A few years ago I saw this great book called Using Caldecotts Across the Curriculum and loved the idea of using these picture books in a unit. I later learned of Five in a Row and again, fell in love. Last summer I was introduced to Hands of a Child, which took our love of lapbooks and hands-on learning to a new level. It took a while to actually decide that this was what I wanted to use with my kids though because I was too busy trying every other mind-boggling homeschool method that just didn't work for us. Well, with 3 kids doing school this fall, a toddler with special needs and a new-born on the way, I had to make some drastic changes. What we were doing already wasn't working for us and with the new addition, it wasn't going to get any easier.
I get excited about planning for the new year and I find myself reading EVERYTHING I can get my hands on. There are some great ideas on Pinterest and even more on the Five in a Row Forums. I just couldn't figure out where to start though. I posted a thread on the FIAR Forums and was given this great POST. It's a great place to get started when you get ready to begin planning your year using children's picture books as your unit starter.
To get started, I needed a school calendar. We don't have any need to go by the public school calendar so I decided that for next year we will start the first week of August and go through the end of May. This is longer than our typical year but with the new baby coming, I want plenty of lead-way. I didn't plan for specific weeks but I did plan 2 books per month, for a total of 20. This allows us time to delve deeper into some topics that we really enjoy, take field trips and take time off for doctors appointments and other things that come up when you have a house full of children. I decided to use a random sampling of stories from Before FIAR, FIAR, Using Caldecotts and Hands of a Child. I tried to base these on books that we already have, books that we've borrowed from the library before and enjoyed or books that we've wanted to read and just haven't.
Following along with Kendall's schedule from the forum, the next step would be to obtain planning pages for the entire school year. I think this should be pushed down a few but I will share what I did. I found a lesson planning sheet on Just Finding My Niche that I liked for the detailed lesson plans and one on Whispered Abundance that was perfect for the overall planning and preparation for the week. I am aware the Five in a Row puts out a yearly planner with these sheets in it each year but the 14-15 version isn't available yet. I'm too impatient to wait! There are many great resources in that pack that I look forward to having once the new year is available. It is not only for homeschool planning but family organization and planning as well.
So now for the FUN part! Step 4 on that list is is selecting 18-20 titles for the year and the next step is putting them in the order you will use them. I combined these two steps. I decided to do 2 a month for 10 months so we have 20. I choose some from each volume of FIAR, Before FIAR, Using Caldecotts and Hands of a Child. Only a few from Hands of a Child do not focus on just one book, the others do. Several of the books were in FIAR, Using Caldecotts and Hands of a Child too. We will most likely make long rabbit trails with those and do several weeks using activities from each source.
You can see our schedule here. Be sure to check back in the coming weeks as I work farther along Kendall's planning schedule and get each unit planned in detail for the coming year.