Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Thoughts on Five in a Row


This post is a bit overdue but I have hesitated to write it, because I thought we might finally "click" with Five in a Row. However, it's been a few months now and that is looking more and more unlikely, at least for this year.

 Rose and I started off strong with FIAR. I was super excited about it. We "rowed" The Story About Ping and How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. Then we did a bit of Cranberry Thanksgiving, and after the holiday break we just never got back into it.

If you have no clue what I'm talking about, FIAR is basically a teacher's manual with ideas for teaching multiple subject areas (language arts, math, science, art, etc.) using children's books. Each day you begin by reading the book and doing a few related discussions and activities. Then you move on to another book.

I want to say first, that I really wanted FIAR  to work for us. The whole feel of the program is wonderful and I understand why so many love it and add even more to it.  I did FIAR with my older two and they really enjoyed it. I would not rule out doing more of it with Rose, at least here and there. The book selections are wonderful and most of the books are "must-reads" in my opinion, with or without the program.

That said, here's why it's not working out for us, at least as it's written:

  •  I don't like reading the same book five days in a row. Well, actually, I am quite used to reading the same book over and over, and I did so frequently when the kids were younger! But that was because they asked to, not because it was part of our structured learning. Reading a book, even a wonderful book, each day for five days feels sort of forced for me. Like we are somehow taking away the magic of the story or something. Rose also really prefers to read lots of different books, or longer books that we can read a bit of each day.

  • I don't really enjoy doing activities related to books, or at least not very many.  Sonlight does includes some activities related to the books and we have enjoyed doing most of those. We will make Stone Soup this week. We did a potato and spoon race after reading Milly Molly Mandy. And after reading What's Under the Sea? Rose painted an ocean picture with lots of fish.  An occasional activity to go along with an enjoyable book feels fun and shakes things up a little. A daily activity relating to the same book for a week is just too much and starts to feel stifling.

  • I don't really like picking books apart too much at this age. I like just reading them and discussing briefly if there is interest. But to count the bears on page five, or study the way the artist drew water, or talk about the Eiffel tower because there is a picture of it on one page and it says to talk about it in the manual....it all just starts feeling unnatural to me. 

These are really my three main reasons for setting Five in a Row aside, at least as written. I was originally thinking we would use it to slow down and bulk up Core P 4/5, but I think we will just go ahead and finish up P 4/5 and move on to Core A. I am starting to plan for that now and I think she is perfectly ready for it. And then we can read an occasional FIAR book just for fun and do a related activity or two if we feel like it.

Best of both worlds, I think.

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