Readers in Residence (Apologia Review)

Review of Apologia Readers in Residence

Literature is one of my favorite subjects to teach. There are just so many good books out there, and by using a wide variety of curricula, my boys are exposed to books that are American classics. Sometimes the books we read are new to me, too. But the best thing of all is when they learn to read beyond just the book – critical thinking along with reading comprehension. This last point is something I tend to struggle with (which is a big part of why I started my virtual book club). But Debra Bell from Apologia Educational Ministries is great with it, and she’s developed a literature curriculum called Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth). Munchkin and I have had the pleasure of working through this during the past few weeks (when we weren’t busy moving, that is).

What it is

Readers in Residence is a companion to Apologia’s Writers in Residence program, but you can use them independently of one another. Readers in Residence is designed to help kids problem solve their way through books, starting even before they open to the first chapter.

IMG_0106The student book is huge – 562 pages in an 8.5×11″ spiral bound, consumable book, and there are 6 units for students to work through. In the odd numbered units, students are given a book to read, and in the even numbered units, they choose a book of their own in the same genre as the book from the previous unit. For example, the first unit is Sarah, Plain and Tall, and the second unit is the studen’s choice do a historical fiction book. After reading Charlotte’s Web, they choose an animal fiction book. And upon finishing Because of Winn Dixie, the entire fiction section of the library (or book store) is free reign. Each unit has a different focus, and those with an assigned book have a big unit project as well.

The book includes a suggested daily schedule, covering 4 days a week. I found this really helpful in trying to wrap my mind around the gigantic volume. Knowing where to begin and how much to do in a a given day was super helpful. After I studied the schedule and felt like I had a handle on what to expect from this curriculum, I passed the student book on to Munchkin.

How we used it

IMG_0107Munchkin, who is nearing the end of 5th grade, was pretty much given free reign over this curriculum. I was around when he needed help, but he pretty much did it all on his own. I just went over his answers each day when he’d finished. He dove right into Unit 1: Sarah, Plain and Tall. He’d read this book before, bit it had been a few years, so he was happy to read it again. 

The subtitle of this curriculum is Sleuth, and that’s very fitting. The opening module of the unit teaches students about becoming an expert reader – both what that means and how to become one. They start by exploring the cover of the book and looking for clues as to what the book might be like based on the cover. There’s a diagram showing the different parts do the cover (title, author, illustrator, awards, etc). Then they’re taught the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and this section is where the first exercise is. Students are instructed to find books of both genres at home and write down their titles. The module  continues in this manner, until they’re given instruction to actually pick up the book to read. At that point, they use the information learned to analyze the book before they begin reading.

IMG_0108I had Munchkin follow the schedule laid out in the beginning of the workbook, just for the sake of ease. This fell apart a little bit when we were in the middle of the move, but he’s right back into this book now that we’re settled.

What we think of it

We didn’t make it as far into the curriculum as I’d hoped and expected because our move was sudden and unexpected right in the middle of the review period. Despite that, I really like what I’ve seen so far. I like the 4-day week, I like the methodology behind the program, and I like that my son is learning to take an active role in the books he reads rather than staying a passive reader. I think it’s important to do things deliberately, and Readers in Residence helps students learn to read with a purpose. This is a definite win in my book (pardon the pun).

Blessings,

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Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) {Apologia Educational Ministries Review}
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The Smurfs are Coming! #smurfsmovie #FlyBy

smurfs 3I used to love the Smurfs when I was a kid, and I know they’ve had a couple of movies over the past few years, but I haven’t actually seen them. Despite that, I’m looking forward to taking Small Fry, my 4-year-old, to see this one when it comes out. He loves movies! I haven’t told him about it yet; I want a trip to the cinema to be a fun surprise in the midst of some not-so-fun stuff we’ve got going on right now.

There’s a lot of really neat stuff surrounding this new Smurfs movie (Smurfs: The Lost Village), which releases nationwide (U.S.) on April 7th. Let’s start with the trailer:

And synopsis:

In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a roller coaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!

smurfs 1In anticipation of the movie, there’s a great website for the Smurfs franchise. They’ve got loads of neat things on there to help you build excitement among your children before you take them to see the film. Small Fry is really into coloring sheets lately, so I printed out a few of those for him. He doesn’t really know what Smurfs are, and I haven’t told him we’ll be seeing the movie yet, but he doesn’t care. He just likes coloring!

