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I used FIAR for about a year and a half. Overall I would say we liked it very much and have good memories of it, and I plan to use it again with my youngest. I was also very impressed with the art lessons.

 

There were definitely some things about it that bugged me, though.

 

1) Perhaps I made the mistake of using it with a third grader (although they clearly say it's k-3) ... but it was way too light for third grade, especially the LA activities. I'm almost a little embarrassed I did it with my oldest in third grade -- not because she didn't enjoy it, but it seemed way below third grade level.

 

2) In general, I thought LA was too weak, except for kindy. No spelling, no grammar, no real writing ("write a good title" or "write a story in first person" is not what I would consider a real writing program). The LA assignments for the entire week might be acting out a scene in a story or discussing examples of compound words. Ten minutes of LA for the week seems awfully weak for a second or third grader.

 

3) I would probably have not enjoyed FIAR that much (I'm not even sure I would have used it for long) had I not used the HSS resources (especially the lapbook components) and the archives from the FIAR boards. This is what really made it interesting for me -- extra books to read, art projects, etc. The activities in the manual tended to be too vague for me, or just not enough. Discussing something for ten minutes, or pointing to something on a map, while definitely enjoyable, didn't feel tangible or "enough" to be considered a school day.

 

4) After a year and half, I could not stand the jumping around anymore. One week we discussing Russia, the next week WWII in Germany, the next week the American Civil Right Movement. It was driving me crazy and didn't seem like the best way to learn That's actually when I looked into WTM (amusingly, I was told on the FIAR boards that "WTM is the antithesis of FIAR") and decided to jump ship to SOTW.

 

4) BTW, even though such a big deal is made about reading the books five days in a row, I get the impression that almost everyone using it does NOT do that, or at least does not do it all the time. It seems like FIAR works best with a mindset/personality that likes to pick and choose and be flexible and do it their own way.

 

Overall -- although FIAR people hate it when you say this -- I would say it's a fabulous supplement, but I hesitate to call it much more than that, unless you're beefing it up so much that you're practically writing your own lesson plans.

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I used FIAR for about a year and a half. Overall I would say we liked it very much and have good memories of it, and I plan to use it again with my youngest. I was also very impressed with the art lessons.

 

There were definitely some things about it that bugged me, though.

 

1) Perhaps I made the mistake of using it with a third grader (although they clearly say it's k-3) ... but it was way too light for third grade, especially the LA activities. I'm almost a little embarrassed I did it with my oldest in third grade -- not because she didn't enjoy it, but it seemed way below third grade level.

 

2) In general, I thought LA was too weak, except for kindy. No spelling, no grammar, no real writing ("write a good title" or "write a story in first person" is not what I would consider a real writing program). The LA assignments for the entire week might be acting out a scene in a story or discussing examples of compound words. Ten minutes of LA for the week seems awfully weak for a second or third grader.

 

3) I would probably have not enjoyed FIAR that much (I'm not even sure I would have used it for long) had I not used the HSS resources (especially the lapbook components) and the archives from the FIAR boards. This is what really made it interesting for me -- extra books to read, art projects, etc. The activities in the manual tended to be too vague for me, or just not enough. Discussing something for ten minutes, or pointing to something on a map, while definitely enjoyable, didn't feel tangible or "enough" to be considered a school day.

 

4) After a year and half, I could not stand the jumping around anymore. One week we discussing Russia, the next week WWII in Germany, the next week the American Civil Right Movement. It was driving me crazy and didn't seem like the best way to learn That's actually when I looked into WTM (amusingly, I was told on the FIAR boards that "WTM is the antithesis of FIAR") and decided to jump ship to SOTW.

 

4) BTW, even though such a big deal is made about reading the books five days in a row, I get the impression that almost everyone using it does NOT do that, or at least does not do it all the time. It seems like FIAR works best with a mindset/personality that likes to pick and choose and be flexible and do it their own way.

 

Overall -- although FIAR people hate it when you say this -- I would say it's a fabulous supplement, but I hesitate to call it much more than that, unless you're beefing it up so much that you're practically writing your own lesson plans.

 

Definitely understand all this. My kids are 3,5, and 7 yo so most of the social studies, history, art, science and math will suffice for now. We are doing saxon math and FFL as well as writing for excellence on the side since the program does say to supplement with math and phonics for older children. We also do a homeschool co-op where we do art, science, presentations and memory work for CC (which we include at home every morning at the table). I think we'll have plenty to beef up the program and really like that some days I can beef it up and others I don't.

 

Thanks for your feedback. All the points are worth considering. Especially as my children get older. I've noticed that most of the posters say it's great for the youngsters but usually end up doing something different for the older years :)

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Jenny in GA brings up some valid considerations.

 

One, I get annoyed that the authors/publisher rant and insist that FIAR, plus phonics and math is the only thing you need. They get their undies in a bit of wedge if anyone suggests they feel it needs more. Yet they sell the fold things and everyone shares rabbit trails and so forth. Yes, I know no one has to buy them, but why push them if they aren't needed? I know, many people love those lapbooks. I don't. They look exhausting! LOL

 

Personally, I think FIAR can be enough as a stand alone. Anything more is enrichment or an issue of meeting the individual child wherever they are at. (obviously ymmv. Some of mine begged for more, some prefer to immerse themselves deeper instead of wider.)

