There are 55 books in the first three volumes of Five in a Row. (That’s not counting the additional 15 in Volume 4, which goes into greater depth and is designed for 7-8 year olds.) I’ve also chosen an additional 11 picture books to study in FIAR style – more about that in a minute. That’s a lot of books to juggle. This is the only part of our curriculum that I’ve sorted into a rough schedule.
My tentative plan is to aim for three books per month – two books in months like December (Christmas) and July (SUUSI). That will give us built-in time every month to catch up if life gets in the way, or to let one book spill over and take up extra time if we don’t feel done with it after five days.
I placed books on the planning calendar for a variety of reasons. Some I wanted to anchor to specific events (Mrs. Katz and Tush during Passover) or seasons (How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World during apple picking time). Some seemed like she’d outgrow them if we waited too long, and some had subject matter I prefer to hold off on – either in the book, or in the FIAR lessons. Once I’d laid out all the books with obvious links, I slotted in everything else wherever it would fit.
The schedule is definitely just a guideline, though. I’ve noticed in my reading that families who seem to get the most out of FIAR don’t hesitate to switch things up to suit their needs. If a book about the ocean sparks a lot of enthusiasm, they might take the next week or two chasing down “bunny trails” about coral reefs or shipbuilding or sharks. If an unusual field trip opportunity comes up, they look for a FIAR book to match. I want our plans to be flexible enough to make way for these kinds of opportunities. There isn’t a date by which we need to be done with FIAR. If taking extra time and skipping around makes it richer, we’ll all be better off.
I have chosen to add some books to FIAR. The book lists chosen for the curriculum are (almost all) great, but a limited range of world cultures are included. The curriculum is about twenty years old, and it may be that there just weren’t many good picture books about Africa or South America available when it was written. There are now, though. So I’ve picked an additional set of books to add greater cultural depth to our studies. I tried to focus on geographic and cultural diversity, insider voices, and compelling plots. I think I’ve found some great books. I’ll need to write my own lesson plans, but it’ll be worth it.