Tuesday, October 29, 2013

REVIEW: Learn to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns by Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns

My 9-year old daughter, Haylee, and I had the chance to check out the Learn to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns by Rosie’s Doll Clothes Patterns.



The Learn to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns gives you one year of access to a complete video sewing course with tips and tricks for making doll clothes.  The video course includes access to over 130 instructional videos (approximately 8 hours’ worth) that take you through the basics of sewing, tools of the trade, and tips and tricks for sewing doll clothes. 

The 8 free patterns include step-by-step video instructions showing you how to sew each article of doll clothing, along with printable patterns and printable instructions.  You’ll have access to the videos for 1 year, but all patterns and sewing instructions for the patterns are downloadable to your computer so you can keep them forever and print them as needed.

This online instructional course with free patterns is available for just $48.00, and it’s suitable for even the most basic beginner.  You can also request immediately after your purchase to receive the patterns for the 18.5” Cabbage Patch Doll instead for the same low price.  You also have the option of completing your video course over a period of 6 weeks, or get access all at once and go at your own pace with continued access for a year.  If you prefer to keep the video course forever, you can purchase it on DVD for $67.23.  This course is recommended for anyone age 8 and up.



Haylee has absolutely no sewing experience.  It’s something I’ve wanted to teach her but just couldn’t find the time and opportunity to do before.  So when this review came up, we were both very excited at having an organized, step-by-step way to introduce her to sewing.  And what better way to do it then with fun doll clothes patterns! 

Haylee decided she wasn’t yet ready to handle the machine, but she was eager to learn the basics of sewing.  I was very impressed right from the start at how basic the instruction really is in the video course.  If you knew absolutely nothing about sewing, you would be able to start this course and learn all you needed to know to get started. 

I began by downloading and printing out all of the patterns and instructions for the 8 free doll clothes patterns.  This took a little bit of tweaking, because when I took Rosie’s advice and double-checked the measurements on the printed patterns, I discovered they were smaller than they needed to be.  I followed the video instructions regarding how to set up your printer, but it did not address the specific issue I turned out to have.  After looking carefully at my printer’s settings, I realized it defaulted to “shrink to fit” rather than “actual size.”  After unchecking that box, I reprinted all of the patterns and found that they were of accurate measurements this time.

Once I had all of my printed materials, I had a nice-sized stack of papers and wanted to organize them for future reference.  After all, these patterns can be used again and again, particularly since you print them on standard paper, which is significantly thicker and sturdier than today’s flimsy tissue paper patterns that barely survive the first use.  So I grabbed a pack of tabbed index

DSCF0898    DSCF0897    DSCF0899

dividers and went to work labeling the tabs for each of the patterns.  I 3-hole punched the pages and put everything into a 1/2” binder.  I took the Rosie’s Doll Patterns logo and her image of what the 8 completed doll clothing items look like and used that to create a cover page to slip into the front cover of my binder.  Then as I cut out the patterns to use them for the first time, I put the pattern pieces into a pocket on the back side of each divider, which I quickly made by cutting a sheet of paper in half, folding under the edges on 3 sides, and gluing this pocket onto the divider.  Then all of my pattern pieces fit inside the pocket for future use.

Week 1 of this 6-week course covers topics such as setting up your sewing room, tools to make sewing doll clothes easier, all about fabric and elastic, how to use your sewing tools and cool tips for using them.  Your free pattern for week 1 is for sports shorts.  Haylee got to learn about the difference between a serger and a sewing machine, and she learned about some of the great sewing tools that would really come in handy for making doll clothes, such as the loop turner, bodkin, and sewing gauge.

Week 2 covers topics such as printing/preparing/cutting your pattern and fabric, cool tips for preparation/working with fabric or thread, and troubleshooting during preparation/cutting/working with fabric.  Your free pattern for week 2 is for a crop top.


