Tag Archives: Apologia

Readers in Residence Volume 1 Review

A fun way for kids to learn to become excellent readers is for them to become an expert reading detective and see the material presented with a biblical worldview. The Readers in Residence Series has 4 great courses to get kids excited learning how to be a reading detective.  We were recently sent the first volume in the series Readers in Residence Volume 1 (Sleuth) by Apologia Educational Ministries .

Readers In Residence Volume 1 (Slueth)

2 Book Set

Student Worktext

Answer Key

4th Grade and UP

Retail $89

This is Volume 1 in a 4 volume series of Readers in Residence courses by Debra Bell and Published by Apologia.  Be sure to check the website for the latest updates in this series.  The four volumes in this series include: Vol 1~ Slueth, Vol 2~ Detective, Vol 3~ Investigator, and Vol 4~ Analyst.  Readers in Residence assumes every reader is a detective.  It focuses on reading comprehension and vocabulary using various literature genres to help students become excellent readers who understand the big picture about the story, the intentions of the author, and real life applications of the story’s message.  Each volume can be used as a stand alone course.

This course is intended to be done by one student, or used in a group setting (such as a book club) with each student having their own worktext. In this course, kids read 6 chapter reader books while using their worktext to answer specific questions to reach their goal of becoming a reading detective.

The course is divided into 6 Units and contains 14 Modules.  It is intended to be worked on 4 days a week and completed in 32 weeks.  However, the course is flexible and you can go as fast or as slow as you want.

Goals of this course include:

  1. AUTHOR’S DESIGN: understand the author’s craft, choices, and intentions
  2. ELEMENTS: recognize the literary elements authors use to create fiction and nonfiction
  3. INFERENCES: make inferences from the details in the text plus their own prior knowledge and experience
  4. NEW WORDS: decode the meaning of unfamiliar words from context clues build a rich and varied vocabulary
  5. FIGURES OF SPEECH: identify and understand figures of speech such as personification, metaphor, and hyperbole
  6. OBSERVATIONS: notice how expert writers employ the conventions of the English language (punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and usage) to achieve clarity

Kids learn about several kinds of literary genres and then settle in to research three specific fiction genres using six chapter books.  They will specifically research three kinds of fiction: Historical Fiction, Animal Fantasy, and Realistic Fiction.  Through out this process, kids will learn about characters, themes, comparison and contrast, plot development, figures of speech, story turning point, settings and set design, and more.

Chapter Book Readers

The suggested chapter books are available at your local library or can be purchased online.  You may already have these books on your book shelves. Three of the books are suggested for you, and three books are of your own choice.

  1. Sarah Plain and Tall (historical fiction)
  2. Your choice (historical fiction)
  3. Charlottes Webb (animal fantacy)
  4. Your choice (animal fantasy)
  5. Because of Windixie (realistic fiction)
  6.  Your choice (fiction of choice)

Student Worktext

This worktext is huge!  My son was excited to get such a big colorful workbook.  It has 562 pages and from cover to cover it is very well done.  It is a text and a workbook “all in one”.

It has large easy to read print on colorfully illustrated pages.  These bright colors and easy text kept my son interested in the material.  There are a lot of comparison type charts and other visual aids built into the lessons and it really makes learning the material easy to understand.

The worktext is spiral bound and the pages are thick and sturdy so it was easy for him to flip the pages and not worry about tearing them.  The book is soft cover so it isn’t has heavy as you might think a large book of this size would be.  It has a nice feel in your hands.  It is very well made.

He likes to take his schoolwork outside on the porch.  It was nice to know this sturdy book would hold up to him using it outside or inside where ever it best fit his needs.  Our other books are not near as sturdy.

I really like how the questions are layed out.  They have explanations and room to fill in the blank after you “hunt” as a detective for the answers.   He found the worktext very easy to follow and the questions were worded in a way he could find the answers in his chapter books quickly.

Answer Key

The Answer Key is a soft cover book of 232 pages.  This is a very easy to use resource for parents to check the progress students are making in their worktext.

The Answer Key contains the lessons questions written in black, and the answers to the questions written in green colored ink.  

In the back of the Answer Key book is a suggested daily schedule that matches the one in the student worktext.  There is also a Grading Rubix called a “Checklist Point System” for each Module.  Points for grades are earned based on the percentage of tasks completed in a Module instead of right and wrong answers.  A student can earn a top score of “6” for “exemplary in quality and effort” down to a “1” for “incomplete” for each task.

