Last year, my son turned five and my daughter turned three. I did not buy a preschool curriculum-in-a-box. We read a lot of books instead and did living math. Homeschooling gives me that flexibility. Besides, I really like the Charlotte Mason approach which replaces textbooks with living books.
I did not know how to come up with different activities based on what we were reading, so I bought Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) – the Five in a Row (FIAR) volume designed for children ages 2-4. In a different format than the regular FIAR volumes (which are meant for ages 4-8), BFIAR introduced us to a fascinating list of children’s classics and provided suggestions for activities based on the stories and concepts in the books.
This taught me how to put together a unit study – an approach which I could then take to other books we read, not included in BFIAR. That skill right there is worth the money for a new copy. Check out the amazon price below – better than on the FIAR website.
We read most of the BFIAR books from the library. We owned two titles and eventually found a third one at a homeschooling curriculum fair. Honestly, I did not feel the need to own them all. We already have many, many books.
My children loved all the titles and kept asking me to read them again and again and again. I think I read Blueberries for Sal a hundred times. OK, so maybe I read it only 14 times and it felt like a hundred times. When I got really bored, I focused on their enjoyment of the book. It helped.
After reading Blueberries for Sal, my children wanted to drop five frozen blueberries in a metal bowl every day just so they could go, “Kerplink, kerplank, kerplunk.” It’s the kind of memory that will stay with a mom (and her children) forever.
Before Five in a Row will always be the first curriculum (although the FIAR publishers tell you FIAR is not a curriculum) we ever tried and loved. If you love reading to your children and don’t know how to create a unit study based on what you are reading, I suggest you learn from BFIAR.
Some of the activities will go over the head of a two-year-old, so you can either work them with your older preschoolers or skip them altogether. Homeschooling allows for a tailored approach. Every time.
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Thank you so much for this review. I found your blog by way of the Moore yahoo group when you linked me to your site to view your schedule. I just stopped over to look at your schedule and took away wonderful ideas like bfiar,and the chores chart(how cleaver). I have a question,my son just turned 5 and we plan to use BFIAR, do you think this would be to easy or boring for a five year old active boy ?
Glad to be of help, Kat. 🙂 I remember replying to your question on the Moore Yahoo group. To answer your question, I think that BFIAR would work for an active five-year-old boy. That’s how old my son was last year and he loved it. You just have to minimize those activities that are too theoretical – they do have some – and really go to town on hands-on activities involving gross motor skills, movement, and rhythm.