Week 3 covers topics such as how to sew straight and zigzag, cool tips for sewing straight lines, troubleshooting to save time, how to sew a hem, how to create more advanced hems, cool tips to make sewing doll clothes really easy.  Your free pattern for week 3 is for a sarong, which comes in 2 variations for either short or long.  We decided to make the short sarong to go with the halter top we were making for week 4.  The complete outfit is shown here.  It turned out so lovely!  The sarong video gave some great tips for sewing the curves so they are smooth and even.  You can see in the photo that there were no disruptions in the curved lines of the skirt.  Rosie teaches a great way to ensure this, and I learned something myself with this project!  I’ve used her technique when sewing curves together, but not when sewing a curved hem.  That was really neat!  This was also a quick project, though it required a bit more attention than the halter top below.

DSCF0890Week 4 covers topics such as how to stay stitch, sew a seam, serge a seam, create a casing, create a more advanced casing, create tubes and straps, and troubleshooting to save you even more time.  Your free pattern for week 4 is for a halter top.  Haylee and I selected a pretty lavender floral patterned fabric for this piece of doll clothing.  We picked out the fabric at the same time that we selected the solid purple for the sarong, hoping to create a coordinating 2-piece outfit from the 2 patterns.  I have to say that this pattern was SUPER easy and took no time at all.  There were only a few steps to creating this cute little halter top!  Haylee loved how it turned out, and we paired it with a white shirt underneath for fall weather.

Week 5 covers topics such as threading elastic in a casing, using elastic to save time, cool tips DSCF0883for working with elastic, troubleshooting when working with elastic, how to gather, and how to attach intricate pieces together.  Your free pattern for week 5 is for a summer nightie.  Haylee and I used this pattern with a calico pattern to create a dress.  It as unnecessary to alter the pattern.  We were able to make it a dress simply by selecting an appropriate fabric and print for a dress and by embellishing it as a dress rather than as a nightgown.  It turned out great!  Haylee really loved this dress, and we could see lots of possibilities for this pattern just by varying the fabric, print, and embellishments.  Fancy trims could certainly dress it up even more.  Our imagination was really set free when we starting envisioning what we could do with this pattern.  Haylee absolutely loved how this dress turned out!  We paired it with a long-sleeved white shirt underneath that we already owned so that the doll’s soft cloth body wouldn’t show in the sleeveless area of the dress, and that worked great the look we wanted.

Week 6 covers topics such as how to attach trimmings and fastenings, and cool tips when working with ribbon, buttons, or to make your doll clothes fit lots of dolls.  Your free patterns for week 6 include ones for a hat, a pumpkin costume, and underwear.

I have to say that Haylee and I both thoroughly enjoyed this course!  It was just downright fun!  For Haylee, I think the pace of the instructional videos was just right.  I’m a more seasoned seamstress, as I’ve been sewing for about 30 years.  So for me, the pace was painfully slow, mainly because the majority of the information was not new to me.  The sewing instructions for the patterns themselves were just fine…those videos were appropriately paced for beginners and more advanced sewers alike, in my opinion.  So when I say it was too slow for me, I’m referring to the basic 6-week “how to sew” portion of the instruction.  Then again, I don’t think I’m the target audience for that…it’s really aimed at someone with less experience. 

You can order the patterns individually, which includes video sewing instructions for each one.  That would probably be a more appropriate choice for me personally.  But honestly, for all of the free patterns that are included with this video course, it’s probably a better value just to go for the whole course!  And who knows, you may pick up some great tips that are specific to doll clothes along the way anyway!  I did learn a few things myself!

For Haylee, this is a wonderful course that I know she’ll use again and again as she musters up enough courage to try out what she’s learned on the actual sewing machine.  She has learned so much about sewing already from just watching the videos and from the great discussion prompted along the way as she watched me complete each step.  This video course provides a great opportunity to pass on the art of sewing to your daughters (or sons) in a fun, easy-to-teach presentation.

