Do I need to order one book for each child?
No. The FIAR books are teacher’s guides and you’ll only need one book.
Do I have to do the books in order?
No. You don’t have to do the books in any particular order. Feel free to mix and match the units doing one from the second volume this week and one from the first volume next week, etc. Volumes 1-3 are based on books that are about the same level. Volume 4 increases in difficulty.
What are the differences between Before Five in a Row and More Before Five in a Row? Do I need to do Before Five in a Row first?
No, you do not need to start with Before Five in a Row. You will begin with whichever manual is best suited to your child’s age. Before Five in a Row is designed for ages 2-4 while More Before Five in a Row is for ages 3-5. There is some overlap there and if you have only one child you might choose Before if you are wanting a gentle start that is not a curriculum but instead a collection of discussion and play-based lessons to do for 10-15 minutes 2 or 3 days a week. More Before is where you’ll want to start if you’re looking for a more structured, 5 days a week, pre-school or Kindergarten experience.
How do I know which level of Five in a Row to start with?
Downloading the sample units that are available on the curriculum product pages for Before, More Before, and Five in a Row and reading through the lessons provided in a unit from each manual will give you a good idea of which manual is best suited to your child or children.
What are Story Disks and Storybook Maps? How do I use them?
Story Disks are circles that have an image that corresponds to a picture book used in Before, More Before, or Five in a Row Volumes 1-4. They are available in black and white at the back of the manual for you to color in or have your child color in. Or, you can purchase them in full-color and laminated at www.fiveinarow.com (color, laminated disks come free with your manual purchase from fiveinarow.com).
The disks are used in Five in a Row Volumes 1-4 as a geography aid. You cut out the laminated disk and using teacher’s putty, you’ll attach the disk to a world map or U.S. map on the location that the story takes place. For instance, while studying the Madeline unit of Five in a Row you will discuss the geography lesson from the manual that talks about how Madeline lived in Paris, which is in a country named France. Then you’ll go to the world map with your child and find France, and Paris and place the (Eiffel Tower) Madeline disk on that location. You can review this each day (taking the disk off after your lesson so that your child can find it again tomorrow on the map).
For Before and More Before, you will use the Storybook Map as the map to find each location of the story disk on. The locations are given to you in the teacher’s manual at the end of each unit. For instance, while doing the unit on the story Owl Babies (More Before), your child will find the hollowed-out tree on the map to place the Owl Babies story disk on. This is to begin learning map skills which will lay a foundation for the future geography lessons they’ll do in Five in a Row. You might choose to ask some basic questions like, “Is the hollow owl tree above or below the lake?”
What else do I need to supplement in order to have a full curriculum?
For preschool or Before FIAR you’ll need nothing else. For FIAR for ages 5/6 you’ll need a good phonics program and a simple introduction to math. For children who are already reading successfully, you’ll need to supplement daily math and spelling as well as penmanship and grammar IF you choose to teach those as individual subjects.
What if I have young children in Before or More Before, FIAR age children, and also older children in Beyond FIAR, which program/s should I use?
Most people in this situation will do more than one level of Five in a Row. Invite your older children to enjoy the book and at least some of the creative activities found in Before/More Before or FIAR such as art, story writing, etc. Then, invite the younger children to enjoy today’s chapter from Beyond FIAR during read-aloud time. Now get your older children started on a specific assignment from the teacher’s guide while you go back and finish up the last 20-30 minutes or so with your young learners before releasing them for the day and finishing up today’s assignments with your older students. It’s not burdensome and it keeps the “family” together for most of the learning day.
If you have multiple ages and want to teach them together using the same manual, you will choose to use a manual that is slightly below some of your children or one that is a bit above others. That means that you will need to add a bit to the lessons for an older child (go-along books from the library based on topics covered in the lessons, learning videos found online, or additional writing assignments, etc.). Or, you will require less from a younger student and scale the lessons for an older child down to fit the younger child’s learning level. Perhaps they will dictate a story to you instead of writing it. Or, use blocks to build something from the story.
