Moving Beyond the Page is known for its comprehensive programs that cover language arts, science, and social studies, but they have now published two math courses titled Age 5-7 and Age 6-8. (Math is already built into their comprehensive program at the ages four-to-five level.) Courses titled Age 7-9 and Age 8-10 should be available in 2019, and Age 9-11 and Age 10-12 are slated for 2020.
Each course is a one-year program, and course content aligns with the Common Core State Standards. Moving Beyond the Page Math (MBTP Math) courses are not set for specific grade levels since children vary so much in their abilities, so check Moving Beyond the Page’s scope and sequence to determine the best starting place for your child.
MBTP Math courses are designed for one-on-one instruction. They incorporate hands-on resources, games, real books, web links, online quizzes, and real-life life applications.
For each course, there are two student activity books and two parent manuals, one of each per semester. These are available in either print or PDF editions. In addition, you will need the Math Materials Kit for each course, a Math Interactive Notebook (three-ring binder designed for storing student work), and a set of storybooks (nine for the first level and ten for the second).
Math Materials Kits include a lengthy list of resources. Kits have almost everything you need, including a whiteboard, a dry-erase marker, and construction paper plus items such as a plastic knife, paper plates, and index cards. However, there are also less-common items such as an abacus, Base-10 Blocks, counters, a laminated number line, a set of double-nine dominoes, a Write and Wipe Clock, a thermometer, and play money. While there are separate kits for each level, many of the same items are found in both kits. (You can view these lists online and determine whether or not you want to purchase a kit or try to gather all of the items on your own.) While kits have most required resources, you will still need to gather a few basic items, such as glue and scissors, plus single-use items such as pretzel sticks and newspaper and magazine clippings.
Lessons always include concrete, visual, and abstract methods of learning. Hands-on resources are used to teach math concretely using multiple approaches for each concept. Parents explain, ask questions, and direct student activity using scripted language and instructions from the parent manuals. While children will complete some activities in the student activity books, much learning takes place through interactive work with hands-on resources.
For example, in the Age 6-8 course, the first lesson of Unit 2 teaches about using arrays for addition. Children first separate number cards (from the kit) into piles of odd and even numbers. Next, they become familiar with arrays as you teach using a 12 muffin tin, an egg carton with a dozen eggs, and a box of crayons. (Crayons are in the kit, but you’ll need to supply the muffin pan and eggs.) The concepts of rows and columns are introduced. Students then learn about addition using arrays, moving from simple addition up through adding more than two numbers in arrays such as 4+4+4+4+4=20. Learning shifts outdoors with an activity that involves taking a walk with your child; he or she will identify arrays in the environment (e.g., windows on buildings or rows of bricks) and create a number sentence for each array they identify. Back indoors, the next activity has children roll a die to come up with numbers for creating their own arrays on a laminated grid. In another activity, they use black paper and sticky notes to create arrays following instructions on an activity sheet. You wrap up the week’s lesson by having your child explain arrays in his or her own words, draw an array, and write a number sentence that matches the array.
Activities sometimes include two options that help differentiate the level of difficulty. For example, for an array worksheet activity, two options both begin with students naming arrays shown at the top of the page. For the first option, the bottom of the page has four squares with numbers 8, 12, 16, and 20 in the corners. Students are to draw and name an array for each number. On the activity sheet for the second option, the bottom of the page asks students to draw and name four different arrays for 24, a slightly more challenging activity.
MBTP Math stretches across the curriculum and beyond with storybooks and end-of-unit activities. Storybooks such as Mission Addition and Subtraction Action (used with the Age 6-8 course) reinforce lessons. End of unit activities such as creating a Mathematical Ocean Adventure with words and drawings or playing games such as Place Value Yahtzee help students connect math to real life or associate math with fun, both of which help develop positive attitudes toward math.
MBTP Math teaches conceptual understanding, but it also builds in activities that help children master the math facts. While activity sheets and quizzes sometimes reinforce math facts, both online and physical games are used frequently to help students develop mental math skills and fact mastery. Students rarely are asked to solve lengthy pages of problems as is common in some traditional programs.
MBTP Math purchasers receive a complimentary subscription to Learning Gates, a proprietary online quiz site used with some of their courses. For MBTP Math, students will take a short quiz after completing each lesson. Learning Gates presents students with both new and review questions, with review questions adapting to each student’s needs. Math scores are tracked by Learning Gates for each student only for these quizzes, and parents receive a report every time a student takes a quiz.
Parents need to spend time preparing for and presenting lessons, a factor that needs to be taken into account. Differentiation activities I mentioned earlier make it possible to teach students of different ages or abilities together to save time and energy, but the gap between those students cannot be very large.
MBTP Math combines some of the best features found in other programs, but all in one place. It uses interactive methodology that adapts to the child to some extent. It uses multiple methods to convey each concept, so if a child doesn’t grasp it the first time, other methods of presentation might be successful. Finally, manipulatives and games play a major role as instructional elements, a feature that is critical for some students and makes learning fun for others. While students who grasp math easily whatever the method of presentation might find this program needlessly repetitive, the combination of features should prove very effective with most students.