In the past, I’ve usually purchased 18-inch doll clothes as a Christmas gift for my daughter, but with these patterns that are so quick and simple to use, I can make my own doll clothes in a short amount of time.  We both loved the fun of selecting the fabrics to go together and the idea of adding our own special touches to get the doll clothes we really want.  I can’t imagine ever buying pre-made doll clothes again!  I’d rather give her a more personalized gift anyway, and this product allows me to do that!

Check out what other Crew members had to say about the Learn to Make Doll Clothes Video Course with 8 Free Doll Clothes Patterns by clicking the banner below.



Friday, October 25, 2013

REVIEW: VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership by VocabularySpellingCity



My 9- and 5-year old kids and I had the opportunity to review the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership by VocabularySpellingCity.




The VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership offers parents and educators a versatile resource for students to practice both spelling and vocabulary with customizable word lists through a variety of engaging games and activities. 

While a number of the activities at VocabularySpellingCity are FREE, the Premium Membership adds a variety of bonus features, such as:

  • Vocabulary Tests
  • Definitions
  • Synonyms
  • Antonyms
  • Parts of Speech
  • Automatic Test Results
  • Record Keeping
  • Progress Tracking
  • Individual Student Log-Ins
  • Student Grouping
  • Word List Grouping
  • Game & Activity Logs
  • Premium Games
  • Interactive Flashcards
  • Printable Flashcards
  • Telephone Support
  • No Commercial Banner Ads

Additional free resources include:

  • Teacher/Parent Homepage
  • Sharing Lists
  • Importing Lists
  • Handwriting Practice
  • Printable Worksheets
  • Teacher Resources

A 12-month premium membership for a family with up to 5 students is just $29.99!  Other rates are available for classrooms and schools of varying size.

This program is designed for all ages from grades K-12.



I was able to easily set up my 5-year old son, Holden (grade K), and my 9-year old daughter, Haylee (daughter), as students in my family account.  We’ve had a premium membership once before that just recently expired (if I could have afforded it, I would definitely have felt it worthwhile to renew).  We still had a free account we were using, which we had used for years before we ever tried the premium membership, but I can’t tell you how happy I was to regain use of the premium membership features! 

Haylee had used the site for several years before, and she was jumping for joy that she could once again practice her spelling words on the many premium games available!  Holden is just in Kindergarten, so this was the first year that I had him doing a formal spelling program in our homeschool.  Every week, I just log in to our account as the teacher and then go in and quickly use the “create new list” feature to add their weekly spelling lists.  With the premium features, I can group the word lists into grade levels and save them for future use.  I still have a myriad of lists pre-saved from past years that my older children have already used, and it’s wonderful to not have to duplicate my past work in setting up the lists. At the beginning of the week, I use the “add assignment” feature to select practice activities and an end-of-the-week spelling test and/or vocabulary test for each of them to do.  Another premium feature allows me to then group those assignment lists under their names so it’s easier for me to manage multiple students and keep their assignments organized so I can see at a glance what I’ve got scheduled for them to do.  I can assign due dates and select options for their tests, like whether or not I want to randomize the order of the words or test them in the order they were entered.

Without the premium games, Haylee never asked to practice her words using games, but now she begs for time to practice during the week and even after school!  I love the enthusiasm this product generates in her, and she does much better on her tests with the frequent interaction with the words that she gets with this program.  Holden was really motivated by the bright sunshine and rewarding sound he hears when he scores 100% on his tests!  He asked me if he could get a certificate for doing well.  This program actually does have a printable certificate you can generate for a test right after the student takes it.  However, we had clicked out of the score screen before I realized that was the only opportunity to print it.  I really wish I could access award certificates from the teacher log-in after the fact!

Now I’d like to talk a bit about some of the premium games that Haylee loves so much! 

LetterFall  Letterfall – In this game, the student is briefly shown one of their spelling words, and then they must maneuver their little mouse character holding a basket so that they catch the letters to spell the word in the correct order.  Penalties are given for catching incorrect letters, and points are accrued in the game for catching the correct letters to spell the given word.  Play continues through the list until all of the words have been spelled correctly.  As you catch incorrect letters, it appears that the cat at the top begins to awaken and look as though he will pounce on the mouse, but after purposely getting thousands of negative points, it didn’t appear the mouse would actually get caught, encouraging the speller to continue to try to get the correct spelling of the word.  Haylee and Holden both really liked this game.  Play speeds up as the student gets farther into their word list.

