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Before Five in a Row: A LLX2 Review

LLX2’s<25 Words: A wonderful resource for any parent of a 2-4 year old who wants to read great children’s books and participate in activities together with their children.

LLX2’s Product Rating (out of 10 stars)

Is it worth our time? 9 stars

Did it help us learn? 9 stars

Is it worth the money? 7 stars

Is it useful to me? 9 stars

Practicality- 9 stars

Quality- 8 stars

Kid Rating- 9 stars

I received the book Before Five in a Row by Jane Claire Lambert to review. The cover of the book states it is “a treasury of creative ideas to inspire learning readiness.” It is described as “an important product which includes 23 Five in a Row-style mini-units (plus an extra mini-unit) based on outstanding children’s books for ages 2-4 as well as a large section of learning readiness activities for your everyday life: things to do in the kitchen, at the store, at bedtime, bath time, etc.”

Whether or not you are a homeschooling parent, this book has so much to offer you and your child in learning and creating precious memories at the same time. There are two main parts to this book.

The first part of the book is “Before Five in a Row Stories and Activities.” The basic premise of this part is to row the particular book you are reading with your child. This means reading it each day of the week, for one week. During the week, you are to choose 1 or 2 suggested activities to do each day after you read the book (some of them are actually while you read the book). I know that my kids beg to re-read books (and watch movies) over and over. I usually tire of reading a book well before my kids do. The different activities listed in Before Five in a Row are a great way to mix things up a bit. The activities relate to Art, Language, Science, Math, Music, Drama, and Games.

This section of the book includes activities to go along with 23 different books.

The book list for Before Five in A Row:

  • Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, by N. W. Carlstrom

  • Yellow Ball, by Molly Bang (out of print)

  • My Blue Boat, by Chris L. Demarest (out of print)

  • The Little Rabbit, by Judy Dunn

  • Ask Mr. Bear, by Marjorie Flack

  • Blueberries for Sal, by Robert McCloskey

  • Goodnight Moon, by Margaret Wise Brown

  • The Big Green Pocketbook, by Candice Ransom

  • The Runaway Bunny, by Margaret Wise Brown

  • The ABC Bunny, by Wanda Gag

  • If Jesus Came to My House, by Joan Gale Thomas

  • Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina

  • The Carrot Seed, by Ruth Krauss

  • The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

  • The Quiet Way Home, by Bonny Becker (out of print)

  • Play With Me, by Marie Hall Ets

  • Prayer for a Child, by Rachel Field

  • I Am an Artist, by Pat L. Collins

  • Angus Lost, by Marjorie Flack

  • Katy No-Pocket, by Emmy Payne

  • We’re Going On a Bear Hunt, by Michael Rosen

  • The Red Carpet, by Rex Parkin (out of print)

  • Corduroy, by Don Freeman

  • Jenny’s Surprise Summer, by Eugenie (out of print)

These books and activities are ”not meant to teach in-depth but to enhance your child’s awareness of the world around him and create memorable times of interaction between you.” (p 4 of Before Five in a Row) This is to help you spend quality time with your children. As parents, we tend to want to push academics and advancement at an early age. Those early childhood years are brief, and you cannot get them back once they are gone. I really think that this book is a great way to introduce children to reading and learning in a wonderful setting without a lot of worksheets, academia, or “structure”.

The second part of the book is “A Parent’s Treasury of Creative Ideas for Learning Readiness”. This portion consists of great ideas for newer parents or as reminders (or a new idea) for parents who have already had 2-4 year-olds. These ideas could be used for a preschool class at a homeschool co-op or even a church toddler room. Many activities can be done throughout the day, but some are specific to bath time, kitchen time, out at the store, etc. It also has a great list of ideas for types of toys to purchase. I really enjoyed reading some of these activity ideas. One that stuck out to me was Shopping List Bingo on page 126. (I am going to leave you hanging on what exactly it is) What a great way to have your child participate in shopping and make your experience more enjoyable for you and your child!

I read Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?, Yellow Ball and The Runaway Bunny with my two girls who are 2 and 4, and did the activities in the Before Five in a Row book. Occasionally I would even catch the older kids trying to listen or come over to see the pictures. They also really wanted to help the younger ones with the activities. We really enjoyed doing the activities together. My little ones would see the book lying out and bring it to me to read it again! In fact, we have enjoyed it so much that I am going to continue using it with them for the rest of the school year as “their school”. You know how little ones want to be like the bigger ones!

The girls are really engaged!

What I liked:

  • Perfect for my 2 and 4 year-olds.

  • Created quality time with them without much (if any) prep work on my part.

  • Has a huge collection of activities to do with my kids that we can pick up and do easily any time and anywhere.

What I didn’t like:

  • I noticed that a couple of books were out of print. I found them at our library, so it wasn’t a huge deal. This is what FIAR stated on their site about this: “Think of FIAR as a “Cookbook for Learning.” There are MANY “recipes” that use many “ingredients,” and if you don’t have fresh asparagus (or a specific book title in this case) just skip over that recipe and move on. These lessons do not build upon one another, and you can jump from story to story, from volume to volume as you wish.”

To sum it up: I think Before Five in a Row would be perfect for every parent of one or more children ages 2-4. I would highly recommend it for those parents who only have younger children in that age range as a perfect way to engage with your child in the delight of reading and learning. The wealth of information and ideas is wonderful especially for those who are new parents.

Edited to add: I actually reviewed this item many years ago. It is still a favorite in our home and we have used it with subsequent children. We have also used this in a co-op setting!

The important information:

Before Five in a Row

by Jane Claire Lambert

Published by: Five in a Row Publishing

Address: PO Box 707, Grandview, MO 64030

ISBN: 978-1888659-04-7

Order from: Rainbow Resource

Price: $35.00

***In case you are wondering, there are also books available for your older children by this same author. Five in a Row, Beyond Five in a Row, and Above and Beyond Five in a Row work along the same premise, using books which are age-appropriate for different age ranges. To learn more about these books, click here.

Disclosure/Disclaimer: I received the above product free of charge for review purposes. I am only expected to give an honest review.


Lessons Learned x2 

 Sharing encouragement, practical knowledge, resources, and advice to help you create an educational journey that supports your students!

-Sacha & Wendy

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