What if my child is already reading, or has already read some of the books found in your unit studies?
We encourage YOU to read the stories aloud to your children regardless of age because of the warm, relational tone it sets for each teaching day. Further, the stories are merely the jumping off place to learn so much about the wide world around us that being familiar with a story does no harm and may in fact enhance the enjoyment of learning.
I’ve heard that several of the books are out of print. What if I can’t obtain a specific book?
“In print” inventories from publishers change from month to month. The vast majority of FIAR titles are in print and readily available to order here, or elsewhere. For those titles that happen to be out of print at this time, you can look for a used copy, or simply use the library. Or for that matter- just skip over that book. Think of FIAR as a “Cookbook for Learning”. There are MANY “recipes” that use many “ingredients” and if you don’t have fresh asparagus (or a specific book title in this case) just skip over that recipe and move on. These lessons do not build upon one another and you can jump from story to story, from volume to volume as you wish.
Do I have to purchase the books that go along with the teacher’s guides?
No. The majority of our customers rely on the library for their books, though some prefer the convenience of owning the books. That said- most of our customers DO eventually choose to purchase many of the books we’ve chosen because they’re such wonderful, heartwarming, unforgettable stories. They want to treasure them and someday pass them on to grandchildren.
Can my 2 or 3-year-old join in with the older children?
Yes, of course, they can. But you’ll find that Before FIAR and is aimed directly at their learning readiness needs and provides a very special 10-20 minutes each day that’s “their time” just like big brother and big sister.
Is this a Christian curriculum?
We are Christians and so you’ll find that the stories we’ve chosen and the academic lessons suggested in the teacher’s manuals come from a Christian worldview. But you won’t find specific Bible teaching UNLESS you purchase the FIAR Christian Character and Bible Study Supplement that goes ALONG with the stories you will be reading. There you will find more than 500 specific Bible stories and principles that are illustrated in the stories themselves.
What denomination are the Christian lessons? Which translation of the Bible do you use?
We don’t teach “doctrinal” lessons. Rather we connect familiar Bible stories with the stories children are reading. Further, we teach broad Biblical values: honesty, kindness, forgiveness, generosity, etc. You won’t find lessons on which type of Baptism is “best” or women’s role in churches or speaking in tongues or church government. We’ll leave that for YOU to teach. We also don’t use ANY specific translation of the Bible, as we don’t quote the Bible directly. Instead, we give you chapter and verse addresses to read from YOUR bible and share with your children.
How does the Cookbook work?
Mealtimes are a wonderful opportunity to review the work your children have accomplished this week. It’s also a great way to further their understanding of history and geography by cooking, tasting and experiencing the various cuisines of times past and foreign lands. You’ll find a collection of recipes for each story you’re studying. The meal can be as simple as preparing one simple dish to add to your dinner one evening- or as complex as decorating the dining room like Italy, inviting grandparents, making place cards and menus, preparing a full meal and letting the children put towels over their arms and be servers.
Will there be a Five in a Row booth at my homeschool convention?
We won’t have our own booth, but you may find our materials at the booth of our exclusive seller, RainbowResource.com.
How do I get the free FOLD&LEARNs™?
When you subscribe to the blog, you’ll be taken to the page that has all of the free FOLD&LEARNs™ upon completing all of the confirmation steps! If you didn’t bookmark that page, the link to the FOLD&LEARNs™ is at the top right center of any email.
What are the Story Disks and why do I need them?
Story Disks are a convenient way to teach geography. Just purchase an inexpensive US and World map (laminated) from Wal-Mart or Costco and put them up on the schoolroom wall. Now cut out this weeks’ Story Disk and show the children where the story took place. You’ll find information in the teacher’s manual to share with the children about that particular country, city or region. Then each day throughout the week, invite a child to place the Story Disk on the map again, sharing what they’ve learned about the location. (Note- use a loop of masking tape on the back of the laminated Story Disk so it can be taken down and put up several times.)
