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Thread: Jane Claire's Helps for Those Beginning...

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Jane Claire's Helps for Those Beginning...

    Hi and welcome!

    Whether you are searching for just the right curriculum for your family, or new to Five in a Row here are some valuable tips to help you get the most out of your experience.

    There are two sections included here. One is a Conversational Scripted Week using some of the lessons of the Five in a Row manual. It will give you an idea of what a week could look like. The second is an explanation of how and why the curriculum was developed to include: Reading the Story Five Times over a five day period. This explains the educational philosophy and many ideas for over coming multiple story readings should you happen to have a reluctant student.

    A Conversational Presentation of a Five in a Row Unit

    There is of course no "absolute" way to present Five in a Row lessons. Each family modifies their presentation to fit a wide variety of needs. However, let me explain an effective way to use this curriculum and let’s choose The Story About Ping for our example. There are usually several lessons for each subject category listed in your Five in a Row manual. In this demonstration I will not use every lesson listed but will select certain ones to illustrate the conversational teaching technique.

    Whatever time in day you choose to do your Five in a Row lessons, begin by cuddling up on the sofa or big chair and saying: "Let's read a book together!" Then enjoy reading a good story all the way through.

    Day One

    On the first day, after you've read the story through together, you simply begin conversationally, "Did you notice that our story today takes place in a foreign country? Do you remember the name of the country?” Or you could ask, “Where was it that Ping lived?" If your child doesn't remember, look in the story and find a line where it says that Ping lived in China.

    Ask your student if he knows where China is. If he does, then let him show you on a world map. If he doesn't, then help him find China and the Yangtze River on a world map. The story disk is a wonderful manipulative which your student can use to pinpoint the setting of the story and enjoy reviewing it on the map each of the five days that you cover The Story About Ping.

    Now continue by asking your student if he has ever heard of people living on boats like the one in the story? Can he see the door and windows in the illustration of the wise-eyed boat? Some of the people of China live on their boats and fish for their dinner and eat whatever they catch. Ask your student if he would like to live on a boat and never know what he was going to have for dinner till he went fishing each day. (Now, there are no right or wrong answers for this type of question. Some children will respond to this line of questioning with, "Cool! I'd love to live on a boat and fish for my dinner!" while others will say, "No way! Take me to MacDonald’s!" This is one of the wonderful ways that Five in a Row works. This curriculum helps you get to know, really know your child. And, as you share with him he will get to know you better, as well!)

    Continue talking about the length of the Yangtze River and how the people of China live, using the facts listed in your manual. There is enough information in your manual to be sufficient for students through eight years old. Please note that you do not have to use all of the information on China if you have a younger child. For some four-year-olds, for instance, just learning that there is a place called China is a great start!

    Proceed with as much information from the lessons as you think would be interesting and enjoyable for the student you are teaching. Though the information in your manual is certainly enough, it is still fun to find a simple book or two on China at your library. The pictures are colorful and interesting. You could also use pictures about China from the World Book Encyclopedia.

    There are many ideas in the “How to Use Five in a Row” section of your manual on how to help your student document what he has learned through making pages for his notebook, creating card files, etc. Some teachers are using the Dinah Zike Big Book of Books to learn how to create what they call lap books to collect and document the lessons learned each day in Five in a Row. Check the Five in a Row Archives or post on the Five in a Row message boards and ask for more information about this type of project. And now at our store we have Fold and Learns for many of the books in Before Five in a Row, Five in a Row, and Beyond Five in a Row, as well as many other wonderful helpful products.

    This completes your first day of Five in a Row.

    Day Two

    The next day you would say, "We're going to read The Story About Ping again." For most students this is exactly what they want to do! If your child is hesitant, just say, "Today we're going to read the story and we will be learning how a story is written! Marjorie Flack who wrote The Story About Ping has done something special with the words and we're going to see if we can hear what she has done." Then you read the story again. (Your student is listening, but he will also be thinking, Oh, Ping lives in China,” and “no I wouldn't like to live on one of those boats and my, the Yangtze river sure is long--it's longer than a trip to my grandpa's....all the things you talked about the day before will be running through his head. Reading the story again makes review easy, doesn’t it?

