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Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns Schoolhouse Crew Review

Delaney loves her American Girl Dolls. She doesn't play with them a lot, but she likes to dress them & set them up in her room. Some days she will dress them when she gets up & put their nightgowns on them before bed. Delaney is also a shopper & loves to pick out clothes for herself & her doll and that gets expensive. This past month she has been learning to sew by making her dolls some new clothes using Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns.
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We received 12 months access to Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns from Rosie's Doll Clothes Patterns. Rosie lives in Australia so the price of the course can very every day according to the exchange rate, but today the price is $47.46. If you order before December 24, 2013 you will receive another free doll clothes pattern of your choice. You can receive the course three different ways. You can have instant access to the complete program all at once, the online course can be delivered over the course of 6 weeks & has a money back guarantee, or you may purchase them on DVD for $66.14. We received the entire online course at one time.

Delaney's first pair of Sport Shorts & Crop Top.

This course is recommended for children ages 8 and up. It comes with over 130 step-by-step instructional videos that will teach you to sew in just six weeks. We also received 8 free 18 inch American Girls doll clothes patterns that come with their own step-by-step tutorials. That gave us 218 online video tutorials. Wow, that is a lot. The videos teach everything starting with setting up your sewing room, we learned about equipment, elastic, fabric, how to create a casing, how to sew a curved hem, tips on ribbon and buttons, and so much more.

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All the videos are live streamed on the website, so once you receive your password and login you have instant access to all the instructional videos. The first 6 weeks are learning to sew and then the Course Bonus Materials are the patterns for the 18" dolls. The doll patterns include a Sport Shorts, Crop Top, Long or Short Sarong, Halter Top, Summer Nightie, Hat, Underpants, and Pumpkin Costume.
This is a screen shot of our home page. Once we click on the bar at the left for our selected week a drop down menu appears to access each days tutorial video. When you are ready for the bonus material you will be instructed how to download and print your pattern pieces. The videos for the doll clothes are very detailed. We are shown the completed outfit, all materials and tools we will need, how to cut it out, and how to complete the clothing with a video for each step. The printed pattern also gives you a list of supplies that are needed & it makes shopping so easy.

I actually borrowed a sewing machine intending to use the sewing course with all three of my girls or at least Amber & Delaney. The machine we borrowed was having some issues and the lady we borrowed it from doesn't use it. That left us with just one sewing machine and since Delaney (age 11) likes her dolls & fashion more than the other two she decided she was going to use the program.

I watched the videos with Delaney & I learned a lot. I remember learning to sew in Home Ec. when I was in school and I just remember how boring it was. As an adult I have sewn quite a few things, but I usually cut my pieces out and sew them together. (Sh, I'm not one for following directions!) I learned of tools that make sewing so much easier like a looper, I never even knew they made such a thing.

Delaney loves her Mad Hatter costume and she wears it often, she decided it is the most appropriate thing she has to wear while she is sewing. 

Delaney could not wait to get to the actual sewing for her dolls. We have watched the course material videos and she has completed the first 3 doll patterns. She could have gotten farther, but she actually made 2 sport shorts, 2 crop tops, and 1 sarong. She already has a couple more sarongs & a halter top cut out and ready to sew. The instructional videos are truly step-by-step. The videos are recorded from an angle that makes viewing the process very nice, its probably better than having someone teach because there is not wasted time going back and forth from instructor to sewing machine. The sound quality and volume is very consistent for ease of listening. We are shown exactly what to do for each step in the sewing. Delaney was able to watch and complete all of the instructions. The only thing I helped her with was the ironing. She knows how to use the iron, but it was faster if I did it because she went pretty slow with the small pieces.
Delaney didn't like how short the crop top was, so she decided to make a second one to go with her Sarong and she added a ruffle to the bottom of the shirt. 

Learn How to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns is so much more than just sewing doll clothes. The course material that is taught is very detailed and can be used while sewing anything. Even if you have never used a sewing machine you can sew & make doll clothes while using this program.

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

VocabularySpellingCity Schoolhouse Crew Review

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I have never been a very good speller, but my daughter Delaney loves spelling and vocabulary words. She is 11, but she spells better than her older sister and is actually spelling at a high school level. I think she spells so well because when she was younger I would catch her writing words in the air with her finger as she spoke or if someone else was speaking. I hate to admit it, but if we have a lot of things come up in our school week spelling lists are the last thing we work on. We have been using VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership and now the girls can just log in and work on their spelling and vocabulary words completely on their own.

