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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Homeschool Crew Review: Readers in Residence Vol 1 (Sleuth)

Apologia Educational Ministries
Apologia Educational Ministries is well known in the homeschool community for their science and Bible curriculum, but they also have many other resources.  We have used many products from Apologia over the years and have been impressed with all of them.  Our latest review item is one of their newest products, Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth).

Apologia Educational Ministries Readers in Residence


Debra Bell, the best selling author of The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling, The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling teens, and The Ultimate Planners has taught literature and composition for over 30 years.  Last year, we had an opportunity to review her language arts curriculum, Writers in Residence, and this year her latest project Readers in Residence was released.  These two products can be used together or individually.

Readers in Residence Vol 1 ($89) is intended to be used with children in the 4-6th grade age range, but also could be used with students who are a little older. It comes with a teacher's guide and a combined consumable student text and workbook. The purpose of Readers in Residence is to teach children to appreciate and understand what they read and to filter what they read through a Biblical lens. It is a reading comprehension, literature, and vocabulary program during which students will create several projects to show what they have learned. Some of the things covered in this course include: teaching children how to recognize different literary elements and broaden their vocabulary, to learn different figures of speech, and to decode words that are unfamiliar.  They will also learn to understand why writers make some of the choices they do and why it is important for them to use understood  grammar rules to make their writing clear to readers.
There are 6 units in Readers in Residence Vol 1:

  • Unit 1: Sarah, Plain and Tall
  • Unit 2: On Your Own Historical Fiction
  • Unit 3: Charlotte's Web
  • Unit 4: On Your Own Animal Fantasy
  • Unit 5: Because of Winn-Dixie
  • Unit 6: On Your Own Choice

Each unit is broken down into several different modules. There is a suggested daily schedule to follow in the front of the student book.  If you follow this schedule, you will work on RIR 4 days a week for 32 weeks.  There is also a suggestion to do a book club to share with others about the books you are reading. 

The Readers in Residence Vol 1 student text and workbook is a full color, spiral bound 562 page book.  This book contains all of the text written to the student, reading schedule, rubics and checklists, plus workbook pages to answer comprehension and vocabulary questions, fill in charts, and draw pictures.  The back of the book has a dictionary, glossary, and an appendix containing a sleuth's log, character map, and storyboard template.

The  Answer Key is a 232 page paperback book.  It contains answers and sample answers for the activities from the student workbook.  It does not have answers for unit projects or open ended assignments.  Student samples for these are provided in the student workbook. The answer key also has teaching instructions, tips, and suggestions for grading.

I have been using Readers in Residence with my 4th and 5th grade boys for the last several weeks.  One review copy was provided to us and I purchased another of the All-In-One Student Text and Workbooks.  The timing of the review for RIR was absolutely perfect for us because the boys had just finished the last level in our guided reading curriculum and I wanted to continue to do some kind of reading program with them that went beyond teaching the skills of reading.  We have been working on RIR 3-4 days per week for around 30 minutes a day.  I read aloud the sections in the student text and workbook and they work on the assignments individually and we discuss them when they are finished. The reading selections from the book they each read on their own.  I actually had 2 copies of Sarah, Plain and Tall (the first book you read) on hand but this and the other two books used in this curriculum are easily found at the library or any bookstore.

I love that Reader's in Residence does so much more then have children answer reading comprehension questions.  There are numerous activities and exercises to help students dive deeper into what they are reading and develop and understanding for why authors do things the way they do.  We have read Sarah, Plain and Tall before, but I did it as a read aloud a few years ago and knew the boys wouldn't mind reading it again.  Plus Readers in Residence covers so much more then I did when I read the book aloud. You do not just dive straight into the book though.  First you learn about genre, what expert readers look for when they read, clues that you find on the cover, the difference between fiction and nonfiction, and what a narrative or nonnarrative text are.  They also get to look through their own bookshelves and list examples of different types of books. My boys favorite activity was to create their own book cover complete with illustration, description, and as short biography of the author.  I was very impressed with their creativity!




Once you dive into the book you are answering some comprehension questions which is a good thing to gauge your child's understanding.  You are also creating charts showing what you think the characters look like and what kind of character traits they have, along with answering some questions about yourself.  They are also answering vocabulary questions.  I like the way it asks them what they think the word means and then asks for the definition.  An added bonus is that the words they need to look up are included in the dictionary in the back of the book.

The sowing seeds section is a nice addition to your lessons.  It discusses a passage in the book and asks some thoughtful questions.  It also includes scripture references that have to do with that passage and asks questions about the scriptures and how it relates to your life.

The size of the book is a bit intimidating.  When I showed it to the boys they said, "That is the workbook?  It will take us years to finish that!"  They call it their weight lifting book.  But honestly, once you look at how each lesson is broken down and take into account that the text is part of the workbook it is not so intimidating.  I think it is very well laid out and easy to follow and I love the little boxes that you can check off after completing each lesson.  Following the included schedule makes it easy for the busy homeschool mama.

We are enjoying our study of Readers in Residence and look forward to completing future volumes as they are released.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, stop by the Crew Blog!


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