My Blue Boat {Before Five in a Row}

We began our adventure with Before Five in a Row this summer, and I knew right off that it was going to be a wonderful, bonding time with my youngest (who is almost four).  We started in June with My Blue Boat, because it seemed to just fit the summertime weather we were having.  I couldn’t find this book for a decent price (and it’s out of print), so we were thankful to be able to obtain it through inter-library loan.
Creative BFIAR ideas for My Blue Boat!
After reading the book through once, I gave my little one a new bath boat.  He was so thrilled with it!  He also wanted to take it out to the pool and play with it there.
Honestly, I wondered how he was going to like reading the same book over and over again through the week.  I knew that he likes to read favorite books over and over again, which is typical for this age group. But I didn’t know how he would like re-reading books that were chosen for him.
But I needn’t have worried.  The books used in Before Five in a Row are so engaging and wonderful and classic, that every day he was begging me, “Let’s read the boat book!”
He also enjoyed doing the simple activities included in the lapbook available at Homeschool Share.
We added a few of our own projects, too, like using this sailboat stencil and sailboat rubber stamps to make a picture.
Inspired by Michelle, we made Tuna Schooners for lunch one day.

Here’s the recipe we made:

Tuna Schooners

4 (6 oz.) cans tuna, drained
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 chopped apple
3 stalks of celery, chopped
lettuce leaves (from our garden!)
English muffins, toasted
thinly-sliced cheese squares
popsicle sticks for the sails

Split the English muffins, and lay them on a cookie sheet.  Put them in a 350 degree oven and lightly toast them (I didn’t time this, just checked them every now and then and decided when they were as toasted as I wanted them.)  Chop the apple and celery very small.  Combine the tuna, mayonnaise, salt, apple, and celery in a bowl.  Place some lettuce on each muffin half; top with tuna mixture.  Then cut the cheese into triangle shapes and thread the popsicle stick through it to resemble a sail.  Enjoy!  (This served 7 of  us.)
P.S.  These would be really cute served with goldfish crackers, but I didn’t have any.  The children all enjoyed this, and it was mostly the cuteness of it that attracted them.  🙂
Some of our cheese sails didn’t want to stay up!
Right before starting the book, I remembered that my mother-in-law had given us some sea-themed rubber stamps that included a sailboat, which was just perfect.  We had fun making pictures with the stamps and colored pencils.
I also decided to incorporate the letter “B” theme into the study, so we talked about the beginning sound in “boat,” and we made this bubble-wrap-printed “B” with blue paint (also inspired by Michelle!).
Here are some of the projects and booklets we made for our My Blue Boat lapjournal:
Again, inspired by Michelle, we decided to make a crayon-resist boat painting.  I happened to have on hand the Draw Write Now book Michelle used to draw the boat, and I loved the look of the finished paintings .
{And by the way, if you’re doing Before Five in a Row, I highly recommend visiting Delightful Learning, as Michelle has so many creative and cute ideas!}
The older siblings wanted to get in on the watercolor painting, too.  We all had fun with this project.
At the end of our week, we made this Fish Bowl Gelatin recipe:
This was probably everyone’s favorite project!  It was fun to make, fun to eat, and, seriously, doesn’t it really resemble fish swimming in the water?!

Sensory Bin for June

The sensory tub I made for June included water!  I found some cute little sea-themed bath toys and knew they would be fun in a tub full of water on a hot day.  I just emptied out a plastic tub I had, filled it with water, and let him sit in the kitchen floor to play with it.
 I think this was a hit (I also added a bath boat):

Resource Links:

Linking to:  Tot School Gathering Place

This post contains affiliate links.  Read my full disclosure policy. Sharing here.


  1. What great ideas. I especially like the bubble wrap painting – going to use that with my children this year. I bet my sons will really enjoy it, and my daughter too. And I love the fish jello. Actually thinking to make it for my sister's birthday. Her favorite candy is Swedish fish – sure she would get a kick out of this.