A Few Of My Favorite Things:

Some of my favorite things about this course are:

  1. Sowing Seeds: There are scriptures to study in the Sowing Seeds section at the end of each Module to help kids understand the material from a biblical world view.
  2. Independence: It is easy for the student to follow independently and easy for the parent to check on their progress.
  3. Graphs and Illustrations: The comparison graphs and visual aids and colorful pages that engage the student.
  4. Hands On Projects: There are also projects suggested throughout the course that give it almost a hands on Unit Study feel at times.
  5. Study Skills: The reading and comprehension skills learned in this course will be useful for all courses taken throughout all grades especially in highschool and college and it teach good study habits.

I would recommend this course to all homeschool families and homeschool book clubs and coops.  I found this course to be a very useful method of helping kids learn good study skills they will need throughout life.  Debra Bell has put together a great method and beneficial worktext for teaching kids to understand what they are reading.

Social Media

Be sure to check out Apologia’s social media links for all of the latest updates and news.

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/apologiaworld
Instagram:  www.instagram.com/apologiaworld
Twitter: www.twitter.com/apologiaworld
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/

Homeschool Review Crew

Be sure to check out what others on the Homeschool Review Crew had to say about using these products in their homes.


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The Ultimate Homeschool Planner Review

Planning your homeschool day, and setting goals for your home, can be so so much easier if you choose an amazing product like The Ultimate Homeschool Planner – Orange, Blue, or Yellow, from Apologia Educational Ministries.

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We were recently sent the Ultimate Homeschool Planner to review and I am really impressed with this useful tool that helps homeschool families.   Homeschool Resources from Apologia Educational Ministries never cease to amazing me with their quality and helping families maintain their focus on the Lord.

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Apologia Educational Ministries

Apologia is a publisher and distributor of Christian education curriculum.  We love their science curriculum!  Everything we have used from Apologia in our homeschool has been top notch in quality and character.  The kids enjoy everything we have received from them and they always look forward to using their products.   This time though, this product was to better equip me to be a better mom, and help equip my children in their faith and oversee their education with a plan in hand.

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The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

Personalize your color choice (orange, blue, or yellow) for the cover.

263 pages, Spiral Bound Planner.

Yearly, Monthly, Weekly, and Daily Planning Strategy.

Use for planning with up to 6 children.

Retails for $29.00

This planner can work alone, but is designed to work perfectly with the The Ultimate Weekly Planner for Teens (grades 7th-12th) and The Ultimate Daily Planner for Students (grades 4th – 8th) so that your kids also have their own planners too.

How To Plan:

  • Once a year 4 to 8 hour planning “retreat”.
  • Monthly 2 hour planning sessions.
  • Weekly 30 minute planning breaks.
  • Monday mornings, 20 minutes tutoring each child.
  • Friday afternoons, 15 minutes to review.

The Author, Debra Bell, goes to great length to explain each step in planning.  She walks you through examples that are very practical and easy to follow. Through out all of the planning, she constantly brings you back to your primary focus of keeping “first things first” in your walk with the Lord and focusing on what God is doing in your family’s life.

How We Used The Ultimate Homeschool Planner

This is a great planner with many unique features built in just for Christian homeschool families.  It is more than just a planner, it is an actual planning system and has a methodology to promote your faith through out every day of the year in everything you do.


The Ultimate Homeschool Planner with the orange cover option.

I was given the option to chose my cover color and I chose to work with the planner with the orange color on the cover.  When I open the planner, the first thing I see is a pocket on the inside cover that has a quote that reads: “Order brings peace.” ~St. Augustine.  Also on the pocket written in a faint and whimsical font, is a pivotal line of inspiration and the strategy that will set the pace of this planner for the rest of the time you put it to use.  ” Count Your Blessings.  Encourage Independence, Record Your Progress”~ Debra Bell.  There is also a pocket for extras on the inner back side cover too and it is a quote from Deuteronomy 5:7 about teaching your children in the ways of the Lord.   From the beginning all the way through the end, this planner is filled with inspirational quotes, scriptures, and encouragement.

The next section is 4 yearly calendars that start and stop with the school years.  So the calendars begin in July of one year and finish in June of the next, such as July 2015 – June 2016.   You can see everyday of the year for four years in a glance.  This simple visual aid is motivation to help you stay the course and not loose sight of the overall goal of training day after day the precious children God has put into our home.

