Thursday, October 31, 2013

(Review) Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns

How many of the special girls in your life have American Girl dolls, or 18" dolls of some kind? Have you ever priced the clothes for them? Outrageous, huh?  My daughter Abbey and I were so excited to learn to sew doll clothes and to be selected to review Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns and the Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Pattern program. Let me tell you more. . .

Who is Rosie? 

Rosie is a beautiful stay-at-home mom who lives in Australia, and grew up sewing.  When her daughter was born and started receiving dolls as Christmas presents, the retail price of the doll clothes quickly inspired Rosie to start sewing her own doll clothes for her daughter.  She soon discovered that sewing clothes for an 18" doll is a bit different than sewing adult clothes.  She has done all the hard work for us, and is sharing her doll clothes sewing tips and tricks with us to make it extremely easy to learn, regardless of your ability level. 

What is the program? 

The course has over 130 videos that take you through everything you will need to know about sewing doll clothes.  The course is designed to give you everything you need, including wonderful tips and troubleshooting information, to make doll clothes for 18" dolls like American Girl, and 18.5" dolls like Cabbage Patch. She also offers tips on how to adjust the patterns for other size dolls such as Bitty Baby and My Twinn.  Rosie does not assume that you know anything at all, so she gently walks you through each step. 

If you have little or no sewing experience and just not sure how to teach your little one to even turn on the machine, I encourage you to watch all the beginning videos that discuss learning your machine and which tools work the best for this size of clothing.  

The camera work is wonderful, as the videos simply show Rosie's beautiful hands (they are!) and her sewing machine working on each piece of clothing.  We hear Rosie's voice over each video, guiding us step by step through each phase of the process.  

Most of the patterns include about 18 videos/steps, but they are broken down into 3 - 4 minute videos, so you nor your child will get overwhelmed with too much information per step.  You can pause and catch up when needed, and can watch them as often as needed. 

The patterns available for us to review through the Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course were: 

Sport Shorts
Crop Top
Halter Top
Sarong (skirt)
Summer Nightie

Each pattern comes as a PDF that you download and print off. (There are even instructions on how to adjust it if your measurements are incorrect once it comes off the printer.) Each pattern also includes written instructions and step-by-step videos. Each tutorial video is viewed directly from the Rosie's Doll Clothes Pattern website, but you can also order DVDs for viewing without an internet connection. 

Beyond the patterns that we were privileged to review, Rosie offers a ton of other patterns, all averaging about $10 each.  Check some of the great patterns here.  And one of my favorite parts about Rosie's site is her blog, where she shares customers' photos and extra tips and tricks. 

What are the recommended ages and the cost of the program?

This program is recommended for ages 8 and up, and the Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Tutorials plus the bonus 8 patterns above are $47.46.  (Because of the exchange rate being a bit fluid, that price is subject to change).  That is a wonderful value if you were only getting the patterns, but you also get over 130 videos! 

PLEASE NOTE: From now until midnight on the 24th December, 2013 when you purchase Rosie's How to Make Doll Clothes video course, she is giving away an additional pattern of your choice, absolutely free!  That's 9 FREE patterns with the course!  

How did we learn from it? 

My daughter is 10 years old, and has been itching to learn to sew on a "real" machine for a couple of years now.  I mistakenly bought her a toy sewing machine a couple of years ago, but it was so frustrating, she quickly stopped trying.  So being chosen to review Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns came at the perfect time. 

I have been sewing since I was Abbey's age, so I was very familiar with the machine and the recommended tools Rosie offered.  We watched some of the tutorial videos though, because Abbey learns well from others, and I knew she and I both would benefit from learning how sewing doll clothes differs from sewing adult clothes. 

The recommended tools like the rotary cutter, the cutting board, the sewing gauge, and the looper (or, "loopah," as Rosie's says so cutely) were not something we owned, so we had a ton of fun shopping for them, and they really did make our lives easier.  We found some fabric fat quarters (1/4 yd) at our local store for only $.97, and the prints were so sweet. You can just as easily use scraps of material or old shirts laying around your house for these projects. 

I wanted Abbey to take complete ownership of the doll clothes, so I had her do every step herself (with the exception of pressing the items; she was scared of being burned.)  I sat with her during each session, and supervised and helped only when she couldn't get something started or needed extra help.  We simply set the laptop up next the sewing machine so we could watch and sew right along with Rosie as we worked.  

Abbey loved the process, and was so excited to see the clothes come together so quickly. We were both very sick for a couple of weeks, and then we got a newborn foster baby to care for that has slowed us down a bit,  but Abbey has started sewing full force now, and is on her third pattern in the series. She has shown anyone and everyone who comes to house what she has accomplished! We had so much fun together sharing this experience, and Abbey has now learned a wonderful skill that is really a lost art among young people in this digital age. 