The website also has some delicious-looking recipes. We haven’t tried any yet because we’re in the middle of a move, so we’re mostly using up the groceries we have rather than making new, “fancy” stuff. Once we get settled in the new place, though, I definitely want to make the Popsicles and Strawberry cake for our family.

For the older kids in your family, they also have “how to draw a Smurf” tutorials. This could be pretty fun for the 6-8 demographic. And besides all this fun stuff, there’s information about the movie itself.

smurfs 2Based on what I’ve seen, I’m excited to have a fun Mommy-Kid date with my son to see The Smurfs: The Lost Village!

Blessings,

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Rose City Comic Con

This post is a long time coming, but now’s the time. It will be fairly light on words because I didn’t go (Dragonfly wasn’t even a year old yet when they went, and it didn’t seem like a good thing to bring a baby to), but I do know that Will and the boys (the 3 oldest ones) had a great time. The four of them, plus Will’s dad, went. It was a fabulous bonding time for the men in the family.

Most of the pictures of Small Fry meeting different characters because it was his first time going to an event like this. Plus, he’s at such a fun age that everyone was thrilled to let him have those experiences. Others will include the rest of the family. I’ll include captions as I’m able, based on the little knowledge I have of the event.

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With Thor

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In front of the Batmobile (from the 1960s show) with Grandpa

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Meeting Iron Man

With a Storm Trooper

With a Storm Trooper

I'm not sure what this guy is lol

I’m not sure what this guy is lol

In his homemade Buzz Lightyear costume before the event

In his homemade Buzz Lightyear costume before the event

And meeting the "real" Buzz

And meeting the “real” Buzz. I’m pretty sure this was the highlight of the trip for him.

This is what Dragonfly was doing while everyone else was away for the day: "learning to knit." :)

This is what Dragonfly was doing while everyone else was away for the day: “learning to knit.” 🙂

Blessings,

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Easy Costume Accessory: Cape

Easy Costume Accessory Cape

My oldest two boys have been pretty interested in capes recently, especially Munchkin (10). It started back when Seahawk dressed as Ron Weasley for Halloween last year. It was the day of, and we hadn’t found the right cape to use as a cloak yet. We were at Goodwill, and couldn’t find anything in the costume department. Then I had a brilliant idea: a long black skirt. We found one for under $5, and within just a few minutes of getting home, we had a cape.

20170223_134355A few months later, Munchkin decided he wanted his own. I asked him if he just wanted to have Seahawk’s (since he rarely wears it), but they both said that it would be better if he had his own. So we went to Goodwill again. The good thing about this project is that you can almost always find a long black skirt for pretty inexpensive at secondhand shops. And depending on the kind of fabric the skirt is made of, it could even be a no-sew project. Of the two we’ve done so far, one has been fine without any sewing and one needed the cut edges “serged” (zigzag stitched, since I don’t have a serger) to prevent fraying.

Here’s how to do it.

  1. Find a skirt the length you like. An elastic waistband is ideal. If you have one in your closet that you don’t wear anymore, this could even be a free project!
  2. Cut a straight line up the center. Leave the waistband intact; this way, the cape stays on the child quite well without the need of any pins or other sharp solution to keep it closed at the top.
  3. Finish the edges if necessary.
  4. Optional: Attach a pin (for older children) or button (for younger children, over age 3) on the former waistband (now the neck) so it looks like it’s fastened, even though that’s not necessary.
  5. Send your superhero out to play!

Blessings,

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The Liebster Award

Have you heard of this? It’s a blog award that one blogger can give to another one, and my friend Wren, who blogs with her sister at Finch ‘N Wren, has bestowed this honor upon my lowly little blog here. Wren and I were members on the Homeschool Review Crew for three years (she’s moved on to other things for 2017), and she is nothing short of a delight. I hope you’ll head over to her blog and check it out.

So what does it all mean? Just that Wren thought I was deserving to be recognized. That might not sound like a big deal, but it feels like quite the honor to me, and I truly appreciate being thought of for this award. As part of the award, I’m supposed to answer some questions here on my blog, and then I get to nominate other bloggers for the award. I’ll start with the questions and move on to the nominations at the end 🙂

Do you have pets?

No. Previously in our marriage, we’ve had cats, frogs, and fish, but never more than one at a time. For now, Will and I have decided that we’d rather have children than pets, though.

If you could do one thing over from your past, with the knowledge you have now, what would it be? 

This is hard because I feel like I’ve had a pretty good life. I can think of two things, one pretty serious and one that falls more into the “fun” category.

Fun: I wish I’d learned to knit long before I did. I only learned this craft 10 months ago, and it’s by far my very favorite thing to do, hobby-wise.