The next section goes over, in great detail, the planning system and walks you through lots of examples to help you understand.  Then there is a one year planning grid for every day of the entire year, a student goal section for Character goals and Academic goals, family priorities and goals, monthly planning for all 12 months.

The next section is the weekly planner.  This covers every day of every week for 48 weeks.  Each week covers four pages.  There is room for writing everything down each day.  Along the side there is also room for notes, supplies needed, and upcoming appointments.


weekly planning pages

The next two pages are really unique.  I love this section of the weekly plan, because in addition to writing down everything for each day, it also has scripture, and room for a Bible Plan, Battle Plan and Prayers and Hospitality / Outreach. Then on the following page there is lots of room to write down even more notes, like a journal where you record special things that happened with your family during the week that you want to remember.  There is also a place to record what you want to remember about how God showed up in your life that week.  How you experienced his grace, mercy, faithfulness, protection, and provision.  This my friends is what sets this planner experience above the rest, a place for you to record your experiences connecting with God and your family.


weekly planning pages that focus on Christian faith, action, and understanding the experience

The next section is for recording student grades on quizzes, lists of books they are reading, field trips and outside activities.  And then there is a section on Teaching Tips with some great information about all sorts of subjects. There is a highschool transcript planning guide, room for more notes you might want to write out, and also a bibliography section and a biography about the author of the planner, Debra Bell.


teaching tips section

I am grateful to have been given this opportunity to review this planner.  I am not one to go looking for planners.  I usually just print off a month at a time from my computer and hang it on my bulletin board and though it is terribly inadequate, it is the method I use.  But I want to do better and I want to have a system that functions in running an effective homeschool and being the hands and feet of Jesus in our home and community.   This planner has given me the strategy to intentionally plan both of them and then a place to record how it is going on a regular basis.

Debra Bell is a homeschool mom who has been right where I am at and she knows the challenges we face first hand.   I am excited to read about her life and learn how she homeschooled successfully by using this strategy to plan it out.  She is a super hero.  She achieved homeschooling 4 kids k-12 who all graduated and went on to graduate from college too.  She is an inspiration.   I would encourage you to check out this wonderful planner for your homeschool.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Apologia Educational Ministries on the Social Media links for all the latest news and updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld/timeline
Twitter: https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

Check out what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using The Ultimate Homeschool Planner in their homes.


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Field Trip Journal Review

Our family has always made field trips a priority in educating our kids.  We want to take them on adventures to inspire, explore, inquire, and gain knowledge from first hand experience and hands on explorations.  Apologia Educational Ministries has a new resource to help your kids capture their field trip experiences, thoughts, and fun memories in the Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal.   We were sent one for review a few weeks ago. We were excited about trying out this scrapbook-journal method for creating a memory book of our fun learning adventures.

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Apologia is one of our favorite homeschool curriculum companies.  They have a wonderful variety of high quality products, and we were pleased with this new addition to our homeschool.

Field Trip Journal

Field Trip Journal

For Kids of all ages.
Spiral Bound
Heavy duty
64 colorful pages printed on card stock
Retails for $22

Encourages kids to write about their field trip experience in creative ways.

Table of Contents

  • Prepare a field trip (with helpful tips like check lists for planning, before, during, and after).
  • Over 100 Field Trip Ideas
  • Places I have explored maps (for your state, country, and world).
  • How to use Specific Trip Pages
  • Field Trip Pages (for 10 field trips)
  • How to use My Special Spot pages
  • My Special Spot Pages  (a special spot is a 20 x 20 spot you sit and draw what you see 4 times a year, 1 time during each season, and notice how things change with the seasons).
  • How to use As I See It pages
  • As I See It (pages at the back of the journal can be used for illustrating what you see).

How We Used This In Our Home

I was really excited to receive the Field Trip Journal from Apologia for review and I was hopeful this would give us motivation to start creating a memory book of our fun learning adventures. I take hundreds of pictures of everything we do, daily, but seldom print them off my computer other than to create a yearbook page or mail to family because printer ink is expensive.   Most of the time, pictures just stay in digital format and get posted on social media or on this website.  But I realize that isn’t always the best thing.  Kids like to look over pictures too, and I hope this Field Trip Journal will get us int the habit of printing a few of our pictures, and writing down what we learned.

Working in his Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal.

Working in his Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal.

