pink and indigo flowers
Mom to Mom typography

Jane Lambert & Carrie Bozeman

Be Bold: Let Wonder Inspire Learning
Jane writes:


long time ago, probably before most of you were born, I had a six year old in public school. It was the same grade school I had attended and seemed adequate educationally. Yet as the year progressed, I was aware of the strong pull of peer pressure, and at the same time was hearing about a new way to educate children. Within a year we prayerfully made the decision to give homeschooling a try.

As many new homeschoolers do, I began teaching with traditional textbooks. I found after a year of textbook teaching I wasn’t excited about the material myself and was having a harder time making it seem exciting to my daughter. So I began to gather materials, including movies and videos, science and art programs from television, library books that were full of great pictures, and other resources. I chose materials that taught the same academic lessons but with what I felt entailed more thought-provoking and exciting presentations. We now had two daughters who were over five years apart and I ended up teaching for about fifteen years, choosing various study books and researching and gathering lessons for each student.

Near the end of my homeschool teaching, I noticed an article in a magazine for public school teachers about teaching some subjects via children’s books. That suggestion sparked the idea that blossomed into the Five in a Row curriculum. From my personal lifetime love of great children’s books I knew I wanted to pass on a treasury of literature to as many children as possible. It seemed they could be encouraged to cherish great stories and at the same time be excited about their lessons because the lessons tied into these stories! It was a winning combination.

My point is not trying to give you all the benefits for this curriculum, but to say that the boldness that motivated the creation of Five in a Row came from years of creating teaching plans that appealed to both the teacher and her students. In addition, the boldness to gather my own materials came from my deep love of learning coupled with a growing desire to engage my students’ imaginations. For me, it was important as the teacher to be interested and excited about presenting the lessons. I felt if I was, it would greatly help my students to be interested and excited about learning as well.

I believe for deep learning to happen, students need a lesson presentation that piques their imaginations and sets them to wondering—wondering how something was made or why that event took place or how colors change when mixed together or why that person in history behaved a certain way. Wondering how many stars there are or how birds know where to fly in migration—not to mention what makes a leaf green—all of these questions speak to the truth that everything in our universe is beyond interesting if we present it with our own excitement about learning.

So be bold in searching for teaching materials that excite and inspire you about the wonders of our world. Then you can share academics with your students—presented with enthusiasm that inspires their wonder and expands their learning.

Every subject a teacher offers has an element of amazement; therefore, students wondering about the lesson is the beginning of their learning. Instead of the age-old student question, “Why do we have to learn this?” our students know why—because their wondering curiosity leads them to want to find out why things happen, what things mean, and how things work. Then watch out…there is no stopping them!

pink and indigo flowers

Five in a Row wasn’t written until I was in high school; however, my mom taught my sister and I in this style. We frequently used the unit study concept to take a single subject or a place and learn everything we could about it—topics that ranged from pizza or bubble gum to Ireland or Australia. This inevitably led us on wild chases around our city to find import markets so that we could try the foods and see the products imported from a specific country. My mom would find news stations on the radio from other countries so we could listen to their news and sporting reports. We read stories of people who made “pizza” an American favorite or about famous people from Ireland—this could include authors, poets, actors, inventors, and the list could go on and on.

As we learned more about a person or place, it raised additional questions. For example, after learning about a famous writer from Ireland, we might wonder about their best-known work, which might result in us reading it together. Asking questions and seeking answers to learn new things became a little like the story, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie: it just kept going and going.

Suddenly, we weren’t just learning about Ireland, we were learning a little science here and a lot of history there and covering art and social studies. We were letting our questions become the reason we reached for an answer and learned something. This is such a different learning mentality than what most people are familiar with—just reading what comes next in a textbook because that’s what’s on the itinerary for the day.

Learning became discovery-based, leading us in so many directions. And like us, it will allow you and your family to take whichever path sparks your interests as well.

My mother was amazing at showing us how to find answers to our questions. When we would ask a question that she didn’t know the answer to, she would say, “That’s a great question! Let’s go look it up or find a book to read about it so we can find the answer.” She could have looked it up and given us the answer, but instead she modeled that not knowing the answer is okay and then taught us how to find it for ourselves!

Having been taught this way gave me the confidence, or boldness, to believe that I can find an answer to any question I have. While I might not have covered all the same subjects or exact curriculum options as my peers, I never felt behind. If and when I encountered something I didn’t know—I knew how to find the answer for myself. The way my mother taught me has shaped who I am.

I am a researcher.
When our first daughter was diagnosed with a medical issue requiring major surgery at four months old, I dove in and researched everything I could about her condition. I found a newer procedure offered in two different states that would provide the same results with a much lower risk. I emailed doctors from both facilities and found a good fit for our situation. Many young mothers with a newborn might have felt that the doctors and hospitals at hand were the only ones available or they might not have thought to question whether there were any other options. We traveled across the country and what would have been an eight-hour surgery and five-day hospital stay ended up being a twenty-minute surgery. We were on a flight home the next day.

Over the last several years I began writing curriculum for Five in a Row following the process my mom used when she wrote lessons. I find an amazing book (after reading a hundred or more that I don’t use), read through it and ask questions that come to mind, and note interesting things that can be taught from the story or the illustrations. I’ve written lessons in the Five in a Row mini-units ranging from the physics of bicycling to eyeshine in night animals. Did you know that you can tell the species of an animal in the dark based on its color of eyeshine (light reflected off the animal’s membrane behind the retina)? I’m still learning new things today because my mom instilled in me a sense of wonder.

If you want to try this type of teaching, you can access a FREE mini-unit for ages two through twelve based on the book, The Day You Begin from using the coupon code mini0920 at checkout. Or, you can download a free sample unit from Before, More Before, or Five in a Row. The mini-units can be used to supplement a week of learning, regardless of what core curriculum you use.

My mother and I could write completely different lessons drawn from the same story because our interests are driving what we want to learn more about or what we want to teach others. Lessons about personal development, character, life skills, art, poetry, history, government, science (oh, there are so many diverse branches of science with limitless possibilities for learning), architecture, fashion design—and the list could continue—all of these things can be drawn from picture books and wonderful stories when we follow our curiosity. Our world is amazing and full of incredible details that are so much fun to discover!

I know that my ability to harness my curiosity and research to find answers was born through this style of education, and it is what makes my job writing Five in a Row curriculum such a joy. Teaching children how to find the answers to their questions is, quite possibly, the most important thing you can teach them!

Carrie Bozeman headshot

arrie Bozeman was homeschooled K-11 before attending college; she began homeschooling her own children in 2012. She is also the author of More Before Five in a Row (ages 3-5) and Five in a Row Mini Units (ages 2-12). Both are children’s literature-based, unit-study curricula. You can find these products at:

Jane Lambert headshot

ane Lambert’s grandmother owned a private school and her mother spent thirty-five years in the classroom, so it was only natural for her to become a teacher. But Jane’s teaching gifts found expression in homeschooling beginning in 1981. Today Jane’s children continue the family teaching tradition of homeschooling. Jane is the author of the award-winning curriculum Five in a Row. Jane’s passion is to introduce children to great books, to nurture a love of learning, and to build a firm foundation of faith in Christ.