Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Great Literature Part II and Friday Preschool

I've been wanting to post about how I get my children to love Great Literature for a while now and finally stole some time today to do so. Here is how I am instilling a love of good books (that have nothing to do with SpongeBob, Scooby Doo, Or Captain Underpants) into my son, Monster Man:

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):


Sea Star said...

We love FIAR. It has introduced us to all sorts of great books and authors. I love the way you are using it to share good literature with your kids and also the kids around you.

Your lesson plans for Bells looks great. I think I will have to read this book and do it with my kids.

I hope you get a copy of FIAR soon.
Also the archives on the FIAR boards are VERY useful.

Erika said...

Reading your posts about home school activities makes me so excited for my little one to get older :-). I am happy that you are pregnant because it means you'll be posting more and more as our children grow up together (they'll be about 9 or 10 months apart).
My mom got her PhD in Children's Theater so we did tons of fun literature stuff while growing up. I hope I can remember things she did with us and continue the love for arts in our own home.
BTW-are you in Greenwood ward?

An Ordinary Mom said...

This sounds like a wonderful curriculum. I wish my little guy was a tad older so we could crash one of your preschool days :) !!

Laura said...

Sounds like a great program. I am always looking to supplement my kids' curriculum with more exciting things than political hubbub (which they seem to like at public schools these days).

Michal said...

i want to join your group. i don't know precisely where you are, but it can't be more than a 14 hour drive from me! that looks like lots of fun, and just the kind of group i would love to organize, studying my favorite subject--children's lit!

Anonymous said...

It looks awesome!! I wish we could be in your coop, then maybe I'd remember we're doing FIAR! We love FIAR here as you well know. I agree with Sea star--the archives are wonderful for ideas and other go-along books. Also check out www.homeschoolshare.com. They have tons of ideas there to go along with FIAR titles.

CC said...

I've heard great things about FIAR. I've even tried some ideas like it. But ultimately, I'm too lazy to come up with the ideas. The FIAR website is not helpful at all either. What I never had answered about it from others, is does it do anything for basic math, calculations, and overall reading instruction? Or is it much for of a science/social studies theme type curriculum?

Lynell said...

You are such a great mom! You sure have some lucky kids there!

Family Adventure said...

Great ideas...thanks!


Amber M. said...

I've never heard of this...and I am excited to explore its possibilities...Thanks!

Mrs. Annie said...

Ahh great memories from my past. I have a homeschool graduate and the next one heading out the door in a couple years.

They both love to read and it all started by reading classics every day from the time they were tiny until, well, I guess we're still reading (daughter and I).

Anonymous said...

There's actually a new FIAR website now: http://www.fiarhq.com

For cc and anybody else interested, you need a reading/phonics program and a math program, then FIAR covers social studies (I thought it was fabulous for geography), art, science, language arts, and applied math. Hope that helps.

Prudy said...

A brave homeschooler you are. How fun to have all those boys in your house. It's so great when you find a solid curriculum to work with-it makes life so much easier. I'm going to check out FIAR-even though our home school year is coming to a close.

Lisa said...

Mine is the cute boy on the far left of the picture! We love what this has done for him! Until this, he had no interest in writing or coloring. He wouldn't draw shapes of any kind. I was excited to see him draw stick people the other day!

We also love getting the books from the library and reading them throughout the week. It's also good for him to have a morning to be with his friends!

Amber said...

Nothing like reading this post to make me feel completely inadequate as a mother. :-)

Magirk said...

Love this! Thanks so much for sharing. I really am in need of ideas right now.

I'd never heard of the FIAR, so I'm glad you mentioned it here and that I saw it.