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This is How We Row: Hello, Lighthouse (Five in a Row)

After a number of weeks with no intentional learning because of packing up our house and moving, we are settling into a week or two visiting Poppa in a harbour bay. What a perfect way, I thought, to start up school with rowing Five in a Row’s mini-unit, Hello Lighthouse (by Sophie Blackall). FIAR released this mini-unit in early October, and through their Instagram page, you are able to receive a code to get it for free indefinitely. 
We have taken a break from FIAR, but I’m excited to get back into it. I’ve missed the gentle structure it provides, as well as a beautiful way (and our favourite way) to start the day, reading a book together. We first began FIAR a year ago in 2018, and the first three we rowed are still fond memories and favourites, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, The Glorious Flight, and How to Make Apple Pie and See the World. Since then, on and off, we have rowed most of Volume One’s books, though we have one or two left. This next year, I plan to be more faithful and consistent in using FIAR most weeks.
Aiming to record our weeks as a help to other mother’s on the blog (as other blogs have been for me), this is how we rowed Hello Lighthouse.


We read through the book.

Today’s focus was on getting to know the book and learning about lighthouses

  • Did you have a favourite part or a favourite page?
  •  (look at p.1-2, and fold-out page) Where are lighthouses located? Why do you think they are there? (Islands, cliff edges, hill tops near the sea – to keep ships from crashing on the rocks, guiding them to port)
  • In New Zealand, lighthouses have always been important – why do you think this is? (We are a country made up of three major islands.)
  • (Relating to where we are at Poppa’s) Did you know there is a lighthouse in Akaroa? Why would being at the head of the harbour be more important than where the lighthouse is now, within the harbour? (To guide the ships into the harbour mouth.)

We then did our narration page (where the children draw something about the story, tell me about it, and I record their narration).


We read through the book. 
Today’s focus was on the life of the lighthouse keeper. We searched through the pages again, pointing out answers as we went.
  • What was a lighthouse keeper’s job? There were many things he had to do…
  • What were the hard things about being a lighthouse keeper?
  • What were the wonderful things about being a lighthouse keeper?
On YouTube, we watched three short videos about lighthouses, chatting about what we saw:


Blessed to be staying with my father in a harbour, we visited the local lighthouse and learned a little of it’s history. It is great to add that real-life aspect with this book, as many we haven’t been able to due to lack of local resources. Afterward, Rosalie and I cut and paste some newspaper clippings of it for our scrapbook.


We read through the book. By now, the children are repeating lines and we’re noticing more details, and enjoying the illustrations more and more.
Today’s focus is on the author’s clever writing and language skill. The author did some special things with some of the words to match the story.
  • On the first page of the story, why do you think the words “Hello…Hello…Hello…” are like that? To match how the light turns round and round. Are there other words and pages that have this?
  • On the page where the lighthouse keeper is sick, why is “everywhere” stretched out? Why are the words “up and down the stairs” up and down? To match how the wife is busy doing many things and running up and down the stairs.
  • On the page where the wife is having a baby, why is the sentence curved round the picture of the lighthouse? To match how the wife walks round and round the room, labouring.
We then did some of the math suggested in the manual. We looked at the spiral staircase and all the steps to climb. Amazingly, at Poppa’s house, he has spiral stairs, so we compared the difference between the 14 steps in Poppa’s house and the 100 or so steps of the lighthouse (and how exhausting that would be!).


We read the book.
Today’s focus was about coastal weather.
Slowly, we looked through each page and noted the different types of weather:

  • Calm and still – how does a lighthouse help in this weather?
  • Dark and stormy – how does a lighthouse help in this weather?
  • Quiet and foggy – how does a lighthouse help in this weather?
  • Freezing and icy – how does a lighthouse help in this weather?
We also read The Lighthouse Keepers Lunch (which the children absolutely loved and giggled all the way through). We noted the similarities and differences between the lighthouse and keeper in each book.


We read through the book one last time. I asked the question: We have read the book five times now, has your favourite part changed?

Today’s final focus was art. Originally, I had planned to do some watercolour painting of lighthouses, but in the move, our paint was packed away accidently. So, instead, we did the Art activity in the FIAR teacher’s resource, drawing their own daymark on three lighthouses.
All in all, we had a wonderful week with Hello, Lighthouse!


This is how we rowed Hello, Lighthouse!


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