Our Homeschool Days: Five in a Row

May 6, 2013

I get a lot of questions about homeschooling on IG, Facebook, Twitter, and in real life. Most of them are along the lines of, “It seems so overwhelming. Where do you begin?”

I have been stuck writing this post for forever because I get frustrated with my own answer. There simply isn’t a place to begin except to talk to people who are homeschooling, research, go to a curriculum fair if there’s one near you, call different curriculum providers you have an interest in using and ask them questions, search blogs, and read, read, read about it. Also ask lots of questions! Then dive in. Really – you can change it as you go.

I want to tell you my A., B., and C., but homeschool is such a personal journey that my choices and style probably wouldn’t work for many of you or your children’s needs. On that note, before you click away and tell me I just wasted 5 minutes of your life 😉 I’ll share with you about what we’re using, how it works, etc.

What we are using this year: Five in a Row for our basic curriculum


I’m starting Bella on Five in a Row (FIAR) Volume 1. Last year we did Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) and while she’s still in the age range for it, she’s also more than ready to start on phonics, letters, etc. I wanted a heavily literature based, reading out loud based program. FIAR offers that while incorporating in science, social studies, math, history, geography, etc. All in a very natural way that ties in with each book read.

The basic concept of B/FIAR is taking a classic children’s book from their list, reading it for a full week (or longer) then applying the lessons to it. For instance, we’re doing Ping this week. So today we’ll read the book, do a craft about ducks, and talk about why Ping didn’t want to get back on the boat. (Obedience and consequences)


I love that it comes with a simple, yet detailed, teaching manual for each book and activity. We also bought the cookbook to use with different lessons.


I’m not a super creative person without a direction. I wish I was, but I’m simply not. I need guidance to grow ideas from, otherwise I get overwhelmed by the amount of info and choices out there. And do nothing.


What FIAR doesn’t offer is a phonics (learning letters and how to start to put sounds together) guide. They encourage you to supplement that in, and I have starting this year. (That’s another post) The majority of our days are spent outside, with each other, with friends, and playing. It’s a very small part of the day (and usually only 3 days a week) that we do “school.” This time is her and I at the table, coloring and gluing, on the couch reading, and talking about whatever subject we’re on. It’s informal, it’s fun, it’s age appropriate.


If something doesn’t work or she’s not ready, I put it aside. My goal isn’t frustration or a child who hates learning or pushing a kid past their learning point so I look amazing. 🙂 We tie in our Kiwi Crate boxes (referral link and 50% off first box!) and use movies (like Disney Nature) to learn more about things we study on. Field trips, car rides, magazines, cooking – it all works as you go along.

Things to Know:

  • Buy the books that go with the teaching guide from Reading Resource if you aren’t able to locate them at a library or own most already. I priced each book on Ebay and Amazon against their bundle, and they win. Plus you get brand new books, and you can keep them for years to come.
  • FIAR is meant for ages 4-8. BFIAR is 2-4. Beyond FIAR is 8-12.
  • While FIAR isn’t technically a Charlotte Mason based program, it is used by many families who like that style.
  • You could incorporate a variety of styles into B/FIAR.
  • FIAR isn’t a religious based program. BFIAR incorporates Biblical teachings into the teachers manual and books however. You can choose to purchase a Bible supplement from FIAR to tie in with each lesson.

I’ll talk about our early phonics program next! Hopefully this helps some of you!

Questions? Comments? Leave it below (comments from newcomers are moderated) or email me.



  • Angie Grooms Dawson

    February 4, 2014 at 3:18 am

    Thank you for your post! I would be really interested in knowing what phonics program you went with, I can't find if you wrote on it or not!

  • Heather

    July 24, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Thank you! I have been on the fence about FIAR and now am leaning towards it. I have a 5 and just turned 9 year old and I want something we can do all together. This seems like a solution. I will supplement with math and LA and we are learning Spanish this year. Thanks for your post!

  • Kaitlyn Lauren Bibb

    July 22, 2013 at 3:44 pm

    I love this! My daughter just turned three and we're planning to start BFIAR in the fall with motherhood on a dimes (a-z God's explorers for bible stories). How you seen homeschoolcreations printable stufffor BFIAR & FIAR? They're great too! Excited to follow your homeschool/FIAR journey.

  • Tina

    May 9, 2013 at 8:48 pm

    I loved FIAR, I have many happy memories of those books. Bul alas my children are now too old for them. But FIAR introduced me to the concept of living books, and we read so many. Yes, happy memories.

  • Erin

    May 7, 2013 at 11:23 am

    Ping was one of my favorite books growing up. When my brother and I talk about the times that we were home schooled The Story of Ping just about always comes up! Its a real winner. (Also, my mom used Sing, Spell, Read and Write for Phonics and it was wonderful too!)

  • Chantal

    May 6, 2013 at 6:56 pm

    I’ve looked into BFIAR. I think we might do that, once Penny is old enough for it. I’m so excited to do homeschooling. While it’s overwhelming with all the options, I’m excited to have the freedom to do what we want and tailor her education to how she learns.

  • Brooke

    May 6, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    Can you do the FIAR without having done BFIAR? Or can you leave the Biblical component out of BFIAR and have it still be effective? Not sure we can swing pre-school this year and I really really want/need more structure for Ruby. She’s bouncing off the walls!!! 😀

    1. Diana

      May 6, 2013 at 3:48 pm

      You can definitely do FIAR not having done BFIAR. I have to say that BFIAR is fairly Christian based – a lot of the books and the teachers guide emphasize on it while FIAR is secular. This is a great link on FIAR: http://www.mothering.com/community/t/924218/is-five-in-a-row-secular
      However, I don’t think it would be hard to leave out the religious aspect of BFIAR or skip those books. If you plan a week or so ahead, you can mark those references in your manual!

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