There are actually two versions of VocabularySpellingCity. They offer a Basic Membership that is free and a Premium Membership that costs $29.99 for a one year subscription for up to five students. Both ways you have access to teacher resources, you can import spelling lists, print worksheets, and test spelling words. The Premium membership adds so much more to the program. VocabularySpellingCity is recommended for K-12 grades, but anyone needing to improve their vocabulary or spelling could benefit from it.
From the Teacher/Parent account you can manage your students, input spelling/vocabulary words, manage your word lists, assign word lists, and games for each student and track their progress. You can also try the games out for yourself to see how they work.
The first thing I did was create my own word lists. I use Spelling Power with my girls, so it was very easy for me to enter the words lists for each of their levels. I can name my lists and enter the grade level for each one. I have been adding the rule that is included with Spelling Power in the instructions for my kids. I don't know if there is a maximum number of words that you can add to one list, but one of Delaney's lists had 25 words. The first list I entered went a little slow, but then I figured out that you can just click enter after typing each word and it will automatically move to the next line or add another line if all the numbers are already full.
After saving my lists I can choose the definition. It automatically defaults to the most popular, but other parts of speech or definitions can be chosen.
After creating word lists you must assign the list to a student. You may choose up to 10 activities for the assignment from 6 categories. They include Tests, Teach, Spelling, Writing, Vocabulary, and Language Arts. Some of the activities you may assign are Flashcards, Spelling Tests, Vocabulary Tests, LetterFall, Word Search, Missing Letter, Sentence & Paragraph Writing, Vocabulary Matching, Word-O-Rama, Parts of Speech, Alphabetize, and so much more. 

Each student has their own login & once they are in their account they can access the activities that were assigned to them. The activities can be completed in any order the child wants to work on them.

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The flashcards will show you the word and the definition. The student can always see what number of flashcard they are on & they have the option to print each card.
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In Word-O-Rama we are given a sentence or a definition in the grey box. We have four words to choose the correct answer from, if the wrong answer is chosen the student can have another chance.
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In the LetterFall game you are given a word and then it is used in a sentence. You will use the mouse to click on the arrows in the green circle to move the bucket under the next letter in the word. The letters that have already been caught are displayed in the bottom left of the screen.

One of the best things about the Premium Membership is that I can check the progress of each of my kids. I can see what activities were completed, the date and the time spent on each one. Some activities are graded, so on those activities I can see their grade and the words that they missed. On one spelling test Delaney missed several words. When I asked her why she missed them she said, "I was trying to type instead of looking at the keyboard and it didn't work so well."

I have been using the Premium Membership with all three of my girls ages 8, 11, & 12. I only added a couple of spelling tests at a time, but it would be much easier to sit down and add a bunch of them at once. Alaina (age 8) likes to play HangMouse the best, Delaney (age 11) loves writing sentences and taking the spelling tests, and Amber (age 12) likes to take the spelling test first to see what words she needs to learn to spell, so she doesn't waste her time working on them.

VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership is a big time savor and can make learning vocabulary & spelling words fun for the kids.
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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Bridgeway Academy Schoolhouse Crew Review

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Bridgeway Academy has been an accredited homeschooling academy since 1989. Their goal is to provide homeschool families everything they need to give their children the best education available. They are a Christian company that produce education plans that universities are taking quite seriously. 

We received the Bridgeway English 1 Focus on Grammar & Bridgeway English 2 Focus on Writing with the English 1 & 2 Teacher Answer Key. This is a full year remedial English curriculum with English 1 focusing on Grammar and English 2 focusing on Writing. The student workbooks are self-instructional and motivational. There are Section Reviews and Self-Tests to ensure mastery of the material taught. This program will work great for 9-12 grade students who need a complete refresher on Grammar and Writing. It is also great for students in the 7-8 grades to make sure they are ready for the high school level.
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Bridgeway English 1 Focus on Grammar: Expanding Foundations and Building Success is a spiral bound workbook divided into 6 Paks. Each Pak contains worksheets, reviews, a self-test, and a final test. It is written in a step by step fashion with each skill building on the previous one. It covers; subject and predicate, four types of sentences, sentence fragments, run-on sentences, compound sentences, noun functions, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions and prepositional phrases, conjunctions, interjections, and grammar review.
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Bridgeway English 2 Focus on Writing: Expanding Foundation and Building Success is a spiral bound workbook divided into 6 Paks. Each Pak contains worksheets, review, self-test, and a final test. It is written in a step by step fashion with each skill building on the previous one. It covers; clauses, sentence variety, subject/verb agreement, grammar and mechanics, writing skills, rules of capitalization, rules of punctuation, proofreading, editing, letter writing, business writing, study skills, critical thinking and reasoning, and learning about fact versus fiction.
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Bridgeway English 1-2 Teacher Answer Key is spiral bound. Answers to all 12 Paks in English 1 & English 2 are included. Each page in the teacher book has copies of 2 pages from the student workbook with the answers filled in.

