Thursday, March 4, 2010

Our First Week With FIAR

FIAR. Those mysterious letters....I've seen them lots of places online. They stand for Five in a Row, a curriculum my friend suggested last week to my saving grace.

Turns out another friend had Vol. 1 I could borrow. (FREE!) and the library had several of the first books I would need (FREE!). The internet, it turns out, is chock full of downloads other people have slaved over that I could print (FREE!).

I'm loving me some FREE FIAR is my point.

I spent the weekend searching blogs for info because everyone knows bloggers are the best source of information when it comes to this type of thing. So we started the week off making a passport. I got that idea from Satori Smiles. (the link is in her post) The link where you get those passports had tons of other great downloads too.

The book comes with these little "story disks" which look like a paper circle with a picture inside that represents the book of the week. You put them on your world map wherever your story takes place. This week: The Story About Ping set in China. There is also a map for the "Land of Make Believe" (at the above mentioned link) in case your story doesn't occur in the real world. We colored a map of China as well, and looked up the Yangtze River on Google Earth. Check off Geography.

Tuesday found us with friends over for the day. No problem, Five in a Row is nothing if not inclusive. In the story, a little boy falls in the river, but is tethered to his family's boat with a small barrel tied to his back. So, we decided to see what would float and sink. OK, it's in the book. I can't have ALL the good ideas!
See? It's the Yangtze (yellow) River! Or lemonade. Which incidentally, drew bees after a while. Just a word of caution there. And of course, there is a nifty form to print that you can chart your results on.

We also got out the paints and painted pictures of ducks. And bluebonnets and mockingbirds since it was Texas Independence Day. I like to mix it up.

"Ping" is a children's classic, having been published in 1933. There is a handy-dandy timeline you can print and add your family's pictures to. Then you can put a story disk for Ping on the year it was written. See? Ping was written right before Grandpa was born. Whoa! That puts it into perspective. We also added some American Girl dolls because that helps my girls know what time period we are talking about. At our house, anything that happened during WWII is "Molly's time" and anything during the depression is "Kit's time." We will add story disks for all our books from now on.

Today I told Little Bit it was time for math. She said, "OK.....I'll get my book" and headed to the shelf for her Math U See book. Now I'm not knocking Math U See because if you know me, you know I love it. But I had let that be the only thing she thought math was. My mistake. Now we did this....

Ping has lots of family members and the book repeats that portion several times. It includes "42 cousins." I downloaded a paper with tons of little duck pictures on it and had her color Ping's father blue, his mother pink, his aunts purple, etc. Slowly it dawned on her and she said, "AM I GONNA HAFTA COLOR ALL 42 COUSINS???" :) She loved it. She did great counting.

Then we went to the table and painted the Yangtze River on a big paper. When that dries, we will glue Ping and his family on the river...counting while we go. And making patterns. Sweetheart walked in the room and said, "She's painting?" and LB replied, "Yes. I'm doing math. FUN math!"

Thank you FIAR. I love you.

So here's the basic premise to sum it all up for you. You read the book (good children's lit) five days in a row. The book promises your kids will notice all kinds of things doing it this way. Today she asked me what the little numbers were at the bottom of the page. (page numbers) Very cool. Then one day you do a literature activity, one day social studies, one day math, one day art, and one day science. All the subject activity ideas come straight from the book. And I haven't even mentioned all the playing this book has inspired. She has a yellow stuffed duck that she carried around all day, calling him Ping of course. She and her friend played float and sink for a long time. She uses the term "Yangtze River" like it's been part of her vocabulary her whole life. And she knows all about China.
OH! I forgot to mention tonight we are having a Chinese dinner in honor of Ping.

I'm thinking about Beyond Five in a Row for Sweetheart this summer. And there's Before Five in a Row if you have younger ones. ANY curriculum that both teaches your kids AND helps you with your menu planning is a winner in my book.


