Five in a Row

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Five in a Row (FIAR) is a unit study curriculum created by Jane Claire Lambert for students ages 4-8. The unit studies are based on children’s literature. Each day for five days, the same book is read aloud to the child. After reading the book, there are suggested activities to complete. Each day a different subject is studied with activities that are related to the story. A sample schedule of subjects is as follows:

Monday Social Studies
Tuesday Language Arts
Wednesday Art
Thursday Applied Mathematics
Friday Science

There are 4 volumes of FIAR, with a total of 70 unit studies in all. I received a copy of Volume 3 to review.

  • The Bee Tree by Patricia Polacco
  • Andy and the Circus by Ellis Credle
  • The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
  • Paul Revere’s Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, ill. by Ted Rand
  • Henry the Castaway by Mark Taylor
  • The Finest Horse in Town by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Truman’s Aunt Farm by Jama Kim Rattigan
  • The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl
  • Andy and the Lion by James Daugherty
  • Daniel’s Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Warm as Wool by Scott Russell Sanders
  • The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer
  • Climbing Kansas Mountains by George Shannon
  • Amber on the Mountain by Tony Johnston
  • Little Nino’s Pizzeria by Karen Barbour

Mrs. Lambert purposely chose a wide variety of children’s books to use in FIAR. Some of the stories are funny, while others are more serious. The illustrations are of many different styles, and I found all of the books to be engaging for children. I was able to acquire 10 out of the 15 books for Volume 3 within my county’s library system.

I used FIAR with my 6 year old son and my 2 year old daughter listened in. (Sometimes my 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter listened too.) We completed The Bee Tree, Daniel’s Duck, Truman’s Aunt Farm, and Little Nino’s Pizzeria. We all enjoyed the stories and looked forward to our reading time each day.

I was impressed with the variety of activities for each story. For The Bee Tree, we looked at Michigan on a map, and learned about peninsulas, hexagons, bees, and onomatopoeia. We also made biscuits and ate them with honey.  My 2 year old was so cute saying onomatopoeia. I also added in a few of my own ideas to go with the FIAR suggestions. We read The Magic School Bus Inside a Beehive to learn more about bees, and Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You? to further illustrate onomatopoeia. We also watched City of the Bees, a Moody Science video with more information about bees.

I heard about FIAR about 7 years ago, before my oldest started school.  At the time, I didn’t like the idea of reading the same book for five days in a row.  I thought that would be boring and repetitive for him.  Now, I don’t think that could have been farther from the truth.  The first week my son did ask why we were reading the same book again, but after that he very happily listened to the same story every day.  Both the children anticipated it.  They even asked if it was time to read yet.  They have become really attached to the stories.  That just doesn’t happen with a book that you read one time.

I found that for some books, I liked most of the activity suggestions, while in a few I didn’t find the activities to be as interesting.  Some of the suggestions seemed to be a little too advanced for my first grader, but I probably should try them anyway. I was skeptical about teaching about onomatopoeia to my little ones, but after explaining it, I was surprised to find that they did not have trouble understanding it all.  I very quickly adapted my thinking to the unit study style.  I was soon coming up with my own additional ideas to go with the books.

The very best thing about FIAR is that it helped me to make the effort to have a reading time with my younger 2 children every day.  This is one of my goals that I have struggled meeting this school year.  Reading is so important to a child’s development, and I fear that I have short-changed my younger children, as I have been more focused on teaching my older ones. We snuggled up on the couch with our blankets and read.  My 2 year old pointed out everything in the pictures. It was an extra special time.  How could I not recommend a curriculum that helps that to happen?

In addition to Five in a Row, Volumes 1-4, the company has also written Before Five in a Row for 2-4 year olds, Beyond Five in a Row for 8-12 year olds, and Above and Beyond Five in a Row for 12 years and up. I’m strongly considering purchasing Before Five in a Row for my 2 year old for next year.

Disclosure: I received Five in a Row as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated for this post.


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