Monday, March 2, 2009
Beyond Five in a Row Review
You know that "warm all over" feeling you get when you spend time with an old friend you haven't seen in a while? Well, that's exactly what doing this review was like!
I may be a little prejudiced, but I LOVE Five in a Row. And not just the books, which are great, but also the Lamberts, who are the family behind Five in a Row. Talk about a family that is totally committed to homeschooling and homeschoolers. They are sooo wonderful and so encouraging that both they and their products are well loved in the homeschool community.
Five in a Row (FIAR), for those of you who are not familiar with it, is a literature based curriculum that uses quality, classic children's stories read once a day over five days to teach many different subjects like social studies, language arts, math, science, and art. For example, you might read Madeline and talk about Paris and France on the first day since that's where Madeline lives. Each of the other four days, you would again read Madeline, but each day you would cover a different subject. It is a wonderful, easy, gentle way to school you children and pass on a love for literature at the same time.
Beyond Five in a Row is written by the Lambert's daughter Becky Jane, and it picks up where Five in a Row leaves off. Beyond FIAR is geared to ages 8-12, and instead of the traditional "Five in a Row" approach, you and your student read short chapter books and discuss each subject as it is presented in each chapter. We reviewed volume 2, although each of the three Beyond FIAR volumes work the same. Each volume covers 4 books; two biographies, and two works of fiction. Our volume covered Helen Keller, George Washington Carver, Sarah, Plain and Tall, and Skylark.
I have to say, even with being familiar with, and a big fan of, FIAR, Beyond FIAR blew me away. It is amazingly comprehensive. You have to see it to believe it. I learned things I never knew in just the first day of our study of George Washington Carver. And the beautiful thing is that while this is quite a complete curriculum, you can move through it as fast or as slow as you want, augmenting with the suggested resources or just moving through each book using Beyond FIAR's information to augment your reading. Used as intended though, each volume takes one semester, and is $24.95.
I know I've given a lot of "pros" so far, but I'd also say that this curriculum almost makes you forget you are learning. It's such a gentle way of schooling, but don't confuse gentle for shallow. The material is deep, and produces a well rounded education. Add to that the fact that they've gone digital in many of their offerings including "Fold-and-Learn", or what many people would call lap booking, supplements for FIAR and Beyond FIAR, and they really cover it all.
So are there "cons"? Well, the unit study approach has to work for you. Sadly, as much as I love it, it is not the best fit for all my kids. So I can do it with 2 of my three, but I still have to school one separately. And the other "con" to this approach, and especially one like FIAR that is literature driven, is that I'd think you'd want to augment with a timeline so that you could keep track of all the different time periods you've covered and which stories fall where in time. In fact, FIAR themselves has actually come out with a digital downloadable timeline to help meet that need. Actually they have tons of new digital offerings. You can check them out HERE.
So what's the bottom line? I LOVE FIAR. I love all their products I've ever used. I'd highly recommend checking it out. And I want to add an aside. Steve Lambert, the husband in the husband-wife team, took a fall on the ice recently and needed brain surgery. He's home recovering now, but being a self-published company, they had no insurance, so their financial need is great. These are people who have given their lives and their hearts to the cause of homeschooling. If Before Five in a Row, Five in a Row, Beyond Five in a Row, or Above and Beyond Five in a Row sound good to you, you'd bless the Lamberts financially by ordering sooner rather than later. (Their daughter Becky Jane is filling orders, so don't worry about that.) To check out FIAR, go HERE.
To see what other members of the TOS Crew had to say, go HERE.