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At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, I had a long list of curriculum choices and although it all looked pretty good, I had a feeling it would be too much for us to complete. However, I also knew things would be different for us this year since I suspended using the Sonlight curriculum and added two kindergartners to the schedule, so I wanted to make sure I had my bases covered.
For the first half of the school year I worked on establishing a groove with two kindergartners and a second grader. As I reflect, I would say we have done fairly well with math, reading/phonics (All About Reading is so, so great) and handwriting. Spelling and geography, with Kellan, have gone pretty well too. But science, social studies and art have been a bit random for us. And we began without any music. (Although Kellan started to learn guitar and we picked up an awesome music curriculum mid-year, Zeezok’s Music Appreciation, and have loved it so far!)
But one of my favorite things to do with the children, read aloud, has been neglected as I’ve focused on particular subjects and had the kids working on different things. *Tear, sniff, sniff.*
For the whole first semester the only whole chapter book I read aloud to Kellan was The Trumpet of the Swan. One book. And that is so disappointing because we all love read alouds. I read to the girls every day before bed but we didn’t have many whole group read alouds. And so, as I planned for the second part of the year and thought about what is most important in our homeschool, I decided that read alouds need to make a big come back.
First, we’ll be reading more chapter books aloud this semester. You can see which books we are currently reading by checking out the sidebar on the blog. Right now we are reading Little House in the Big Woods as a group and I am reading Holes to Kellan. In the beginning of January we read Sarah, Plain and Tall together, so we are off to a great start!
Additionally, I’ve decided to implement Five in a Row this semester.
I had Five in a Row included on my list of curriculum choices but we only read three of the books in the fall and I barely scraped the surface with what we could have done with those units.
So I’m turning things around this semester and we are going to give this a go. I’m really excited about it because I love, love, love planning units like this. This is right up my alley and I know the kids are really going to enjoy it. We are currently working through Mrs. Katz and Tush and it is going so well. I’m excited to see what topics peak each of their interests as we work through more of the books.
(I’ll talk about our schedule and how we are making this work for us in a follow-up post).
Here’s are five things I love about Five in a Row and why I’ve decided to begin using it:
- The books. There are some amazing book selections included in this curriculum. I am thrilled to be reading and discussing them with my children. Literature-based learning is delightful for kids and adults alike.
- The options. There are so many topics that can be explored as we work through a huge variety of books. It’s a great way to see what the children are most interested in and what topics they’ll want to continue to explore. There is also an option for older kids to work on and/or lead some more complex projects but still all come back together. Plus, we can explore science, history and geography more than we have been.
- The connections. There are so many ways to make connections between topics and previous books. This is incredibly helpful for our children as they learn new information, ideas and concepts.
- The unity. It is easiest for me, as mom and teacher, when we can all work through something together. It is also most exciting for the children when we do this. Even though Kellan is only 2.5 years older than the girls he has been reading proficiently since he was three years old. And because of that he is grades ahead of them in certain areas. So we have to split up when working on several subjects. But when we can all come together I see more joy with what they are working on.
- The planning. Now this can be a pro or a con. You can certainly work through Five in a Row and just use the suggestions outlined in the guide. However, I personally find myself wanting to add more activities when I read through it. Some people might be fine with what is there but if you are like me you’ll want to include more than that (or expand on it). So, if you don’t have the time than this could be a con for you. For me, at this stage, with no babies or toddlers, I have the ability and I’m excited about the planning!
And do you know what else I’m super excited about?! I’ll be sharing each unit with you after we work through it. I’ll give you details and photos in case you want to use Five in a Row in your own homeschool and are looking for additional ideas.
We are going to be using volumes 1-3 since I bought the starter kit and we won’t be working through the books in the order they are listed. I am going to choose based upon the season, and other things we are working on or talking about. But I think many families do it that way. So, it’ll be a fun surprise for you to see what we are working on next. 🙂
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Have you used Five in a Row before or are you currently using it? Do you (or did you) find it to be a good curriculum choice?