Why is it called Five in a Row?
Because you read the story for five consecutive days. (Note- this applies to Five in a Row, does not necessarily apply to Before FIAR and does not apply at all to Beyond FIAR where you read chapters one by one without repeating.)
Won’t my child get bored if we read the same book more than once?”
Most likely not. The first time you read a story, children simply want to discover what happens. But each day we peel back the story, learning to write using some of the techniques the story’s writer has used or learning to draw or paint using some of the techniques, materials or palettes the illustrator has used. We learn more about the culture or setting where the story took place, etc. So with each new reading, the child can look at the illustrations, think about the cuisine or the architecture; appreciate the writing style, etc. Each day builds on the previous days learning experience. And each reading builds a bond with the book for your child so that they develop a deep and abiding love for each wonderful story. Then each time they read the story they’ll recall and strengthen their grasp on the dozens of lessons learned from that beloved book.
What if I have the rare child who balks at reading the story more than once?
There are lots of easy tricks you can use to make the re-reading fun! For instance, you might tell the student you are going to leave OUT certain words and you want to see if they can catch you when you make a mistake. Or you might ask him to call out each time you read a certain character’s name and see how many times the author has included that name or word. You can ask your child to be looking for pictures that have a particular color scheme or technique from the art lesson while you’re reading the story, etc.
What are the Five in a Row Mini Units? When and how should I incorporate them into our studies?
We call them a Mini Unit because the lesson section for Five in a Row, ages 5-9, has only one lesson for each subject instead of many lessons under one subject like you’ll find in a FIAR unit from the manual.
The lessons in the Mini Unit are deep and rich … the work of finding extra materials (go-along books, videos, websites, etc.) has been done for you already. We add in a separate section geared toward the Before/More Before ages 2-5 and additional lessons for Beyond students (ages 9-12). All the go-along books and extras are there for those ages, as well as, the activity sheets for hands-on learning/documentation and a recipe that pairs with the story to make together and share … the Mini Unit is really, anything but Mini. 🙂
If you use all the age group lessons in each Mini Unit (or will use them at a later time with your children as they get older) then you are really purchasing 3 separate week-long units of learning based on the same picture book. You can row it with a 2, 3 or 4-year-old and then come back around to it in 2-3 years with a 5-8-year-old, and again a few years later with a 9-12-year-old. Each time they will learn new things and revisit a favorite picture book!
The Mini Units are announced monthly and are based on new picture books that are easily accessible from the library. The books often have a holiday theme when the opportunity arises but the lessons are always written to be used at any time during the year.
How long does it take to do FIAR?
For Before FIAR you’ll want to spend 5-10 minutes reading a story to your toddler and then doing one fun activity. You may choose to do this more than once each day but don’t make it “work”- keep it fun. For FIAR you’ll spend 30-60 minutes each day with early learners in addition to whatever time you set aside for math, phonics, etc. For Beyond FIAR you’ll probably spend 2-3 hours doing each day’s activities.
Do I have to do every activity in the teacher’s manual?
Absolutely NOT! In fact, you’ll want to select only one or two activities each day for young learners ages 4-6 or so.
If there are 70 weekly units found in FIAR Volumes 1-4 and each unit takes a week, how can I use this curriculum for up to four years as the age group suggests? What do I use once I’ve completed all the units?
First of all, in the real world of home schooling few families study more than 30-35 weeks per year after holidays, illnesses, vacations, etc. So if you were to work straight through it would take about 2 school years to complete the FIAR lessons. But, with early learners you’re going to choose only one, or at most 2 of the simplest activities. Make a note of which lessons you’ve completed in the margin of your teacher’s manual and then when your children are a bit older you can come back and RE-visit this familiar, beloved story and complete the several other lessons you didn’t use the first time through.
Some of the stories seem to be seasonal. Do I have to do specific stories or volumes at certain times?
There are several stories mixed throughout the volumes that are indeed seasonal. And it would be lovely to do those stories at the appropriate time of the year. But the majority of the stories can be done anytime.
