Five in a Row

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When I found out that I was going to get to review Five in a Row for the TOS crew, I was SO excited! We have been a Five-in-a-Row (FIAR) family since the beginning of our homeschooling “career.” I feel truly blessed that I found FIAR when I did…my oldest was only 3 years old, I didn’t have many ideas formed yet about HOW I wanted to school my children. All I knew was that I was 1)going to homeschool, 2)loved children’s books. My love for great children’s books found its home in Five-in-a-Row. I have shared with many people over the past few years that FIAR has made me the homeschooling mom I am today…the curriculum has shaped how I view my children’s education and given me so many wonderful memories with my children!



That said, I wanted to share a little about FIAR with you…for those of you who are not familiar with it! First of all, you may have noticed under my category list that there is a category just for FIAR! If you are genuinely interested in seeing what FIAR looks like in our home, check out this link that will take you to all my FIAR posts.

From the Five in a Row website…”Five in a Row is more than just a set of lesson plans. It’s an approach to learning that will forever change how both you, and your children view education, books and teaching. Tested by more than 50,000 families over the past 13 years who have all shared the amazing discovery of Five in a Row with one another by word of mouth. Five in a Row isn’t a product to be advertised, sold and marketed, but rather a secret to be shared with your best friend.” In my experience, this has proven so true!


Five in a Row takes you all around the world on a journey as you read wonderful children’s books. In a typical FIAR week of school, we will read 1 FIAR title each morning for school. (Don’t let this part hang you up, we don’t always read the book 5 days in a row! Sometimes we only read it 1-2 times, but you can still gain the true FIAR experience either way.) After we read our FIAR title, we do 1-2 lessons with that book on that day. We will generally do 1-2 lessons from Mrs. Jane’s (the author) manuals each day throughout that 1 week.


For example, this week we have been “rowing” the book Albert from FIAR volume 4. On the first day, we read the story. After the story, we went back and looked through the pictures discussing certain aspects of the story, mostly just letting the kids ask questions. We talked about whether this story could be true or make-believe. The kids decided this story must not be true! Then we looked at the pictures of the birds and reviewed that the birds in this story are cardinals. We talked about what we KNOW about cardinals. I mention a few things that we will be learning this week about cardinals. We go to the table and color a picture of a male and female cardinal and discuss their differences. Then, we draw a cardinal in our nature journal. There you have it, Day 1 is complete. (With FIAR you do need a separate math and phonics program.)
Day 2 with Albert, we may read the story again, or sometimes we will glance through the book and just discuss it. (Are you getting the idea that alot of FIAR is conversational?) There are a myriad of lessons in the manual. We may look at the illustrations and discuss what medium the illustrator used. We may discuss a certain fact from history that correlates with the story.We will also do several science lessons this week pertaining to birds.
One unique resource that FIAR utilizes is called the “story disk.” This is one of my kids favorite aspects of FIAR. Every story has a little quarter sized disk that has a picture on it to remind you of the story. We hang it on the map wherever the location of the story takes place. If we are not sure of the location, we use our imaginations and think about where the story *might* take place! I purchased the laminated story disks from the FIAR site, but you can also cut them out of the back of each manual and color them yourself.

Five in a Row has curriculum for a wide age span of children! Before Five in a Row is for ages 2-4yrs and contains such sweet stories as Goodnight Moon, Corduroy, Jesse Bear, If Jesus Came to My House, Carrot Seed, Runaway Bunny.

Five in a Row volumes 1-3 are for ages 4-8yrs and those volumes contain favorites such as Peter Rabbit, Salamander Room, Paul Revere’s Ride, Truman’s Aunt Farm, Owl Moon, The Story of Ferdinand, Make Way for Ducklings, Harold and the Purple Crayon, How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World, The Story about Ping, Madeline.

Five in a Row volume 4 is much like volumes 1-3, but for ages 7-8yrs. These are still wonderful picture books, but the books are a bit longer and the lessons a bit meatier. This volume contains books like Albert, which we are rowing right now, also Snowflake Bentley, Mailing May, Roxaboxen and Cowboy Charlie.

Beyond Five in a Row is aimed at children ages 8-12 years. Beyond FIAR contains chapter book favorites like Boxcar Children, Sarah Plain and Tall, and The Cricket in Times Square.

Above and Beyond Five in a Row is designed for children 12yrs and up.

Five in a Row has started producing many products digitally. You can look at all their digital products here on their digital page. They make a product called a “Fold-N-Learn” which is like their version of a lapbook. They make these for alot of the individual book titles in the various volumes. Mrs. Jane has also worked on making beautiful nature studies that can also be found on the digital page! They also have Fold-N-Learns for holidays and special occasions.

Along with the FIAR manual, there are a few other resources that I have come to love. The first is called the Bible Supplement. This book (for volumes 1-3) contains scripture verses and lessons that you can use to apply to each FIAR title that you are studying. Volume 4 manual contains the Bible Supplement all in the same manual. There is also a FIAR cookbook which many families love!

I have to add as a sidenote to my review that I have gotten to know many moms who use FIAR on the FIAR message boards, as well as Steve and Jane Lambert. They consider the message boards and FIAR users their ministry. They are on the boards answering questions, lifting up prayer requests for members and just helping out homeschoolers as much as they can. Mrs. Jane homeschooled their 2 girls…and this is how FIAR was born. Their daughter Becky Jane has written many lessons as well for FIAR! They are truly an exceptional family and I appreciate so much the opportunity I have had to glean wisdom from them on their message boards. I also had the pleasure of meeting Steve and Jane at the last FIAR conference in June 2008. That was an exciting time for me! To be able to meet and thank personally the family that shaped our homeschooling journey was very special for me!

I have given you alot of details about FIAR. Possibly, too many! What I want to leave you with is the thought of all the special memories I have made with my children snuggling on the couch, reading beloved children’s favorites and discussing these books together. Yes, we have learned alot academically…but more than that, I have been able to spend these wonderful times with my children, building relationships that will last forever…and for me, that is the best gift of all. Five in a Row has blessed our family in more ways than I could describe. If you’d like to read what other moms are saying about Five in a Row, check out the TOS crew blog!

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  • Jen – Balancing beauty and bedlam

    I found your blog thru the TOG site. It’s so fun to find other home school mom since I’ve been HSing for 12 years. I’ve been “stuck” in the designer ring (IRL friends w/the NEster – that’s how I started blogging), but want to connect with other home schoolers. I think I’ll start with your links. :)