  2. Joy,
    Well that explains how I stumbled upon your blog at some point and book marked it! I thought I surely would have found you through someone else. ;o)
    That's how it seems to go. Finding women with similar interests and ideas in the blog world.

    Thank you for taking the time to write back.
    And, for all of the idea sharing. We just recently graduated a senior here and I am so excited to dig into activities with my newly minted 5 year old. Of course he has always been involved, but not as much as he will be this year. And yes, I understand busy! He's a very busy boy. He's also very excited to "do school" with his next oldest brother and I have been researching different ideas for several days now. That's why I expressed interest to you about the BFIAR you are sharing.
    It looks very engaging.

    And…we LOVE books so…I will spend some more time digging through your links and checking out how to use these ideas for our family.
    And isn't that the best part of the homeschooling journey? Gleaning from other mamas and finding so much wonderful encouragement and so many great ideas to use with our children?!

    Thank you again!
    It's all about discernment, time management, and the needs of our families.
    I can so appreciate all of your sentiments shared here regarding blogging and homeschooling.
    Love, Kristin

    1. Thank you so much for your reply, Kristin! I wasn't sure if that massively long comment I wrote yesterday was even understandable! 🙂

      Congratulations on graduating a senior! We're just getting started with our high school journey–the time goes by so fast. That's one of the reasons I wanted to revel in the fun of preschool with my youngest. 🙂

      I'm so glad to have met up with you here. It's such a blessing to meet other home educating mamas!

  3. Dear Joy,
    First of all…Let me introduce myself. I'm Kristin and recently found your blog, or at least started reading at the end of Spring or early Summer, before your little summer sabbatical. Anyways…I have been reading these posts with great interest and am curious about something. A couple of things actually. When I searched out the BFIAR on e-bay the price differences were sometimes extreme. Can you tell me…am I missing something as to why one is very expensive and one is less?
    Also, since my little one just turned 5 a couple of weeks ago and we love the Charlotte Mason approach, she doesn't really encourage you to start "formal" education before the age of 6. I know you are using this for a pre-schoolish type of program, but do you think it's a good fit without being overly schooloish for the pre-k age as well? Or, in your opinion, have you liked something else for your children as a 5 year old?
    Also, do you find yourself having to shop a lot for all of the little items that you use to make things crafty, snacky, and overall educational? It all looks fun! I am going to assume you have years of little treasures built up so that probably has reduced your costs to some degree.
    I'm just curious of all of the expense involved by the time you do each of your book units.

    I have really enjoyed your gentle spirit here. And have spent some time gleaning from your older posts as well. Thank you for sharing! I recently had stopped blogging and gone on to creating a very small private blog as I know that this blogging and sharing can really run away with out time.
    But, I so love when Mama's can inspire and affirm each other.

    1. Hi Kristin!

      I'm so glad you found me here. I think we've seen each other before, both on Amanda's blog and possibly Collette's (and I miss both of those sweet ladies so much!).

      I so much appreciate all that you shared, and I completely understand where you're coming from with the blogging and time issue…I think we all feel that to some degree, and have to decide how much we are going to let it encroach on our time. And as you said, it is so nice when we can inspire and encourage other mamas, and also be encouraged ourselves. It's a balancing act, and something that I am constantly having to reevaluate and pray about.

      Regarding BFIAR, I don't know why one would be more expensive. I found my teacher's manual at Homeschool Classifieds, and I thought it was a great price and in like-new condition. I do know that several of the books are out of print, and so people are trying to charge ridiculous prices for them.