    On day two, you can ask your student if he can put the story disk on China. (You can vary the question each day: Where did Ping live? What was the name of the country where our story takes place? What was the name of the long river in China? Can you find it? Etc.

    Since you have just re-read the story it is time to share how the author used a special sentence several times in the story. Read the sentence and ask your student if he can remember where else that sentence was used in the book? If he can't, just find the places in the story where the sentence is repeated and show your student how the author uses the same words in the middle of the story and again at the end. Explain that authors sometimes use an interesting sentence several times in a story to make it fun...we call that repetition (like repeating), etc. An author wouldn't want to use repetition too much, but a little repetition can make a story interesting.

    Ask your student if he would like to write a short story (or you can work on it together) using an interesting sentence at the beginning of the paragraph and again at the end? This story can be very simple. The idea is to give your student a chance to try using repletion as the author in The Story About Ping did.

    If you are keeping a running chart of "Choices A Writer Can Make," list repetition as one of those choices. You can add to this list each time you have a lesson on "Techniques Used by Writers" and your list also gives you an easy point for review! Later, when your student wants to write a story of his own, he can go over the list and be reminded of the special ways that great authors have created stories that are interesting and enjoyable. You will see him begin to use some of these techniques in his writings, too.

    Your student's writings can be illustrated and place in the Language Section of
    his notebook. If he is too young to write, you may take his ideas or stories in dictation and let him illustrate his work and place it in his notebook under Language Arts.

    Remember that Five in a Row does not teach “how to read.” You may enjoy looking into Reading Made Easy for that portion of your teaching day.

    You may stop here or go on to do another lesson from the language arts section. This is the end of day two with Five in a Row.

    Day Three

    On day three you'll re-read the story again, this time promising some interesting art lessons to follow. (The art lessons have been placed on Wednesday so that there will be two more days of reading the book and looking at the pictures.) Today as you read the story your child will be thinking, ”China… boat…oh, there's that repetitious sentence we talked about yesterday!”

    After reading the story, you'll mention that Kurt Wiese was the artist who created the illustrations for The Story About Ping. It looks as though he may have used some colored pencils. “Let's pick a few of the pictures to look at and see how many colors he used. Do the colors look like they blend together? Why don’t we use some colored pencils and paper and see how yellow over red looks and maybe some yellow over blue.”

    Continue on with some of the other art lessons. They are easy to explain and quick to do. Again, you may want to keep a running list of "Choices An Artist Can Make" and include, as you go through the year, different medium, and other techniques. This list will serve as a point for review and allow your student to choose techniques from the list that he wants to include in his own art project of the moment.

    Any art work done can be placed in the student's notebook under Art, along with illustrated examples of art techniques discussed from the book's illustrator.

    This completes day three of Five in a Row.

    For Thursday the reading of the story will have your student thinking of and recognizing all the previous lessons including a whole new look at the illustrations. Don't forget to find China on the map with the story disk. (Take the disk down each day before the lesson, so that your student can replace it on the map. Always help him cheerfully if he needs it.)

    Day Four

    Then proceed to the Applied Math lesson. These lessons are usually developed from the story to show children how math is used in their everyday world. The Story About Ping has only one math lesson and it is a counting one. It can be skipped by the older Five in a Row users and you can substitute additional lessons from other topic sections, if you wish. In this counting lesson the ducks can be counted, counted by two’s, grouped, etc. Most of the story units will have multiple lessons for Applied Math. Remember that when your student is ready to begin a math curriculum, you need to find one even though you are doing the Applied Math lessons from Five in a Row. These Applied Math lessons are not a substitute for a regular math curriculum but the Five in a Row lessons serve as an introduction and inspiration for ideas about math. Math-U-See is a good curriculum to explore when you are ready.
    This completes day four of Five in a Row.

    Day Five

    The last day Friday, will be a time for you to read the story for the last time. Imagine all the things your student is remembering as you read together! Most of the time when children read a book, they only think about the plot. Through using Five in a Row, they learn that a book has so much more to offer! There is often geography, history, foreign culture, character lessons, interesting ways that language is used and techniques by which great stories are written, amazing art, sometimes math, and as we’ll see today there is often science in the stories that they read!