SpeedySpeller  Speedy Speller – In this game, the student hears the spelling words spoken one at a time and used in a sentence.  A timer is running in the background, and the student must spell the word as quickly as possible.  If an incorrect word is typed in, a negative sound is heard, and the spelling the student gave is shown in red on the left-hand side of the screen.  Then the student must continue to attempt a correct spelling of the word until they achieve it before play continues to the next word.  After all the words have been spelled correctly, the timer shows how long it took to complete the list, and if the student achieves a high score, they can enter their initials to be kept on the high score board for that list.  Haylee liked trying to beat her time…we even played at the same time to see who could spell the fastest!

MatchIt Definitions  Match It Definitions – This is an excellent game for learning and practicing the meanings of your spelling words.  The student is given a list of the spelling words on one side with theDSCF0888 definitions scrambled in a list on the other side.  The student clicks a word and then clicks its matching definition, which are then connected with a colored line.  The student continues down the list and then clicks “submit” to get immediate feedback as to which are correct or incorrect.  If any of the matches are incorrect, those matches are removed so the student can try matching them again, while the correct answers remain.  The student continues submitting the matches until they are all correct, and then play continues until all of the words in the list have been matched correctly.  A score is given at the end, along with how many tries it took the student to complete the list correctly.  I thought this was wonderful for ensuring the child not only can spell the word but also understands its meaning.  Haylee did great with this game, which I was glad to see, but the amount of reading required made this a little beyond Holden’s capabilities.  It will be a great tool for him in the future, though!

WhichWord? Definitions  Which Word? Definitions – In this game, the student is given a definition features in a cloud above with a selection of 4 possible spelling words underneath that go with the definition.  The student clicks on their answer choice and will immediately be given feedback as to whether the answer is correct or incorrect.  If it is incorrect, the word is then grayed out, and the student must continue making a selection from the other choices until the correct answer is achieved.  When all the words are complete, the student is given a score at the end.  The nice thing about this game was that the definitions and instructions are read orally in addition to being printed on the screen, so even a very young student like Holden could still play…they need only be able to read their spelling words in order to choose their answers, and even those are read aloud when you pass your cursor over them.

Word-O-Rama  Word-O-Rama – This games is so funny!  It’s set up like a game show, and your host isDSCF0889 a penguin.  You are randomly given either a definition, a synonym, an antonym, or a fill-in-the-blank sentence, and you must select from one of four spelling words as your answer.  If you get it correct on the first try, you get 20 points.  If you miss once, you get 15 points; if you miss twice, you get 10 points; if you miss 3 times, you get 5 points.  Each time you miss, the host and the audience tell you to try again.  The game show feel really adds to the fun, and tropical music plays in the background.  At the end, you are shown your total points for the game, and the game show host bids you farewell.

Parts of Speech  Parts of Speech – In this game, the student is given an underlined spelling word used in a sentence.  The student must select from four possible parts of speech to identify the word.  The choices might be noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, preposition, conjunction, or interjection.  Incorrect answers are grayed out one by one until the correct answer is selected.  Points are given based on the student’s correct responses.  A total is given at the end.  After each correct answer, the sentence is read aloud before moving on to the next question.  I was really happy to see this game, because this is an area that Haylee could use some extra practice! 

Sentence Writing Practice  Sentence Writing – In this activity, students are given their list of spelling words and must type in a complete sentence using each word in its proper context.  The sentences can be up to 150 characters each and will be graded on whether or not they are complete sentences, have clarity, follow a topic/main idea, grammar/usage, and mechanics (capitalization, punctuation, and spelling).  When the student submits their sentences the first time, a speaker symbol appears next to each sentence, allowing the student to hear each sentence being read aloud.  This is to help them catch errors in how they composed their sentences.  The student has the opportunity to edit any of their sentences at this point before submitting for grading.  Once submitted at this stage, the sentences are transmitted to the student’s teacher for grading.

