Tuesday

Readers in Residence, Volume 1 from Apologia {Review}



This past summer I had the opportunity to review Writers in Residence from Apologia for our upcoming school year. I loved it and have continued to use it with my 5th and 7th graders. It is teaching them to write with much more expression and is taking them to a level that I don't feel I could have on my own. That being said, when the opportunity came along to write a review for Readers in Residence I wasn't certain that it was something we really needed. At the same time, I figured it couldn't hurt to give it a try and I'm so glad we did!

Why I Didn't Think We Needed Readers in Residence

Both of our older children are avid readers. They never struggled with reading and, in fact, my daughter basically started reading on her own at age 3 1/2 and hasn't stopped since. We have thoroughly enjoyed the Pathway Readers that we have used for several years now and I planned to continue to do that with my daughter who was entering 5th grade. For my son who was entering 7th grade I figured we'd choose a few classics to focus in on and maybe write a couple of reports here and there. I try to focus on only using curriculum that is necessary and like to keep costs to a minimum so I didn't see this as a need.

Why I'm Glad I Said Yes

Turns out, I'm so glad we have the opportunity to use RIR because, just like WIR, it's taking my children to a deeper level than I ever could have in this area. I'm in awe of what is covered and am thrilled that they can learn from Debra Bell in this way! This curriculum is not a "how to teach your child to read" style, but rather, one that teaches students to take the time to process and enjoy what they read. I believe that's a critical element to help develop well rounded critical readers and RIR does an excellent job accomplishing that. 

It also teaches students to appreciate good literature while also learning to filter what they read through the Word of God. This is very, very important to me!

I love that there are three books chosen to accompany this curriculum. These books do not come with the curriculum but you can easily request them from your library. They are: Sarah, Plain and Tall, Charlotte's Web and Because of Winn Dixie. An additional three books are also studied but the student can choose them based on the genre that is required. 



How RIR Works

RIR is designed to help children comprehend what they are reading. It comes at literature from the perspective of a detective so it really teaches children to look for clues, ask questions, think and speculate.

My children are currently working through the first book in the program, Sarah, Plain and Tall. First, they study clues on the cover to give them an idea of what the book is about. Then they read one chapter at a time and answer questions about that chapter. After that, they complete various activities such as "What I Learned From Sarah's Letter" or "What I Expected Sarah To Be Like". They also discuss various literary genres and types of texts. This reading program by Debra Bell is thorough and fantastic! I couldn't be happier with it. 


The student book is rather large but it is all your child will need to complete this curriculum. There is also an answer key in a separate book. Our family educates year round so I just have my children work in their book for about 10 minutes per day. If you were to fit this into a regular school calendar you would need to commit more time to it than that. I love that this program is flexible and you can complete it in the way you see fit. It is also written with the student in mind and is easily self-directed using the parent or teacher as a reading coach. I love that because not only does it free up some of my time to work with other children but it also gently allows our children to learn to be independent learners.



Who is Readers in Residence For?

Readers in Residence, Volume 1 is geared towards grades 4th and up. It wonderfully combines activities, lessons and opportunities to share books with others. One of the activities is to have a book club so my children organized that for us and it was so much fun! Another activity was to design your own book cover. We had fun doing this, especially since my daughter has been working on her own ebook. It was nice to put some practical thought into a real life project that she is working on. 

If you desire to teach your children to value and appreciate good literature, as well as to understand what they are reading on a deeper level than just being able to repeat a story back to you, then you might want to consider this program. 



Additional Helpful Information

"The Readers in Residence (RIR) series is a reading comprehension, literature, and vocabulary program. It may be used alone or in conjunction with the Writers in Residence series. Together the two programs provide a full year of language arts. In Readers in Residence, while studying some of the finest books in children’s literature, students learn how to do the following:

  • understand the author’s craft, choices, and intentions
  • recognize the literary elements authors use to create fiction and nonfiction
  • make inferences from the details in the text plus their own prior knowledge and experience
  • decode the meaning of unfamiliar words from context clues
  • build a rich and varied vocabulary
  • identify and understand figures of speech such as personification, metaphor, and hyperbole
  • notice how expert writers employ the conventions of the English language (punctuation, capitalization, grammar, and usage) to achieve clarity
Readers in Residence, Volume 1 is aimed at students in 4th grade and up. It is suitable for older students who struggle with reading comprehension or who are unfamiliar with the skills taught in this program." source

I'm so grateful to have this program for our children to use and feel extremely blessed to have it. So, even if you were like me and didn't think you needed it, I'd encourage you to reconsider that idea and give it a try. I think you'll be glad you did!




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This post may involve product that was received in exchange for a review or contain affiliate links for which I will earn compensation should you choose to make a purchase. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Thank you for your support of Purposeful Homemaking.

Saturday

Canning Jar Labels from Canning Crafts

Archived Post:

Now that I am exploring the world of canning, I thought I'd check to see what kind of fun things there were out there for my new-found love.

Thankfully, I came across Alison's Canning Crafts site on etsy.  Alison makes adorable labels for both regular and wide-mouth canning jars. She even customizes label art or creates new designs for specific canned goods.

