Over the past two years, I have had so many parents ask me about Five in a Row curriculum. We have worked through nearly all of Five in a Row Volume One, and a good half of Five in a Row Volume Two. I thought it might be helpful to offer a detailed review of this program for parents who are considering using it in their homeschool or home for supplementary learning.
Buying my first copy of Five in a Row was honestly the BEST $5 I have ever spent. Through this program, we went on journeys all over the world - China, Italy, Japan, the USA, England, France, and more. We created beautiful books and projects together and made memories through various field trips, arts, crafts, and handiwork activities.
We learned about things like the Renaissance, architecture in early 1900s France, life on the Yangtze River, and patriotism in the USA. We made Eiffel Towers out of wafers, took a photo treasure hunt looking for "houses covered in vines", and baked our first Apple Pie. This program is so fun and so enriching for young learners.
I'm even considering sneaking in a few more studies this year! (I'm actually kicking myself for not grabbing another copy of Volume 1, 2, and 3 at a used curriculum sale in June...)
Five in a Row is a literary based curriculum for children age 4-8 (ish). It is a Unit Study style program using classic and popular children's literature as the basis for each individual Unit Study.
The books used in Five in a Row are beautiful picture books that children truly LOVE to read and study. We really enjoyed the books in Volume One. Some titles include, Madeline, The Story About Ping, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Papa Piccolo, Katy and the Big Snow, and many more.
|Some of the books we've been blessed to add to our library through our Five in a Row experiences.|
|We've had so much find digging for old classics like this at used book sales!|
Getting the Books:
I should mention - this program DOES NOT include the books needed. Some literature based curriculums include the books with the teacher's guide (IE: Sonlight, My Father's World). For FIAR, you pay about $30 for the teacher's guide/program but you need to find the books on your own.
Many parents acquire the books needed at their local library. I did this for some titles. I also chose to purchase many titles so we could keep them in our home. Some I bought new and some I bought used, depending on what I could find. The choice is ultimately in the hands of the family. There were many titles available through our local library and many more through the Inter-library loan program. There were only about 3 titles that were either out of print or almost impossible to find. We chose to skip those titles.
You CAN purchase Literary Packages through a vendor called Rainbow Resource Center. I've purchased from them before and had success, I would recommend them. It could be really useful if you know you want to use the entire program. It would take the battle off of finding the books, that's for sure!
Here are some of the packages I found:
Literary Package for Before Five in a Row
Literary Package for Five in a Row Volume 1
The package for Volume 1 is $154.00 plus shipping. It sounds like a lot of money, I know. But, if you consider that you are getting a full year's worth of curriculum for about $200... it really is a reasonable cost for a great program such as this.
*Note- I just ordered Volume 3 and the book package and had it shipped to Canada and my bill was $150. That's for the whole program... not bad for a K-level curriculum!!!
Anyways, just offering some different options with regards to getting the books in your hands!
A peek at Volume 3 books:
Our Five in a Row book shelf...
About the Program:Each Unit Study is broken down in several categories for learning and exploring. This is comprised of little lessons, activities, and experiments that directly relate with the content in that specific book.
The categories for study include: Social Studies (includes History and Geography), Language Arts, Math, Science, Art (History and Visual Art), and some Music. I would add to this list Home Studies/Life Skills because of the amount of opportunities we had to cook, bake, go on field trips, and learn life skills-style lessons.
The idea is this: take a classic book, enjoy it together as a family, then use it to learn interesting and applicable lessons. The learning is done in a natural, fun way that children don't even realize how much they are truly learning.
A look inside the Teacher's Guide:
|An example of a first page of a Unit Study. Each study gives the details of the book, when it was written, by whom, and a summary. We LOVED studying Mike Mulligan!~|
|A page from the study of another favorite of ours, Clown of God.|
|A double page spread from the study of Lentil by Robert McCloskey.|
|Giving an idea of the kind of Social Studies and History FIAR covers...|
The Teacher's Guide is pretty comprehensive, but you still have to plan your days and organize your activities. I found this program VERY rewarding but work intensive for me, both in planning and executing the program. There was a lot of scheduling, printing activities, organizing crafts and experiments, etc.