Some of Abbey's creations

I can't recommend this program enough.  I am looking forward to ordering more of the patterns, as Abbey has her eye on the "Funky Fur Jacket" pattern.  Oh, I almost forgot. Go to Rosie's site and order the free video to get a feel for her style.  That is definitely what hooked me and made me realize I just had to have this program. 

Ready to order? Click the logo below to go straight to Rosie's site. 

Want to see how other homeschooling families used this program over the last few weeks? Click the banner below! 

Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or check out my Facebook page. Subscribe to this blog and have each post delivered straight to your inbox! ©2013-2014 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

(Review) Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs~~Marine Biology

If you have read my blog even a few times, you know that my daughter is an animal-enthusiast and a lover of all things animal science. She was thrilled when I told her we were selected to review Bridgeway Academy’s new Learning Labs: Fun with Science: Marine Biology.

Bridgeway Academy has been serving the homeschool community for many, many years, and is well-respected, accredited, and trusted.  Besides Abbey's love for the subject matter, the BridgewayAcademy name is what made me want to try this class. 

The online classes are easy in which to register.  Besides Marine Biology, other classes that are available at different times throughout the year include Backyard Biology, Architecture with Legos, Magic Tree House Detectives, Weather and Climate Science, just to name a few.

This hour-long class, for nine weeks, is a live, interactive class in which a certified marine biologist lectures and teachers with tools such as an interactive whiteboard, videos, PowerPoint presentations, and interactive chat boards.  Carla Berg was our instructor for this course, and she definitely knew her stuff. She had a ton of knowledge to share with the class, and I could tell she was passionate about the subject matter, and had taken a lot of time to prepare for each class.

The recommended age for this class is 5th to 8th grade, and the content is definitely geared for this older elementary/middle school age group.   The homework assignments were extremely advanced, and while my daughter had a tough time doing it completely by herself, she did enjoy the process, and wanted to please Ms. Berg each week. 

Homework assignments varied from multiple choice (through an online site called Moodle), to essay, presentations, newsletters, and more.  The scoring system found on this site was confusing, so there were many weeks I simply emailed the assignment to Ms. Berg for grading.   Ms. Berg stated that the students should be spending about two hours per week on homework, but some assignments were taking Abbey over four hours to complete, because of the amount of research involved. I am not saying that is a negative aspect, because certainly Abbey learned in her homework, but it was a bit overwhelming for her some weeks. 

Here is Abbey’s assignment on the alligator gar (on which she scored an A):

Some of the other goals we accomplished during this class: 

  • Understand the basic components of marine environments.
  • Identify different families of marine animals based on common characteristics.
  • Use a dichotomous key.
  • Differentiate between marine ecosystems.
  • Understand different technologies used to explore the oceans
 Abbey learned terms and organisms that she did not know about, and truly retained a ton of information after each class, even when I wasn’t sure if she was absorbing it all or not.  I will make one note here that this was not taught from a Creation-based nor from an evolution-based perspective.  It was simply the facts about the marine organisms and how they relate to each other.

Online learning is such a great break for homeschooling parents, and Bridgeway Academy offers so many unique choices.  Each Learning Lab is $145 for a 9-week session.   Each lab is approximately an hour long, so that averages to $16 per class.  For most homeschooling families, that price is going to be too steep for a single class, but if you are considering it, the content is most definitely worth the price of admission.

There were several other families in this class with Abbey and me, and in other Bridgeway Academy Learning Labs over the last several weeks, so don’t just take my word for it, click here or on the blinking banner below to read their reviews!

Ready to register for the next class or just to learn more? Then start here and have fun!


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Thursday, October 24, 2013

(Review) Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story [Barbour Publishing]

My reluctant reader was groaning when I told her we were going to be reviewing and reading a new chapter book. But literally two paragraphs into Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story from Barbour Publishing, she was hooked and didn't want to put it down.

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story is the hilarious story of E. J. Payne, a precocious fourth grader with a huge imagination.  Diary entries from E.J. are interspersed with narrative about the adventures she and her family experience.  As a preacher's kid, she is full of stories that make the reader laugh and cry all in the same chapter.

Young kids can truly relate to some of her antics and struggles with her own family members and with their church members.  Abbey, my 5th grader, who just herself started her own diary, loved the format of the book. 

Each chapter begins with an excerpt from E.J.'s diary, so we get a real feel for the soul of this little girl, and it makes us love her all the more.  Each chapter then proceeds to tell the next funny adventure in her life, written with such heart and soul that we just hated for the book to end. 

Abbey especially loved that E.J. daydreamed a lot, and had the the funniest imagination of anyone she knew.  Abbey, herself a constant daydreamer, I think felt a sense of relief in knowing she wasn't the only kid alive who had trouble staying on task.  

Written from a Christian perspective, author Annie Tipton does a wonderful job of weaving the underlying theme of family and grace throughout Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story.  She reminds the readers that your family members, no matter how much they drive you crazy, are really important and are your biggest supporters.  