When Alison first got started with her Canning Crafts business, she combined her gift in graphic design with her love for gardening and salsa making. She started to design her own canning labels because she ouldn't find anything unique enough to dress up her salsa that she was giving away for gifts. Her husband told her to just write on the lids with a Sharpie, but the artist in her couldn't do it! As a result, Canning Crafts was born.

I got to personally check out a few of Alison's labels...and I love them. I promptly put one of them on my jar of canned cherries that I made last weekend with a friend. They are self-adhesive and come in a sheet of 20 for $4 (that's .20 cents per jar for all my frugal friends out there! Not bad to add just the right touch of embellishment for a gift or even in your own home. I love to look at pretty things too, you know!)

I think these labels are such a great idea. Canning itself is new to me, but in the past I've given jars of homemade chocolate syrup and such away and it drove me nuts that I didn't have a quick, easy way to embellish the jar just a tad to make it gift-worthy. I've found my solution in Alison's labels. (Not that she has labels for chocolate sauce but she did send me a generic one that would work just fine!)

Here is a peak at a few of my favorite labels from her etsy shop.


























Here are some of the ones I get to use (plus the salsa recipe-thanks, Alison!)



And a few canning tips in general (can I even give tips since I'm new to it myself!!) But, from the little bit I've done this is what I've learned...If you're new to canning you might want to pick up a kit like this. It makes the process go much smoother!





Also, a good reference is the Ball Blue Book. This handy little book and I plan to get well-acquainted this summer!


Be sure to check with friends and relatives who don't can any more. They're probably more than happy to pass on their canning supplies to you. It will help get you started anyways.

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This post may involve product that was received in exchange for a review or contain affiliate links for which I will earn compensation should you choose to make a purchase. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Thank you for your support of Purposeful Homemaking.

Preserving the Season's Bounty: Tomatoes




Archived Post:

I have found something that I really enjoy doing: canning salsa and stewed tomatoes! It's funny because growing up I never liked tomatoes in any form (except, ketchup of course...but that's a far cry from a tomato!).
However, over the last couple years I've branched out and started using canned tomatoes. I suppose that started as a result of a great Chicken Cacciatore recipe (I make my own version of Lipton Onion Soup now if you want the recipe) that my sister-in-law gave me. After falling in love with that recipe, I decided I really could eat stewed tomatoes after all! It was a baby step for me!

Then last year I decided that I wanted to learn how to can our own tomatoes. So this past spring, my husband planted our very own tomato plants. About 17 in fact!

Now, you still won't catch me eating a fresh tomato (unlike my dad who eats several each day in the summer!). However, I love stewed tomatoes and even better, in salsa (yes, it was this same sister-in-law who got me hooked on salsa too!)

As I mentioned in my cherries post, my friend Rachel gave me my first canning lesson. After that, I decided to try my hand at a salsa recipe given to me by Alison from Canning Crafts. I was still a little unsure of myself, so my Mom came over that first time to give me a few tips. I had such a fun time canning that day with my mom!.

I'm so glad I tried this salsa recipe. (Thanks, Alison!) It was super easy and really gave me a boost of confidence in canning. We eat a lot of salsa around here and I'm glad to have a homemade variety for cheaper than I can buy it at the store. Plus, I know what's in it!

I really like the salsa and my husband mentioned several times how much he liked it and that he thought it tasted professional! (What a nice compliment!)


So, if you want to give Alison's recipe a try, here it is:

Yummy Salsa
8 c. peeled, chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 c. onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. green peppers, chopped (I didn't have green, but used orange and yellow)
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)
6 cloves, garlic, chopped (I used my Pampered Chef Garlic Press)
2 t. cumin
2 t. black pepper
2 T. canning salt (found in the canning section at the store)
1/3 c. sugar
1 c. white vinegar
15 oz. tomato sauce
15 oz. tomato paste
1/4 c. cilantro (optional)

Combine all ingredients together and bring to a boil for 10 minutes. Put in hot water bath 15 minutes for pints, or 20 minutes for quarts. Recipe usually yields 8 pints.

It's a great recipe and an easy one to help you get your feet wet with canning. :)

Also, I should share a tip for getting the peals off of your tomatoes. (Something I did not know my first time around!). If you blanch your tomatoes, the peels will come right off!

Simply boil a big pot of water. While you're waiting for it to boil, prepare another large bowl of cold water and ice cubes. Once your pot is almost to a boil (not necessary to have a complete boil) carefully plop your tomatoes in. Wait about 30-60 seconds and then scoop them out with a slotted spoon. Place them quickly into the cold water. After a few seconds, take them out and place them on a clean towel until you can peel them. The skins will slip right off.

What are your favorite salsa recipes for canning?

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Thanks so much for visiting Purposeful Homemaking. Stay connected so you don't miss a thing:


This post may involve product that was received in exchange for a review or contain affiliate links for which I will earn compensation should you choose to make a purchase. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Thank you for your support of Purposeful Homemaking.
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