I also added quite a bit to the studies based upon some of the ideas I saw online, on Pinterest, etc. So, I beefed up some of the units, which made more work for myself as well. This program is doable just as it is, but you will likely come up with many additional ideas and activities to add to the units.
Using Lapbooks with FIAR:
We were introduced to the idea of Lapbooks through our experience with FIAR. We now LOVE Lapbooks and use them often in our homeschool.
Some images of our Lapbooks:
|Great Britain Lapbook (not FIAR specifically, but a good example of a Lapbook)|
|Lapbook for Clown of God.|
|From Volume 2 of FIAR - Ferdinand the Bull!|
|From our FIAR study of The Very Last First Time (we included Northern Canada in the study)|
Lapbooks are an easy, fun, creative way to collect some of the learning you've done on a specific topic or, in the case of FIAR, book. I'm really sad that I lost many of my photos from our 2011/2012 school year when we studied some of our favorite books like Madeline, Ping, and Mike Mulligan.
Lapbooks will include various aspects of your study from images, small art projects, vocabulary, geographical information, and whatever else you feel like adding!
I would highly recommend Lapbooks for families who enjoy doing arts and crafts. I'd also really recommend them for kids who are reluctant writers. Our eldest *hated* (his words) writing. Through the use of simple, easy copywork in our Lapbooks, we've taken him from 'hating' writing to writing easily and without complaint. The process was seamless for him because the copywork was easy, quick, and disguised as "doing our Lapbooks". *wink* Hooray for gentle progression.
Will your child like FIAR?In one word? Yes. I believe most children would love FIAR. I know this because I have three children that are all incredibly different, and all three connected with and enjoyed the program. I have a highly analytical, facts-oriented son, an incredibly artistic and languages-focused daughter, and a very active young preschooler. I was able to tailor FIAR to fit the needs of all three children. The all came out loving the experience and learning a ton.
Some (hopefully) encouraging thoughts:Five in a Row is a wonderful program. It is not only user friendly and FUN, it is extremely educational for children a parents alike. I can't believe how much our children learned through our study of these fabulous books.
The thing that gets me most excited when I think about Five in a Row is how the program has influenced our learning style within our homeschool and developed a deep rooted love of reading in our children. Through this program, our children were exposed over and over again to the JOY of reading and now are avid readers who either have a book under their own nose, or are begging me to read to them constantly. Also, I really grasped so much about how to pull learning out of great books and how to use literature as a starting point for endless conversations that inspire growth and discovery.
The skills I learned as an educator will now follow me for years to come. We've also realized the joy of reading classics and using them as a platform for study. We're currently working through Charlotte's Web in this same way. Surely, this program launched us into a great rhythm, especially since we used FIAR in the first years of our homeschool. I just wish I had of learned about it sooner! I would have started earlier with Before Five in a Row and really soaked in every ounce of FIAR I could with our children!
For those looking for some quick pointers, I thought this might be useful... I compiled my own 5 Reasons to USE FIAR and 5 Reasons not to use this program...
Five Reasons to definitely USE Five in a Row:
- You love literature and want to spend a lot of time reading with your children and building your family's love of reading.
- You don't mind planning your days and organizing materials and activities, even if it takes some time.
- You want a more eclectic, hands-on, Charlotte Mason-ish style homeschool experience.
- You would like your family to learn together (mixing different ages/learning levels).
- You desire for your learning experiences to be fun, memory making times together.
Five Reasons Five in a Row might NOT be for you:
- You want a program that is completely planned out and all provided for you. (IE: "I don't want to do ANY planning!")
- You prefer a less literary program.
- You don't want any 'messes'.
