Before Five in a Row {TOS review}

One of the things I still enjoy doing with my children (and they do with me) is cuddling up with a good book and reading together. Before my older two were readers, every time we turned a page in a book, we were opening up a new world to wherever the story wanted to take us and they were learning along the way enjoying the skill of “reading” as well as getting a taste of learning the way they would soon do when we started school.

Jane Lambert, the author of Before Five in a Row (BFIAR), comes from a long line of teachers going back as far as two generations to her grandmother who owned a private pre-school. It is no surprise that Jane acquired the “teaching bug” and eventually became a homeschooling mother who taught her children for more than 16 years. Her love of children’s literature is the basis for Before Five in a Row which is not really meant to be a textbook for teaching, but rather a resource for enhancing a child’s awareness of the world around him giving the parent an opportunity to create memorable times of interaction with her child.

Before Five in a Row (ages 2-4) is the first book in a literature-based “curriculum” that continues to the next series of books called Five in a Row (ages 4-8), then on to Beyond Five in a Row (ages 8-12), and finishing with Above & Beyond Five in a Row (ages 12 and up). It is presented in a unit-study style where over the period of five days, one book is read daily to the child who completes activities that cover a variety of subjects that relate to the book of the week. Many of the subjects – Bible, language arts, fine arts, poetry, literature, science, math, etc. – are ones that the child will eventually cover in grade school and beyond.

What is different in the presentation is that the activities in each subject are not meant to teach in depth, but rather to introduce the child to new ideas and for them to learn how they all relate in the world around us and tie it all back into a story that they become more familiar with each day of reading. The stories are engaging and the activities are fun which is really all a young child needs at this period in his life.

The book is divided into two sections with part one covering the book titles for reading and activities that accompany the featured book and part two covering a variety of specific ideas that you can use to introduce and teach your child a number of activities (coordination – balancing, hopping, skipping, etc.) and life skills (kitchen safety, identifying foods at the grocery store, etc.) that they will eventually need to know as they grow.

There are many activities from which to choose from for each book giving the parent the option of completing them all or the opportunity to pick and choose the ones that will fit into each day after reading the featured book. The activities in part two can also be easily incorporated into a day of book reading. The intention is for this to be a fun and special time for both parent and child together promoting a sense of intimacy that is fostered through reading books and working together on fun activities.

Since the “lessons” don’t build on each other and are read independently, there is a lot of flexibility in what order you choose to read the books which include 24 titles such as The Snowy Day, The Runaway Bunny, Corduroy, and The Carrot Seed. Although a few of the book titles may be difficult to find at most libraries due to being out of print, the library we use had many of the titles available for us to check out.

I was able to share Before Five in a Row with Canyon and on some days, Lily read the book to him instead of me. Since Canyon and I already read so many books together, it was nice for Lily to share some time with him too. Canyon is a late four years old (soon to be five in a few months) and I found many of the activities to be too young for him which only means he is ready for the next book, Five in a Row Volume 1 which we already have ready to use.

My Thoughts
Over-all, I like the concept of BFIAR because I believe in the importance of reading and agree that it is a wonderful way to encourage learning. Although I have enjoyed reading many of the titles to my children that are used in Before Five in a Row, I also recognize that there are many newer titles that have been written since this book was published. I sense that eventually this curriculum will need updating with newer titles or eventually become a classic itself.

Pricing and Availability
BFIAR is available for purchase only through Rainbow Resource Center for $35.00 where you may also choose to purchase the accompanying books for the study. You may also take a look at some sample lessons and see a list of the other titles covered in the book.

You can read more reviews of this item by fellow crew members on The Homeschool Crew Blog.

The product featured in this review was provided to me free of cost by the manufacturer or representing PR agency as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. The opinions expressed are my own and are not influenced by monetary compensation.
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