    On Friday, after you've read the story and put the story disk up on the map for the last time, turn to the illustration of the little boy catching Ping. Ask your student why he thinks the boy has a barrel on his back. He may or may not guess that it is for his safety. (You can teach a water safety lesson here, too.) Tell him that 60 years ago on the Yangtze River they didn't have life preservers and water wings the way we have today and the boy's parents wanted to be sure he was safe in the water!

    Ask your student, "Do you want to know how the barrel works? Well, there is a really big word--you don't have to memorize it--but I thought you'd like to hear how it sounds. The word is buoyancy. Isn't that a funny word? Yes, I like the sound of it, too. Anyway, buoyancy means being able to float in a liquid." (Look at the Buoyancy lesson in the manual.) Continue with the lesson and find things that can be tested in a glass of water. Enjoying seeing what things float and what things don’t.

    If your student is not yet reading and writing, write Buoyancy on a sheet of paper and make a quick illustration of the glass of water with some things floating and some not for him to put in his notebook under Science. He can then share this page with Dad, or Aunt, etc., and explain what he learned. Older FIAR students can create their own illustrated notebook pages.

    All of the above is an example of the conversational presentation of the lessons in Five in a Row. The idea is to keep your lessons light, simple, exciting--through your voice and your interest in the subjects--and to engage in discussions, back and forth together, over the various topics. Remember, too, that it is important to tie each lesson to the story through your conversation by saying things like, "Did you notice in our story today____" or “Have you ever thought of____ that happened in our story? Or, “When we read The Story About Ping today, I noticed that___", etc. Each lesson is studied because it is something interesting in the story just waiting to be explored!

    You may want to end your week with a meal that you make together from the Five in a Row Cookbook (at ). Your student can use his knowledge of the week’s story to name the various menu items. You’ll find ideas for this activity in the cookbook. The end of the week celebration meal is a great time to cook together, set the table with theme related items from your story of the week. Invite a friend or extended family members and let your student share all the things he’s learned during the week. There are special places for pictures of this event and for notes in your Five in a Row Cookbook that make this book a special keepsake of your times together, as well.

    The Five in a Row Christian Character Bible Supplement is another way to add to your week’s learning activities. These are simple lessons on character that flow easily from the week’s story unit. There are many lessons for each story to choose from and these lessons can be discussed at bedtime, in the car, on the weekend or anytime you’d like to fit one or more of them into your teaching times.

    Important! Also, just because you are having conversations doesn't mean that your students don't create entries for the notebooks that they are keeping. Having a body of work to review and share with others is important. Information on notebook entries are part of each subject covered in "How to Make the Best Use of Five in a Row" in front of each of your manuals.

    Jane Claire
    Author of
    Before Five in a Row , Five in a Row
    and Five in a Row Fall & Winter

    Reading the Story Five Days in a Row: is about reading a story five days in a row! It explains the reasoning and philosophy that went into creating lesson plans in which the story is read over and over. It details benefits and what to do if there is any resistance. Enjoy reading this piece:

    Reading the Stories Five Days in a Row!

    Before you make a decision to read the selected story less than five days in a row, it may be helpful to know why the curriculum was developed this way. Then you have the background knowledge it takes to decide how you want to use it with your student.

    Some children read a story only for the plot. When they "know what has happened," they are ready for a new book. The plot is all they know to find in a book. It takes a bit of creativity and planning for these children to experience the richness of a good story--to find out how much more than just the plot can come to them through a great book!

    Thus, the Five in a Row Curriculum was designed to find many treasures in every story--across several academic topic areas--and to provide a built in review every time you re-read the story. Each day as your child hears the story again, he is saying to himself, "Oh, there is the repetition!" or "Oh, I see how that artist balanced the picture...I remember that from yesterday (Mon., Tues., whatever). The repetition, and the repeated opportunities for your child to apply what he has learned as he hears the book over again is an important part of this curriculum.