Paragraph Writing Practice  Paragraph Writing – This activity works exactly as the Sentence Writing activity, except that the student is given all of their spelling words in a word bank and is asked to write a paragraph using every word from the list.  This is again submitted to the teacher for grading, based on the same criteria.

Vocabulary Test  Vocabulary Test Me – In this activity, the student is given the definition of one of their spelling words, and they must choose the correct spelling word from 6 word choices.  The student proceeds through the list without feedback until a grade is given at the end of the test.  At that time, the score is displayed, and the correct and incorrect answers the student provided are grouped together.DSCF0887

All of these premium games and activities are in addition to the free ones, such as Spelling Test Me, Spelling Teach Me, Word Search, Audio Word Match, Hang Mouse, Missing Letter, Word Unscramble, Test-N-Teach, Read-a-Word, Alphabetize, Handwriting, and Sentence Unscramble.  Flashcards are built into the student’s word lists so they can see the words and their definitions and even print them out front-to-back for practice on paper.

Another wonderful feature is the free iPad app!  You can take advantage of most of the activities of the website on your iPad with the app, and if you have a Premium Membership, you can log in to your account in the app itself and access your premium games and features, as well.  This was a real bonus for us, as any activity on mom’s iPad sparks immediate interest in my younger kids!  Haylee and Holden were readily willing to play the games with their spelling words even more often using the app, and the games had a clear, crisp, colorful appearance in the app.  Not all games were available, but most of them were, and it appeared the rest would be coming soon.  I love the portability and the novelty of using the membership as an app on the iPad.  This was a big draw for my kids to practice even more.

One of the teacher’s premium features I love the most is how the program stores my kids’ scores and progress.  At any time, I can view each student’s time spent on each activity and how well they did.  I can even pull up their graded tests and see which words they missed.  That’s a valuable tool so we can revisit missed words at a future time and even assign additional practice with word lists as necessary!

While some of the games like Letterfall got to be a bit fast-paced for my 5-year old to play without help, he still enjoyed the challenge and fun of the games, and it didn’t keep him from wanting to play them.  I know that he will grow into being able to play some of the others that required more advanced reading ability, but he can still use the learning functions like the flashcards, Spelling Teach Me, and the Spelling Test Me features for now and be very happy to do so. 

The bottom line for us is that for the kids, the games are fun, engaging, and give them repeated exposure to their spelling words in a variety of different ways so they can remember them more clearly AND know how to use them in context from having heard and seen them used in a number of ways.  In addition, they get a wide range of practice in language arts skills across the board.  And for me as the teacher, I can’t put a price on the value of having a program that builds enthusiasm for learning in my kids, keeps track of scores for me so I don’t have to maintain a separate grade book, allows me to enter customized word lists from their studies (or use pre-made lists or those shared by others), and allows me to organize and group those lists and assign them to specific students in advance. 

In addition to spelling words, try thinking out of the box…why not enter vocabulary words from other subjects like math or science?  This gives them another wonderful interactive opportunity to work with words from across their curricula and better learn their meanings and uses.

I do feel this Premium Membership is worth the expense, particularly if you have multiple students.  If you have 5 students, that’s only $6/year per student.  How great is that?  I know that going forward, I’ll be continuing to renew the premium membership whenever I can afford to do so.  When I can’t, I’ll use the free features and games and greatly miss the premium features until I can subscribe again! 

This is a great program, and the Premium Membership features give me all the tools and features I want most as a teacher, with oodles of learning fun for my students. 

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about the VocabularySpellingCity Premium Membership by clicking the banner below.



Schoolhouse Review Crew–Applications Now Being Accepted!

Have you ever thought about joining me in reviewing curricula and educational products on the Schoolhouse Review Crew? 

New Crew applications are now being accepted for the 2014 Crew year! 

