FIAR for Winter: The Mitten

Ever since we began homeschooling about 6 years ago, I’ve had Five in a Row on my radar. I got a real taste for it when we joined our co-op group and the youngest group, of which both my boys started in, would “row” a book each week. This may be a strange concept to many of you, this “rowing” or books (yes, books, not boats, lol), but I will explain.

Five in a Row is a program geared towards ages 4 – 8 (there’s also Before Five in a Row for ages 2-4), immersing your kids in good quality literature multiple times a day, and incorporating it into different areas of study.

If you purchase a Five in a Row manual, each week there is a suggestion of a book  to read. Every day you “row”- read – the book, then choose some areas to cover to enhance the story: history, geography, language arts, math, science, art and bible. You can stick with the manual’s suggestions, or you can venture out into the world wide web for a TON of ideas! This tends to be the route that I go, since there are so many free resources available and then you can actually skip buying the manual (not that they aren’t a great resource to have on hand!).

So while I have loved this idea of focusing studies around books, I’ve struggled and struggled to get it off the ground. It takes some planning in advance, either making sure you have the books in your library, or borrowing them, as well as planning and collecting ideas for the areas of study. It can be a bit daunting! But that’s also because I like to over-do things a bit. You can certainly take a simpler approach and get a lot accomplished still.

You can use FIAR as your whole curriculum, or in addition to your “bookwork” (which is what we do). I typically plan a month in advance, and do the printing either on Sundays or Monday mornings (working on getting better at that!). I pin a lot of ideas as I come across them, you can check them out on my FIAR pinterest board.

If you are interested in doing Five in a Row, here are the blogs you should check out that have done a LOT of books and listed a lot of great ideas.

Delightful Learning

Unplug Your Family

The Unsells

Homeschool Creations (Jolanthe has TONS of great printables to go along with the books!)

Five in a Row Blog (of course!)

Homeschool Share (awesome free site for printable lapbooks and extras)

Each week or so I’d like to share one of our “rows”, so we can remember what we’ve done, and hopefully help and encourage you to try it out! Here’s our first row for the winter season: Jan Brett’s The Mitten. We rowed this one for Grade 2 and Kindergarten.

Five in a Row The Mitten


Language Arts:

Keekers worked on recognizing colour words – she’s just beginning to read so some of the words were definitely a challenge, but she loves colouring in, so that was an incentive for her.


Using free printables from Teachers Pay Teachers (there are a TON for The Mitten!), JJ did a Long A sort of real and made up words.


Another freebie from TPT, finding and matching rhyming words. We did two versions – one with Keekers where we separated out the words she could read, and one with JJ for the more difficult words.


JJ also wrote down the story elements for both The Mitten and The Hat, as well as compared the stories and wrote down his favourite parts.


Finally, another freebie from the Homeschool Share lapbooks, we identified how many syllables key words had.


We used Homeschool Creations’ Read Build Write cards to practice reading, building and writing words.




We usually do an art project on Fridays. We used Hodgepodge Homeschool’s Christmas Chalk Pastels tutorial e-book and did the mitten project. Chalk pastels are messy, but so fun! And Hodgepodge’s tutorials are amazing!





In addition to our usual math, we also talked a LOT about order and sequencing words. We practiced identifying order with some games.


Keekers decorated and “sewed” together a mitten, then made stick puppets to put into the mitten as we read the story.



We learned a little about each of the animals in the story and whether they hibernate or migrate during the winter. Everything went into our lapbook for reviewing.


 Come back next week where I’ll share our row of Mr. Willowby’s Christmas Tree!