Friday, September 16, 2011

Review---Before Five in a Row

The girls and I love to read together and I had been trying to include more activities into the books we were reading.  My full goal this year was to really switch a lot over to a Charlotte Mason style of learning.  We are not unschoolers, because I crave some structure....even if the kids do not.


I cannot tell you how excited we were to have the privilege to review the book Before Five in A Row.  I had heard from many homeschool moms how wonderful this book was.  And with the type of school environment I was trying to put in place....what better educational tool! 

Before Five in a Row is broken down into two sections.  In the first section, it offers suggestions on 23 different children's book titles to read with your children.  Every story has a week's worth of activities suggested.  It made me really think about slowing down and enjoying each book the girls and I read through.  They offered "educational" suggestions I had not even thought of.  Such as playing "I-spy" with the illustrations on the pages.  And really encourage the girls to look at each illustration.  What differences can they find.  What are the characters doing?  All the stories suggested range from simple pictures to more detailed illustrations.

The second section is full of activities to encourage reading readiness.  Almost 50 pages of play based learning activities that you can do with your child.  And the best part is the suggestions are for activities that are low-or-no cost!!  Physical activities, science activities, social activities are all encouraged.  The book also reminds parents to allow kids to be kids.  The age range recommendation is Ages 2-5.  This is toddler to preschool age and they still need to be kids.  And kids learn so much through just play!

We absolutely love this book.  We have been having so much fun going through the reading list.  Here's our week we spent on Jesse Bear:

Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?
"Jesse Bear, What will you wear today?"  Caty kept singing that over and over each morning as she would get dressed.  She and I actually started singing the words to the book.  There are lots and lots of rhyming words that made it easy to do and fun to work on rhyming. 
We played a board game on rhyming words and one on what kinds of clothes to wear during different types of weather.  We also got out paper dolls and changed their clothes to match different weather.
We played in the sand....since Jesse Bear had sand on his hand.
 The book suggested drama/fine arts activities, so we got out dress-up clothes and created away.  The girls choose whatever combination they wanted.  We ended up with Snow White and Little Red Riding Belle.
We also worked on Letter B activities, and played I-Spy throughout the house trying to find items that began with the Letter B.
We also talked about the moon and stars in the sky.  We even put up glow-in-the-dark stars in their room.  They thought that was cool to go to sleep like Jesse Bear.
Ask Mr. Bear
During the next week we spent time with Ask Mr. Bear.  I tried to include the boys in some of the activities.  They enjoyed the story, but they did not like all of the activities for the rest of the week.  The age recommendation of 2-5 was accurate with our boys for some of the activity suggestions.  But they did like the story and did participate in some of the things we did.
As we read each page, the kids practiced their gross motor skills of skipping, trotting, hopping, etc. along with the characters.  Shhhh....don't tell them they were working on school and not just having storytime!
For this book, we worked on the Fold N Learn downloadable extra activity that can be purchased from the Before Five in a Row website.  The cost was $9.00 for the printable activity sheets and includes extra hands-on games and rhymes to do with the kids.  I knew some things may be above Caty, but was looking for a little extra for Lydia.  We are putting together notebooks for each story we complete so that I have a portfolio for the assessor, but also so we can look at the cool activities that we do with each story. the supposed to be a barn she is making while doing a finger play.  She was laughing so hard because she was having trouble making the lamb was a great way to work on a book.
 Each story suggestion is packed full of ideas to encourage your child's love of learning.  But not necessarily a set curriculum.  This book really brings out a wonderful side of education by using books to learn without kids even realizing how much they are actually learning!  There are more suggestions than almost any family can possibly do in a week!
This is definitely an item I would recommend for anyone with younger children.  The age group recommendation is Ages 2-5.  If a parent is looking for preschool activities this is a great place to start.  This book is wonderful because it can be used whether or not your are planning to homeschool your child.  This book would actually make a great baby shower gift for the person who have everything. 
The things we liked the best:
  • Good balance of suggestions for fine and gross motor skills.
  • Large amount of activity suggestions for anyone who is new to homeschooling or just looking to encourage a love of literature and learning in their young ones life.The detail given with each activity allows a parent to either do exactly as suggested or adjust to your family's learning style (in fact it is encouraged to mold the lessons to your child's learning style).
  • Five in a Row has a Forum to ask questions and see what others are doing.  So even if you are not feeling creative, you can read other people's ideas.
  • Activities can be adjusted to a child's attention span.  Most activities are meant to be done in just a few minutes each day.
  • Activity suggestions are no/low cost to families.  No need to run out and spend money on items already lying around the house.
  • Most of the books are available at your local need to run out and purchase titles, unless you really want to.
The only drawback that I found was there are some books out of print now, and very difficult to find.  Our local library didn't have them anymore due to lost items.  So we are just adjusting those titles to other children's books that are similar. 
Five in a Row offers a wide range of literature activitites from ages 2 through high school.  After you finish Before Five in a Row, you can check out Five in a Row (ages 4-8).  Next is Beyond Five in a Row for Ages 8-12.  And finally you have Above Five in a Row.  This unit study is for ages 12 and up.  It introduces children to writing research papers and encourages ideas for community service projects.  Five in a Row is a product that can stay with your family for many years.
 If you are interested in purchasing this product:
Product Name:  Before Five in a Row
Authors:  Jane Claire Lambert and Becky Jane Lambert
Cost:  $35.00
Age Range:  Recommended for Ages 2-5, but we did activities with special needs kids up to age 11.  They can easily be adjusted to age and skill level. 
You can purchase this product and other Five in a Row products:
Check out what other TOS Crew Members thought of this here.

Now for the legal jargon...
*****I received this book from from Five in a Row.  I was not required to write a positive review.  The views I have expressed are my own and are real experiences with my family.  I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255>:"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

1 comment:

  1. We loved BFIAR and Jessie Bear was our favorite book too (as well as the other Jessie Bear books). P still talkes about Jessie Bear!