Thursday, 14 June 2012

A year of Five in a Row.

Five in a Row is a "book a week" curriculum designed for children aged 4-8. The idea is that a picture book is read each day for five days and that activities are done around the book. There are four Five in a Row manuals, although my understanding is that volume 4 is a little more advanced. The manuals give guidance and ideas so that each book can be used in different subject areas. We have been using Five in a Row, volumes 1-3, for over a year now.

So what have we found? Five in a Row is a happy curriculum and both I and the children have enjoyed the books and activities.
The story of Ping illustrated by us.

Mr Exuberance, currently 40 months, has been officially too young for the programme but has loved the books and has certainly gained, particularly in terms of vocabulary. He wouldn't have been able to do many of the activities suggested in the  manuals and we have tended to do the easier activities for Miss Belle, aged 5 and 1/2 or use other simpler ideas.
Counting activity from The story of Ping

The major positives have been

  • exposure to books, previously, unknown to us. Virginia Lee Burton's books, Katie and the big snow and Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel have been a particularly popular finds.
  • being able to use the books in an order convenient for us. This meant that we could read the Bee Tree when we had a swarm of bees and Madeline and Mirette on the high wire to fit in with a trip to Paris.
  • books covering issues that we might not otherwise have considered. Follow the drinking gourd looks at slavery and All those secrets of the world  tackles separation and war.
  • increased vocabulary
  • a fresh book, each week which, generally, the children hadn't seen previously.
Seeing plane very like that in The Glorious Flight

Some books worked better than others. This was partly a feature of the age of the children. In retrospect, it might have been better to have used Before Five in a Row which is for children aged 2-4. For anyone else using Five in a Row with young children, the books that worked especially well were
  • Little Nino's Pizzeria
  • Make way for the ducklings
  • How to make an apple pie and see the world
  • A new coat for Anna
  • Mirette on the high wire
  • Harold and the purple crayon
  • The story of Ping
  • Lentil
  • The glorious flight
I found that weeks that were less successful were when either the book didn't appeal to the children, for some reason, or where we had less time to do activities around the book. We didn't keep slavishly to the manuals and there are plenty of additional ideas on the internet. We only spent a week on each book which meant that we did nothing like all the possible activities. 
Acting out Peter Rabbit

Next year, we are not planning to use Five in a Row. The main reason for this is that there are not enough books, in print, which we haven't used. I would certainly recommend Five in a Row and am very glad that we have used this.

 We do plan to read a book of the week, next year.  I'm looking for book suggestions-any thoughts?

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