Here are some of the fun chapter titles: 

  • Caution Flag (in which E.J. daydreams about being a race car driver). 
  • Mrs. Winkle (in which their next door neighbor babysits and hilarity ensues)
  • My Life as a Space Cadet (in which E.J. daydreams about being an astronaut and promptly gets in trouble)
  • Family Camp (in which the entire family goes to church camp and the adventures that await them)
  • Just a Little Off the Top (in which E.J.'s wild hair sort of gets tamed)

Diary of a Real Payne Book 1: True Story is recommended for ages 8 to 12, is 192 pages, and is listed at the wonderfully low price of $5.99 for the softcover edition. At the time of this review, it is on sale for $4.49, so if it sounds like something your young reader would enjoy, don't hesitate to scoot over to Barbour Publishing's website and order it! 

We are also excited to learn that Diary of a Real Payne Book 2: Church Camp Chaos will be coming out in March 2014! 

Want to read more reviews by other homeschooling moms before making the decision to purchase? Click here or on the blinking banner below to do so! 

Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or check out my Facebook page. Subscribe to this blog and have each post delivered straight to your inbox! ©2013-2014 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Friday, October 18, 2013

(Review) God's World News: News Current

If you're like me, you probably prefer to shelter your kids from the harsh presentation of world news from our biased media stations.  That being said, my husband and I do believe that our daughter is now old enough  (5th grade) for her to be aware of current events and the world beyond her little town.  I am excited to tell you that through our latest product review, we have found a solution to exposing her to the world of current events around her, while still sheltering her from all the personal opinions of the broadcast networks:  God's World News, and specifically for Abbey's age: News Current

God's World News is, in short, a news magazine for kids, chock full of current events and special interest stories, written from a Christian perspective.  They offer several different levels of subscriptions from which to choose: 

  • God's Big World (PK - K) 
  • Early Edition (Gr. 1 -2)
  • News Flash (Gr. 3 -4)
  • News Current (Gr. 5 - 6)
  • Top Story (Middle School)
  • Trak (High School) 

Each issue of News Current is seriously jam-packed with current stories.  There is a theme in each magazine, such as people on the move (refugees), special youth sports stars, geography, or animals, and a special section relating to that theme.  Your subscription will include the following: 

  • Full-year subscriptions include 10 big, full-color, monthly issues (every month except December & May).
  • 32 pages per issue, filled with age-appropriate news and activities.
  • Children's website access at
  • Weekly email newsletter for parents and teachers, including answer keys to the magazine quizzes and puzzles.
  • Biographies and topical lessons to download and print, with quizzes and answer keys.
  • No charge for regular shipping and handling! (1st class delivery available at additional charge.)

The cost for each annual subscription is $28. We were able to use each issue as our history, reading, geography, science, and world view lesson---that's a wonderful value! There is even an included 20" x 30" wall map of the world to allow you to discuss each area of the world as it relates to the news stories found within each issue.  [Who knew Sri Lanka was right below India? Well, I do now.] The map is sent with the September issue. 

I allow Abbey to choose two articles in the issue each day and read it on her own. We then discuss it, with help from review questions found in the back of each issue.  She truly has learned so much from these well written articles.  The writers of News Current give the heart and soul behind the stories to help the students relate to the information.  

Another great feature we love: The search for bold print words in the issue.  What better way for kids to increase their vocabulary but to see it used correctly in a sentence and to use the context clues around it to figure out its meaning?!  A multiple choice quiz in each issue helps your student determine if they have grasped it. 

As an additional bonus, each subscription includes a brand new digital supplement, via the God's World News digital content site, found here.  Using your member number, you will have access to special activities, additional stories, the answer key to any puzzles found in the hard copy issue, and more.  Being able to add more visual content for my daughter was a wonderful addition to the subscription. 

There are a ton of sections to explore, with different topics within each section. Here's a sampling from the members-only website: 

Not to be left out, God's World News even offers World Magazine, a full-color magazine for adults who would like to have a publication to read that filters out all the garbage and brings us the truth behind the current events. I am a self-proclaimed news junkie, and I love the 'story behind the story' that the writers and editors of World Magazine bring to life. World is a leader in the industry, and well worth the $4.98/month cost to subscribe.

Want to learn more about the wonderful products from God's World News? Click here or on the banner below to learn what other Schoolhouse Crew Review homeschool moms had to say about using the wonderful magazines from God's World News with their own students: 

Ready to subscribe to News Current or any of the other offerings?  Click here to sign up! You'll be so glad you did!

Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or check out my Facebook page. Subscribe to this blog and have each post delivered straight to your inbox! ©2013-2014 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Scripture and a Snapshot ~~ 10/11/13

 "A man without God is trusting in a spider’s web. Everything he counts on will collapse." Job 8:14


Joining my friends today . . .

Don't miss any of my posts! Subscribe in a reader or "like" my Facebook page. Subscribe to this blog and have each post delivered straight to your inbox! ©2013-2014 Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum. All rights reserved. All text, photographs, artwork, and other content may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form without the written consent of the author.



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