Amber (age 12) & Delaney (age 11) have always learned the same things when it comes to English partly because they are so close in age, but also because Delaney loves anything having to do with language arts. I was planning on using both English 1 and English 2 with Amber, but when Delaney saw the workbooks she wanted one too. So Delaney has been working on English 1 and Amber has been using English 2. Both of the workbooks are set up in the same format. Throughout both workbooks there are encouraging quotes, sayings, and cute little clip art, and each time there is new topic it is explained in a grey box. This made it easy for my girls if they needed to flip back to refresh their memory because they stand our from the exercises and they remembered what picture was on the page. I think they are considered remedial because they cover so many things, but with fewer exercises for each topic. Amber is actually loving this! She likes that there aren't a lot of problems to answer and they both like the workbook format so they can mark their parts of speech, and phrases in the book. 

Bridgeway English is working for my girls, and I know other Bridgeway products are working for more Crew members. Some of them received Learning Labs including Magic School House Social Studies, Fun With Science Marine Biology, and an online Easy Essay Writing class. Sale over to the Crew blog to read those reviews.

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Curriculum Junkies Wanted ~ Schoolhouse Review Crew Application

Time goes by so fast, I can't believe this is our 18th year of homeschooling! The biggest change I have seen over the years is the amount of homechool curriculum available. I would guess that there is curriculum out there for every teaching & learning style. I have used a lot of curriculum to teach my kids and some of them have worked with all 5 of them & some things haven't worked with one or more of them. My girls and I love trying new methods & curriculum and being part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew has really fueled that fire in our family. I have been writing reviews for the Crew since 2010 and a new year with new vendors is always exciting. If you are a curriculum junkie like me, you may want to apply for 2014 Review Year.

The Schoolhouse Review Crew will be taking applications for the 2014 Review year from October 24 - November 8!

Are you a homeschool blogger?
Are you a curriculum junkie?
Do you enjoy writing reviews?

Then you might be perfect for the Crew! 

Some requirements for being a part of the Crew include the following: 

  • First of all you must be a homeschool mom or dad. You don’t have to homeschool all of your children, but you must homeschool at least one. 
  • You must be willing to use the review products for about six weeks in your homeschool, before writing your review. Review periods have deadlines and requirements for the reviews. You must be willing to follow these requirements. No, that doesn’t mean you must write a positive review. But it does mean that there are certain elements that are required. And the deadlines are firm. If you are often late for deadlines, the Crew is probably not for you. 
  • You must have a blog on which to publish your reviews, and be sure you have an active blog with a following. By active blog, I mean that you should be blogging regularly, at least weekly, about your family and homeschool (in addition to your reviews). Your blog should have followers — RSS feed or email subscribers, as well as in social media. The Crew does not accept brand new bloggers who just set up their blogs for the purposes of applying to the team. 
  • Are you using social media to promote your blog? Activity on at least one social media platform is a requirement to serve on the Crew. Which one is up to you — Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or Google Plus are the options. You will need to be willing to promote your reviews there and post a widget or plug-in publicly on your blog, indicating how many followers you have in social media. 
  • You must be willing to check into the Crew's Review Management forum. This is where information is disseminated to the team. The leadership does everything possible to make things easy for us, outside of writing the actual review, but you need to be willing to participate by checking in almost daily. 
  • Sample reviews are helpful. If you’ve never written a review on your blog, go ahead and write one for curriculum you are currently using in your homeschool. This will help the leaders see how you approach writing reviews. 
Why should you want to be a part?
The Crew has been serving the homeschool community for more than 5 years, and I have been a part of that for over 3. We have around 250 review bloggers that take their job very seriously and will expect you will too. The Crew leadership is wonderful in helping everyone not only become the best review bloggers, but also the best homeschooling parents we can be, they go above and beyond what you would expect from them. There is a mentoring program for new members, a social media networking group, and blog/social media tutorials (I use this a lot). Other opportunities include blog carnivals, and writing guest posts for the Crew blog. The friendships you will make are an added bonus!