Serious: As a teenager, I would’ve been nicer to my dad. My parents divorced when I was small (5), and we did whole “visiting every other weekend” thing with my dad. As I aged, I started visiting him less and less often. Now that I’m an adult, I can see that the way he behaved was simply the only way he knew to show his love, and I didn’t fully appreciate it or him. Seeing him as a grandfather to my boys has been really rewarding, and I wish I’d had the wisdom to treat him better when I was younger.

What are your three favorite comfort foods?

Mashed potatoes, beef roast (not pot roast, though), and pizza

Do you prefer ebooks or regular books?

Ebooks, so long as I can read them on my Kindle. If they’re just PDFs that have to be read on the computer, then regular books. And I know that this is an unpopular choice, but allow me to explain. I do most of my reading while lying in bed at night or nursing a baby, so it’s easier to read if I can hold the book (or “book” as the case may be) in one hand rather than having the weight of a traditional book to deal with.

The exception is children’s books. Those should always be printed.

What is your favorite piece of jewelry and why?

My wedding ring for what I hope are obvious reasons 😉

What is your number one tip to make the mornings easier?

Go to bed early enough that you can get up before your children. I find it ideal to have some kid-free time in the evening with my husband and some truly alone time in the morning while everyone else is still asleep.

Also: cereal for breakfast. We need to be fed, but that doesn’t mean a complicated meal every morning. Quick and easy keeps things moving smoothly.

How did you choose your blog name?

I wanted something that was more about “me” than about a specific genre of blog. I don’t fit into a mold – I write what’s on my mind. My blog is about my family, not a certain niche, so I didn’t want a name that would force me into writing things that I wasn’t passionate about. I spent months trying to come up with something, and the only thing I could I liked was “Ladybug Dreams.” That, however, was taken (though not be an active blogger), so I tried to come up with other things I liked as well and failed. I finally mentioned to my husband my “problem,” and he came up with making it Daydreams instead of Dreams. That was available, so we jumped on it.

Fun fact: if you type in “ladybugdaydream.com” or “ladybugdream.com” you’ll find me. My husband was insistent that we buy all the related URLs we could think of (that were available) to make it as easy as possible for people to find me.

What made you decide to homeschool? 

This was something my husband and I talked about way before we even had kids. Other choices were never an option for us; we knew that we were going to have kids, and we wanted to raise them ourselves, not send them away to day care or public school. We had them because we wanted to be around them, and homeschooling was the best way to assure that connection.

Do you do meal planning by the week or month? Or not at all?

Usually weekly, but sometimes I’ll do 10 days at a time. It all depends on how the budget is lining up. When I meal plan, though, I don’t do a “Monday we’ll eat this, and Tuesday it will be that.” I make a list of 7 lunches and 7 dinners, and buy the foods we’ll need to prepare those meals. Then when it’s meal time, I cook whatever sounds good from the list. This method works really well for us because I’m able to budget the food dollars, but we’re also not stuck in a “the menu says meatloaf but I’d really rather eat fried chicken” situation.

Do you have a favorite book or movie that you just can’t imagine never reading or seeing again?

Book, not that I can think of offhand. My favorite author is John Grisham. I never miss any of his books, but I don’t have a specific favorite. Movies, there are a couple. Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one) and The Wizard of Oz come to mind. Also the Harry Potter series, but I don’t watch those very often anyway. I might miss them if they were gone, though. Same with Twilight.

5 Random Facts about Me

  • I don’t wear pants. In fact, I don’t even own any pants except for my pajamas (and I do wear those).
  • I’m surrounded by males. Besides my husband and four sons, I have two brothers (no sisters) and three father figures (dad, stepdad, and father-in-law).
  • My beverage of choice is distilled water. I buy it in one-gallon jugs. I’d consider tap water except our town has hard water and it’s gross to drink.
  • My preferred way of planning is with a monthly calendar. I have a regular sized one on the wall in the kitchen and a small one on my desk near the computer. This keeps me on track for things like reviews I have to write here on the blog and all of our family’s appointments.
  • I have small feet. My shoe size is 6.5.

Paying it Forward

As I mentioned earlier in this post, part of this award is to pass it on to other bloggers. I contacted several that I thought would be deserving, but it’s been several weeks and only one replied, so I’m going to move forward with just the one honor. I’m honoring my friend Annette, who blogs at A Net In Time. She’s on the Homeschool Review Crew with me, and is always very encouraging to the other homeschool moms on our private forum. She’s a fellow boy mom, but she has just one son. Her blog is a wonderful place full of reviews, faith based posts (hymn studies, poems, devotionals, and more), and their adventures in homeschooling. I’m thrilled to be able to honor her with this award.

