Monday, July 9, 2007

Five in a Row

Becoming a homeschooling family requires many decisions, most importantly how your child will learn. Will you unschool and use natural teaching moments to learn fractions (baking), measurements (building), and science (raising tadpoles); or will you create your own classroom at home with desks, chalkboards, and textbooks? Secondly, you will need to choose a curriculum- or not. The decision can vary from one extreme to the next, and the best part is- the decision is YOURS.

Our first year of homeschooling was kindergarten, and we used books from here, books from there, and learned. We used Hooked on Phonics for reading and my son is reading amazingly well. Having been taught to teach, I find myself waivering between "schooling" and "unschooling." And I think this works perfectly for us. We use natural moments, and textbooks as well.

For first grade, I have chosen the Five in a Row (FIAR) curriculum. I selected this curriculum for one main reason: I had no idea where to start when it came to selecting books for my children to read. FIAR does this for you. The curriculum is described as, "a unit-study approach to early education based on outstanding children's literature. Together, the three volumes of Five in a Row provide 55 lesson plans covering Social Studies, Language, Art, Applied Math, and Science in a way that causes children to fall in love with learning."


Since we "learn" during summer as well, we have already done our first book, which was Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel. Because it was available, we also purchased the lapbook to go along with with this book. We had a lot of fun cutting, pasting, and putting together a memorable "book" that can be flipped through at future times when we want to remember the story and everything we learned about steam shovels, flexibility, and good stewardship. My son is not a big artist, so he left almost everything uncolored. And one day if he changes his mind, he can color the pictures in his lapbook if he wants to.

Of course, we won't do a lapbook EVERY time we do a new book, but I think it's fun every once and a while and a great learning experience for children. I will never forget how my son's cub scout group created a scrapbook page because it's in their scout book. I thought it was a little strange for boys to do it, but whatever! The next day, my son wanted to do more pages for school. So I got out my papers, stamps, stickers, etc. and I think he created 2-3 pages. It is AMAZING what scrapbooking teaches little ones! I saw so many little light bulbs going off while we worked together. He got to use the paper cutter to trim the pictures, and the corner punch to make round corners. He had to select coordinating papers and then design the page before gluing the items down. I coached, and let him do the work. It was so much fun!

Anyway, back to Five in a Row! If you are unsure of what to use for your own child's learning, you might want to check it out. FIAR is appropriate for ages 4-8, and after that, there's "Beyond Five in a Row" for older students. We do use a separate math curriculum which you definitely have to have, especially if you have an advanced student who excels in the subject. We selected BJ Press math for Grade 1 and we mix that with another book called The Complete Book of Time and Money, which is one of the books we used for kindergarten. I like this book so much that I will be ordering it for my 4 1/2 year old daughter to start using soon. For other subjects, we have tons of books, maps, and computer games to learn. We vary it and change it up, and mix in natural learning moments as much as possible.

We know many parents would freak out if they tried our method. But it works for us, and it seems to be working for our children as they continue to flourish and excel in many areas!

1 comment:

funfelt said...

What wonderful projects! I used Before Five in a Row with my older kids and will be starting it with my preschooler this year. I love the open ended literature based learning. My older kids LOVE books and I think it all started when we got into BFIAR when they were little!

Tom Woods