How can you apply? 
After making sure you meet all of the requirements, if you believe you would to an asset to the Schoolhouse Review Crew and wish to join us, please click over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to apply.

Come be a part of The Old Schoolhouse family!

Being part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew has benefited out homeschool tremendously with some wonderful new products, and the friendships and encouragement from all the members has truly blessed my life.

Audrey Bunny Review & Giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Lisa McClanahan is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Alaina reads chapter books, but she still loves to read picture books. I don't mind especially when they are well written with a good story line. Our newest picture book is Audrey Bunny by Angie Smith. 
Audrey Bunny teaches us that everyone is perfect in God's eyes. Audrey is a bunny in the toy store barrel, and she thinks she will never be chosen by a child because she is not perfect. She thinks a mark on her fur has ruined her and that no one could ever love her. A little girl named Caroline chooses Audrey and loves her for who she is and doesn't care about the mark. Audrey tries to hide the spot from Caroline, but realizes she loves her no matter what she looks like when Caroline takes her to school for show and tell. 

 I like how this book teaches a lesson to kids in a story, and the illustrations are very cute and appealing to everyone. Psalms 139:14 is quoted in the back of the book to show how wonderful we are made. The last page is a Parent Connection that includes a Remember, Read, Think, and Do sections for the parent and child to do together.

Angie Smith is the author of Audrey Bunny and is the wife of Todd Smith (lead singer of award-winning group Selah). She has also written Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole, and What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms . She holds a Master's degree in Developmental Psychology from Vanderbilt University. You can check out her blog at 

~~ Giveaway~~
I have another copy of Audrey Bunny to giveaway to one of my lucky readers. Just enter the Rafflecopter below. 

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chess House Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

I should learn to keep secrets from my kids with some review items we get. When the Starter Chess Learning Kit from Chess House was on its way, Amber pestered me every day about when it would get here. She loves to play games and with Elliott's Chess School DVD included she was excited to learn more about the game, and she wants to beat me!

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Chess House sent us their Starter Chess Learning Kit and it included a chess bag, a vinyl roll-up 20" X 20" playing mat, 32 (3 3/4") solid plastic regulation chess pieces, Elliott's Chess School DVD 1 "Pawn Level". We received a green bag, but it also comes in black, tan, green camo, and tan camo for $39.95. This chess game is for all ages, but with the level 1 DVD it is great for kids ages 6-12.

The chess pieces in this set are a great size for little hands to move. And with the larger mat it didn't seem like Alaina knocked over as many pieces as she does with our smaller chess set. The vinyl roll-up mat lays nice and flat when it is unrolled and should last a very long time.

Chess School is taught by Elliott Neff. He is the founder of Elliott's Chess School and Chess4Life. He is a National Chess Master and chess coach/teacher. He has defeated several International Master and Grandmaster level chess players in competition. With more than 20 years experience he has students who are ranked in the top 100 in the U.S. He is also proficient at blindfold chess with his recent record of 12 players at once.

The minute our chess set arrived Amber had it opened, we were very surprised to find 2 white queens and 2 black queens included in the game. Amber immediately set up the game so we could play. As soon as the game was over she wanted to watch Elliott's Chess School DVD. Amber (age 12), Delaney (age 11), and Alaina (age 8) all watched the DVD. Amber and I already knew how to play, but we both learned a few things from watching the lessons. Delaney never had a desire to play, and Alaina just liked to play with the pieces. After watching the DVD, Delaney knew how to play & enjoys playing now that she knows how. Alaina is getting it and likes to play as long as the game doesn't take too long to complete (she still gets distracted with wanting to play with the pieces that are already captured).

Elliott's Chess School DVD 1 "Pawn School" lasts 49 minutes and it is divided into 10 topics. It starts with an Into to Chess, then each piece is described in its own section, with Castling, Pawn Shields, and Development finishing it up. Elliott does a great job describing each piece and showing how they can move. If you have ever been intimidated with learning to play chess Elliott's descriptions make it very easy to understand and it looks so simple. During the Intro to Chess you will learn how to set up the chess board, how to keep score, and the name of each square on the board. During the segment for each chess piece he shows you each piece, where they start on the game board, and how they move. An ariel view of a computerized chess board also appears to show you the same thing. At the end of each section he recaps everything that was taught. Elliott does such a good job at describing Castling that my girls picked it up the very first time. During the Pawn Shields and Development segments we are shown tips on how to protect our king with some examples of good and bad moves.