For each field trip, my son included a small map to show the location, and one picture (we tried to use two to three pictures per page) as well as a description of the field trip and any books you read, and what he did and what he wants to remember about it.  I was thrilled that he was motivated to use the journal.  He plans to use every section of the journal from cover to cover.  He did say he wished there was room to record more than 10 field trips, because we do so many, but I told him if we need to, we can convert other pages at the back of the book.

Here are four of our recent field trips completed during this reivew and recorded in his journal:

Nature Study Field Trip

Field trip to explore nature and small waterfall along the creek.
Field trip to explore nature and small waterfall along the creek.

Hueston Woods State Park Field Trip

The way I see it, kids need to experience life hands on, and they can’t experience much in an 8am-3pm classroom sitting at a desk.  Kids were made to move, explore, touch, run, laugh, and learn through play and hands on explorations.


We have dumbed kids down both mentally and physically in the USA, by locking them into an 8 hour a day public education system that restricts physical movement.  This can causes childrens growing spines to become disfigured and grown in an S shape instead of a J shape.  Sitting in classrooms all day leads to week core muscles from a lack of activity, even though some kids play sports, the majority of kids have weak bones, week muscles, and a week spine.

Observing wild geese at the lake at Hueston Woods State Park.

Observing wild geese at the lake at Hueston Woods State Park.

Many kids are medicated to force them to sit still and be quiet in class.   Besides making them more prone to to back pain, joint pains, and serious health concerns, many children end up with a life long battle with meditations to try and fix the lack of physical freedom they experienced in childhood.


Field trip to the Lake. It was such a beautiful day.

I would encourage families to explore the option of taking family field trips, and homeschooling and all the wonderful learning opportunities and physically freeing opportunities homeschooling offers for developing bodies and minds.


Investigating the water’s edge at the lake.

I remember school days being so boring growing up. I enjoyed after school activities, and a few electives like music and track, but classroom time was usually a snooze!  I would literally stare at the clock watching the seconds and minutes pass by in most of my classes.  It was torture to have to sit still all day!  We only took a school field trip once or twice a year and had a field day once a year.  What kind of life is that for a kid?  Forget that!  I am forging ahead and excited about the next adventure.

Jimmy John’s Field Trip

We set out to find out if Jimmy Johns was as good or better than Subway.  Was it as good as everyone says?  How does a restruant like this become so successful?

Our stop at Jimmy Johns was a new experience for us.  The shop has a fun atmosphere and special names for every submarine sandwich.


The sandwiches have a fixed description, and that is what is in the sandwich.  This is the real secret to how fast you are served, no one is standing around deciding what fixings are going in their sandwich.  Instead you choose the sandwich design from the menu that best fist your tastebuds.


We let the children choose their sandwich, and choice of chips, and we all had waters to drink. The bread is very soft and fresh.

Jimmy Johns

Field Trip: New restrurant experience. We took a trip to Ohio and stopped at a Jimmy Johns sandwich shop because we had never been before.

I have another post for you to read more about this fun field trip to Jimmy John’s and all we learned.

Loveland Ohio Castle Chatue Laroche Field Trip

Castle Field Trip

Field Trip to Loveland Ohio to see the Castle.

My kids go on field trips at least 3 to 4 times a month!  It is a regular part of our school learning. They know they can look forward to going somewhere each week.  So they work hard on their school work and projects early in the week and prepare to go on some kind of adventure towards the end.  Sometimes we go on Fridays, but most of the time, we go on the weekend so we can include Dad in our learning adventures too.


Overlooking the river from the castle balcony.

The Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal has helped us keep up with a scrapbook style journal of our recent outings.   We usually keep what they want from our trips (brochures, pictures, postcards, etc) in their portfolio.   But now with this journal, they have a fun place to record their memories too.


Castle Field Trip: standing beside a knight inside the castle.

The way I see it, kids need to experience life hands on, and they can’t experience much in an 8-3pm classroom.


Castle Field Trip: playing old fashion games.

Check back soon to read the post about our field trip to the castle.

I would recommend school aged kids everywhere keep a fun journal of their learning adventures.  This will be a great way to look back on your year and be reminded of the wonderful time you had and all you learned about.

Social Media

Be sure to follow Apologia social media links for all the latest information and product updates.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/apologiaworld/timeline
Twitter: https://twitter.com/apologiaworld
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/apologia/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/105053356034237782125

Exploring Creation Field Trip Journal Review

Be sure to check out what other homeschool families on the TOS Review Crew had to say about using the Field Trip Journal in their home.

Crew Disclaimer

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