I’ve been using the Five in a Row booklists with my littles since they were teeny tiny, starting with the books suggested in Before Five in a Row.
Now that we are (almost, kind of, playfully) officially doing kindergarten, we have joined a co-op with several other families that is centered around selected books from the Five in a Row booklists. The books we’ve chosen are from all three of the manuals, so we will be doing a little bit of dabbling here and there.
The idea behind Five in a Row is that your family reads one picture book together five days in a row. Each day, you can do a different activity, or you can just enjoy the story together.
In our co-op, each week the children will make a mini-book to save at home, and they will spend some time doing something else to celebrate the book together.
If I’m honest—the first time I looked at Five in a Row as a curriculum it felt both dull and overwhelming to me. Not because of the books chose: those were obviously top-notch. Rather the manuals themselves felt a bit outdated to me, and many of the suggestions for activities didn’t resonate with me personally. However, as Bubba has grown into Five in a Row, the activities that seemed boring before are now more interesting, and while there are too many suggestions for me to complete all of them, I have realized the intention is to pick and choose what works best. When I think of the Five in a Row manual as an idea book, I like it much more—and I do think it serves as a complete (or at least nearly so) curriculum for the younger grades, at least in science, history and literature.
As we get started with Five in a Row, I thought I’d share my tips with you, one newbie to another.
1. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
I’m sort of talking about the manuals here, and I’m sort of talking about the selections. Some of the picture books are older, but once you read them, you’ll see the appeal.
2. Keep it simple.
We will read the book daily, and will probably do 1-2 other things in addition to our co-op celebration. And, if I don’t love the book that week, we will only read it. Also, I won’t schedule a big craft project on a day when we are busy (duh, right?).
And remember, that real learning doesn’t have to be cute. A lovely final product is fun to show to Grandma, but sometimes (often, even!) learning happens best in scribbles and headstands.
3. Start with the ideas in the manual (stay away from Pinterest!).
Okay, so Pinterest is great. But I struggle with decision-making big time, and I can spend hours looking for the perfect printable on Pinterest—which will be finished in less than five minutes of hands-on learning time. The ideas presented in the manual are simple and easy—and they’re enough.
4. Adapt to yourself and your learner.
Don’t ask your four-year-old boy who can’t hold a pencil to copy even the most beautiful sentence out of the book. Do think about what interests your child and play to that—in my case, we will do as many whole-body movements as we can, as often as we can. My little learner has also taken a recent interest in world maps, so we will mark the locations of the stories on a map (but we probably won’t use the story circles, because I don’t think they’re that cute!).
Show yourself grace; if you really hate something, stop doing it and move on. There’s so much variety in Five in a Row, that there’s no reason to spend a bunch of time with an author you’re not enjoying or doing crafty things that don’t benefit anyone.
I’m looking forward to our Five in a Row adventure and can’t wait to report back to you how it’s gone!
**So far, the absolute best prices I’ve found on books from the FIAR booklists is RainbowResource.com