sure what Maddy was discussing with Kalynn. It couldn't have been the cornbread!

To cook cornbread properly, a man must wear an awesome cowboy hat.

I divided the Cousins up into 2 groups. Each group made a pan of cornbread and each Cousin got to take turns adding ingredients. 

This group looks a little guilty. I'm not sure what might have gone into their pan of cornbread.

Now here is an expert Baking Soda Measurer.

I guess my Cornbread Making Class is a riot. At least I hope I said something funny and she wasn't laughing at my morning attire.

During this particular part of the class I instructed the Cousin to add bacon grease (in lieu of oil). Bacon makes everything better. I don't think they trusted my culinary choices.

But what do you do? I'm bigger and older. And I had access to a rolling pin or two. The bacon grease went in.

And nobody suffered in the process.

We did have an awesome stirring contest.

We left the Kitchen Aid on the counter. What did us old folks ever do without one?

It was a lazy afternoon. A movie. A ferocious Just Dance Battle or two. I played Beauty Shop with a few of the girls.

My Uncle Paul, Aunt Phyllis and my Cousin Crystal came for supper. The kiddos played some tether ball after we ate. And proceeded to take turns smacking each other in the face with the ball.

We gave Crystal a tour of the Farm. Isn't she cute? The Cousins thought so, too. She went home with plunder. A few of the girls shared some of their precious findings from our panning for gold activity we had yesterday.

Crystal was introduced properly to the Chikins. And to the BBD (Big Black Dog) Solomon. I'm thinking Crystal and I need to plan our own Cousin Camp. I'm pretty sure pedicures and chocolate would be involved.

I want to share some pictures with you that my mom took. She has been taking her grandkids' pictures since they were babies. I haven't been to an actual photo studio in years and years. You will see why in a minute.  She was worried about me sharing them right away. She has barely had time to go through any of them. I just wanted to share a few. I had a hard time choosing. But then again, I am so tired right now I am having a hard time deciding whether or not I need to get up to turn off the light before I go to sleep. Decisions, Decisions!

Madalyn - Age 9

Alexandra - Age 10

Brynn - Age 8

Payge - Age 4

Kalynn  - Age 16

Josiah - Age 11

Cade - Age 11

Chris - Age 16

The Whole Silly Bunch

The Twins

What a group! 

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