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Melbourne primary school student hits the YouTube big time with toy videos

Donna Coutts, February 12, 2017 6:00PM Herald Sun

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just for fun

Reading level: red

Grace Mulgrew made a YouTube video when she was six years old.

“It was called ‘Barbie — Anneliese’s New House’, said Grace.

“It was just a video of me doing a tour of my Barbie doll house. I only did it for fun because I liked watching other people’s YouTube videos and thought it would be cool to make my own.”

It was so much fun, she kept making videos.

Four years later, her main YouTube channel, Grace’s World, has 659,711 subscribers* and 608,844,185 video views. Her other channel is called Grace’s Room, with a respectable* 60,209 subscribers.

It’s difficult to get detailed YouTube data, but Grace’s father Greg Mulgrew estimates* she’s one of the top two or three most popular YouTube child stars in Australia. Social media statistics* website Social Blade ranks Grace’s World as the 13th YouTube channel in the country based on current performance, including recent views and subscribers.

Big-time YouTube channels around the world starring children or made, at least in part, by children, include Ryan Toys Review, with 3 million subscribers, and EvanTubeHD, with more than 3.77 million subscribers. There’s no compulsory* categorising* of sites, so it’s almost impossible for anyone to make lists ranking channels of particular types. The majority of the most popular channels feature toddlers and younger primary-school-age children unboxing toys. The videos in these cases would be made by adults.

Video’s on Grace’s World star Grace’s toys, mostly Barbie and American Girl dolls, going about day-to-day life. A bit like a weekly soap*. Grace writes the stories, moves the dolls into position in front of a green screen, records the voice-over and does some basic editing. Then it’s over to dad Greg.

Grace is a YouTube star media_cameraGrace Mulgrew started posting youtube videos of her toys’ adventures when she was 6. Picture: Mark Stewart

Greg Mulgrew estimates each video takes 30-40 hours to make. He was juggling full-time work as a computer programmer with his editing for Grace’s World but after “a lot of 3 o’clock in the mornings”, he gave up his job of 30 years two weeks ago to work on Grace’s videos full time.

Though Mr Mulgrew won’t disclose* how much the family makes from the YouTube channels, he will admit that it’s making money. “It replaces my salary,” he said.

“We don’t like to discuss money as we’re worried about what people would say.”

Whatever the income is now, the sky is the limit if Grace’s popularity continues.

“At the moment the income is from YouTube but now that she is getting popular she is being asked to do videos,” Mr Mulgrew said. She is now an ambassador for Shopkins, a toy line by Cheltenham-based toy company Moose Toys. The company previously had a hit with Trash Packs. Grace has also been approached about a promotional* role for the upcoming Trolls movie.

“All that’s starting to happen,” says Mr Mulgrew. “We are feeling our way.”

Grace spends about 20 hours a week on her YouTube work. Keeping Grace from feeling pressure is something her father takes seriously.

“She does gymnastics and she’s about to start dancing. We don’t want what she’s doing to interfere with (other activities). There’s a lot of pressure from fans to make sure we post every week.

“We’ve knocked back a few things. She has been asked to do a TV series but she’s not ready for that kind of pressure. If it is something cheesy we have knocked it back. We ask her: ‘Do you feel comfortable doing it?’ If she has any doubt we don’t do it.”

Grace has a straightforward reason for continuing.

“I love dolls, reading and writing stories, and YouTube. Making these videos lets me do all of these, so I’m actually having fun creating them.

“My favourite video is probably ‘Barbie — The Trouble with Toddlers’. I thought of the story after seeing some friend’s children misbehaving at the supermarket. I can still picture it and it makes me laugh every time I watch the video.

“I’ve realised recently how much my videos inspire and help other people around the world, and that makes me feel good.”


subscribers: people who have arranged to recieve a service, such as being contacted about a new video when it is out

respectable: in this case, it means “of significance”

estimates: works out a guess with the available information

statistics: numbers explaining something

compulsory: necessary

categorising: putting into groups

soap: a type of light drama program

disclose: reveal information

promotional: relating to making something more well known



Activity 1: Comprehension

1. What was Grace’s reason for beginning to make YouTube videos?

2. Do you think Grace’s reasons for making YouTube videos are the same now as when she started? Explain why you think this.

3. Rearrange the following sentences into the correct sequence to show the process of making one of Grace’s YouTube videos:

a) Grace does some basic editing.

b) Grace writes the storyline.

c) Grace’s videos are published on YouTube.

d) Grace’s dad Greg completes the editing.

e) Grace records her toy characters moving in front of a green screen.

f) Grace records the voice overs.

4. Can you think of one thing about Grace’s life that is similar to your own, and one thing that is different?

5. Write down three facts from the article.

6. Write one statement that expresses your opinion about something in the article.

Extension: The article contains many direct quotes from Grace and her father. Use two different coloured highlighters to mark what they each said. How did you know which parts to highlight?

Time: allow 20 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English

Activity 2: Make your own video

Make a simple video of your own that you think would appeal to YouTube users your own age.

Step 1. Plan — choose a topic for your video. Create a storyboard showing what will happen and planning what will be said.

Step 2. Rehearse — do a couple of practice runs of your video to make sure you have it right.

Step 3. Record — use an iPad, camera or other suitable device to record your video.

Step 4. Show — play your video to an audience.

Extension: Review your video. What do you think worked well? What didn’t work so well? What is one thing you would do differently next time you make a video?

Extra resources

iPad, camera or other suitable device for recording and viewing a video

Time: allow 45 minutes to complete this task

Curriculum links: English, Media Arts

VCOP Activity

(Vocabulary, Connectives, Openers and Punctuation)

Activity: Collecting Connectives

If you haven’t already highlighted your connectives in pink, do so now. When you have them all, write down a list and use each connective to write a sentence.

Extension: Imagine that you are a famous YouTuber! Write a sentence that uses a connective from your list that relates to your life as a famous YouTuber. Remember to be as creative as you like.

Time: allow at least 15 minutes to complete the task

Curriculum Links: English, Big Write, VCOP

Activity provided by Andrell Education






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