Monday, March 2, 2009

Five in a Row

As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I have been given the wonderful opportunity to review many homeschool products over the next several months. I feel truly blessed to be participating in this review group and I'm looking forward to trying out the products and giving you my honest opinion.

I've heard about Five in a Row by Jane Clare Lambert. I've looked into it, considered it, thumbed through it in vendor kids have even taken a Five in a Row class at co-op. And to be honest, if you're a homeschool mom I'd be surprised if you haven't heard of Five in a Row. But I've never gotten the chance to try the Five in a Row curriculum...until now, that is.

The process behind Five in a Row is simple. Gather all the kiddos (especially ages 4-8)together for some snuggle time on the couch. Pull out a great picture storybook and read it. Expand your study of the book by doing one or more of the suggested activities from FIAR that correspond with the book you are reading. Read the same book for five days, each day trying new activities. Simple. Relaxing. Fun.

We received Five in a Row Volume 3 to review. There are lesson plans to go along with 15 books such as The Bee Tree by Patricia Pallaco, The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar by Natalie Kinsey-Warnoc, Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Little Nino's Pizzeria by Karen Barbour. The book includes instructions on how to use FIAR by itself or in combination with other curriculum, reproducible planning sheets, and reproducible worksheets. Each book has corresponding activities in Social Studies, Language Arts (including Vocabulary), Art, Math, and Science.

I love using a curriculum that is completely based on good literature so this method is very appealing to me. However, I would have a hard time using this as anything other than a supplement. I really like to have order to our subjects, letting each idea build on another. The lessons for each subject in FIAR are not in any particular order...they are just themed according to the book you are reading. Also, while I have heard others rave about minimum to no teacher prep with FIAR, I found that the teacher prep was rather involved for me. While FIAR offers great suggested activity ideas, some of them were rather vague. For example, when reading The Bee Tree, the suggested idea for Science is to study "Gold". The curriculum suggests several different avenues to take, such as to explore gold mentioned in the Bible, gold leaf, or the gold rush. These are all great ideas, but all require a lot of research, planning, and prep on my behalf to prepare appropriate projects and books for all four of my school age children.

Overall, I think Five in a Row is a charming curriculum and its easy to see why it has found its way into the hearts of homeschoolers everywhere. You can purchase Five in a Row Volume 3 for just $19.95 from the FIAR website. Along with other Five in a Row volumes, you'll also find Before Five in a Row for 2-4 year olds, Beyond Five in a Row for 8-12 year olds, and Above Five in a Row for ages 12 and up.

You can also read more reviews of other FIAR books at the TOS Crew Blog.

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