Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moving Beyond The Page - A Review

There's some dialogue from the old musical The Music Man that goes something like, "What do you talk about?
(Answer) "Well, there's the weather. . . when it's in season." For some reason, this month's review reminded me of that line. Chuckle.
I suppose that you can do a unit on weather at any time during the year, but late Spring and Summer are perfect for such a theme, in my opinion. You've got wind, rain, storms, sun, and a major player from the unit that we've been working on, tornadoes! We were pleased to receive two unit studies from Moving Beyond the Page . The first is a physical copy of  the Tornado literature unit. We were also given access to the online version of the Amazing Weather science unit. The two are designed to be studied simultaneously, but they, as all the titles in the series, may be used independently.

How does it work? That's up to you as teacher in many ways. The unit studies may be purchased all together, and there are quite a few of them too! You would be able to cover an entire year this way. Language Arts, Science, and Social Studies are all covered in these themes, so you could add in your preferred Math program and be well on your way. Activities also have art and field trips included. I like how that works, pulling from individual subjects to support a common concept.
The other option is to use this or others as a supplement to your current studies. As this is a review for us, that is what we have been doing.

Our level is for the 7-9 year old students. There are a few recommended prerequisites for students at this stage. They should:

* Be reading, and comprehending chapter books well, at a third or early fourth grade level.
*Be able to answer comprehension questions about a chapter in a journal.
* Be able to write three or four sentences about a topic.

The units do not have a traditional textbook, so there are books that are included in each theme, and you can supplement with other related titles that you may have or can borrow from your library. This is what we received in our physical package.

Being a huge book lover myself, I was THRILLED to open this up! So were the girlies. They need little (read, no) outside incentive to pick up a book and dive in, so we were ready to start. We visited the library right away to grab a few more books related to the tornado theme, and all I had to do was leave them in a visible spot. The girls have been quoting random facts that they have learned ever since. I say this with no arrogance or attitude, I am happy and blessed that they love to read and need no motivation. If only they approached every subject in this way!

I found the teacher manual to be helpful, it lays everything out pretty clearly for you. Tornado is set up for nine lessons. Each one tells how many days it is expected to take to complete. The objectives and skills to be learned are included, as well as a materials list. I found these to be mostly common to our household. Items we have needed to purchase have been minimal and inexpensive.

There are activities for each day and often include a couple of optional choices. You'll find Spelling and Vocabulary words, and your student will also be keeping a daily journal. A simple notebook sufficed for us.
A lesson can often be wrapped up with a fun excursion. The manual offers its suggestions, but of course you can select an appropriate alternative. So when we worked on the section related to turtles, we visited a local nature center that has lots of the creatures that we could watch up close. One of our favorite parts!

Speaking of turtles, this is one of the turtle projects we did. Very fun!


There are lots of worksheets included, and feature a variety of concepts and learning styles. There are drawing activities, art projects, writing assignments, Venn diagrams, small research projects, word matches. . .and more. I really like it, and the girls are learning quite a bit.

I can't forget to mention the Amazing Weather study. It definitely is a natural fit with the Tornado unit, although, as with the other titles, it can be used independently. So, we 've had the online version, which I like and sort of don't.  I like it because it's been easy for me to navigate and work with. There are pdf's that may be printed for the lessons. What I'm not so wild about is that with this option, you are paying for access to the unit, but it's only available for a limited time, 90 days from the day you activate it. Now, if you contact the company, you can request an extension, and they will happily give it to you. I guess I just prefer a hard copy myself. The time limit makes me feel pressured especially when life happens and schedules get interrupted.

This one has eight lessons, covering various weather topics, heat, wind, rain, you know, weather ;) We did get two physical books that are included in this study. They are, On the Same Day in March , by Marilyn Singer, and Young Discoverers Weather and Climate - Geography Facts and Experiments. The latter title has been a fun addition for my young scientists. We've enjoyed the experiments quite a bit. And being warmer now, we can do them outside, where the weather actually is.

Here's our backyard weather vane:

The bottom line is that we like these curriculum studies a lot. I really love, and so do my daughters, that it uses real books. I like that there is a lot of help and structure, but still plenty of freedom to experiment, supplement, and tailor it to your students needs. Even better, is the flexibility to use it as a year long curriculum in and of itself, or individually as you like. I will be checking out additional titles for our upcoming school year, and I think you should go check out this product and see what you think.

Moving Beyond The Page

Tornado - Language Arts Unit
Includes Language Arts unit Tornado, Tornado, by Betsy Byars, and How the Turtle Got Its Shell, a Little Golden Book

Price: $24.97 - Physical Copy
           $20.91 - Online Version

Amazing Weather - Science Unit
Includes Science unit Amazing Science, On the Same Day in March - A Tour of the World's Weather, by Marilyn Singer, and Young Discoverers Weather and Climate - Geography Facts and Experiments.

Price: $33.97 - Physical Copy
           $29.91 - Online Version

Ages: 7-9 years

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

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