Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns

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I have a 12 year old daughter who is crazy about American Girl dolls, and just started to learn how to sew with the sewing machine. When the opportunity came to review an online sewing course through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew, I jumped at it! Learn How To Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns is put out by Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns.

Who is Rosie? Rosie is a stay at home mom who has been sewing since she was a young girl herself. Over the years, she began creating outfits for her own daughter's doll, learning many little neat ways to make sewing those miniature outfits easier. Rosie decided to share her tips and patterns with others, so she established Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns for beginning sewers to easily learn how to sew beautiful doll clothes as well!

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What happens when you purchase the online course? Once we were logged into Rosie's website, we had complete access to over 130 instructional videos. The beginning module contains short, introductory videos to teach someone the basics of preparing for sewing. The videos are set up so that a complete beginner can start out knowing how to set up their sewing room, what supplies they will need, and how to pick out the right material. The videos progress to more complicated topics including detailed step-by-step instructions for completing the 8 free bonus patterns that are included with your subscription. Some of the videos are short, under two minutes, but many of the more detailed instructional videos are longer. The instructional videos are separated into logical steps, to make it easy to repeat or review a section, without having to find it on a long video.
What patterns are included? A purchased subscription gives free access to 8 simple patterns: undergarments, a hat, walking shorts, a sarong, a crop top, a halter top, a summer nightie, and a pumpkin costume. (all pictured above).  The patterns are very easily accessible once you are logged in. Once downloaded, they can easily be printed out. The patterns include printable instructions, as well as step-by-step video instructions. If you are not technical, there are also short videos that show you exactly how to print the patterns. In short, you should be able to find a helpful video on the website for just about anything you might need from this program!  Additional patterns for more intricate outfits are available for purchase on the website.
What dolls will these work for?  The patterns are designed to fit 18" dolls, and there is a choice between patterns for American Girl dolls, or the plumper Cabbage Patch Dolls.
Who will most benefit from the videos? The videos are designed for ages 8 and up. No previous sewing experience is necessary. Each video includes Rosie speaking (in a charming Australian accent) as well as close ups and shots from various angles of the technique she is demonstrating. While the videos are simple enough that even a child could follow them, they are not 'dumbed down' either. I found them very informative as well. That being said, I think this would make a really neat mother/daughter project!
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How did this program work for us? My daughter is a beginning sewer who has learned some hand sewing, can sew buttons on, and just this fall has started learning how to operate the sewing machine. She has only practiced on fabric scraps so far, and up until starting this program, had not actually completed a real project on the sewing machine yet, although she had lots of stitching practice! I am a fairly experienced sewer. I have been sewing for many years, and have made my fair share of projects, including clothing, although I am mostly self-taught.
We started this program by watching the introductory videos. (And now my daughter wants to someday have a bright, cheery, organized sewing room like Rosie does on the video "How to set up your sewing room"!)
Putting it to the test: I watched some of the actual project videos, then decided that I really wanted to put this program to the test by seeing if Melissa could follow the video closely enough to actually learn how to complete one of the projects without my input! I knew that I would easily be able to make any of the patterns, and would be tempted to 'just do it' and not fully watch all the instructional videos. I also knew that Melissa would not have that luxury, and wouldn't be able to complete any of the patterns unless the video was thorough enough to teach her. So what better way to find out if these videos could actually teach her how to sew, then by having her jump right in!  I had Melissa select which pattern she wanted to tackle, printed out the pattern pieces for her, gave her my scrap bag and the rest of the supplies she needed, and turned her loose!
What pattern did she choose to make? Melissa chose to make a long sarong for her AG doll. She found it a little daunting when I told her that she was on her own. I was nearby but only to be consulted if she didn't understand what to do after watching the video.
Did it work? Did we get a finished product?? After watching the intro videos, Melissa watched the specific videos with the complete instructions for making a sarong. She set the laptop up right next to the sewing machine and started her project. Rosie went step by step through cutting out the pattern, laying it on the fabric, and properly cutting out everything. Melissa enjoyed being able to see how everything should look. She did read through the instructions, but without prior experience, had a hard time picturing what to do. The videos definitely helped her to actually see what she should be doing, and then duplicate it in real life with the materials on hand.
The videos had nice close up shots of the projects.

