Moving Beyond the Page is known for its comprehensive programs that cover language arts, science, and social studies, but they have now published five math courses titled Age 5-7 Math, Age 6-8 Math, Age 7-9 Math, Age 8-10 Math, and Age 9-11 Math. (Math is already built into their comprehensive program at the ages four-to-five level.) Age 10-12 Math is slated for 2022.
Each course is a one-year program, and the 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. You should check Moving Beyond the Page’s Math Placement Questionnaire to determine the best starting place for your child.
For each course up through Age 8-10 Math, there are two student activity books and two parent manuals—one of each per semester. Beginning with Age 9-11 Math, the courses are intended for students to work independently as much as they are able. Age 9-11 Math is presented in eight student books, each of which has "parent overview" pages at the back with answer keys and occasional course instructions.
Both the student and parent books are available in either print or online editions. Online versions of the course books make it easier to access the weblinks, but you will still need to print out student activity book pages. You will also need the Math Materials Kit for each course, a Math Interactive Notebook (a three-ring binder designed for storing student work), and a set of storybooks (nine for the first level and ten for the second, but only four to six books for each of the next three levels).
MBTP Math courses up through Age 8-10 Math are designed for one-on-one instruction. They incorporate hands-on resources, games, real books, resources on websites, online quizzes, and real-life applications. Parents need to spend time preparing for and presenting lessons, a factor that needs to be taken into account.
Math Materials Kits have almost everything you need, including (for younger levels) a whiteboard, a dry-erase marker, construction paper, a plastic knife, paper plates, and index cards. 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 items are duplicated in more than one kit. (You can view these lists online and determine whether you want to purchase a kit or try to gather all of the items on your own.) While kits have most of the required resources, you will still need to gather a few basic items such as glue, scissors, pretzel sticks, and magazine clippings.
Lessons always include concrete, visual, and abstract methods of learning. Hands-on resources are used to teach math 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 of the learning takes place through interactive work with hands-on resources. With Age 9-11 Math and above, students continue to work with manipulatives and visual aids, but instructions for doing so are written in their books.
For example, in the Age 6-8 Math 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 multiple numbers in arrays such as 4+4+4+4+4=20. Learning then 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. 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.
Since children using each of these courses might vary in their skills and knowledge, differentiation activities sometimes include two options that vary 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. Even with the differentiation activities, the gap between the abilities of students being taught together should not be very large.
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 Math 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.
This math program teaches conceptual understanding, and 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 are rarely asked to solve lengthy pages of problems as is common in some traditional programs.
Purchasers of these courses 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 the review questions adapted to each student’s needs. Math scores are tracked by Learning Gates for each student for these quizzes, and parents receive a report every time a student takes a quiz.
MBTP Math combines some of the best features found in other programs all in one place. It uses an 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 might find this program needlessly repetitive, the combination of features should prove very effective with most students.