Thursday, March 23, 2017

Science Curriculum Review {Moving Beyond the Page}

When talking with homeschooling moms, one thing I hear over and over is their concern for providing a good science education, yet moms often feel unprepared.

Once my background in science comes up, the confessions start pouring in:

I'm not really into science.

I don't know how to teach science.

I let my husband handle it.

Science takes up too much time and makes such a mess.

Now, I have a rebuttal for each of these confessions, and if you don't like harsh, you might want to stop reading because it's about to get real.  I feel strongly about science education - no sugar coating my opinion.

So, you're not into science.  Okay.  What if your child told you they're not into Math or loading the dishwasher or saying Thank you.  As the authority you would require those be done anyway.  Right?  Each state has requirements regarding science and since they are the authority, must be followed.

Let's address the I don't know how to teach science argument.  When I first started homeschooling, the only thing I knew how to teach was science, but I learned how to teach reading and spelling and math.  If you're going to take the plunge and homeschool then you'll need to develop your style for teaching each subject.

Unless your husband is begging to teach science lessons, letting your husband handle the science education in the evening is like a public school teacher sending home a note saying she's going to let you handle the grammar instruction because it's not really her thing or there isn't enough time in the day.  That would be unheard of.  

Science does take up time and sometimes it makes a huge mess, especially in the volcano and oobleck making years.  But, with an open mind, a block of time and a plan, it can be a fun time learning with your kids.  


We've done science many, many, many ways over the years.  I have shelves of curriculum I like, and unfortunately, spent money on some that was plain awful.  Since I tailor each child's curriculum to best fit their needs, I've used science curriculums of all kind.

This year I chose Moving Beyond the Page for Sam (6th grade).  Sixth grade curriculum is all over the place when it comes to level of difficulty.  I knew Sam needed something concrete, well laid out with daily assignments.  I also knew a cumbersome textbook with a read a chapter, answer 25 review questions approach was not going to work for him.  I wanted a science program with variety in the assignments and the use of "real" books as the main source of information.

I wanted a packaged curriculum to alleviate too much prep work on my part.  

I was introduced to Moving Beyond the Page at our Virtual Learning curriculum fair.  One look through and I knew I needed to do a little more research at their website.  

A few things I found:

*Age groups, rather than grade level
*Units which use real books
*Assignments including weblinks
*Ready to go box of Lab/Activity supplies

I settled on four units - 1 for each month of Trimester 2 - Weather and Climate, Cells, Our Changing Earth, and one more to finish out the year in May - The Hydrosphere.

I feel prepared to review Moving Beyond the Page science units now that Sam is finishing up with his 3rd unit.  These units are well designed.

Sam is not our most independent learner, however, after a few pointers, completes each day's work with minimal complaining.  The lessons have been challenging and time consuming.  This is not a 5 minutes and you're done curriculum.  It requires effort.  On average he works on science 45 minutes a day.  The last lesson took well over an hour to design a classification system for household items.  I'm glad it took that long because by the end he demonstrated a strong grasp of the process of taxonomic classification.

Here Sam's learning about erosion in Our Changing Earth.  This activity simulates wind's impact on various soil types.

5 Reasons I Like Moving Beyond the Page

1.  Unit topics are arranged by age group rather than grade level.  I chose 3 units for ages 10-12 and 1 unit for ages 11-13.  These overlapping age groups allow you to choose the right level for your child.

2.  Customizable to your child's interests or to fill in holes in their knowledge with a specific unit.  Buy only the units you'll use.  We never make it through a full year packaged curriculum and all that wasted money just burns me.

3.  Spiral bound work text includes daily lesson plans and activity sheets.  For distractable children, having everything in one place is necessary.  If extra pages are needed for any of the activities, I have Sam staple them right into his work text.

4.  Two options are available for many of the activities.  Typically, option #1 requires less writing, option #2 requires more involved writing.  On days when we're busier option #1 fits our need, otherwise I like option #2 - it offers greater opportunity for critical thinking.

5.  I love the ready to go science kits that come with each unit.  Other than normal household supplies, everything is in the box and labeled.

I've been thinking about next year already and Moving Beyond the Page will definitely be a part of our curriculum for Sam (7th grade next year) and I'm considering trying out a literature unit for Joseph to see how it works for special education.

I'd love to hear what you're using for science and how you like it.  Share in the comments or at Facebook.

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