Moving Beyond the Page {A Unit Study Curriculum Review}

7/07/2014
Moving Beyond the Page is a literature based unit study curriculum that is designed to integrate science, social studies and language arts.

I had fun picking out the Language Arts Package - Sarah Plain and Tall and the Science Package - The Land to review, though it was very hard to decide. There were many I wanted to do, and because Moving Beyond the Page designs their units to be used concurrently, I knew I wanted a unit study that correlated.


I also chose these units because I was having a hard time figuring out what to do for an upcoming unit study on Kansas. Moving Beyond the Page was truly an inspiration and I'm thankful to have had the opportunity to review these units. After I share more about the curriculum, I will share more about my thoughts on the curriculum, and why I may or may not consider them in the future.

I received the online version of the Sarah, Plain and Tall curriculum guide along with the physical book, and the physical curriculum guide edition of The Land along with the book Maps and Mapping.

Product Format:

Online Guide: (Sarah, Plain and Tall) Comes with online guide (has some printable student pages, otherwise all instruction is online) and the book.

Physical Guide: (The Land) Comes with physical guide that student will write in and a book on maps.

Price: 



Individually:



  • Sarah, Plain and Tall Literature Guide - $16.99

  • Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan  - $5.99




Individually:



  • Science Unit Guide - The Land - $16.99

  • Maps and Mapping, by Deborah Chancellor - $7.99

See samples here.

Age Range:

These two units are designed for ages 7-9.

Lesson Format:

Each lesson format is easy to follow.

Each lesson offers:

  • Questions to Explore

  • Facts and Definitions

  • Skills/Objectives

  • Introduction (where actual instruction begins)

  • Activities

  • a Conclusion

  • and a Real Life Application.

A Materials List is available at the beginning of the guide to gather any needed supplies, and a Review Sheet offers a summary of facts and definitions for review.

How we used it:  

Each unit is designed to take three weeks. We completed both units concurrently in about 4 weeks, using it about three or four times a week for about 45 minutes to an hour for each lesson.

I used this with Eliana (7) and Malachi (9) who are both in the target age range.

In order to use Moving Beyond the Page with more than one student, I would have had to order another set of student sheets. Permission to photocopy the student pages is not given. Since I had two children I wanted to use this with, it was easier to either do the lessons orally or have them work together. This worked well for us because many of the writing projects were more suitable for Malachi.

The Land

In this unit, the big idea is how maps help us understand our environment.

We learned about:

  • the four different types of maps and how to read them

  • natural resources and how to conserve them

  • the five geographic regions of the U.S.

  • farming in the U.S.

  • and how the environment changes.

The Final Project was to apply what we learned about environments and maps to create a "My Own Island" project.

Types of Maps

Reading Maps


Using a Map Key


Natural Resources We Use


My Own Island Project ~ Eliana


My Own Island Project ~ Malachi


I preferred having the lessons in print format, but didn't like that the student pages are included in the spiral binding of the parent guide.

Content wise, this unit was my least favorite of the two. It was harder to get into and not as interesting.

In each lesson, several activities are offered. For example, in Lesson 6: Environment of the United States three activities are offered on day one of the lesson: the Regions of the U.S., States and Capitals, and U.S. Landforms and Bodies of Water. We focused on Regions of the U.S.

Several lessons correlated well with our Language Arts unit such as learning about regions of the U.S., natural resources, and farming in the U.S.,  although there were some discrepancies. For example, the Regions of the U.S. were divided into the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, etc. in The Land, but in Sarah, Plain and Tall, the regions were divided up into the Heartland States, the New England States, etc.

I would say that since they are designed to stand alone, they don't entirely correlate, but rather compliment each other. 

I followed the lessons as suggested until we got to the Final Project. Since we were creating an island, I pulled out a book on landforms to give them ideas on what type of landforms they could include to make their island interesting.

Sarah, Plain and Tall

We really enjoyed this unit!

In this unit, we:

  • learned how the geography of Maine, a New England State, compares/contrasts to Kansas, a Prairie State.

  • learned the elements of a story

  • learned about advertisements in a newspaper

  • learned how to write a friendly letter

  • learned how to use a Venn diagram

  • learned how music reflects time and place

  • made a wildflower field guide

  • learned how our environment can be used for our benefit and enjoyment

  • learned how to write a persuasive letter

  • and more.