 

Two, I agree it is not chronological and I agree WTM is the antithesis of FIAR, both in approach and method. (Doesn't mean I can't tweak them both to serve my needs though!:D)

 

If it matters to know, the books in all four volumes can be done in any order you deem best and there are master indexes online to help with that. You could do all the books with a China theme, or all the books with a bird theme, and so forth.

 

Third, FIAR does recommend a separate phonics and math program. They suggest those are the only additional items you need. Whether you agree will depend on what phonics program you buy, some are far more than just phonics, and your philosophy about early level education.

 

I'm not a big fan of heavy writing and grammar below grade 3ish. I did that with my olders, all boys, and all it developed for them was a hatred of language arts. I ditched the heavy grammar and writing and instead focused on progressing in excellence on a smaller amount. That's working for us. (All of my children score very well on the ITBS or ACT in this area, so I'm not basing whether it is working on just whether I liked it. ;) ) I don't do ANY separate grammar most years and they only write lengthy items 2-3 times a week. I know many people think that is no where near enough. However, it is working for us.

 

Lastly, I don't read the entire every day either. I usually read the entire book 2-3 times. The other days, I don't actually "read" it so much as reference it. In Storm in the Night, for example, we will take 20 minutes to slowly notice the art work. Where the light is coming from and so forth. Usually my kids enjoy it. And if you watch children looking through their own books, this is what they tend to naturally do on their own. They open it and notice all the little details missed while reading and absorb more than just the written words.

 

So that is my response to Jenny. FIAR is not for everyone. But that is how I or others I know have addressed those issues.

 

:)

Edited by Martha
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I would have to agree that FIAR for 3rd grade is not nearly enough. At that age, it might make a fun supplement, or you can add to it a lot to round it out into a full curriculum.

 

For me, it has worked well to use FIAR as a Pre-K program. I add in handwriting and phonics. I don't need math at this point. The FIAR activities are well-suited the attention span and capabilities of this age group, so I don't need to supplement at all. And the jumping around, though it would bother me with an older child, is also good for a pre-K'er, because it exposes him to a variety of ideas and activities and allows you to identify and develop the dc's interests.

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"If it matters to know, the books in all four volumes can be done in any order you deem best and there are master indexes online to help with that. You could do all the books with a China theme, or all the books with a bird theme, and so forth."

 

This is a great idea!

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And one more thing..:)

 

FIAR volume 4 is meatier than the previous 3 volumes. It is intended to be a bridge of sorts between FIAR and Beyond FIAR. If you feel the first 3 aren't meaty enough for 3rd grade, I'd consider if volume 4 might fit better.

 

And of course, there is Beyond FIAR if one is interested in that.

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I used FIAR for about a year and a half. Overall I would say we liked it very much and have good memories of it, and I plan to use it again with my youngest. I was also very impressed with the art lessons.

 

There were definitely some things about it that bugged me, though.

 

1) Perhaps I made the mistake of using it with a third grader (although they clearly say it's k-3) ... but it was way too light for third grade, especially the LA activities. I'm almost a little embarrassed I did it with my oldest in third grade -- not because she didn't enjoy it, but it seemed way below third grade level.

 

2) In general, I thought LA was too weak, except for kindy. No spelling, no grammar, no real writing ("write a good title" or "write a story in first person" is not what I would consider a real writing program). The LA assignments for the entire week might be acting out a scene in a story or discussing examples of compound words. Ten minutes of LA for the week seems awfully weak for a second or third grader.

 

3) I would probably have not enjoyed FIAR that much (I'm not even sure I would have used it for long) had I not used the HSS resources (especially the lapbook components) and the archives from the FIAR boards. This is what really made it interesting for me -- extra books to read, art projects, etc. The activities in the manual tended to be too vague for me, or just not enough. Discussing something for ten minutes, or pointing to something on a map, while definitely enjoyable, didn't feel tangible or "enough" to be considered a school day.

 

4) After a year and half, I could not stand the jumping around anymore. One week we discussing Russia, the next week WWII in Germany, the next week the American Civil Right Movement. It was driving me crazy and didn't seem like the best way to learn That's actually when I looked into WTM (amusingly, I was told on the FIAR boards that "WTM is the antithesis of FIAR") and decided to jump ship to SOTW.

 

4) BTW, even though such a big deal is made about reading the books five days in a row, I get the impression that almost everyone using it does NOT do that, or at least does not do it all the time. It seems like FIAR works best with a mindset/personality that likes to pick and choose and be flexible and do it their own way.

 

Overall -- although FIAR people hate it when you say this -- I would say it's a fabulous supplement, but I hesitate to call it much more than that, unless you're beefing it up so much that you're practically writing your own lesson plans.