Thanks again to Wren for thinking of me for this award. Please make sure to visit both her and Annette when you leave here.

Blessings,

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A Bit of Randomness

I’ve been neglecting my this space for too long, so it’s time to remedy that with some random thoughts I’ve had recently. This will serve as both a quick update on me and my family as well as a reference point for me to add more details (in future posts) for some of these.

  • Way back in September, Will took the three older boys to one of the local Comic Con events. Will’s dad joined them as well, making for a really fun day. They met some really famous people and characters, but I’ll save the who for a future post 😉
  • Baby Dragonfly isn’t much of a baby anymore. He’s been walking for several months and he turned 1 over a month ago. While this new stage is amazing, I miss those cold winter days of just snuggling with a newborn that I had last year.
  • We had a lovely Christmas surrounded by family. We did our typical four celebrations: on the 23rd, we did presents with our children and went to church with my parents. On the afternoon of the 24th, we had my dad and his fiancee over for a meal together and gift exchange. The evening of Christmas Eve was spent with a dinner, singing carols, and exchanging gifts at Will’s dad and stepmom’s house. On Christmas morning, we went to church and then came home to pulled pork in the slow cooker, which we shared with my mom, stepdad, brother, and brother’s family (his wife and two sons).
  • I successfully knitted 8 sweaters for Christmas gifts: 7 for nieces and nephews and one for my dad. They were all really well received, which was quite rewarding after all the hours of work I put in making them. I finished the last one just one day before the party in which it would be gifted.

I’m sure there’s more, but that’s all I can think of offhand. I’ll expand on some of these, as well as try to come up with more innovative posts, this week.

Blessings,

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5 Random Things: December 10

5 random things

It’s been an interesting week here. I hope yours has been a bit less eventful!

  1. We had a snowstorm a couple of days ago. This might be par for the course in many parts of the country, but not where I live. My town is nestled right at the edge of a valley, so we rarely see snow, and when we do, it’s usually not enough to be concerned about – a little flurry and then gone. On Thursday, I was taking the trash out at 8:00 am when I noticed that it was snowing ever so lightly. By around 10, all the neighbors had come over to play (public school was canceled, so I let our kids have a snow day as well). By noon or 1:00, they’d built a reasonably sized snowman at the neighbor’s house.
  2. Thanks to said snowstorm, we had a power outage at our house around 4:30. It only lasted two hours (hardly anything compared to what others have during the winter months), but it was completely unexpected. We were definitely ready for it to be back on by the time the power company had fixed the problem!
  3. My laptop has been acting up recently. A couple of months ago the battery started charging only occasionally, which means I have to keep it plugged in all the time in order to use it. Not ideal, but not the end of the world. Still better than not having a computer at all! Well then, just a few days ago, it decided that even being plugged in wasn’t good enough and it wouldn’t turn on at all. Since then, we’ve been researching new batteries for it. We tried to support a local business (two different ones, actually), but neither of them had the battery we need, so we’re going to get it from Amazon.
  4. Today, however, I tried the laptop, “just in case,” and it’s working! We’ll still likely replace the battery in the next couple of weeks, but at least the several-days-long rest was enough to get it working again for now.
  5. My Christmas knitting is nearly done! We added two more kid sweaters that needed to be done at the last minute, and I’m pleased to report that I have only one sleeve plus one sweater left to go. With two full weeks left until Christmas Eve (when they’ll be presented), I’m confident that I’ll finish on time. Yay! (I have a post planned for next week – probably – showcasing all of the sweaters, so be on the lookout for that if you’re interested.)

Blessings,

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Halloween 2016

Last year, we learned that some stores in the local shopping mall offer trick-or-treating for kids. We decided to try it out and see how we liked it in comparison to “regular” trick-or-treating (which we’ve never done in the traditional house-to-house way with our kids). It worked out really great for us. It’s a great alternative, especially when it’s rainy (which it was last year, but not this year), and also if you’re in a situation that necessitates frequent rest breaks – there’s almost always somewhere to sit nearby when you’re at the mall. In addition to all of these perks, the amount of candy the kids get is reasonable but not outrageous, unlike regular trick-or-treating. The kids may not see this as a benefit, but as parents, we definitely do.