- You want a grades-based, textbook style program.
- You want your children to work independently.
I truly hope this review was helpful to parents considering the FIAR program and parents looking for a gentle, fun approach to a GREAT home education. I'm looking forward to making more FIAR memories this year!!!
Big hugs and blessings to you.
If you have any further questions about FIAR, please, leave them in the comments and I will do my BEST to answer them!
Some links worth checking out:
Delightful Learning blog! This Mom has posts about almost every FIAR study in Volume 1-3. Her blog is beautifully done and very helpful and inspiring.
Homeschool Share! This is another resource style blog that gives countless links and full lapbooks and studies that go right along with many FIAR studies. At one time, they specifically named FIAR in their listings, but no longer do so. I have linked directly to the post that provides links to FIAR-based content which is still accessible and FANTASTIC for use with Lapbooks.
Check out the links on the side bar or my blog right over there ---->
There are several links to studies we've done of FIAR books.
To finish off the post, I thought I'd share some memories and photos from our journey.
TONS of photos from our Five in a Row studies:
|Studying the art of Monet with Clown of God and Papa Piccolo.|
|Baking English Scones!|
|Along with our study of Peter Rabbit - a trip to the British Shop!|
|A "walk" in the "English Countryside"...|
|Sketching and copywork from Madeline.|
|Making Gnocci with our study of Papa Piccolo/Clown of God.|
|Painting like Michelangelo with our study of Italy and Papa Piccolo.|
|Venice inspired masks! So much fun. (Clown of God)|
|Visiting a country market (How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World)|
|Studying and experimenting with gravity. (Clown of God)|
|Carving our own "David"... sort of. ;)|
|A trip to the Gelato Bar! Yum!|
|The FIAR Story Disks are part of the program. We place a Story Disk on every country where the books take place. Here, we see the disks for Madeline, Papa Piccolo, and Clown of God from Volume One.|
|Making PIZZA (before we went Vegan...)|
|Learning about color wheels and colors.|
|Enjoying a "Japanese style" dinner for our study of My Father's Journey from Volume 1.|
|Printing and learning Japanese letters and numbers.|
|Learning about Volcanos for our study of Italy (and also Mexico).|
|Our Story Disk Map for FIAR.|
|More Asian cooking (My Father's Journey, and Ping).|
|A trip to the Asian Market (The Story about Ping)|
|Making snow forts for our study of The Very Last First Time (Volume 2).|
|Finding animals tracks in the snow.|
|Making Snow Crystals!|
|Learning about and creating our own "Big Dippers" for our study of Follow the Drinking Gourd (Volume 2).|
|Learning about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for our study of Follow the Drinking Gourd.|
|A trip to a local Black History museum for our study of Follow the Drinking Gourd.|
|Ferdinand the Bull (Volume 2) gave us tons of opportunities for fun activities! Here is a measurement scavenger hunt based on the growth of Ferdinand in the book.|
|Dying carnations. (Ferdinand)|
|Learning about Olives and Spain! (Ferdinand)|
|Cork creations... (Ferdinand)|
|Learning about our sense of SMELL for our study of Ferdinand. (Our kids LOVED this!)|
|Studying Tchaikovsky and Russian Ballet for our study of Another Celebrated Dancing Bear (Volume 1)|
|Making Russian bread. (Another Celebrated Dancing Bear)|
|Learning how to "etch". (Another Celebrated Dancing Bear)|
|Art history and St. Basil Cathedral in Russia. (Another Celebrated Dancing Bear)|
|Making Inuksuks for our study of The Very Last First Time (Volume 2)|
|Making Igloos! (The Very Last First Time)|
|Playing the "What Makes a Good Title?" game with our study of The Very Last First Time.|
As you can see, the possibilities are endless with this program and it is so hands-on and very engaging for young children. We are so excited to continue our journey with FIAR this year with our 5 and 6 year old.
Thanks for reading and big hugs to you!