Take a look here at some of the requirements, and if you think you’re up to the challenge, then fill out your application here.

I hope to “see” you on the Crew next year!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

FREE Math Instructional Videos from GO Math! Academy

For a limited time, you can register to view the math instructional videos from GO Math! Academy for FREE!  GO Math! is a common core math program presented by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  Take advantage of this free access now before it’s gone!

Videos are available for grades K-6, and you can search by grade level, topic, or keyword. 


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FREE Resources for Virginia History Studies

If you live in the state of VA, then you know that most children study Virginia history in the 4th grade.  If you’re looking to cover this state history material in your homeschool, then you may be interested in this wonderful collection of FREE printable and online resources I’ve collected when putting together a VA history study for my own daughter:

I hope these resources are as helpful to you as they are to me.  Enjoy!

Monday, October 14, 2013

REVIEW: Starter Chess Learning Kit by Chess House

We had the opportunity to try out the Starter Chess Learning Kit by Chess House.



The Starter Chess Learning Kit gives you everything you need to learn how to play chess easily.  Designed for all ages but very well-suited to ages 6-12, this set includes:

  • Elliott’s Chess School DVD #1 – “Pawn Level", which introduces the basics of playing chess in small segments that are easy to understand and follow, even for very young children
  • Plastic, regulation-size, all-purpose chess pieces that are perfect for practice or competition
  • An odor-free plastic chessboard mat that rolls up for quick storage and portability, made in the USA
  • A lovely zippered storage bag with compartments inside to neatly store all of the chess pieces, the roll-up chessboard, and the DVD for easy portability

This set is available with your choice of green or black storage bag for the sale price of $39.95, reg. $49.95, plus shipping and handling (free S&H on orders over $100).  This would make a great gift for any family!



I don’t play chess myself, but my husband, Steve, does.  He’s played with our 14-year old son, Hayden, for years.  He had previously spent a little bit of time trying to teach our 9-year old daughter, Haylee, to play.  She could play with some coaching, but she didn’t really understand the rules behind it.  She had mainly played a computer version that told her what her choices of moves were.  Our 5-year old son, Holden, had never played but was eager to learn.  So when this opportunity arose to review the Starter Chess Learning Kit, I thought this would be a great time to teach them the proper way to play.

When the kit arrived, all of the pieces were neatly stored inside the lovely zippered storage bag with carry handles and optional shoulder strap, making it easy to store and take anywhere.  I loved that, because my kids are famous for losing pieces to games unless there’s a clever way to store them.

Steve was immediately a fan of the roll-up chess mat.  What a great way to be able to own and store a chess set without taking up a huge amount of room for a traditional chessboard!  The pieces were sturdy, durable, full-sized pieces that were easy for small hands to hold.  There were even a couple of extra pieces included, and the website indicates that it’s easy to get replacement pieces should you lose any.

One evening, Steve popped in the DVD after dinner and had Haylee and Holden sit down to watch the first few lessons with him.  He set up the chessboard on the table behind them so they could follow along and learn the steps together.  The lessons were very straightforward, step-by-step, and easy for even young kids to understand.  By the time they went to bed, tDSCF0853here was an excitement in the air, and I could tell the enthusiasm to play was building! 

The next morning, Holden was up at dawn and rushed downstairs.  All by himself, he popped in the DVD and finished watching the remaining video segments so he could get a jump on his sister and be ready to play!  When Steve came downstairs, Holden proceeded to explain to him some of the rules he’d learned, and Steve began to laugh as he told me what Holden had to say! 

The second Haylee got up, Holden accosted her and encouraged her to finish watching so they could play a round together, even before breakfast!  Sure enough, before long, they were playing their first games together.  Even when Holden didn’t win, he was so enthusiastic and couldn’t wait to get another family member to play with him!  For days, all we heard was talk of playing chess!

Steve played several rounds with each of them, and he said he could already tell how much Haylee’s skill level and understanding had improved from watching the videos just one time through, and he said he did not have to help her the way he’d had to in the past.  We were both so impressed that Holden, being 5 years old and never having played chess before, had totally picked up on it and was playing really well!  Their skill level can only grow as they practice more and more.

