Sunday, 3 July 2011

Thoughts on Five in a Row

Susanna left a comment asking me what I thought of Five In A Row and when I tried to reply it seemed far too long for a comment so I thought I'd stick it in a post instead :0)
I bought volume 2 a couple or so years ago, and also now own volume 3. So far, we have only done books from Vol 2. We have meandered our way through the titles as they have become relevant, ie because of the season, or just when I thought Boykin would be interested. We don't use it continuously, but we use it regularly enough for it to be an important and integral part of our Home Ed adventure.
When I first started with it, I used it for both my children, then for a while The Girl decided she wanted to do Beyond FIAR for a change, which is similar but different as it deals with chapter books and involves more writing. She is now back doing FIAR with Boykin and really enjoying it again (more talking, less writing, more pictures.)
Her involvement adds a new dimension as she enjoys reading the story to him sometimes, or will want to act the whole thing out after a few days with the book :0) The discussions are also more in depth and more lively.
I've found some really interesting ideas in the lesson plans, which are clearly and simply presented and need very little preparation - bonus. The lessons for each book are divided into 5 groups, theoretically one for each day. We often take longer than this because we have other commitments, but still only do one group of lessons each day that we read the story. A lot of the lessons are discussion based, and they suggest keeping a notebook. My children, however, prefer to make lapbooks for each story instead. It's all very easily adapted according to your child's preferences/needs/abilities/moods.
I have found that Boykin is very proud of the work he has done for these stories and both children have easily retained much of the information that they were presented with. When we're out and about they often come across something that reminds them of one of the books and they'll spontaneously start talking about some of the things they learnt, sometimes months after we've read the book. It's obvious from their conversations that the stories have made a lasting impression and seem to be fondly remembered. I can usually tie-in what we've read to some kind of outing as well, which is always fun and just adds to the memory-making :0) Sometimes this is deliberate but also often happens coincidentally.
The books are worth reading anyway. A lot are set in America, but in Vol 2, we have done quite a few with European settings too. They also cover different historical periods and some of them cover quite deep topics such as slavery and prejudice. I'm very glad we've used FIAR as we've read books that I would probably never have heard of otherwise. Neither of my children complain when I say we're doing a FIAR book - which says a lot :0)
We're nearly at the end of Vol 2 now - or at least, we've nearly read all the books that are still in print and within my price range. I really would love to do The Giraffe that Walked to Paris with them but I don't think I'll ever be able to afford it :0( Having said that, I'm looking forward to moving on to Vol 3. and eventually Vol 4 :0)
In the UK, you can buy the manuals and a lot of the picturebooks from Conquest Books who have a superfast delivery service as well as a very friendly and helpful customer service. Highly recommended :0)
Here is some of what we've done so far. More to come soon :0)
Hope that helps, Susanna :0D

P.S By way of a disclaimer, I have to say that none of the companies mentioned have given me anything at all for saying such lovely things about them and I am in no way related or connected to anyone who is in anyway related or connected to the people who run these companies. All opinions are my own. Honest  :0)

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