 

I always use my own LA when doing FIAR. I thought it's meant to be like that :001_huh:. So for me, FIAR is for social studies, science, and art AND a supplement to an already existing math and LA curricula. When used like this, I think it's not light for the grade intended.

 

As for jumping around ...:), I just recently found the beauty on it. For us, it provides reviews and each time we revisit, we dig deeper . I separate our notebook according to the subject, not by title, so you can actually see that 'eventually' a good amount of topics are taught. E.g. Japan - first time, it's just a basic JApan social study. Next time, some early history of JApan with reviews of Japan as a country. By the time you get to bBeyond, you introduce topics like the politics of isolation, Meiji Restoration, and its involvement in the WW. And we can also introduce more aspects on JApanese cultures if there's interest.

Sure it's not neat and chronological, but as long as you have something to help synthesizing the knowledge (notebook by subject, timeline), then you'll see growth and more importantly, the retention is there for the most part ..:)

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I always use my own LA when doing FIAR. I thought it's meant to be like that :001_huh:. So for me, FIAR is for social studies, science, and art AND a supplement to an already existing math and LA curricula. When used like this, I think it's not light for the grade intended.

 

As for jumping around ...:), I just recently found the beauty on it. For us, it provides reviews and each time we revisit, we dig deeper . I separate our notebook according to the subject, not by title, so you can actually see that 'eventually' a good amount of topics are taught. E.g. Japan - first time, it's just a basic JApan social study. Next time, some early history of JApan with reviews of Japan as a country. By the time you get to bBeyond, you introduce topics like the politics of isolation, Meiji Restoration, and its involvement in the WW. And we can also introduce more aspects on JApanese cultures if there's interest.

Sure it's not neat and chronological, but as long as you have something to help synthesizing the knowledge (notebook by subject, timeline), then you'll see growth and more importantly, the retention is there for the most part ..:)

 

Do you do BFIAR with your older children? I'm interested in your method on notebooking. I would like to notebook this year but to be honest, I'm kind of winging it :) I don't really know much about it. Would you mind expanding on your method?

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Do you do BFIAR with your older children? I'm interested in your method on notebooking. I would like to notebook this year but to be honest, I'm kind of winging it :) I don't really know much about it. Would you mind expanding on your method?

 

Do you mean Before FIAR or Beyond FIAR ? (I assume Beyond ..)

 

I just use the Bare Books w/ spiral for notebooking. THe first two kids are a bit older now that they can decorate their notebook themselves. Sometimes they just write something on the book. SOmetimes they make flap book/minit book from colored paper which they cut themselves. FYI, I'm also kinda winging it in terms of notebooking, but I plan the lesson and assignment, e.g. summarizing, making diagram, drawing a table, compare-contrast - all those things. The lesson planning (the info) itself is easy - I mainly use SOTW and whatever children encyclopedias we have at home. Internet is also used - mainly for videos and weird topics like history of tomato in US. I throw in special-topic books if we have those. But I don't depend on the library for this - too much headache.

 

For the language art portion of Beyond - we have one for writing techniques and creative writing assignment (their Writing Strands assignments go here too), and another for vocab.

 

I haven't assigned any non-fiction yet (like science report, bio sketch), but in the future, those kind of assignments and research will go to their subject notebooks.

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Do you mean Before FIAR or Beyond FIAR ? (I assume Beyond ..)

 

I just use the Bare Books w/ spiral for notebooking. THe first two kids are a bit older now that they can decorate their notebook themselves. Sometimes they just write something on the book. SOmetimes they make flap book/minit book from colored paper which they cut themselves. FYI, I'm also kinda winging it in terms of notebooking, but I plan the lesson and assignment, e.g. summarizing, making diagram, drawing a table, compare-contrast - all those things. The lesson planning (the info) itself is easy - I mainly use SOTW and whatever children encyclopedias we have at home. Internet is also used - mainly for videos and weird topics like history of tomato in US. I throw in special-topic books if we have those. But I don't depend on the library for this - too much headache.

 

For the language art portion of Beyond - we have one for writing techniques and creative writing assignment (their Writing Strands assignments go here too), and another for vocab.

 

I haven't assigned any non-fiction yet (like science report, bio sketch), but in the future, those kind of assignments and research will go to their subject notebooks.

 

Sounds good. So doing it by subject rather than by book title seems to give more space to branch out? I'm assuming I'm going to start most of the notebooks but as the kids get older I know they'll get more creative :)

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I have BeforeFIAR and while I'm glad I bought the books (great books - great literature that my kids have really enjoyed!), the whole FIAR set-up just didn't work for us. I don't know if it's because my kids are younger, but they didn't always want to read the same book all week. I found the activities/ideas to be a lot of work and hard to implement. I don't mind teacher intensive but maybe I'm not much of a planner? I don't know.

 

In our case, I'm SO glad I bought the books, and we've had fun with them. I guess we've done our own activities in our own ways as we read them - but nothing that I needed the FIAR book for. Just simple, discussing what we read, reading other books on the same theme, pulling out the globe and talking about places, defining words we see, singing/dancing/acting stuff out.

 

Love the idea - it just didn't work IRL for us :)

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