 Sewing a sarong!
Melissa worked on this project a little bit everyday for about a week. She didn't really have any major problems at all! We were both amazed. She only consulted me once for help, but that was just to clarify something that was said. She understood the concept, but wanted to make sure she was doing it right. She was able to pause the videos as necessary, repeat sections, and compare the project in her hand with the one on the video to ensure that they were the same.
After about a week of work, Melissa had a finished product! I can't even describe the pleasure she took in dressing up her doll in an outfit she made all by herself! She was ecstatic, and proclaimed repeatedly that she couldn't believe she actually made the long sarong all by herself. It definitely was a huge confidence booster for her, and showed her that by carefully following instructions, she could tackle sewing projects that looked hard.

"Molly" sporting a brand new sarong made by Melissa!
Future plans: There are a few more projects on Rosie's site that Melissa would like to make.  She is trying to decide what to make next. She really wants to make a doll dress next, but I am planning on having her make more of the free patterns first, so she can gain more skills and experience. Each of the patterns highlights a different technique that would be valuable for her to learn before tackling a more challenging project. Since a membership gives a full 12 months of access to the videos, we will have plenty of time over the winter to use the program more, and make more outfits. Melissa has plans to make a few doll outfits for Christmas gifts for her friends.
What does all this cost? There are two options to purchasing this program. You can purchase the online course that gives you the 8 free patterns to download, and 12 months of unlimited access to the videos for $47.23. (The website is based in Australia so the US price may fluctuate slightly depending on the exchange rate - this was the USD price at the time of this review). There is also an option to purchase the entire course on DVD, where you will not have a time limit on how long you can view the videos. The current USD price for the 10 video set, as well as a CD with all the pdf patterns, is $66.14. 

Final Thoughts: I feel this program passed the test (with flying colors!) by being user friendly to a young, beginning sewer. With no outside help, Melissa was able to completely create a garment for her doll, just by using the video instruction from Rosie. Melissa commented that it was so easy to learn what to do, because Rosie shows everything in great detail. It was not confusing and very simple. As a mom and sewer, I am giving this program a hearty recommendation! Even though I have been sewing for years, I was able to pick up a few new techniques as well, just by watching the videos.

Of course, you should check out what other Crew members thought, and see the other projects that were made, by clicking the banner below.....

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Why Vote?

Every vote counts - stand up for your beliefs!

Obamacare Defined by One Picture

You have to love this split screen image.....

What the Health website looked like while the HHS Secretary was stating in her interview that the site has never crashed. Please, please stop lying to the American people!!!


What Does Science Look Like In Your Home?

I just read about a Homeschool Science "Share & Tell" Sponsored by Apologia and The Homeschool Scientist and had to share!

Share your best post and pictures of what science looks like in your homeschool for the opportunity to possibly be selected to win a free science course from Apologia! Click the link below for more details and for the host page to link your posts.

I know I'll be sharing some recent fun experiments that we did!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Apologia Anatomy & Physiology Unit Two: Bone Snacks

As we worked through Apologia A & P Unit two, which was all about the skeletal system, I created a fun snack to go along with our studies!

Bone Snacks
First I rounded up stick pretzels, mini marshmallows, and white chocolate chips.

Next I stuck mini marshmallows on the ends of the pretzel sticks. To make these gluten free, just use
Snyder's of Hanover, Inc. Pretzel, Sticks, Gf, 8-Ounce (Pack of 6)

Finally, I melted the white chocolate chips and dipped the pretzels in there. After dipping, lay them on a sheet of waxed paper to dry and harden.  (Note about melting white chocolate: it can be tricky to melt but not scorch. Try using a double boiler over low heat. You can also add 1 TBS of shortening to make it smoother. You have to be patient and stir often  - there is no quick way to melt white chocolate!)

While these did not come out exactly as I envisioned, they were recognizable as bones to everyone who saw them! And they were very tasty as well! Melissa enjoyed munching them as we completed science! She even started naming some of the bones.

