How to Use Five in a Row in a Relaxed Homeschool

Five in a Row

Over the past eight years, we have tried out a lot of curriculum. Some of it we loved, some of it we hated, and some of it became a staple in our home education routine from the moment we opened the first page. (If you’re interested in seeing our full curriculum for our littles this past year, you can find that on YouTube.)

Five in a Row is one of them. 

From the very first day we began to use this resource way back when we first started homeschooling, I knew that this was going to be something that would help us to create memories for years to come. The suggested books and activities are so natural that there’s no way you can use this curriculum and feel stressed, unless you do what so many others have and become obsessed with trying to do every single thing listed instead of choosing what works for your family.

In order to help you not do that, today I’m going to share with you:

How to Use Five in a Row in a Relaxed Homeschool

What is Five in a Row?

Five in a Row is a literature-based unit study curriculum for children ages 5-8, although you can tweak it to meet the needs of children younger than that. Each volume contains a list of quality picture books and related, cross-curricular activities to go with each one.

The reason it’s called Five in a Row is because you are meant to choose a book and read it every single day for a week, and then do some accompanying activities.

The activities are listed under subject headings to make it easier for parents trying to cover certain subjects each day; however, most of the activities cover far more than just the subject they’re listed under.

There is an appendix in the back with some templates and little story disks to place on a map to show where in the world each story takes place.

It is suggested that you supplement with a math and phonics curriculum. Otherwise, this is meant to be used as your sole curriculum, not in addition to a slew of textbooks. Since it is cross-curricular, it covers all of the major subjects, plus art.

Tips for using it simply:

Since I homeschool ten kids, I need to approach our curriculum in a no-nonsense way in order to keep my sanity. There just simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do every single lesson or activity. That’s the reality of it, so here is the best advice I have to offer regarding this curriculum:

– Stick to two or three activities a day, in addition to the FIAR read-aloud.

Too many activities each day will make the picture book get old fast.

– Consider doing it every other day rather than every day.

This can be useful for larger families like mine who alternate their children’s homeschooling days (here is a video explaining how I do this). It can also be helpful for children who get bored too easily with hearing the same story every single day.

Remember that curriculum is a tool for you to use in a way that suits your family. There is  no such thing as the curriculum police, so rest assured that you’re safe to use it any way you choose! In fact, we do FIAR every other day, and we only do it for four days rather than five.

I’m such a rebel.

– Choose only the activities that both you and your kids will enjoy.

Learning is retained so much better when a child is actually interested in what they’re doing. Plus, no child wants to do school with a grumpy Mommy. 😉

– If your FIAR activities cover language arts or math for the day, skip the supplemental curriculum.

There’s no need to be redundant, right? My kids especially like these days. As a matter of fact, today my littles got to skip their math curriculum because our FIAR activity consisted of going over the days of the week, counting how many days are in one week, and then calculating how many days are in three weeks. As always, our trusty Shopkins served as our math manipulatives.

See? Those little toys can be good for something!

Five in a Row has served our family well over the years, and it will be a mainstay in our house. Remember that the key to using it – or any other curriculum for that matter – is to make it truly yours. Once you’ve got that settled, you’re well on your way to a successful and pleasurable homeschool. 🙂

Happy Homeschooling!




Author: Shelly Sangrey

I'm Shelly, a Christ-following, homeschooling Mom of eleven children ( okay, not ALL children. My oldest is 23.) I met my husband right after graduation, and we've been together ever since. Though my life can be hectic at times... okay, ALL the time, I wouldn't change it for anything.

7 thoughts on “How to Use Five in a Row in a Relaxed Homeschool”

  1. I LOVE Five in a Row! Thank you for the reminder. I loved it with my older kids and bought a lot of the wonderful books. It was so easy to use and often we’d do the suggested discussion before even reading the suggestions. It’s just a very natural way to learn from real books.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I would think that this would be an especially great resource when you have a bunch of ages, because then everyone can join in! I have the FIAR book, but the titles haven’t sparked our interest as much as the BFIAR titles did. (Of course, I *don’t* have that book, just looked through a friend’s copy!) I’m not getting rid of my copy of FIAR, though, because maybe we’ll be more interested as Gv gets older.


    1. Lisa, the FIAR books are the ones we have read over and over and over. They all have beautiful illustrations and topics that spark good conversations. There is also a book of Bible lessons that go with the books. You just made me want to get out my Before FIAR book though (if I still have it)! I never really got into that one but I think it would be good with my youngest.

      Liked by 1 person

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