Five In A Row: A curriculum review

I love that there are many different ways in which we can homeschool. Some prefer a more traditional method (more like a school set up) and others mix, match and go with the flow. It is what works best for us and our children.Thematic units or Unit studies are one way in which we can teach and explore. Five In A Row is a great example of this. So let’s look at it.


Five in a Row is a literature-based homeschool curriculum that uses books from children’s literature to teach lessons in social studies, language arts, applied science, math, and art. 

Five in a Row is actually an easy-to-follow, highly effective instructional guide that uses children’s literature as the basis for each weekly unit study. Lessons are designed for children ages 5 through 12 and include discussion guides and questions, teacher answers, hands-on activities, activity pages, and suggestions for further study. 

They also have “Before Five in a Row” and “More Before Five in a Row” for preschool and kindergarten. 

Front view, smiling pupil with blue glasses frame and blue tie on a book background. Boy holding a stack of books in his hands against multi colored bookshelf in library.


It is called “Five in a Row” because you read the book to your children five days in a row. There are reasons for this (and it is not to drive the parents crazy reading the same story over and over).The more a child reads, the larger their vocabulary becomes. When a child reads or hears the same book multiple times, they become familiar and comfortable with a greater number of words. 

Hearing favorite stories read aloud helps children become aware of the pattern and rhythm of text. Language is more than just words — it’s how words sound and connect to each other.

Each time your child reads or hears a book read to them, they learn more about the story itself. Each pass through the text or illustrations allows them to dive deeper into the story’s meaning, preparing them for more complex narratives down the road. This is reading comprehension – the ability to understand all the components of a story.


Five in a Row is broken into volumes.

V1-3 are for ages 5-9 

V4-5 are for ages 9-12

V6-8 are for ages 10-12+

You don’t have to do the books in any particular order. You are free to mix and match the units depending on the needs of your student. Volumes 1-3 are based on books that are about the same level. Volume 4 increases in difficulty and length of study for each book (two weeks for each unit instead of one). Volume 5 is a transition volume, containing both picture books and chapter books. Volumes 6 and 7 (chapter books) are similar in level, and Volume 8 contains two more chapter books plus the longest unit, which is a semester-long study of a more advanced chapter book. 

Each day you read the book and then do one, or maybe two, of the activities.

little girl reading a book


  • Literature based, using a wide variety of quality picture and chapter books
  • Can work well for all learning styles
  • Minimal prep (you will need to do some after you have chosen the activity for the day)
  • Affordable. You do not have to purchase the books – you can make the most of the library. (Though Rainbow Resource does sell the books as a pack for each volume.)
  • For the younger grades it is comprehensive in that it covers all subjects, but it is suggested to also use a math and phonics curriculum for younger children and then a math and spelling/grammar curriculum for older elementary children. 
  • It is flexible. You can choose what book you want to use. There is no set order. 
  • If you wanted to use it as a supplement to your other curriculum you could. 
  • They have additional mini units, as well as a cookbook and notebook builder (printables for the different activities)


  • Some people don’t think it is academically rigorous enough. It is more of a “gentle” approach.
  • Some of the books can be hard to find.
  • You do need to add other curricula (specifically math, spelling and grammar).


Each volume is $49 each. If you were to use Five in a Row for a full year you would need approximately 1-2 volumes. So you are looking at approximately $100 for the year (additional cost if you purchase any books).


It is not a Christian curriculum, though the authors are Christians. It is used successfully by both Christian and non-Christian families. From their website they explain “Before Five in a Row and More Before include Bible devotionals for parent and child that can be used or skipped over. For Volumes 1-8, Bible lessons are not included in the manuals because some homeschoolers are not able to purchase religious curricula in order to stay in compliance with their state’s homeschool laws. So for Volumes 1-8, FIAR offers a separate Bible Supplement (in two volumes) that pairs up with each individual story unit.”

I love unit studies and I like how this is set out. I feel that it would be great for people who are new to unit studies and also want a strong literature based curriculum.  

You can find out more about this curriculum at Five In a Row

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