One question that pops up frequently: Do you have to go in the order that the books are listed in the manuals? No! I have skipped around Volumes 1-3 for the last two years. I choose which book based on events that are going on, the time of year, or whether or not I think it's a topic that will hold Jack's interest yet. Next year we will probably move on to Volume 4, which is geared toward older students.
Obviously the first place I go is the manual! The next stop is the archives from the FIAR message boards--lots of good ideas to be found there! A close third is Homeschool Share, which has lapbooking and/or notebooking pieces for almost all the FIAR books.
If I'm being productive, planning takes me a day or two, and this year I am trying to get it done at least several weeks in advance. Each day we cover one or two topics from the manual and do some lapbooking pieces. I also make Jack's copywork sheets from our FIAR story.
I know that the curriculum is call Five in a Row, but sometimes life happens and we don't get in five days in a row. Or sometimes we do more than five days when we find a topic we like. The best thing about FIAR is that it is flexible and there's not a right way to do it--it's easy to make it fit your family!