Five in a Row ~ Behind the Scenes of Owl Moon

To help you understand how we use Five in a Row, I will give you some behind the scenes detail! The process I use for FI♥AR is very similar to Before FI♥AR.

Owl Moon is a Five and Row selection from Volume 2.

The first thing I do is select the book we will row. When I started planning for our Five in a Row adventure, I chose several books with a Winter theme to row this Winter.  For example, I chose: Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening, Owl Moon, Katy and the Big Snow and The Rag Coat. Owl Moon has a nature theme similar to Stopping by Woods, so I chose to row it next as an extension.

Which reminds me. I was asked about how often I plan. I typically make a general plan a year at a time, and then micro-plan seasonally, or a few books at a time. Check out Learning Together With Five in A Row and Learning Together With Five in a Row Part 2: More Organizing to see how I plan and organize (how I do what I do!).   

Note: This happened to be one of the books I did not have any activities pre-printed for since it is from volume 2. Pre-planning really helps!  With a new baby coming, I was only able to plan for one season (I am not on top of things like I was for B4FIAR!), so I will have to take another planning break this Spring!). 

After selecting the book, I read the manual and chose which lessons I wanted to cover. Five in a Row is extremely flexible ~ you can do any or all of the activities.

Owl Moon is about the experience of a young child who goes owling in the woods with her father.

For this book, I chose:

Social Studies: 

Setting - Woods - (so that I could tie it into our last book, and also because I could tie it into a real life experience ~ we have 22 acres of our own woods in Montana. Maybe they will ask to go owling the next trip we make?).

Self-Control, Bravery - these are character qualities the child demonstrated in the book and we discussed these ideas. I then look for opportunities in everyday life to reinforce these qualities. Often there are many chances!

Language Arts:

Metaphor and Simile - "The text is filled with phrases that help bring the sights, sounds and feelings to the reader by comparing them to other things that he has known or experienced," says author Jane Claire Lambert.  We talked about comparing one thing to another and looked for examples in the book as we read one day. For example, the snow looked "whiter than milk in a cereal bowl." My children could relate to that!  Note: I did not distinguish between metaphor and simile for this lesson. 


Trees and Shadows - we did not do the actual lesson in the book. Instead, we looked at the line and shape of the shadows made by the trees and the actual shape of the trees and discussed it.

This next activity is what I call a "go-along" activity, in other words, it was not suggested in the manual, but tied into the book.

To find "go-along" activities I search Homeschool Share, Google, or my Google Reader (ie other blogs), or look for activities in books. If I find it online I include a link to the activity. Otherwise, I mention the book it came from. Sometimes, I think of ideas on my own.  But, mostly I go looking for them!

Oh, which reminds me. . . I forgot the most important thing! After I choose which lessons I want from the manual, I read the book with the children together (often for the very first time!) and I ask them what they want to learn! Often this is how I come up with the best ideas!

Elli is still learning shapes, so I thought this would be a good project for her. For this activity, I showed her a picture of the owl and let her assemble the owl. I added the moon but didn't tell her where to put it. 

Elli is learning to write her name. We will work on writing "a" another time.


Units of Time - how many minutes in an hour, hours in a day.

Hours of Daylight and Dark - We discussed how the hours change with the seasons. In Winter, the days are shorter and the nights longer. I brought up the fact that in Summer, they go to bed when it is light and in the Winter they get to stay up after dark!


Woodland Habitat - Owls, rabbits, fox, birds, mice, raccoon, opossum, and deer are in the Northern pine woods of Owl Moon. Instead of making a woodland habitat poster as suggested in the manual, we read The Moon of the Owls, by Jean Craighead George. This is a fantastic book! It tells a story of the woodland animals in what I call a living science book! (This was not suggested in the manual ~ I found it looking for owl books at our library). 

Shadows - "Pa made a long shadow, but mine was short and round." We talked about what makes a shadow (light), what makes it long or short and then found our own shadows from the sunny window.

Note: I usually bring up other lessons for discussion while reading the book, but I don't formally touch on them all. 

Owls - we read Owls, by Gail Gibbons and made a collage. The collage activity was suggested for the Woodland Habitat animals, but I knew I had lots of pictures of owls, so this was easier.

Owl Collage

We found owl pictures in magazines and cut them out. Note: I found them in Birds and Blooms (a gift subscription from the kids' great grandma) and had them ready. 

Moon - we talked about the moon being the "lesser light to rule the night" and that it was created on day 4 with the sun and stars to be "for times and seasons."  We also reviewed the 8 phases of the moon and discussed how the Bible reckons the new months as new moons.  We then read Jump Into Science: Moon and did a moon activity from the book. 

In addition to reading the book, we watched the Owl Moon Video, which is the book being read aloud. The children followed along with the book. This also gave me a little break! 

Meteorite Cookies and Moon Craters

Same recipe that we used for our Snow Ball cookies, but this time they were meteorites. ;-)


This is not a part of Five in a Row, but I learned to do this my first couple years of homeschooling and I think it is so important! I love notebooking too, so I have them narrate the story to me and I type their narrations and have them illustrate them!

I then put a photo of the book, any written work, art work, lapbooks, etc into a 3-ring binder with sheet protectors for our portfolio.

This is more in-depth than I normally go into when I share what we are doing. Hopefully it has given you a good idea of how FIAR works for us!


  1. What a great post! I've never used FIAR, but have always wondered about it. Thanks for the peek into your unit, and your home.

  2. Love, Love, Love this! Thank you so much for sharing. I'm currently trying to re-think "how" to do FIAR with our umbrella school's requirements. Kindergarten they don't care, but 1st grade it another story. I love the visuals.

  3. I love that you ask them what they learned. I will have to remember to ask JDaniel.

  4. Ok the last photo got me, just wanted you to know I have been reading, your doing a wonderful job sharing your 'schoolin' way!

  5. I LOVED seeing this look into how things go at your house for schooling! Your children seem to enjoy it so much! :)

  6. Thank you so much Michelle for all the work you put into your series on preschool. It was been so helpful and enriching to me and I've gotten so many new ideas to make my son's preschool great! You are a blessing.

  7. Thank you SO much for this post. I'm seriously considering changing our curriculum to FIAR and I love to read how you row. We've been trying the curriculum out this week and after the first reading of our first book my son came up with the idea of writing and illustrating his own book. I was SO excited! With our current curriculum we don't have the flexibility for him to anything that creative. Again, thanks for the post and I'd love to hear more about FIAR from you!

  8. You're welcome! I hope to share more (after a little break!). That is
    wonderful about your son! A book is a great idea - anything that gets
    them excited is great! :-) I do like FIAR for the flexibility, and the
    creativity. Hope it works out well for you!

  9. Praying that you are feeling better. I've had you on my heart for several days now and hope that you feel the prayers surrounding you and your family.

  10. You are welcome, Ambra! I am blessed to hear that I wrote something
    useful to someone. ;-) Thank you for letting me know. I pray you and
    your son have a great preschool year!

  11. What a gret and helpful blogpost..thanks for taking your time to write it. It will help me a lot on planing my year!