TOS Review: Before Five in a Row

Homeschooling...what images come to mind when you envision your homeschool? Mine was never one of rows of desks or students sitting quiet and still for long periods. I always envisioned cuddling on the couch reading good books, enjoying nature and art, and making discoveries with my little ones. I dreamt of those "light bulb moments" when my students would just "get it". And that is why I love all of the Five in a Row products so much! Through the years, they have helped me to gently lead my children towards learning. I credit Five in a Row for instilling in my oldest child a curiosity about the world around him and a love for reading.
I have considered myself a homeschooler since my first child was born fourteen years ago. We discovered Five in a Row when he was a preschooler, and I am so glad we did. Through the years, I have purchased two copies of this book. Both copies have been loaned out and not returned, so I was thrilled when I got the opportunity to review this book through the TOS Homeschool Review Crew. This would  mean a fresh, new copy for me and for my smallest ones that have not yet had the pleasure of this wonderful learning experience!

Before Five in a Row, Five in a Row (4 volumes), Beyond Five in a Row and Above & Beyond Five in a Row are written by Jane Claire Lambert. She and her husband, Steve, share a wealth of wisdom and encouragement at the website's message boards.

Before Five in a Row is written primarily for 2-4 year olds. Five in a Row for 4-8 year olds, Beyond Five in a Row for 8-12 year olds and Above and Beyond Five in a Row is written for ages 12 and up. For this review, I will be discussing Before Five in a Row.

Five in a Row (FIAR) uses repetition of great children's literature to teach lessons to little ones covering such subjects as math, language, music, art, science and Bible. The idea is to read the same story together for five days in a row, hence the name, Five in a Row. Each day, a different topic or subject is covered during short, natural lessons.

Before Five in a Row contains preschool lessons for 24 cherished children's books. The manual also includes a section (40+ pages) entitled Parent's Treasury of Cretive Ideas for Learning Readiness. It is filled with learning activities for 2-4 year olds to incorporate into your every day life. Some things you may have already thought of, like blowing bubbles. Some things, like sorting games or choosing proper art supplies, you may not have considered.

Our review included all of the younger homeschooled children--all girls ages 7, 5, 4, and 2. One thing I love about Five in a Row products is that they are adaptable to a variety of ages. My seven year old and my two year old could enjoy the lessons equally. My seven year old enjoyed helping read the books and present the lessons. My two year old just enjoyed being a part of what everyone else was doing. She especially enjoyed holding the book. ;)

We chose to "row" two books for this review. The first was Katy No-Pocket. Using the manual, I skimmed the lessons in the book and jotted down a few that I would definitely want to include in our studies. The girls enjoyed the daily readings as much as their brother had 10 years ago. You would think they would get bored with reading the same story over and over, but remember that children LOVE repeition! Most of our lessons were conversational--having the girls narrate or retell the story to me or to each other, counting animals, and talking about mother animals and their babies. We did, however, color a picture of a kangaroo and a map of Australia (printed from the internet) after talking about where kangaroos live. We also hopped around like kangaroos.

Our second book was Ask Mr. Bear by Marjorie Flack. We "rowed" this book on my birthday week. For those that are not familiar with the book, Ask Mr. Bear is about a little boy named Danny who is looking for the perfect gift for his mother's birthday. Danny asks several animals for a birthday gift he can give his mother. After being offered eggs (chicken), milk (goat), wool (sheep), feathers (goose) and cream (cow), the cow suggests that Danny ask Mr. Bear. Although, none of the animals would go with Danny to ask Mr. Bear, they were right. He had the perfect gift suggestion for Danny's mother. I'll not give it away here for those that haven't read the book, but rest assured I received plenty of Mr. Bear's suggested gift on my birthday.

With this book, we talked about birthdays and giving. Once again, we talked about animals--different ones this time. We talked about action words like "trotted", "skipped", and "galloped" as that is how the animals moved in the story. We also talked about bears and the danger they represent in the wild. We talked about the usefulness of animals to give us eggs, milk, cream, wool, etc. Having chickens and goats in our own back yard, this was an easily understood lesson for the children.

(I wish I had taken pictures of the actual lessons, but we were having so much fun learning and playing that I completely forgot the camera!)

I absolutely love Before Five in a Row as well as the other Five in a Row products. I can't say enough great things about them. JC14 still talks about the fond memories he has from rowing these books years ago. If you are interested in a non-traditional, casual, gentle, memory-making approach to learning, I know you would not be disappointed in any of these great products. Before Five in a Row sells for $35 and is available exclusively at Rainbow Resource.

It was my pleasure to give an official review for this product. I look forward to "rowing" many more books this school year with my little ones! For more opinions from other homeschoolers, click here.
Disclaimer: I received this product free in exchange for an honest review. What you have read is my honest opinion.

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