    In addition, each day as you read, your child will hear the sentence structure, syntax, style, mood, etc., of a story written by a great children's author. This repetitive reading of a story for five days can make a huge difference in your child's ability to read and write (at the proper time). His ear becomes used to good sentences--he may not have memorized them, but the hearing five times works almost as well. Again this will help in both reading and creative writing in the future.

    Seeing the great works of art, five times in a row, that are contained in the illustrations of the Five in a Row selected titles, works much the same way. Your student's eyes are being trained not to rush from one set of illustrations to another, but to observe different details each day, as he listens to the book.

    There really was a great deal of thought that went into how this particular curriculum was created and structured, for the maximum benefits to occur. It isn't just a curriculum that uses a book, to just read once, and go on.

    Suggestions for a resistant student:

    So, because there are some monumental benefits to reading the story over all five days, we have some suggestions for those that might wish to try it with a more reluctant student.

    You can read the story the first day. The second day you can just say you "are" going to read it again, but this time you are going to leave out a part and see if they can catch you. (This is also good on day three or four) Or you can add in a character or line and see if they can catch it!

    Another day you can say that you "are" going to read the story again, but today your student can be looking for...(something in the art lesson you are going to do. For example, ask your student to look for every picture that has both orange and blue in it --since later that day you will do a lesson in complementary colors.)

    Have a student draw something about the story, while you are reading one day...not as good because they aren't looking at the pictures...but it might work for one day.

    If you do a lesson on onomatopoeia one day, the next day have them listen for the examples and raise their hand when they hear one. Use the previous day's lessons to spur yet another reading of the book, because it "is" important.

    With the above ideas and approach, you are retaining the right to say what you will do for school in a gentle friendly way..."This is what we are going to do," while caring for your student enough, by utilizing the above ideas, to create a helpful environment in which he can get over the hump of the problem, and learn to hear a good story for five days. Then you have a win--win, situation.

    I think you will find that after a few units, you won't have to do so much of this type of "leading" because your child will be used to reading the book five days in a row and he will be actually enjoying it!

    All that said, you are the teacher and you have the decisions to make. I just thought you might want to know why Five in a Row was created in this way.

    Blessings on all of your homeschool journey!
    Jane Claire
    Author of
    Before Five in a Row , Five in a Row
    and Five in a Row Fall & WinterJ
    Jane Claire
    Author of
    Before Five in a Row , Five in a Row
    and Five in a Row Nature Fall, and Winter, Spring and now Summer!

  2. #2

    Default Thank You!

    Thanks for this Janie Claire! I am a newbie and have just ordered my vol 1-3 with Bible supplement. I have used some of the BFIAR but understand it is set up differently than FIAR. My son LOVES to hear the same books over and over again, and enjoys watching the same movies over and over again. I think he will enjoy this method of teaching. Each time we re-read or re-watch something we always see something new. FIAR will be that way too. I am looking forward to getting started!
    Crystai in S.C.~Wife to Travis for 18 fun filled years, mother to DS 7 y/o lover of Lego STAR WARS and INDY. Servant to 1 cat Willa, & 1 yellow Lab,Sarah Dog

  3. #3


    This is helpful, thank you! We have been doing BFIAR and I'm just starting to think about how to implement a more "structured" approach with FIAR starting in the fall when my dd will be closer to 5 yo.
    Wife to Jason and mothering Charlotte (11.03) and Gwendolyn (4.06) and due with baby girl #3 in late April!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Midwest, USA


    Thank you for this post! I am seriously considering FIAR and this was extremely helpful to read!

    Married to Amos, a wonderful man & my best friend! :) Mom to Annie (age 6), Noah ( 4), Sam (2), and Ella (8 months)!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Murfreesboro , TN


    Thanks for that post. That makes it helpful. What is your advice to parents about phonics and handwriting? I am seeing that I will have to use something to go along with FIAR. I had already purchaced A Beka Book for k-5. I am glad I did. I think it will go well with FIAR. I am guessing anything goes as long as it works for that family. I am open to try anything. For this year I have all I need. Just looking to see works well for others on the subject of phonic and writing.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    the Netherlands


    Thank you Jane Claire! I'm a "newbie" too. Last year we started with BFIAR and I loved it, my kids too. This year we are going to continue with FIAR. I'm very excited! Sam

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