Five in a Row

family studying together

Five in a Row, or FIAR as it is often called, is a literature approach to unit studies. Created by Jane Claire Lambert, an experienced homeschool mom, this curriculum is geared toward elementary children. It is especially good for the new homeschool mom who doesn't feel ready to write her own unit studies.

How Does It Work?

There are several basic FIAR books. All together the books provide more than 55 lessons, each broken down into five days. Each lesson concentrates on one children's book. The subjects covered are:

  • Social studies
  • Language arts
  • Math
  • Science
  • Art
  • Music

There are other subjects that are covered randomly throughout the curriculum as well. Each day's lesson plans are already laid out; the parent will only need to follow the instructions in the book each day. Although most curriculum will take several hours a month to plan, Five in a Row takes only a few moments.

Learning Styles

Because of the many different activities in the teacher's guide, every learning style is accommodated:

  • Visual
  • Kinesthetic
  • Auditory

Each lesson encourages listening skills and has a lot of hands on activities that are so important in the elementary student's development.

The Volumes in the Five in a Row Curriculum

There are several volumes in the curriculum which takes the student from preschool through adolescence.

FIAR Book One

Some of the books that are studied in FIAR Book One are:

  • The Story About Ping by Marjorie Flack and Kurt Wiese
  • The Rag Coat by Lauren Mills
  • Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton
  • How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World by Marjorie Priceman
  • Cranberry Thanksgiving by Wende and Harry Devlin
  • Katy and the Big Snow by Virginia Lee Burton
  • Night of the Moonjellies by Mark Shasha
  • Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost

FIAR Volume Two

Some of the books studied in Volume Two are:

  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
  • A New Coat for Anna by Harriet Ziefert
  • Mrs. Katz and Tush by Patricia Polacco
  • Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully
  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
  • Down, Down the Mountain by Ellis Credle
  • Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
  • The Tale of Peter Rabbit written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter
  • Follow the Drinking Gourd by Jeanette Winter
  • Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
  • When I Was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant

FIAR Volume Three

A selection of books that go with Volume Three are:

  • The Wild Horses of Sweetbriar by Natalie Kinsey-Warnock
  • Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • The Duchess Bakes a Cake by Virginia Kahl
  • Daniel's Duck by Clyde Robert Bulla
  • Warm as Wool by Scott Russell Sanders
  • The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer

FIAR Volume Four

Some of the books that make up Volume Four are:

  • Roxaboxen by Alice McLerran
  • Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Higgins Bend Song and Dance by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
  • Cowboy Charlie by Jeanette Winter
  • The Hickory Chair by Lisa Rose Fraustino
  • Hanna's Cold Winter by Trish Marx
  • Angelo by David Macaulay

Before FIAR

This volume was created to be used by preschool children, aged two to four. It takes less time than the lessons in the first three volumes and is specifically geared toward creating a love of learning and literature in young children.

Beyond FIAR

This is for older elementary school children that are ready for chapter books. It utilizes both fiction and biography chapter books in the same way the previous lessons used story books. The lessons include:

  • Creative writing
  • Essays
  • Social studies
    • History
    • Geography
    • Sociology
  • Science
  • Vocabulary
  • Computer skills

The only subjects that will need to be added are Math and English (Grammar, handwriting, and spelling).

Above and Beyond FIAR

This is a recent project that is aimed at the student entering the junior high years, 12 and up. These units are created so that the student can do them with little input from the parent. The student is drawn in to literature as in the other volumes, but this is a solitary journey as he learns to think for himself and draw his own conclusions.

This volume can be used as a supplement to a more traditional curriculum or a six week unit study.

Bible Study Supplement

The Bible study supplement is to be used with the lessons and contains Bible stories and references that enhance the unit studies with spiritual instruction.

Helpful Websites

There are many websites and forums with hundreds of great ideas to make FIAR even better.

Here are a few of them:


Using Five in a Row unit studies with your children can make your teaching time special. Because of the unique way that the curriculum is set up it is more like story time than school. If you enjoy a relaxed style of teaching this may be a good choice for you.

Five in a Row