BFIAR Week 1 - Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

Welcome to the first installment in a new series on the blog, following our path through the lovely literature of Before Five in a Row. Won't you row along with us?

I picked this curriculum on the recommendation of a friend. The basic plan of both Before Five in a Row (BFIAR) and Five in a Row (FIAR) consists of "rowing" a book a week, i.e. reading the same book, every day, for five days in a row. The selection of books is an absolute treasure! 

Each chapter of the curriculum gives simple suggestions for close reading of the book and optional activities. In addition, there are a number of blogs out there with a plethora of free resources for following along with the books. One of the best options for additional activities is to sign up for the newsletter on the FIAR website and you'll receive access to free fold n' learns to go along with some of the books!

For our first week, we read Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear?

The book follows little Jesse Bear over the course of the day, using simple rhymes to talk about the various clothes that he wears throughout the day. By the end of the week, we'd both just about memorized the book. The rhythm is soothing and it's a good introduction to rhyming words. (The curriculum talks a little bit more about this, and the value of a book like this in introducing little ones to poetry.)

When I read this book before presenting it to Sister Stinky, my first thought was I must find a way for her to dress up a bear as we read this book. Hence, the flannel board figures were born. I made the figures out of felt, using the patterns from the Fold n' Learns on the website. Sister Stinky really enjoyed acting out the story as we read the book each day, and I think doing so helped her to remember the story-line better. On the first day, we just acted out the story using the felt board figures.

The next activity we did has been Sister Stinky's favorite activity in preschool by far. Using our large paper roll, we traced the outline of Sister Stinky's body, and asked what it was that she would like to wear. Then, we colored in the picture together. (She isn't all that big on coloring, as you can tell, but she was fascinated by tracing the shape made by her body!) She dubbed the drawn figure "Elsa" from her latest favorite movie.

On our last day of rowing, I made us some rhyming cards, using the words from the book. We matched the words on the cards with their rhyming counterpart (Sister Stinky can't read yet, so she relied on the pictures to figure out the rhymes). It was a good culmination for the week, since Sister Stinky had practically memorized the book at this point. 

In addition to our BFIAR work, we also do some math time and practice learning the Our Father. (So, the three components of our preschool right now are 1) Reading/Writing, 2) Math, and 3) Catechesis.) For our math right now, we are focusing on counting and number recognition. We've been using our Montessori bead bars for counting, along with these simple matching cards from The Helpful Garden.

And that was our first week! (Last picture courtesy of Sister Stinky.) Have any of you tried Before Five in a Row? What resources have you used as you've worked your way through the books?


  1. I am so excited to see you are doing this! I picked up a cop of BFIAR and we just started it- we actually are skipping ahead and doing Snowy Day this week because of the weather. I'm excited to read about all your creative ideas! Question- do you know of any good resources for learning about Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at home? My siblings went to a school with CGS and I love the idea of it but would love some resources to read more about it.

    1. Ohhh...we should totally skip ahead to that or at least hit it before winter it over! Yes, I do have a recommendation! I haven't purchased it yet, but I'm planning on using this album/curriculum for our CGS homeschool:

    2. Oh, this curriculum is just the sort of thing I have been looking for this week to start with my 3yr old - perfect, thanks for the link! (also , I'm new to your blog so really looking forward to exploring it)

  2. Jesse Bear is one of our favorite books. I picked it up years ago on clearance at a bookstore when the twins were babies. It is such a sweet book and the illustrations are so vivid.

  3. I love this! I could definitely see using something like this with John Paul and Cecilia together - they're obviously at such different levels but a lot of this would work well for both at the same time :) Looking forward to seeing more!


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