Planning our Five in a Row

We have used Five in a Row {FIAR} just about from the very beginning of our homeschool journey.  I have always been a book lover, particularly of good quality children’s books.  In fact, I purchased many books before our oldest arrived on the scene.  I have an educational background in childhood development/early education {which is not needed to homeschool successfully by the way!}, and always enjoyed the kidlit courses the best.

Why We Love Five in a Row

Of course as soon as I heard about FIAR I knew it was for us.  Thankfully I have kids who enjoy listening to stories as much as I love to read to them, and the stories in FIAR have only strengthened our love of good literature.

Besides the awesome literature that is used in the FIAR curriculum, my favorite aspect of it is that it’s so flexible. You really can simply read the story each day, talk about it briefly, and that is enough for young children.  You are exposing them to really good stories and it’s amazing how much they pick up and retain.

However, with older children it’s fun to delve deeper into the stories.  Much can be learned and explored from a good picture book.

How We Plan Our Five in a Row


Ideally on Friday afternoon I look at the book selection and choose which book we will do the following week.  I don’t usually plan ahead much further than that, I like the flexibility of being able to choose a book that is relevant to what we are learning in other areas of life if possible.  I also like to make a decision before I go to the grocery store for the week so if we are going to make a food item related to the story I can grab the ingredients at the store.

Here is my routine:

1.  Choose the book/read through it quickly2.  Sit down with the guide book and planning sheet.  I read through the suggested activities and pick the items I want to focus on and jot them in the appropriate box of the planning sheet. You can access it for FREE!

Five in a Row Planning Page

3.  Pick a bible verse for the week – I’m no bible scholar so I pick an area we might need some work on in our family and google “bible verse about xxxxx”

4.  Browse through the FIAR Blogroll and see if anyone has rowed the book.  I enjoy getting ideas from other people, and often it sparks an idea of my own.

5.  Choose Go Along Books – Often go along books are obvious, but not always.  Sometimes seeing what others have done is helpful in this area too.

6. Choose the craft – As you know I almost always pick quick and easy crafts.  But, one of these days we’re going to try those paper bag books – they are so cute.

7.  Gather supplies – if I have any coloring pages or any other printables that I want to use for the week, I print them off and store them in an inexpensive folder that I keep with our FIAR books.  I also try to gather the craft supplies and them in one spot.

FIAR Materials are kept in a magazine holder

These are just a few simple ideas that help make the week smoother and more productive.

Linking up today at Works for me Wednesday.


  1. Dawn says

    We LOVE FIAR and look forward to doing more books this year. They are really fun.
    Thanks for sharing your planning ideas.

  2. Robin says

    I can’t believe you posted this today! Just yesterday I thought of writing a post asking people how they use FIAR. This is great! We just finished our first book and while we were just going to read through the series, after searching the web it looked like there was so much more we could be doing with these. Thanks for sharing. I see another notebook in the works 😉

  3. Jill says

    We are looking forward to FIAR this year, our first! I love the planning sheet, thanks for the link. We will be doing beyond FIAR book 1.

  4. Jen4Ever4Always says

    We haven’t used Beyond FIAR yet, so I’m not sure how helpful this post is, but the planning sheet should work well!

  5. Kimberlie Meyer says

    We did our first FIAR lesson today! I was so happy to see that it was The Story About Ping because I knew that being about China would really interest Seth. We read the story and looked at China and the Yangtze River on the map. Then I made us fried rice for lunch and he gave me a chop stick lesson because I am really incompetent with chopsticks. It’s because I am American and not Chinese he informed me. Also, the story and the fried rice and just the two of us triggered a memory for him that he’d not previously shared. It was one that confirmed some things I had suspected. It broke my heart but it also made me so happy that we are going to be spending this time together this year. Now being the middle boy of three, with a new brother who seems to take up a lot of time and energy, my prayer is we will have many other moments like we had today.

  6. Anonymous says

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  7. Lynn B says

    You have been blogging a lot lately and apparently I haven’t been reading :) Glad I finally caught up; this post answered all the questions I was just wondering about! Like 😉

  8. Lynn B says

    OK, so I do have a question, Jen! Do you purchase all of the FIAR books ahead of time? Also in another post you mention copywork for the older kids. Do you choose that yourself? Any examples? Just curious.

  9. Jen4Ever4Always says

    Lynn, I do buy the books up front. I used to try and get them from the library, but since some of them are older, most classic books, they were often unavailable. It became too frustrating for me, plus we have a small local library. We also really enjoyed the books, so I felt good about buying them.
    Regarding copywork, I have done both. This year our curriculum Paths of Exploration (which I love!) has lots of copywork so I am not adding to it. Last year when we did our bird study I would take short passages or sentences from The Burgess Bird Book, our spine book for the study. That worked well, but obviously was more work. I know that you can purchase copywork books too. Hope that helps!

  10. Tina Santiago-Rodriguez says

    Hi Jen! 😉 I was just wondering.. how do you incorporate Catholic lessons and concepts into the FIAR program? :-) I am thinking of trying FIAR with our 5 year old. Either that or Seton’s Kinder program. Am praying about it. Pls. do give your inputs! :-) Thanks! God bless!

  11. Jen4Ever4Always says

    Hi Tina, great question! I’ve found the easiest way to incorporate our faith into everyday life is to celebrate feast days, read about the saint of day, learn simple prayers, etc. Really, daily life is the best teacher. As they get older and are approaching First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion, then your lessons can become more specific. At that point I would just set aside a small part of the day to focus on the Catechism. I hope this helps!


  1. […] Planning our Five in a Row – FIAR has long be a favorite in our house.  Some planning tips for how we made it work in our home. […]

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