In the days that followed, this set came out again and again.  It was a regular weekend occurrence for somebody to be playing with it.  I just can’t say enough good things about this instructional set!  I did not have high hopes that a 5-year old could learn from a DVD, but he most certainly did!  If he can do it, anyone can!  I highly recommend it for any family that wants to learn to play chess together!  Chess House offers additional instructional DVD’s for higher levels of play, and I hope to collect those over time so the kids can continue to build their skill level and learn some of the tips and tricks of strategy that will advance their level of play.

Check out what other members of the Crew had to say about the Starter Chess Learning Kit by clicking the banner below.



Sunday, October 6, 2013

REVIEW: I Can Do Math Level 3 and Max & Alphie’s Adventures Book 3 by Fundanoodle

My 5 year old son, Holden, got to try out the I Can Do Math Level 3 and Max & Alphie’s Adventures Book 3 educational products from Fundanoodle.




I Can Do Math Level 3 allows your K-1st grade student to practice essential math skills including addition, subtraction, time, patterns, and other math skills that align with Common Core standards.  It includes 41 sheets plus sticker pages and can be purchased for just $5.99.



Max & Alphie’s Adventures Book 3 allows your K-1st grade student to practice classroom concepts such as basic handwriting, letters, numbers, drawing, and mazes through a variety of pencil activities in this all-in-one activity pad.  It includes 40 sheets plus sticker pages and can be purchased for just $5.99.




Holden tried out the Max & Alphie’s Adventures Book 3 first.  I expected him to balk at having so many extra worksheets to do outside of school, but I was clearly mistaken!  He was crazy about this book!  It had so much variety in it that he was very excited about the fun things to do in this activity pad.  I’ll highlight some of the activities he did:

  • Beginning Letters:  Pictures were provided, and Holden had to fill in the letter that represented the beginning sound of each picture.  Then he followed the tunnel that swirled the pictures like a maze. 
  • Crossword puzzles:  These included a word bank of simple words to answer theDSCF0862_thumb crossword clues.  For these, I read the words from the word bank to him and then read aloud each clue so he could tell me the answer, and I wrote them down for him.
  • Drawing:  These drawing activities used a line of symmetry to divide a pre-drawn half of a shape or figure and a blank half that he had to mirror and draw in himself.  He did well with these!  He’s never been one for drawing or coloring, but he seemed to enjoy the challenge of these!
  • Mazes:  Holden is always excited at the chance to do mazes!  Just as I’d taught him in past activities, he first traced the correct path with his finger and then drew one line from start to finish.  These are so great for concentration and memory!
  • Hidden letters:  This was pretty challenging!  There was a busy little scene drawn on the paper, and capital letters were hiding in the lines of the picture.  He had to go through and circle all of the letters he found.  This was fun!
  • Fill in the blank:  This activity gave sentences with a missing word to fill in the blank.  Instead of a word bank, it gave the scrambled answer under each blank.  These were simple 3 or 4 letter words, and Holden could mostly guess the missing word even just using context clues without even looking at the scrambled letters.  But they were there if he needed an extra clue.  I dictated the answers for him since he’s not fond of a lot of extra writing.
  • DSCF0863_thumbFind the differences:  These provided two pictures that were almost the same but contained a handful of differences.  He had to locate and circle the differences.  He really had fun with these!
  • Connect the dots:  He was very excited about these, because he immediately recognized the activity as being like geo-boards and geo-bands printed on paper.  He had to look at the way the dots were connected with lines on the left side and draw the identical design on the right side.
  • Find the shapes:  Holden had to find the given number of fruits of each kind and circle them in a page full of assorted pictures.
  • Counting:  On these activities, numbers were provided in a variety of pictures, and he had to draw in the given number of items represented by the numbers.
  • Word Searches:  I didn’t feel Holden was quite ready for the word searches, so we’ll be saving those for a more appropriate time.  But they had up to 8-letter words in a word bank to be located in a word search form.  Then there were blank lines at the bottom where he was asked to write favorite things from the word bank.