      I love Charlotte Mason as well. And I have read Charlotte's thoughts about the early years. I do take into consideration many of her ideas and thoughts. But I also consider that she was not a mother. She didn't have any experience with being a home-educating mother of several children. And sometimes, her suggestions are not practical for every family at every time. I love Sonya Shafer from Simply Charlotte Mason, because she encourages us to remember these things. In the book about younger children published by Simply Charlotte Mason, Sonya encourages mothers not to feel discouraged if they can't literally spend "hours in the out-of-doors" with their young children. We have homes and other children and financial constraints to consider. It seems we can't always have the perfect Charlotte Mason experience in our day and age, or maybe in every season.

      Another thing I have to consider is my individual child's personality and needs. Last school year I took a very relaxed approach with my 2/3-year-old. But he is very busy, and he is happiest when I have lots of things planned for him. He also has been begging me to "do school" with him, since he knows his older brothers and sisters have school work to do. Our days are happiest when I spend time with him first doing a little something special, and then he's content to sit with a Montessori-type activity or a toy while I do more focused work with the older children.

      So, BFIAR has been wonderful for us! But it can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be. I also did BFIAR with my oldest daughter, who is now 14, and all we did was read the books. So, it just depends on the season you're in with your children, and what works for you and your family.

      All of the planning I did ahead of time for BFIAR is paying off, in that I now don't have to spend time shopping for all of the "extras." I decided ahead of time which extras I wanted to include, and I found or acquired what I would need to make those experiences happen. Or, I at least have them on a list in each folder (that goes with each book), and when I look ahead to see what I'll need, I simply add it to the grocery store list so I'll have it on hand when I need it. We live in a very small town, so I'm not able to do a lot of shopping, as my options here are very limited!

    2. …(It said my comment was too long, so I had to divide it into two!)…

      The best part of BFIAR is just sharing the love of some really great classic children's books together. The books are really the best part. Just snuggling together and reading is what it's all about. If you want to add other activities like crafts and cooking together, that just adds to the fun, but it's not required. And there's nothing really "schoolish" about BFIAR. All you do is enjoy reading the books together. If you want to, you can point out or ask questions about parts of the story, but it isn't required.

      Regarding cost, that would depend on if you decide to use the library or buy the books, or whether you decide to add crafts/cooking activities. It all depends on the individual family. And yes, since I have older children, I do have a lot of educational-type things and toys already available.

      I hope this helped answer some of your questions. If not, feel free to email me!

      ♥ Joy

    3. Thanks so much for stopping by, Michelle! You're my BFIAR hero. 🙂 Your blog has been a huge inspiration to me!

      Thanks for mentioning Rainbow Resource, too. That's where I bought my literature package, and I've been very happy with it.

  4. This is so delightful! You make it look so easy! I am a mother of 4, our oldest is 7. I love the idea of homeschool but cannot even conceive how I would manage when I seem so incredibly busy now! How do you do it? Would you consider a later post about what your day looks like? I greatly appreciate you blog -it has been ministry to me. May God bless you and your family!

    1. Hi Davina!

      Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog. To God be the glory!

      We have five children (3, 7, 10, 12, and 14). I'd be happy to share more about what a day in our home looks like. I will say, though, that in a lot of ways things have gotten easier as my children have gotten older. But homeschooling is always a lot of work! 🙂

      Many blessings to you!

  5. Thank you for sharing! I've never used this, but I can see this being a lot of fun with my next two boys coming up. I will have to look into this and plan something like this for my soon to be 4 yr old. 🙂

    You seem so organized and creative!!

  6. I love seeing this post, it's such a big help! I love all the books from BFIAR and love seeing the engaging activities to do with the books. I love the info they give in the books but because there are no pictures I struggle with what to do. I'm so visual that it's hard to imagine what would work and what wouldn't. Thanks for taking the time to share what you're doing in your home. I greatly appreciate it!

    1. I know just what you mean about being visual, Ginny–I'm that way, too! I did BFIAR with my oldest daughter (who is now 14), but back then helpful blogs and Pinterest didn't exist, so we didn't do as much with it as I'm doing now. We're having so much fun together!

      I so much appreciate your comments…it's always nice to know that a post helped or encouraged someone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.