Every Friday I open my doors to a group of silly, rambunctious, rowdy, loud, and overly energetic boys, and I happen to be the mother of one of them. After we made the decision to put Pablo into public school I realized that Monster Man was going to need something extra in his life to keep from getting lonely and bored in his homeschooling. In order to help him I decided to invite the sons of several of my friends to join us every Friday for a couple of hours for preschool/kindergarten (we are also part of a co-op that meets on Tuesdays). The curriculum I'm using for these classes comes from Five In A Row. I had always heard great things about this but was too cheap to invest in it. A friend let me borrow her manual and I have to say I LOVE IT! I'm being greedy and holding onto her copy until I get my own, or until she pries it from my cold, dead fingers.
What is Five In A Row? Click here for the web site, but I must say I didn't find their web site to be very user friendly. It is boring to read, has no pictures, and doesn't help an impatient, tightwad, person like me. So, I will give you my best go at a review here. FIAR takes good, classic children's literature/picture books and helps you squeeze every little bit of learning you can from them. With each children's book you cover the subjects of Social Studies, Language Arts, Art, Math, and Science. If you do just one subject a day and read the book each time, you've covered the story five times in a row (see how they get the title?). One of the great things about this technique is that you can apply it to any of your favorite children's books. So what I do is, on Friday, we start the class with Social Studies, then we read the book, we try to do one or two more subjects, and then I send them home with things to finish. Here is what I did for one of my own favorite books that wasn't in the FIAR manual.
Bells of Santa Lucia
(You can read the book description by clicking here)
We started class by using our globe. We found where we live and then we took an imaginary journey by train, then boat, then car, then donkey, into the village of Santa Lucia in Tuscany, Italy. We talked about modes of transportation, and how some villages, even today, require people to enter on foot or by small pack animals. We learned some basic Italian phrases and tried to use them as often as we could through the class time.
Then finished by coloring the Italian flag and circling the location of Tuscany on a map of Italy.
Then we read the story of a young girl who lives in the "city of bells", but because of her sadness she can't stand the sound of bells. Then, in the end, she learns that bells are good things, they help us and help those we love, and she is happy again.
After the story we talked about modern day bells (fire alarms, car horns, alarm clocks, doorbells, etc.) and each child was given a little jingle bell tied to a ribbon to wear on their wrist "So their mommies would know where they are." =)
I explained personification to them and we went back through the book to find examples. Then we drew pictures of the personifications on this worksheet (it was so cute seeing pictures of grapes drinking a sun through a straw, or clouds munching on the sun):
Then I made up this little worksheet for math using a bell theme to teach the idea of subtraction. I try to stick with fact families for math, which is why they begin with 6 bells for each problem.
I've given each child their own folder and I write the title of each book we cover on the front of their folder along with a small circle for every worksheet or assignment they are given. For each completed assignment they get a sticker to fill in a circle. This helps motivate them to finish their work at home through the week.
I can't say enough good things about this program, and am loving it to death. If anyone would like to try it without buying the book (though the book is worth the money) I have made worksheets and have lesson plans that I would love to share for the following books:
Harold and the Purple Crayon
Make Way for Ducklings
The Little House by Virginia Lee Burton
The Man Who Tried To Save Time
Tikki Tikki Tembo
And here is a photo of my darling boys and the paper dragons we made after reading Tikki Tikki Tembo (you'll see Pablo in the back because he had a day off school that day. Now he is constantly talking about the next time he will get to do FIAR with us so I plan on doing it through the summer, hopefully):