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Review: VocabularySpellingCity

I want to share one of the best Spelling review programs I have ever tried with my children: VocabularySpellingCity.  I recently received a one year premium membership to this site through The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew.  I have been a fan of VocabularySpellingCity for many years now. In the beginning years of homeschooling, my kids struggled somewhat with their spelling lists, and I did not find copying them over and over to be an effective way to study. I was not always able to be consistent with playing little games and coming up with creative ways to help them try to remember their words, so I started searching for an alternative to help.  That is when our relationship with this program began, and I have never regretted it for one moment. I don't think you will either!

What is VocabularySpellingCity?  It is an online, interactive website that allows you to input your own spelling and vocabulary lists for practice, or to choose from ready-made lists at any grade level for your child to use. There are several avenues of learning - first the student can learn a new list via flashcards, then there are multiple games and activities to practice that list, followed by a practice test. Finally, the student can actually take their spelling test for that particular set of words right on the website. As the teacher/parent, you can choose lists or input one from a curriculum you already have. You can plan out how your students will study that list by selecting assignments and putting it on their account. All of their activity on the website is recorded, including what words they are consistently having difficulty with. Their practice test and spelling test grades are recorded for you as well. It is a wonderful way to have your student accountable for their work and their study, and to track their progress!

What grade levels are included? Since the teacher/parent can input their own words, this program is appropriate for all grade levels, K-12. The youngest students, just learning to read, will benefit from the fun, interactive ways to learn new words. College bound high schoolers who want to practice vocabulary lists to prepare for their SAT will also find lists that will help them. There are even foreign language spelling lists available for those who are learning a second language.

What other subjects are covered? There are additional activities that help the student practice alphabetical order, handwriting, definitions, writing and sentence structure, and parts of speech.

Not just for your PC: VocabularySpellingCity has a mobile app that can be downloaded to iPads, iPods, or iPhones. It is free, and included with a premium membership. All of the student's accounts, and most of the games can be accessed from the app, and it makes it very convenient to practice when you are waiting somewhere, or when you have multiple children trying to use the program at once.

Is there a way to try it before you buy it? Yes! VocabularySpellingCity also has a free membership. While it does not offer nearly as much as the paid membership, it is enough to allow you to try it out to see if it would work for your students! Here is a comparison between the benefits of the free basic membership and the paid premium membership:

What does a premium membership cost? The premium membership is $29.99 for one year, gives full access to the site, and allows you to set up separate accounts for up to 5 students.

From the website:

We started off with a free membership, and the children got so much out of it, yet were so limited, that I decided it would definitely be worth the investment to jump up to the premium membership. There are so many different learning styles and activities covered, and there are constant updates. I don't even feel like we have scratched the surface of what is available, and we have really been using the program extensively!

How we are using VocabularySpellingCity:  Since the girls are all using Abeka spelling and vocabulary, there is no need for me to find new lists for them on the website. Instead, I type in their lists from their textbook, and then give them daily assignments of what I want them to cover. They take their practice spelling test on the website, and then their actual test as a paper version from their test booklet. Since the girls each get a new spelling and vocabulary list every 5 lessons, I have them use VocabularySpellingCity for review for four days out of the week. On the 4th day they will take their practice test on the website, and on the 5th day they don't log in, but take their actual paper test.

This is what I love: VocabularySpellingCity saves my lists over the years. Even if my membership lapses, as long as I sign up with the same email address, all my old lists are still there, and still accessible. This has saved me a lot of work entering new lists as the girls progress through school. The previous lists are already saved! I am also able to organize the lists into groups. I have mine organized by grade levels. For the vocabulary lists, the girls have to know the exact definition that is in the Abeka book for their test. The website allows me to enter my own definition and sentence for each vocabulary word, so it is exactly the same as what is in their textbook.

I also appreciate that I can go in to the teacher section, and see how much time was spent and what activities the children completed on the website. I can also be aware of what words are giving them the most trouble, so that I can do some extra work with those words if necessary. Here is an example of the chart showing how much time one of the girls spent on each activity, what percentage of words she got correct on the first attempt, and what words need more review.

This is what the girls love: Here are some screenshots of their favorite games: 

 Letter Fall - where the student has to catch the falling drops of water to spell their word.
Hang Mouse - where the student has to spell their word before the cat wakes up!

