Five In A Row FAQ

by Melanie on December 2, 2014

I still have a handful of back-posts to write from the last Before Five In A Row books we did. We finished Before Five In A Row before Rocket turned 3, which was over a month ago. We’ve now moved on to our third book of Five In A Row – Volume 1! What’s the difference? I get a lot of e-mails and friends asking about what Five In A Row is exactly, so I thought I’d write a post just to address those questions.

Five In A Row

1. What Is Five In A Row?

It’s a literature-based curriculum that incorporates multiple subjects (like art, math, science, etc.) and is designed for young children. Five In A Row is a collection of volumes that are filled with ideas and lesson plans focused around certain children’s books.

The concept is simple: you read the book out loud to your child for five days in a row (to maximize learning through exposure and repetition). After reading, you do fun, creative activities that are related to the book! This turns each story into an entire educational experience and even further, creates amazing bonding opportunities for parent/child.

2. Can’t you do the same thing with ANY book? Why do I need Five In A Row?

Yes, you can. And we have! You DON’T need Five In A Row. I am personally quite fond of the ideas they’ve laid out within the volumes. I am also a lover of children’s classic picture books and their poetic language, so I’m a fan of most of the selections on the FIAR list. Sharing them with my children has been nothing short of a magical experience!

3. So what do you get with Five In A Row?

Five In A Row consists of 4 volumes full of ideas specific to a selected list of children’s classics. In planning a book to “row”, parents use ideas from the volumes to make the book come alive. They also use their own ideas or ideas they find on the Internet from other rowers.

I read the volumes more as inspiration than concrete lesson plans and the same is true for every parent I’ve met who has used Five In A Row. The actual activities and discussion points will depend on the child, their learning style, and their comprehension regarding the subject.

4. What is Before Five In A Row?

Five In A Row Volumes 1-4 are targeted at children between the ages of 4-7. Before Five In A Row was written with preschoolers in mind, between the ages of 2-4. Of course, these books can still be enjoyed outside of these age ranges, as long as activities and conversation topics chosen by the parent match their developmental readiness.

5. Does it matter where you start?

No! You can hop around between the volumes and over to Before Five In A Row or “re-row” books as you wish! Each book has its own section and you can row any book you want in whatever order makes sense for your family. Volume 4, however, apparently increases in level of difficulty (we don’t own this volume yet).

6. Do I have to buy all the books?

You will need copies of the children’s books to read to your student(s). They are separate from the volumes themselves. Many families buy the books to include in their home library.

We are very fortunate to have an awesome library system where we live, so I check out most of the books we row. And I often row them in order of whatever I happen to get my hands on from the library! When I come across Five In A Row books that are not included in our library catalog, I do buy them.

7. Is this a religious curriculum?

The makers of Five In A Row are Christian, so they do offer a Bible Study Supplement you can purchase to go along with the lessons in the book. However, this is not part of the main volumes and most families I’ve met, including us, do not use it.

8. This sounds like a lot of work. Is it?

It does take planning. It doesn’t have to take a WHOLE lot of work, but it does require you to put on your thinking cap and create a learning atmosphere that fits your child with each book. And that planning is really only the beginning of your involvement for a successful FIAR experience.

Five In A Row was designed to be a parent/child relationship-building curriculum. It’s not like setting your kid in front of a TV while you do your chores. When you read these books, you are there the whole time- talking to your child, engaging your child, and playing with your child.

Without your full engagement, your child can’t be expected to get much out of it. I wouldn’t call it “work”, because it feels more like play. But yes, it requires you to make time to spend one on one with your child. And it’s very rewarding!

9. Hmm… So, should I do Five In A Row with my child?

I’m sure it depends on the family. But if it sounds like something your child AND you might enjoy, I think you should give it a try!

I don’t even like the word “curriculum” for preschool-aged children because I think learning for this age range should be play-based and not too rigid. But Five In A Row makes learning fun, something I believe is fundamental in the early years. It gives children an awesome association with learning, books, and reading- all while building on their relationship with you. In fact, building on their relationship with you may very well be WHY they have the awesome association with learning!

My son LOVED Before Five In A Row. When we were finished, I took a one month break to prepare for FIAR and in that time, he constantly reminded me that he was ready to row another book. He still talks about many of the books we’ve rowed and re-enacts their stories through play!

It brings great joy to my heart that he has developed such a love of literature, all while building special memories with me. I can’t wait to re-row many of the books we’ve already enjoyed together when Songbird is older!

10. Where do I learn more?

You can learn more from the blog, forums, and FAQ on the FIAR website.

Note: I have no affiliation with Five In A Row other than being a user of and lover of its curriculum!

Check out my blog posts for some of the books we’ve rowed:  Before Five In A Row

Feel free to contact me if you have any other questions about how we’ve used this curriculum.


*This FAQ will change as I gather more resources or think of other useful information for those curious about Five In A Row.*

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