Monday, March 2, 2009

Review: Five In a Row

I was first introduced to Five In a Row several years ago by my friend, Tina. She couldn't stop raving about how wonderful this curriculum was. Being that she was farther along in her homeschooling journey than I was, I took her advice and purchased a copy of Volume 1 for my children.!

The idea behind Five in a Row (FIAR) is to read one picture book each day for five days, completing an activity in a specific subject for each day. For example, on Monday you'd read through the story and do a science lesson based on the story. Tuesday read through story again, this time studying geography, etc.

We had not used FIAR since that time, (as I'm very keen on trying new things!) but the memories of our time spent together, cuddling and reading on the couch are very precious.

Imagine my delight when I was given the opportunity to review Beyond Five in a Row Volume 2 as part of the TOS Crew! (Can you say Snoopy dance?)

Beyond FIAR is a rich, literature-based unit study emphasising History and Geography, Language Arts, Science and Fine Arts, and Human Relationships. You will need to add in your own Math, Grammar, Spelling and Penmanship.

This wonderful program by Becky Jane Lambert, daughter of the FIAR creator Jane Lambert, is written for students between the ages of 8-12. Unlike its predecessor, Beyond Five in a Row uses chapter books to guide students through the subjects listed above each week. The four books used in this volume are:
  • Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
  • The Story of George Washington Carver by Eva Moore
  • Skylark by Patricia MacLachlan
  • Helen Keller by Margaret Davidson

As is stated in the introduction, it is simply not possible to read one chapter per day, and do all the associated activities. This program is far too rich for that. Some chapters may be shorter in length than others, while certain activities may be too time consuming for one day. However, this program can be completed in one semester (90-100 school days).

For this review, the children and I completed the unit based on Sarah, Plain and Tall. With this unit, we studied;
  • Maine and the Eastern United States (which was important to us as we have family and friends on the East Coast)
  • The Prairie and the Sea (more on that in a bit...)
  • Three types of rocks (something I've always enjoyed since grade school)
  • Babies and human development (always fun)
  • Singing, letter writing, creative writing (writing a story from a dog's perspective was a huge hit!)
  • Drawing composition (loved this!), and more.

One of the children's favorite learning activities was creating their Sea Notebooks. They loved learning about the four main types of fog (and here we thought fog was just fog!), seals and whales. Now when the fog rolls in to our neck of the woods, they discuss whether it's advection or frontal fog. (Or perhaps it's simply radiation fog?)

This is an excellent program, suitable for a variety of homeschooling families. Hands-on learners will find their compulsion to move, touch, and create well-satisfied. Moms who enjoy a guided lesson plan while maintaining their freedom to "do their own thing" will rejoice. And finally, Beyond FIAR would provide a welcome change of pace for the burnt-out-on-textbooks family.

Beyond Five in a Row is available in three volumes, for $24.95 each, via their website. While you're there, check out other great Five in a Row products, including their Christian Character and Bible Study supplement, or the exclusive Five in a Row cookbook! Special package deals are also available to maximize your savings. (See website for details)

The FIAR website also offers a helpful Message Board, where you can connect with other FIAR users, share ideas, and form friendships.

I loved using Beyond Five in a Row, and recommend it as a wonderful investment in your child's education. The format, content, and quality of this product are the epitome of excellence. This is one fun, relaxed, and nurturing method of homeschooling that should not be missed.

We give Beyond Five in a Row (and really all of the FIAR volumes!) two happy thumbs up! :o)

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