While this is geared toward preschoolers, I offered to review it since there are often benefits for kids with special needs beyond the preschool years. I did find that by age 9 Gess was too advanced for most of the activities, but I certainly thought it would have been an incredible resource to have when she was younger. I can see having done some of these up until she was about 6. What's so beautiful about this concept is that it takes reading a book, which is a strength and joy for most children with Down Syndrome, and adds hands on activities to it. What could be more fun than reading a book with mom and making it come alive with action and play?
Each unit is based upon some of the most beloved children's storybooks of all time, most of which can be found at your local library. From Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, The Carrot Seed, Corduroy and 20 other treasures, Before Five in a Row guides you through the book in new and exciting ways. Let me share an example by showing you how Gess and I followed the guide for Blueberries for Sal. There are 9 suggested areas of study for this one book. Below you will see us doing the one on math.
Here we are enjoying the Book Blueberries for Sal. Of course you will be reading it to your 2 to 4 year old, but in our case Gess read it to me.
In the book little Sal is following mommy while she picks blueberries. Sal is given her own tin pail. In the book we find that it sometimes tells us how many berries she ate and how many she put in her pail. She also eats some of out mommy's pail too. So for math, we are going to work on counting and introduce subtraction. (For Gess we focused on subtraction since we are doing that in school.)
So, the child is given a bucket and picks some berries, or whatever you would like them to pick. In our case it was grapes. When we first put the grapes in the bucket we listen carefully for the sound because in the story it makes the sound kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk when they drop in an empty bucket, but they note that you don't hear that sound when the bucket is full. I wonder if we will notice a difference?
We did notice a difference! When the bucket was close to empty it would make a sound, but once it was full of grapes you didn't hear the sound anymore. That was fun. Now it is time to eat some berries, or I guess I should say grapes.
Gess has 10 grapes. What happens if mommy takes 3?
Gess has 10 grapes and decided to eat one, how many does she have now?
Now what happens if she eats a few more?
And mommy eats some too?
How many are left now?
We had a lot of fun with subtracting and eating grapes! As I mentioned there are many other activities to do using this one book. In Science it has you begin to classify animals. This one is really neat because it's a project that continues through every book you read. Each time you come to a new animal you make a card for it and classify it. In Blueberries for Sal you are introduced to a bear, a partridge and a crow. We classify the birds and the mammal and learn a little bit about each one. Then lets say the next time you read a book it has a cat and a mouse. You learn a fact or two about those animals and classify them too. By the end of the year you should have a fairly large knowledge of animals and a pretty good idea about how to classify them!
While this is indeed a great treasure for preschool children I think it is even more valuable to children with special needs who need that extra help and guidance. And there is even more to what Before Five in a Row has to offer. While part one of the book is all about learning from literature, part two offers many other fun and exciting ways to teach young children the important development skills they need. There are suggested activities for reading readiness, coordination, large motor skills, small motor skills, as well as activities to do in the kitchen, during bath time, at the store and ways to explore the arts through play. Your young child, with or without special needs, will be learning many new things, and they won't even know they are learning. They will think they are simply having fun, but you will know that you are teaching them valuable life skills and lessons while creating some memorable moments along the way.
So if you have kids who are not quite ready for school and would like to teach them in a way that keeps learning playful and fun, you should try Before Five in a Row. You may purchase Before Five in a Row for $35.00. To learn more about it you may visit the Five in a Row website or see what other crew members had to say by visiting the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received a free copy of the book "Before Five in a Row" for giving my honest opinion and assessment of this product in my review.