A final word on how this program has helped:  I am a numbers person who likes concrete proof that something is actually working. The bottom line is that when the girls were not using VocabularySpellingCity for reviewing their words, their averages on their weekly spelling and vocab tests ran at 75% to 80%. After using the program, their averages are 95% to 100% on their tests. It is rare for them to miss words on the test now. We have achieved this improvement with no tears, no fuss, and with less time spent reviewing words than before. The girls never enjoyed endlessly copying spelling lists anyways, and I have found this program's review methods to be much more effective!
I highly recommend VocabularySpellingCity for anyone, and especially for struggling spellers.
Click the banner below to see what other Crew members thought of this program after trying it out!
Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

American Girl History: Colonial Era & Revolutionary War Resources

This school year we are studying American History, and incorporating the American Girl dolls into our studies, to make it fun and relevant. There is SO much good material out there, and it has been a lot of fun putting it all together.

Here is a list of resources that can be used with Felicity.
(Note: most of the links here are my Amazon Affiliate links. Please use them if you wish to purchase, as it will help my blog! I would suggest checking your local library system before purchasing though, as that is how we obtained most of these resources.) 
We used Felicity's story to study the Colonial Era and the Revolutionary War in September, and added much literature-rich reading and studying to the mix, to make a complete course.

We are loosely following the curriculum plan in:
Portraits of American Girlhood

Felicity - An American Girl Adventure
Sybil Luddington: The Female Paul Revere

General books:

Life as a Colonist (Great book full of teaching and worksheets)
Welcome to Felicitys World 1774 Growing Up in Colonial America 1999 publication.
Felicity Boxed Set with Game (American Girl)
American Biographies: George Washington
Betsy Ross : Designer of Our Flag

For Hands-On Activities:

Felicity's Cookbook: A Peek at Dining in the Past with Meals You Can Cook Today (American Girls Collection)
Felicity's Craft Book: A Look at Crafts from the Past with Projects You Can Make Today (The American Girls Collection. American Girls Pastimes)

Integration with other subjects:

(Science - Learning about colonial medicine, and how various plants and herbal remedies were used and sold at the Apothecary shop)

Science in Colonial America (Science of the Past)
Grow It, Heal It: Natural and Effective Herbal Remedies from Your Garden or Windowsill
Field Guide to Medicinal Wild Plants: 2nd Edition

(Music - tin whistle tunes)

Tin Whistle Tune Book, Pocketbook Deluxe Series
American Songs Of Revolutionary Times... (Laserlight) (This is a CD with authentic era songs)
Clarke Celtic Tin Whistle - D (We purchased an inexpensive tin whistle and had fun re-creating some of the songs on the CD!)

Incorporating Historical Documents into the study:
We used the following books to make sure our study included significant historical figures and facts.

We Hold These Truths...: And Other Words that Made America
The Signers: The 56 Stories Behind the Declaration of Independence

Interesting Side Notes:
We looked into clothing and furniture of the Colonial Era, to see how it differed from what we are familiar with today:

What Clothes Reveal: The Language of Clothing in Colonial and Federal America
Clothing through American History: The Federal Era through Antebellum, 1786-1860
American Furniture: The Federal Period in the Henry Francis Du Pont Winterthur Museum (Winterthur Book)
Southern Furniture 1680-1830: The Colonial Williamsburg Collection (Williamsburg Decorative Arts Series)

Fun Additions: (historical fiction books)

Caesar's Story, 1759
Maria's Story, 1773
Nancy's Story, 1765

Online Activities:

Felicity Games & Activities on the American Girl Website
Colonial Williamsburg for Kids Website - Interactive tour and games

Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Musical Birthday Cake

We had a special birthday this past week, that called for a special cake to be made. The girls and I found an idea on Pinterest, and set out to re-create the cake here at home, using (of course!) dairy and gluten free cake, frosting, and fondant!

This cake was for a music lover....someone who loves both piano and strings. No way of telling which one she likes better, so we put them together on her cake!

Just wanted to share the pictures of our final product! (It was delicious too!)



Copyright 2012-2013 - "Be The One" -  All rights are reserved. No text, photos, or content may be reproduced without direct permission from the author.