Because of all of those perks, we decided to take the kids to the mall again this year. Will had some work to get done in the morning (plus there’s that whole homeschooling thing…), so we went out after lunch. The kids each came up with ideas for their own costumes, and we put them together using things we already had around the house or could procure/make fairly inexpensively. In fact, I think the only costume we spent any money on was Seahawk’s, and it was only about $8, half of which he paid himself.

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From youngest to oldest, the costumes were:

Dragonfly: We opted not to dress him up. He’s little enough that he didn’t understand what was going on anyway, and he certainly doesn’t need a bag of candy. So he went as “an old man pretending to be a baby.” 🙂

Small Fry: A couple of weeks before Halloween, he said, “I want to go as a puppet for Halloween.” This was a great idea for a few reasons. First, it was a very creative idea. You don’t often see puppets out trick or treating. Second, it was a free costume. He just wore his regular clothes with yarn safety-pinned to his sleeves and backside which was attached to a pair of rulers tied together in a cross above him. Seahawk and Will took turns being his puppetmaster.

Munchkin: He received some camouflage pants for his birthday, and already had a camo long john shirt and toy soldier’s helmet, so he went as a soldier. Easy peasy.

Seahawk: Ever since they went to Comic Con about 7 weeks ago, people have been telling Seahawk that he looks like Ron Weasley at the rate of a couple a week. It’s the long-ish red hair and his lankiness, I think. So he decided to own that and went as Ron for Halloween. He already had the jeans and dark red dress shirt. I bought some cheap yarn on Saturday and knit him a scarf (this was about $4). Then on Halloween, between lunch and leaving for the mall, we hit Goodwill in search of a cape – or something that could work for one. We couldn’t fine a cape, but we did find several T-shirts that had promise. I wasn’t convinced they were long enough, though. Then it hit me: a skirt! If we could find a long black skirt, we could slit it up the center and he could put the waste band over his shoulders. We found one with the weekly half-price colored tag, so he bought that using his own money. Because it was half-price, that was another $4 is all. He found a stick outside to use as a wand, but I don’t think he brought it out of the car. Despite not having a wand, his costume ended up so good that one of the mall employees told him that he “won Halloween.” He even got asked at least once if his hair was a wig, but it’s not. 🙂

So that’s what we did this year. Next year, we’ll likely do the mall again; it’s a win for our family.

Blessings,

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Apply for the 2017 Homeschool Review Crew!

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If you’ve read very much of my blog at all, you know that I’m a member of the Homeschool Review Crew. We’re a group of bloggers that has the amazing opportunity to try out homeschool curriculum, read books about a huge variety of topics, and even get some beauty products from time to time. All for free! Well, in exchange for our time, that is. To write a fair and balanced review, it’s necessary to put in the time to use the products, as well as spending time crafting a useful review that will be a help to the vendor (positive and negative are both helpful, and as a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, you’re never required to write a positive review).

Besides writing reviews, the Crew is a huge blessing in other ways. We have an active private forum where you can express your thoughts about anything and everything, not just homeschool related stuff. Have a question about the tomatoes you’re canning in the summer? Ask it! Looking for new recipes and don’t have time to search for yourself? Someone on the Crew is likely to have just what you need. Are you going through a rough time and you just really need someone to pray for you? We do that, too. And on the flip side, are things going really well and you want to give glory to God? Members rejoice with one another. It’s an amazing group to be a part of.

If you’re interested in joining this fabulous group of moms (and even a dad!), now’s the time. The Homeschool Review Crew is taking applications for the 2017 Crew year.

In order to apply, you need to:

  • Have a blog.
  • Currently be home educating at least one child. Your child/ren can be anywhere from Pre-K to 12th Grade.
  • Be active on social media of your own choosing (Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram)
  • Love curriculum, homeschool products and books.

If you’re selected to be a part of the team, you’d need to:

  • Maintain an active blog by posting a minimum of ONE non sponsored post a week on any family friendly topic of your own choosing.
  • Be committed to sharing each of your reviews on your social media platforms a minimum of twice. This can be twice on one platform or on any two platforms of your choosing in one week.
  • Use the review product you receive for a minimum of six weeks and write a review. We do not require you write a positive review and we do not tell you what to write. We do, however, have a few minimum requirements including a minimum word count.
  • Post your reviews to your blog and and link them up here on our blog during our due date window.
  • On a regular basis visit our private Review Management forum where we provide support, encouragement, and information necessary to complete each review.

Want more information? Ready to apply? Head over to the Homeschool Review Crew blog to find out more.

Blessings,

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