The DVD also contains a booklet that gives a brief description of each topic if you ever need a refresher.

Elliott's Chess School has 6 primary levels of skills and knowledge. Each level builds upon the previous one to master development. Amber is really wanting to get more of the DVDs, so she will be able to beat me and her brother when he comes home from Afghanistan.

The carrying case comes with handles and a shoulder strap. It is great for taking it to play with friends. There is a compartment for both colors of pieces and a spot for the DVD with booklet, and a strap to hold the rolled up board in place. No more pieces flying all over the room when someone accidentally drops the game on the way to the table.

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Monday, October 14, 2013


I love spending time with my kids! I hate that time goes by so fast & that they have to grow up. I don't think I dislike the growing up part as much as I hate the moving away part! I guess it hasn't been that bad, especially since they were in the same direction. Michael was in Tennessee and Morgan was in Florida, so we could see them both in one long driving trip.
But now Morgan has moved back to Colorado we will be able to see her more often. She came home for a week in September and then she went on a two week vacation with us. It was really hard to see her leave, but at least we will get to see her more often now. 

We are hoping to get back to Tennessee to see Michael in January or February when he gets back from his tour in Afghanistan. I love my smart phone and my internet more than ever since he has been gone, it allows us to message him every day.

Friday, October 11, 2013

YWAM Publishing George Washington Schoolhouse Review #hsreviews

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My family loves a well written biography! We just finished a good one about George Washington: True Patriot from YWAM Publishing. This book is part of the Heroes of History series, we also received the Unit Study Curriculum Guide to go with it. We were very impressed with the engaging way this book was written and are already looking forward to reading more titles from this series.
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Heroes of History series was written by Janet & Geoff Benge. This biography series gives us a good look at men and women who changed history. There are 21 books in the series starting in 1451-1998. Topics in history, geography, government, and science are told in a way that make them come to life and leave a lasting impression.

We received the 224 page George Washington: True Patriot (1732-1799) book recommended for children ages 10 and older. It can be purchased in paperback or digital form for $6.99. The book starts out in 1775 with young George watching the British soldiers. We get a glimpse of George growing up with his family, we are introduced to his brothers, wife and kids, and learn of the many jobs that made him who he was.

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We also completed the George Washington Unit Study from YWAM. This 64 page guide is available in paperback only for $7.49 and can be used with PreK to high school students. It is divided into 8 chapters with Answers to the Chapter Questions, and Books and Resources in the appendixes. The activities include creative writing, drama, movie critiquing, essay writing, history and geography concepts. There are many ideas included, so you can choose the ones that work for you and your students.

  • Chapter 1 ~ Key Quotes - They can be used for memorization, conversation starters, or crafts to display on the wall. 
  • Chapter 2 ~ Display Corner - Suggests items children might like to collect that relate to the life and times of George Washington.
  • Chapter 3 ~ Chapter Questions - Each chapter has a vocabulary question, a factual question, a comprehension question, and an open-ended question. 
  • Chapter 4 ~ Student Explorations- Includes essay questions, creative writing, hands-on projects, audio/visual projects, and arts & crafts. 
  • Chapter 5 ~ Community Links- Shows us how to get the most out of field trips that relate to George Washington.
  • Chapter 6 ~ Social Studies - Places, terms/vocabulary, geographical characteristics, timeline, and conceptual questions are included here.
  • Chapter 7 ~ Related Themes to Explore - We are given topics for 5 subjects that can be studied while reading George Washington & using the Curriculum Guide.
  • Chapter 8 ~ Culminating Event - This chapter gives closure to the unit. It offers ideas to hold an event after finishing the unit.

I read George Washington out loud to my girls (ages 8, 11, & 12), and had all three of them work on the Curriculum Guide. We answered the chapter questions together to spark more discussion among my girls. Not only did we learn history and about George Washington, but we also learned about politics, government, and currency in the colonies. We all loved this Heroes of History book and are already planning on getting some more. I like that the activities in the Curriculum Guide are suitable for all grade levels, groups or individuals, and are for different learning styles. Creative writing is always a favorite of my girls and of course they had to have a tea party just like Martha Washington would have.

YWAM Publishing produces and sells Christian materials including audio books, music, fiction, and Spanish titles. We are trying to decide which Heroes of History book we would like to read next & the Audio Heroes look like they will be a must for our next road trip.

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