View Full Version : ? For those who row conversationally

03-26-2014, 01:07 PM
This is how we row, but I find we do almost everything we plan to do in approx 20-30 minutes (not including math). Sometimes, if there is a Magic School Bus Science Kit that goes along with the science theme, we will do that, and that takes about an hour or so. My kids love doing that.

I do like that school isn't taking up our entire day, but I feel as though my DD (DD is 5, almost 6, but exceptionally bright - in truth, most of what she learns she teaches herself from books, but I figure FIAR is a way to expose her to more topics than she might encounter if left to her own devices) could benefit from more. I'm not very creative, and do not really want to spend hours coming up with supplemental activities for FIAR. We lapbook / notebook a little, using the Fold n' Learns, and we use Magic School Bus and Curious George shows to supplement where possible. I also read go-along books. I see so many people doing all sorts of activities on blogs, and I am sure my kids would love them, but I am not really into messy crafts.

Also, I feel like many mothers doing FIAR really immerse their family in what they are rowing that week, whereas for us, it seems to be that we do our 20 minutes of work, then forget about it until the next day. They don't seem to get all that enthusiastic about it.

First, does it sound like we are doing it right? Should it only be taking 20 minutes a day? Any thoughts on how to beef it up without too much effort on my part (i.e. no extra lapbooking or crafts that do not serve a real purpose - those familiar with Charlotte Mason should know what I mean by this).


03-26-2014, 02:53 PM
I never did a lot of extras. I did find that my dc got MUCH more out of FIAR at age 6 and above than younger. Here are some easy things I did:
- colored a flag of the country
- made sure to do at least one art activity directly from the manual (this was usually a drawing activity, or something about colors, nothing messy)
- found the country/city on the map and/or colored the country/state on a handout
- tied in a DVD where possible (requested from the library, and this gets easier as they get older)
- read lots of go-alongs
- did the Bible/character lesson from the Bible supplement
- made lists of things, usually with ideas taken directly from the manual
- sometimes a nature walk if it ties in
- a meal from the FIAR cookbook, occasionally - or when it's obvious, like How to Make an Apple Pie...
- sometimes work it into some other play, like playing a pretend game that goes along with the book

This looks like a lot, but of course we only didn't do all of this for every book. Often FIAR would take 20-30 minutes. Sometimes up to an hour, at most.

There isn't one right way to do FIAR, I think you're doing just fine. :yes: Frankly, I'd stay away from blogs. ;) Really. I wouldn't compare what you're doing to anyone else -- you are the perfect teacher for your children and it's okay if you aren't super-crafty or creative.

03-26-2014, 04:05 PM
I admire the blogs out there that so beautifully illustrate their learning time. If I had the time, I could make my 20 min row into a 3 page blog post with images and crafty instructions. I'm not that creative, nor do I have time ;)

This is our 3rd year and I've done 1 vol each year. Our rows sound very similar to Rebe and we too take about 20-30 mins per day.

My girls are 7 twins and 5 now and next year I plan to re row each title and stick to the recommendations in the manual, but adding in the nature side to it. My girls are even more excited to 'do it again'.

One thing I do add (because my girls enjoy it and it makes my life easier) is add to the applied math day. I usually take a little something and make that our math theme for the week. For Warm As Wool I made sheep flash cards for the facts I wanted the to practice each day. They thought they were cute and therefore were excited to baa baa the answer. We practiced money quite a bit each day when we rowed Finest Horse In Town. That's about as immersed we get. :)

Shannon F.
03-31-2014, 10:50 AM
I mainly rowed conversationally with my oldest. He had fine motor delays which made any sort of writing/drawing/crafting very frustrating for both of us. We did the lessons in the manual, used the story disks, made lists or other writing suggestions together (he dictated, I wrote), we looked up info and read books about anything of interest in the story (places, people, animals), we would go out or make meals that coordinated with the story, sometimes we would build with blocks or Legos or dress up as someone/something in the story. Usually we would do a word or sentence of copywork from the story. That is about it. We did the science experiments and explored more about the topic with books from the library. I allowed him to tell me what interested him the most and we went with that. We also acted out the story with stuffed animals or puppets a few times. All of these "extra" activities really were spontaneous on our part. I didn't plan more than what was in the manual, these things just seemed to be sparked by the stories and lessons themselves. Now that I am rowing with my craft-loving girlie, we draw almost every day, we do use the fold-n-learns.