The Final Project was to have a "Welcome to Kansas" party for Sarah. The kids planned the party, wrote invitations, and drew a gift for Sarah.

We worked on the lesson activities together. Here Eliana is coloring the New England States. . .

She saved the Heartland States for Malachi to color.

They each created a title of a book to describe themselves: Malachi, Speedy and Skillful & Eliana, Fun and Adventurous.

We did a story pyramid for a short story we had recently read.

A favorite activity was making a Wildflower Field Guide from flowers found in the book. The online guide has a link to Kansas wildflowers, but it was easier to use some field guides that I own.

While they worked and colored, I was able to ask them comprehension questions from the online guide.



As we progressed through the lessons, I was able to mark that we finished a lesson.

For our final project, we planned an English Tea Party to welcome Sarah to Kansas. We picked wild roses to decorate our table with (a Kansas wildflower that was in the story) and served tea with cake.



Each child drew a gift they would give Sarah. Eliana drew sunflowers and Malachi drew a picture of the sea with the colored pencils Sarah bought to bring the sea to Kansas.

We really enjoyed this unit. I think more so because we were able to tie our learning more directly to the book.

I liked the option to print the student sheets with the online version, and you can print multiple copies to use in your family (but I did not know this).

My Thoughts:

We love unit studies in our homeschool. I like that Moving Beyond the Page offers a variety of activities and options and lives up to it's name to make learning more meaningful.

Considering the price, I do not like that families cannot photocopy extra pages for family use, but we made it work.

The writing requirements were not a good fit for my 7 year old, but my 9 year did just fine with them. I think this helped make it work for us to be able to share one set of student pages.

We had a hard time getting into the Science unit. I think we naturally favor a literature based unit study more than any other unit as reading a story is more interesting and enjoyable.

While we mostly enjoyed our time with Moving Beyond the Page, it is not a good fit for our homeschool and I may or may not use it again.

Why I may consider another unit study:

  • if I need inspiration

  • as a supplement to our current curriculum

  • when I want more worksheets/printable activities

Why I may not consider another unit study:

  • the price per unit compared to our current program is more costly. Our current program is $5 a unit (15 units for $75), not counting the books, compared to $16.99 with Moving Beyond the Page for one unit and that's just for the Language Arts.

  • it's not as comprehensive as our current program which includes topics/lessons on Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, Math and Art.

  • the online units cannot be reused (an online license specifically limits their use to 90 days, though they do offer a repurchase discount)

  • I'd have to order another set of student sheets to use with more than one student ($4.99 each extra student) driving the price up to $21.98 per book/unit study. If I added in the complimenting science or social studies unit, the price doubles.

If the units were more reasonable, I'd have a lot of fun choosing from the many Language Arts TitlesSocial Studies TitlesScience Titles and would consider them a lot more.

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7 comments:

Michelle said...

Hi Michelle - Thanks for the review! You mentioned above that the unit study you currently use is $5 per unit - what unit study are you currently using? Just curious, we are going back to Sonlight this year (after a year of non-literature based curriculum) and I would like the delve more deeply into certain books with our core.

Lisa M. @ Farm Fresh said...

Thank you for your excellent review! I love that book myself...I'm glad that you enjoyed it as well. Love the tea party!

Michelle said...

Hi Michelle, we are using Five in a Row. I compared the price to Volume 4, since it is the same target age ( it is $75 for the manual for 15 units), but I could just have easily compared it to Beyond Five in a Row, which actually has a unit on Sarah, Plain and Tall (Volume 2) and is chapter books. The Vol 2 Beyond manual is $35 and contains 4 unit books/unit studies, which still only puts each unit at $8.50 each.

I've been doing Sonlight after a break from Five in a Row and am excited to get back to more unit studies! :) We used several FIAR books to compliment our Sonlight books. :)

Heather said...

How did Sophia and I miss your tea party?!

Michelle said...

Because we are crazy and school in the SUMMER!! :)

Heather S. said...

Maybe we'll have to do a virtual one some time. Kaden loves to pour and eat goodies too;)

Michelle said...

Heather, I do hope to see you again one day! Will you message me your address again? Elli has a small gift for Sophia and I'd love to stick some tea cookies in there for Kaden! :)

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