Five in a Row and Sonlight

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.nick and colby reading

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.

Mark and kids readingOur 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.)

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13 Responses to Five in a Row and Sonlight
  1. thesleepyknitter
    November 6, 2009 | 1:42 pm

    Perfect! Thank you, Mama Olive for differentiating between Sonlight and FIAR. Our daughter is two and a half and smart as a whip (wish I could take credit for that, but the genes belong to her birth mom). I was thinking about using Sonlight’s preschool curriculum and had just recently begun to wonder if there might be anything else out there that I would like just as well or better. Blessings, Sleepy

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    I highly recommend BFIAR or FIAR over Sonlight preschool or even Sonlight K. We began with Sonlight 1 and that was perfect.

    Sonlight is involved and while that is terrific as your children need to cover more material, it seems a bit overkill for just teaching the basics. FIAR is great preparation for more serious studies or to use while you wait to get a group of children ready to begin Sonlight 1. You can beef up FIAR or use the FIAR for older kids (can’t remember what that’s called) to supplement until you have 2-4 children ready to start into Sonlight 1. Don’t forget to look long term when you begin a curriculum like Sonlight. You don’t want to end up teaching more than 2 levels, at least that’s my plan. I hope to never have more than two levels of students for some of those core subjects. I think it’s possible, but let you know as we reach highschool.

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  2. Kimarie
    November 6, 2009 | 2:15 pm

    Thanks, Kimberly – AGAIN! I’ve heard of FIAR and now I will check it out. I was wondering what to do about possible doing 2 levels of Sonlight in the future (starting with Core 1 and Core 6…) but this could help me do some stuff with the littles right now.

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  3. Stephanie
    November 6, 2009 | 5:35 pm

    I really need to get FIAR, I keep looking at it, I just need to get it now it looks so good.

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  4. Jamie
    November 6, 2009 | 6:15 pm

    For our preschoolers we use Before Five in a Row. Then we use Five in a Row a little later. Before Five in a Row has some great classics in it, just geared a little younger (Caps for Sale, Corduroy, The Snowy Day, etc.). I LOVE FIAR products! We have FIAR, BFIAR, and we also use the Bible Study supplement for FIAR.

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  5. Nicki
    November 6, 2009 | 11:55 pm

    We also love FIAR and BFIAR! The fun activities included make for great memories for families. My daughter still remembers making a homemade apple pie (now our favorite recipe for it) from How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.

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    Raising Olives Reply:

    The apple pie was one of our favorites too. I love how much they recall. :)

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  6. Amy
    November 8, 2009 | 6:02 pm

    I use FIAR also!! :) I just get the books from the library and that makes it fit for my budget right now…so far, it’s been no problem putting them on hold and getting them when I need ‘em! Just a thought for cutting the cost a bit! :D Thanks for the review of these two…it’s good to hear stuff about Sonlight as well!

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  7. Kimarie
    November 9, 2009 | 7:42 am

    This weekend I was scouting around for copies of FIAR to borrow, and one mom gave me a great tip. Since many FIAR users rely on library books, it can be difficult to get those when you need the. Her suggestion: do the curriculum backwards, or mix it up. It doesn’t really matter!

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  8. celee
    November 10, 2009 | 12:52 am

    Once again I am indebted to you. I just ordered FIAR. I’m excited about using it right now for my 1st grader and my 3.5 yr old will also enjoy it, I’m sure. We’re doing core 6 with Sonlight and it’s over my 6 yr old’s head. We read together every day already, but this sounds so much better. Thank you so much for the recommendation.

    We also started Hey Andrew today. As per your suggestion of doing as much together as possible, we’re going to study Greek together. We’re all very excited, but no one more so than I am.

    AND… I already had Mystery of History, but was not sure how to integrate it inot what we were already doing, so it was just sitting on the shelf. Now we’re using it. I love it! I’m just flipping around and reading the selection we just read in Story of the World and she basically reiterates what I just told them.

    I’m learning so much from you and your readers! What a blessing you all have been to me!

    [Reply]

    Raising Olives Reply:

    Thank you and thanks for your friendship.

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  9. Erin
    July 11, 2011 | 1:06 am

    Hi! Just saw your site as I was googling comparisons of FIAR and Sonlight…
    I know this is almost 2 years past, but hoping you see this.

    I have a set of FIAR passed down to me from my SIL, and was contemplating Sonlight as well…we will start K with our oldest, our son is right behind in pre-K and have a 6 month old…
    From what you are saying, and what we looked through last year in BFIAR, FIAR could cover a lot of what Sonlight does, but more at a 10,000 foot level, while Sonlight will be more in-depth…I have an opportunity to borrow the Core A from a fellow mom here, but don’t know if I really need to get into it just yet, now that I see a comparison between the two programs.

    What did you do/use for Bible memorization in K? Your own plan or something already created?

    Did you add in any handwriting while you did FIAR with your Kindie? We have been using some on-line worksheets I found through an education resource site, and they have worked fine, but didn’t know if I was missing out on anything by not using a program, like Handwriting w/o Tears…

    Thanks for any additional insight you can bring. This post was a huge help!

    [Reply]

    Kimberly @ Raising Olives Reply:

    Hi Erin,

    We’ve always used our own Bible memorization plan.

    Here is a post about how we teach handwriting.

    I have a page dedicated to homeschooling topics that you may find useful. If you click the topics in the purple bar across the top it will take you to the archives of those specific homeschooling topics such as preschool, reading, etc.

    I’ve also organized some of my basic homeschooling posts into different categories and linked directly to each of them from that page (i.e. teaching Bible, teaching reading, etc.) so that hopefully people can find those resources more easily.

    I hope that you enjoy your first years of homeschooling.

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