  1. That's awesome! I love anything that will keep baby boy's attention. I can't believe he is sitting at the table and is so involved with it!! What is the cut off age for Before FIAR and the reg. FIAR?

    By the way, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR YOUR HELP : ) You are an awesome friend : )

  2. Ha - never mind! I just saw the FIAR link that tells the age cut offs!

  3. :) He had his own paints, but Sweetheart was in charge of dipping his brush in water for him.

    He was a very demanding painter. :) And VERY serious. Also, we had reading time where I put 2 or 3 stacks of books at the table and they ate snack and read for 20 minutes or more. He sat there looking at books and eating raisins nearly that whole time!

    I think he just didn't want to miss anything "the big kids" were doing! :)

  4. This FIAR sounds cool! I think I'm going to look into it. My oldest is 5...what do you suggest I start with? And also, is Little Bit reading on her own already?

  5. and when i ask what should i start with, i mean should I start with the regular FIAR or the before FIAR? thanks!:)

  6. Lalalalalala.... I can't hear you!! Because I can't switch now, even if it's super cool! Which it sounds like it is! Very excited for you guys!

  7. Alright, I'm not that stubborn. I actually really like what I'm doing for Grace. But, this would be super cool for both kids this summer, huh? *thinking.....*

  8. Julia, NO she is not reading. Anything. Except some cvc words and a couple of sight words. If I were you, I would google the book lists for both and make your decision. I know Before FIAR has like Corduroy in it and a lot of books she is really, really familiar with. So, we went with this one. It's for 4-8 I think?

    Karly, it's not a "whole" curriculum. But SUPER COOL for a large chunk of your curriculum OR a supplement. Summer? Absoulutely! There's no way we'll be finished by May.....

  9. Thanks Brenda!! I really appreciate the fact that you share so openly about your homeschooling with everyone on here. You are a great resource for me:) I'll definitely look into this for my kiddos!!!

  10. Okay, you have totally sold me on this FIAR, and since I am still kind of in the wingin' it stage with Lil' Princess, trying to figure out what to do next, I will be ordering this since the husband and I decided that 4 years old would be a good time to start to get a loose structure in place.

    Thanks for sharing this bit of info with us, Brenda. This will be my first *official* curriculum purchase. I'm very excited!!!

    Have you ahd a fairly easy time finding the recommended books?

  11. The first sentence/paragraph of my comment was an awful mess of a run-on! I am capable of teaching my girls. Really.

  12. :) Don't worry, I don't edit comments for fun! :)

    There are a few titles I think we will not be doing b/c I'm not willing to spend the time/money looking for them. I mean, I'll keep looking but they are pretty in demand titles. Most of them (all but 3 for vol. 1) are in our library system. Not at our LOCAL library, mind you, but you can put in a request for them. The trick will be timing that right so they are here when I need them. But the good thing is, order doesn't matter. :) You can buy the whole set online but I'm not willing to spend the money. S told me to buy them if I found them but I don't think he meant for me to spend that much!

  13. We loved that story here! Great stuff!

  14. I REALLY like the idea behind FIAR! Will definitely be looking into it further when I start seriously preparing/gathering information for starting homeschooling next year.

  15. Looks like fun!! Glad it worked out, AND a menu to boot? Awesome. :0)

  16. Brenda, I so enjoy your blog, and your humor and honesty. When you have time, could you drop by my blog to accept a Beautiful Blogger Award. ;^)

  17. so glad your first book went so well! we have found that we can take two weeks rowing a book to get even more out of it! we love the archives on the FIAR forum board. all the moms have such great ideas for go-along books and activities. we are never wanting for "more" to do when exploring :)

  18. looks like a success! :)

  19. hi!
    I am angela, and I just found your blog doing a search for FIAR bloggers... I LOVE IT!!!! thank you so much for posting!! We are doing The story about Ping very soon, I can't wait!
    We have done most of the Before FIAR and are onto FIAR Vol 1 soon...=) Have a wonderful Easter!


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)