How long does each Beyond FIAR unit take to complete?
It depends entirely on you and your student. It’s theoretically possible to race through a unit in as little as 3 weeks or so. Most people find they spend about 8 weeks on each unit but some spend much longer. Each unit is a framework; a grid for digging deep and learning about a myriad of subjects. There is no “schedule” that you must maintain. Rather, together with your student, feel free to take lots of “bunny trails” and spend hours or even several weeks studying and exploring a topic that came up during your study of a particular book. A passing mention of the solar system or the revolutionary war may lead to a 2-week “mini unit” on that subject as you visit planetariums or battlefields, go to the library, do self-directed research and more. The goal is to get your child EXCITED about learning!
How do I know I’ve covered everything while using Five in a Row?
You won’t. Nobody covers “everything” regardless of the curriculum they choose. The places where “everything” is critical are the “skill areas” of learning: math and reading specifically. You can’t just “miss” multiplication or fractions!! But those aren’t areas covered by FIAR. Rather, we focus on the “content areas” lf learning which is pretty much everything else EXCEPT math and reading. In these many “content areas” you’ll be revisiting each subject throughout your lifetime, learning more about weather, architecture, art, creative writing, vocabulary, science, etc. In fact, anyone with a PhD in a specific discipline such as physics for instance- will tell you that the more they’ve learned about their subject, the more they discover they DON’T KNOW about the subject. Nobody learns it all!
What makes Five in a Row different from other curricula?
First, it was developed by a successful homeschool teacher and not a classroom teacher so it’s geared for success in the home environment. Second, it’s relational at its very core. While enormous amounts of information are imparted to young learners, it’s done in a home/family/relational setting. By gathering your family together each morning and snuggling as you read a wonderful story aloud to your children the tone of each teaching day is relational and fun rather than rigorous and sterile. We believe the most important battle in early childhood is to teach children to LOVE LEARNING! If learning becomes fun and enjoyable they’ll be lifetime learners whether you’re there to push them or not. On the other hand, if you choose a curriculum that is cold and sterile and your children come to dread school they will never choose voluntarily to read a book or learn unless someone is standing over them forcing them to do it.
What is FIAR‘s stance on Common Core standards?
Five in a Row Publishing has invested the past 19 years in helping parents teach using the time honored tradition of encouraging children to fall in love with the process of learning. As William Yeats said, “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”
While certain areas such as math skills and reading development may require a more rigid, systematic approach, those are not subjects that Five in a Row deals with in our daily lesson plans. Parents supplement our curriculum in those areas with the math and phonics curriculum of their choice.
Beyond that, we believe that the Core Curriculum Standards will become the latest in a long list of failed government initiatives implemented to address the ever-lower test scores of American students. We believe these declining test scores are not the result of having learning objectives which are set too low, but rather they are the result of an increasingly dysfunctional culture in which families are fragmented and accountability and self-control are no longer considered important or relevant.
As a result, legislators who are unwilling to tackle the root issues end up pushing for ever-earlier mandatory education, more computers, more specific educational standards and more financial investment in an educational system which is fundamentally broken.
Five in a Row Publishing has no intention of modifying our curriculum either now or in the future to accommodate this latest government educational fad. We remain committed to our long-term goal of helping children fall in love with both reading and learning as they discover the wonderful world of education on their own terms.
If we succeed in those areas, then any arbitrary set of learning “standards” are at best a weak substitute for a real education and the resulting life-long learning habit will produce a generation of responsible adults who are able to not only gain knowledge, but more importantly display wisdom, common sense and self-reliance in both the classroom and the workplace.
Now more than ever, Five in a Row offers parents a clear choice between trying to fill pails or light fires. Our students have consistently tested well above grade level in standardized testing for two decades and we believe students who are taught using the thoroughly proven Five in a Row philosophy will continue to be both academic and social leaders among their peers.
Publisher – Five in a Row
Have a question we didn’t answer? Feel free to contact us!