See the complete review in 102 Top Picks for Homeschool Curriculum.
Five in a Row volumes have been written for preschool through eighth grade levels, although they are best known for use in the early grades since that was the target of the original Five in a Row volumes. These study guides are available for three levels, but level designations are very flexible.
This is a less intense approach to unit study than others...that are designed to cover all grade levels and numerous subject areas.
Let's first look at the original Five in a Row volumes written for children ages four through eight. All four volumes available in this series follow the same format. For each volume, author Jane Claire Lambert has selected a number of outstanding books for children and built a “mini” unit study around each one. Volume 1 has 19 units, Volume 2 has 21 units, and Volumes 3 and 4 each have 15.
Each study should take one week, with more or less time spent each day depending upon which lesson elements you choose to use. While there are no biblical references in the primary volumes, Five in a Row repeatedly teaches positive character qualities such as forgiveness, compassion, and honesty that tie easily to scripture. Likewise, the selected stories are not overtly Christian, but reflect Godly principles. For those who want more explicit Christian connections, a separate Five in a Row Bible Supplement ($35) contains 175 Bible lessons relating to the 55 studies in Volumes 1 through 3.
Examples of selected books are The Story About Ping, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Katy and the Big Snow, Wee Gillis, Make Way for Ducklings, All Those Secrets of the World, Harold and the Purple Crayon, and Gramma's Walk. You will need to purchase or borrow the required storybooks for each volume. However, Rainbow Resource Center sells packages of these books if you prefer to buy them all at once.
Each story is to be read aloud every day for one week (five days). You select activities for social studies (the term loosely used to cover character qualities and relationships in addition to geography, history, and cultures), language arts, math, science, and art to build lessons derived from the story.
There are numerous hands-on activities and projects, although much of each detailed lesson plan is presented as “talk about this” type activities....
Other Five in a Row volumes are available for older and younger children. Those with preschoolers might want to use Before Five in a Row. This volume was developed for children ages two through four. Plenty of activities center around 23 books written for young children. The format is similar to that of the volumes described above.
Those with older children (approximately grades three through eight) should check out Beyond Five in a Row, Volumes 1 through 3. These three volumes were authored by Becky Jane Lambert, daughter of the original series author, Jane Lambert. These are excellent, one-semester courses. Four storybooks for each volume are the foundation for each unit study. For example, Volume 1 includes The Boxcar Children, Thomas Edison: Young Inventor, Homer Price, and Betsy Ross: Designer of Our Flag. Subject areas covered include literature, some language arts, history, composition, science, and fine arts....
A list of all topics covered is located at the back of each book; this will help you for both planning and tracking your accomplishments.