Kelli emailed to say, “Just wondering if you knew what the major difference is in Five-In-A-Row and Sonlight?? Any suggestions on where to find them cheaper, I’ve been looking on ebay??”
I actually use both Five in a Row and Sonlight. The concept between the two are quite similar. Each is based on great literature, neither uses traditional textbooks and both draw more from literature than the simple story
FIAR is for younger children and we use it with our little ones. I think it is a terrific program to use as training for Sonlight because it is so similar and yet simple enough for those little ones. It teaches children to think more deeply about the book that they are reading. Itshows them that their is much more to learn from a book than merely a story and it helps them think more deeply about what they are reading. It does what Sonlight does on a more simple and obvious level because it goes over the same material each day for a week drawing out more and more each time.
FIAR is simply a list of picture books and then a collection of activities to draw lessons on all subjects from those books. FIAR focuses on one picture book each week. Let’s use “The Story of Ping” as an example. Each day M-F you would begin your school time by reading “The Story of Ping” aloud to your children. Then you would choose one or more of the activities to do that day. The activities have the children focus on different aspects of the book and teach different lessons. (My copy of FIAR is out on loan right now, so I’m going to have to do this from memory.) You may cover some math concepts by talking about how many baby ducks there were and that Ping’s parents knew he was missing because there was one less. You would study geography by finding China on the map and locating the Yangtze River which was Ping’s home. You might pull some history or economic lessons from the fact that people live and work on the Yangtze River. The children would study art by looking at how the artist portrayed action or light, etc. in the illustrations and trying to recreate that themselves. You may talk about obedience and the consequences of disobedience through what happened to Ping. There are also hand’s-on activities associated with many of the lessons.
Our children (even the big ones) love FIAR. A very nice aspect of using this curriculum is that even now nearly 8 years after we did some of these lessons with our oldest children, they will be reading one of our FIAR books and say, “Mom I remember…..” because the lessons are tied so closely with the story. It is instant review each time they read the book.
Sonlight just covers a lot more material and a lot more information. Rather than reading the same material each day, they cover new material and keep moving through. Much of what they draw from the texts is similar, but Sonlight focuses primarily on history, culture, geography, etc. and is not as broad as FIAR.
The great thing about both Sonlight and Five In A Row is that they hold their value. The bad thing about Sonlight and Five In A Row is that they hold their value. You will generally have to pay more to purchase either of these, but when you are finished you should be able to recoup much of your investment by selling them. (Unless you want to hold onto them for your grandchildren.)
I am able find a lot of our Sonlight and FIAR books at yard sales and used book stores. Of course that is hit or miss, so I start looking a good long while before we actually need them. An advantage of FIAR is that you can easily use it even if you only have a couple of the books. Each supplemental book is completely separate from the rest. Also, since you only need each book for one week, it’s simple to use the library.
As far as the actual “Five In A Row” book or the Sonlight teacher’s manual. I’ve purchased mine new. After all, if you realize that I’m going to be using each book with many children, it ends up being a good investment for our family.
You may be interested in my post about Sonlight, the pros and cons and how it works for us. Here is a link to all of my Sonlight posts. I’m sure there will be more coming soon.
(If you follow any of my links to Sonlight you will receive $5 off any order of $50 or more.)