Needless to say, this book had such a variety of engaging and fun activities that it was a big hit with Holden!  He didn’t view it as extra school work at all.  I was surprised at how many worksheets he was willing to do in one sitting.  He was very enthusiastic about this one!

Next, Holden tried out the I Can Do Math Level 3 workbook.  This book included a variety of activities involving numbers and patterns, such as:

  • Counting and writing:  This involved handwriting practice in writing digits and number words.  I didn’t make Holden do these yet because he has not yet learned number words, just counting and working with digits in math equations. These activities include the numbers 0-30.  It has large handwriting lines that are easy for kindergartners to write on.
  • Add/subtract the dots or objects:  Here, he had to add up the number of dots or objects as shown, write the number below it, and then write the total number in all.  Alternately, he had to count the number of objects, count the number of objects crossed out, subtract, and find the difference.  This is basically addition/subtraction with pictures.
  • Write the time:  This was good practice for Holden, as we just recently reviewed tellingDSCF0860_thumb time to the hour.  These exercises offered practice with reading both digital and analog time.
  • Number matching:  This involved drawing lines to match number words with the matching digits 0-20.  I’m saving this activity for Holden to use when he has learned more of his number words.
  • Patterns:  He had to determine the given pattern of shapes and objects and draw the next two objects that continue the pattern.  He really liked this activity, even though actually drawing the pictures was a bit of a challenge!  Smile  Another type of pattern activity involved identifying the number that did not belong with the others in a given row because it was out of sequence.
  • Skip counting:  Here, the student fills in the missing numbers when counting by 2’s.  Holden has learned skip counting by 5’s and 10’s, but we have not yet covered 2’s, so I’m saving this activity for when we’ve covered that.  It will be great practice!
  • Beginning fractions:  Here, shapes were shown divided in 1/2, and he had to color 1/2 of each shape.  This was a new concept for him, as we hadn’t yet discussed fractions, but he caught on to it pretty quickly.
  • DSCF0861_thumbConnect the dots:  There were lots of these activities with slight variations in each.  He had to fill in missing digits while doing the dot-to-dots and counting by 1’s, 2’s, or 5’s.  He got so excited about this one, and I loved that he had to concentrate on what he was doing so he could pause to write in the correct number, yet have enough focus to resume connecting the dots in order.  Great activity!
  • Addition/subtraction:  These just showed the equations without pictures, and he either had to draw a line to match the equation with the correct answer, or simply solve the equation and write the answer.
  • Left/right:  There were a number of activities that required him to identify an object on the left or right or pointing to the left or right.  This was great practice with identifying left and right!

Again, there was a lot of variety in this book, as well.  I really liked how even within a skill, the workbook gave a number of approaches to each one so the activities had differences that kept them from being too repetitive within the book.

Both of these workbooks included sheets of stickers with pictures on them that matched a symbol at the bottom of each sheet.  As Holden completed the worksheets, he was able to findDSCF0864_thumb the matching sticker in the back of the book and place it on the bottom of the page to show that he had successfully completed it.  This was a good motivation for Holden!  He really liked “earning” the stickers for his worksheets.  I often use stickers on his school work to reward him for particularly good grades on tests and activities, so this was a familiar reward for him!

Overall, we really liked these workbooks.  They are sturdily bound with spiral binding and stiff covers, the pages are printed on thick, bright white paper with rounded corners, and the perforated worksheets tear out easily.  Everything about these books gives you an impression of quality, the activities are well thought-out and varied to prevent boredom, and they cover such a broad spectrum of skills in a fun and engaging way.  These are not your typical “fluff” workbooks for young children.  They definitely give your child a workout in real skills while making it seem like it’s not your typical school day…it’s just fun!  Holden felt great about his accomplishments in these books, and I saw a smile on his face more than once.  That was worth it’s weight in gold!

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