Heather W
04-03-2014, 10:05 AM
I'm a blogger and I don't do all the extras with FIAR. We do FIAR as it is written in the manual. I don't see the need for anything else. If my students wants to learn more then I let them lead the way on that. If not, we keep moving.

My general rule with FIAR is to look at each subject area and choose two items from the menu- a short activity and a long activity for each subject. That's it. Sometimes it takes longer and sometimes it's done quickly. Sometimes I may want to make sure we check off a certain skill or I like several short activities and we'll do them, but rarely do I do all of every unit because I know that concept will come around again in another unit.

My guess is you have one area you favor over others. Maybe you are a great artist or you love math. For me it's science. I can easily add another science activity that relates or goes deeper or an experiment that is more reliable than the one listed if there is one. I don't have to search for that. I have it and it's easy to add.

If you are worried about written work and printed material, I always make my own things. I'm not a fan of printed materials. I am a big fan of notebook paper and it takes two seconds to grab a piece and write the word Metaphors at the top, provide an example, and ask your child to write her own. I am a person who likes to have the written work to show for the unit, but I do it using Jane's model in a very simple way. It doesn't have to be over the top and I try hard to avoid a lot of contrived work in our homeschool.

I would not get caught up in what others are doing. I would do what you know is working for your children and exposing them to all the great stuff FIAR has to offer.

ETA- I just reread the part about immersion. This is pretty easy to accomplish if you want to create more interest. Try recipes that go with the book. We used to do a FIAR meal at some point or maybe two during the unit. Using the story disks and mapping the stories works well too because we see the story on the map all the time. I bring up the topic as well and encourage my kids to read on their own about a related topic.

The other big thing I do with FIAR books is to create a curiosity table. It has moved all around our living area because different spots worked at different times. I finally settled on the top of the bookshelf I use for library books. On it I put out items of interest that go with the story- could be props, books, something mentioned in the story, a toy that goes with the book. I don't say much about it, but the kids know that they can check it out. When they were all younger, they loved to see what was there when we were starting a new book. I might also hold things back and set them out during the unit. They could play with some things while we read and sometimes it was just to peak curiosity so they'd wonder and ask questions related to our book of the week.

There are plenty of ways to generate excitement without getting messy! (Though a regular dose of messy is fun too...it doesn't have to be inside or fancy).

Shannon F.
04-07-2014, 02:41 PM
Oh, we do passports and pretend to fly to the country where the story takes place. The kids love it when I play the Flight attendant and serve them snacks!

Paige P
04-08-2014, 11:43 AM
I've done both :) My girls LOVED crafty things, and they wanted every FIAR day to have some type of craft involved with it.

However, now that I'm rowing with boys, FIAR life is infinitely different :lol: (and at that seems to be an intrinsic difference between boys at girls -- at least MY boys and MY girls :lol: ).

Agreeing with the others, though, that in the midst of our "conversation" seems to be the following:
* mapping activities (even if it's just finding the country on the map and its relation to continents, oceans, other countries we've studied, us, etc.)
* FOOD -- cooking with FIAR is just wonderful and brings a wealth of memories and fun to our week
* coloring flags is something I like to do, but sometimes doesn't happen with the boys as much as I'd like (they don't like to color anything :p )
* any hands-on "exploration" that they can do is :thumb: Science "experiments" are huge hits, building things with Legos or sugar cubes or sticks or ???? My boys don't like crafts, per se, but they LOVE building things or experimenting with things (but they want it to be SHORT -- not long attention spans here)
* I also try to pull in go-along books -- they love to be read to, and a great way to learn more is through reading
* sometimes I pull in go-along videos, especially non-fiction ones that relate

Sometimes play stems naturally from our learning, and sometimes it doesn't. Examples:
* recently we've done a big unit on slavery/the Civil War. We've spent a good bit of time on the Underground Railroad, and recently we were outside, and the boys wanted to play "Underground Railroad" where we ran and hid in the woods :)
* we've held impromptu tea parties, and when we read Mr. Gumpy recently, Ben wanted to "be" Mr. Gumpy at a tea party and tried to talk in a British accent as I asked him all about his day and everything he did on his "outing"