At least on occasion.
It’s only been a few weeks since I packed up our shelves full of picture books. (I’m being optimistic about finding a place to move to.) But before I could pack them, I had the challenge of convincing the kids that 1. No, I am NOT getting rid of them, and 2. They really can live without them for a few months.)
Of course, as soon as I pack them up, a review arrives that makes me wish I hadn’t.
We received Before Five In A Row, a parent’s guide to enhancing storytime with relevant learning activities. Don’t take “activities” the wrong way – Before Five In A Row is not a curriculum. Consider it something akin to a tourism guide to picture books – with info about suggested places you might stop, and things you might want to consider while you’re there, but by no means a detailed itinerary that you’re expected to follow.
While Before Five In A Row was designed with 2-4 year olds in mind, the kids and I all felt that the age range could be extended by a year or two. Granted, Five in a Row books are also available that are geared toward the 5 and ups.
Wait, you say? What were we doing reviewing stuff for preschoolers when the youngest is 9?
Well, you see… all four of the kids have been preschoolers. And I’ve been mom to a preschooler. Four times, in fact. And the kids have a younger half-sister and step-sister, and they’re [usually] pretty good at guessing what sort of things they like.
And it’s not like convincing them to read picture books was any challenge.
The most time-consuming part, for me at least, was searching for every single one of the 24 titles in the library system and requesting them. Since, silly me, I went and packed all the picture books.
Chances are, if you have your own picture book library, you already own a few of the titles. If not, or if, like me, they’re unavailable for some reason, there’s a good chance your local library will have most of them. (Every single title was owned by at least one of the two library systems here.)
Before Five In A Row has two distinct parts. There are 24 mini-studies in the first part. (And if you notice elsewhere that it says 23, I have no idea why; I counted, multiple times, and there really are 24 of them.)
Each mini-study is focused on one title. Activities are noted by subject area, yes – but these are readiness skills for that subject area. A suggested bible verse is included for each unit. Other topics include science, history, math, language, art, values, thinking skills, etc.
These aren’t the “sit-down, do work” sort of activities that you might have see in other preschool-targeted materials. Instead, this are intended to inject casual learning into everyday storytime. Many of the ideas here can be easily adapted to other books once you have the general idea down. It’s similar to discussing colors as the cars go by, or counting toys that have to be picked up, or naming body parts as you wash them in the bath. Normal, natural, everyday learning.
The second part of the book, subtitled “Parent’s Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness” is exactly that. A collection of fun, flexible tools to integrate readiness into your daily routine. Categories include reading readiness, large and small motor skills, activities at bathtime, in the kitchen or the store, or learning through toys and the visual arts. These pages will make a huge addition to your teaching moment toolbox, don’t overlook them!
Just in case it isn’t obvious – this book is not just for homeschoolers. Even if you have no intention of teaching your children at home once they have reached school age, you and your child can benefit from this book. Encouraging reading and interaction with books will increase the likelihood that your child will do well in school, and that’s something that every involved parent should desire to stimulate.
Even though mine are past the target age for this book, I’m finding ways I can adapt the info to fit me and my kids . I really wish I’d found it when the kids were younger. If I someday I have another preschooler, you can bet this book will be on my shelf.
For more information about Before Five in a Row, check out this page on Five in A Row’s (FIAR) website. Before Five In A Row is a 150-page, black-and white, illustrated, large-format paperback book, available from Rainbow Resource. There are three subsequent titles in the series: Five In A Row (4 volumes), Beyond Five In A Row (4 volumes, plus a supplement), and Above and Beyond Five In A Row. Sample lessons for the later books are also available on the website, along with a forum where parents can ask questions and interact with others who are using Five In A Row materials.
To see what other crew members had to say about this product, check out the TOS Homeschool Crew blog post, Five In A Row.
**I received this product for free as a member of the 2011-12 The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew so that I could provide you with an honest review of it by our family.**