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Thursday, September 15, 2011

Product Review: Before Five in a Row

Looking for something to keep your preschooler busy and learning during your school day? Are you tired of the clutter of coloring books and markers without caps that your younger learner leaves around the workspace? Do you desire a program that gives you ideas for learning activities for your two to four year old, but doesn't involve workbooks or other expensive manipulatives?

If you answered yes, I have found the product for you:

Before Five in a Row is a treasury of 23 mini-units filled with learning activities designed to promote pre-learning in children ages two to five. Using popular and award winning children's literature, the book is filled with suggestions and ideas that revolve around play. The general idea is that these young formative years are too important to push a child into academics or let a child spend her time watching the old TV. By engaging your young learner in play-based activities, you will be building your child's mind with knowledge while at the same time instilling a love of learning that will last a lifetime. It also includes a section just for parents that outlines ways to turn your world into a learning environment. Anything from the pots in your kitchen to a trip to the grocery store can be made into a "lesson" for young learners.

I was pretty excited to get the book because I had been looking for something that was low commitment and cost effective to do with Margaret, age 3. I was pleased to see that all the books used in BRIAR we either already owned, or were readily available at the library. I created a stack of the books and let Margaret choose the books to use. 

I feel that you could easily spend a week on each of the 23 mini-units. I am currently homeschooling three older children, and I figured that I had about 15 to 20 minutes per day to spend with Margaret in one-on-one time. I know by itself this doesn't sound like a lot, but she is involved in the school day in many other ways. Considering her age and temperament, I found that this would be an ideal amount of time for her and I to work together.

It worked out perfectly. We would begin each of our "sessions" by reading the story for the week and then completing one or two of the suggested activities. She would end the week by completing a picture narration, which is what her older brother does after I read him his history lesson. At least one time a week she would tell Papa about the story she was learning.

Overall I found this book to be easy to use and incorporate into our already existing homeschool day. It didn't have day-to-day lesson plans (and you know how I ADORE those), but the units were still very simple to convert to a daily plan with an objective to complete. Besides getting the books beforehand, I didn't need to do any prep for the lessons and didn't really come across any activities that required hard-to-find materials. I enjoyed browsing through the second part of the book and was glad to find many of the suggestions were already instilled in our home environment.

Margaret is excited to get started with BFIAR.

Margaret making her picture of the yellow ball with the sky and water.

Margaret choosing the clothes she thinks Jesse Bear should wear.

Margaret finding examples of how Jesse Bear shows love to his father.

So what did my product tester think of BFIAR?

I liked the books with the Papa and Mama and Baby. I also liked the books that were outside. I liked the pictures that I drawed because they were pretty with colors.

Before Five in a Row cost $35 and can be bought exclusively at Rainbow Resources. Are your kids too old for Before Five in a Row? Then check out the book that inspired BFIAR! The four volumes of  Five in a row offer a unit-study approach to social studies, art, applied math, and science. Click here for reviews and pricing information.

Disclaimer: As a member of the TOS homeschool review group, I received a free copy of this product in exchange for a review on this blog. I received no other compensation.