Sunday, November 16, 2014

Barbour Publishing: Diary of a Real Payne Book 3: Oh, Baby! (A Review)

My sixth grader is a huge fan of Annie Tipton and the main star of Ms. Tipton's Diary of a Real Payne books, Miss E. J. Payne.  We were so honored to be asked by Barbour Publishing to review this third installment in the Diary of a Real Payne series.  To learn more about the first two books click here or here.

In this third peek into the chaotic life of fifth grader E. J. Payne, young readers will ride along as E.J. is forced to learn even more about the importance of family, and especially of patience within a family with changes taking place.  The daughter of a preacher, E. J. also learns more about how leaning on the Lord is imperative during confusing times. 

Each chapter opens with a diary entry, written in the first person by E.J., giving the reader a sneak peek into E.J.'s emotions, both funny and quirky.  The remainder of each chapter is a wonderfully entertaining account of the adventures and misadventures E.J. and her best friend Macy get into.  Add newly adopted baby Faith to the mix, and hilarity is sure to ensue!

Chapters include Dinner Dare, Splash Guard, How to Train Your Dog (And Your Brother), The Ninjas of the Square Table, and The Boy Who Snored Wolf, just to name a few. E. J. is such an endearing character. My daughter really enjoys these books because, as she says, "E.J. is just like me, and the stories make me smile!"  

Precious and whimsical illustrations keep the reader moving along and engaged in the story.  Here are some examples: 

Diary of a Real Payne: Oh, Baby! is 192 pages long, and the font is a easy-to-read and very much on grade level for older elementary and middle schoolers.  Oh, and one of the best features of the Tipton books?  No worries about your kids reading inappropriate language or scenarios.  I highly recommend this book for your favorite young reader! 

Title: Diary of a Real Payne Book 3: Oh, Baby
Copyright: 2014
Recommended Ages: 8 years and up (according to reading level)
Where to buy: Barbour Publishing and Amazon
Formats Available: Soft Cover and E-book
Price: $5.99 - $6.99 

Disclaimer: I received Diary of a Real Payne Book 3 in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was received.

©2014-2016 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. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Word Up! The Vocab Show (A Review)

If you've ever used any of the wonderful products from Compass Classroom (Visual Latin, Grammar for Poetry, Economics for Everybody, etc.) then you know how excited I was to be asked to review their newest product, Word Up! The Vocab Show.  

Word Up! The Vocab Show is a new vocabulary program which uses Greek and Latin roots as a means for learning a plethora of  new words! Geared for middle schoolers and high schoolers (ages 10 and up), host Dwane Thomas makes learning difficult words easy and fun, by using jokes and videos and graphics which allow the meaning of the words to "stick" in the student's mind.  

Each Greek root and Latin root is used to discuss ten different vocabulary words and their definitions for EACH root.  

Here's an example of what you'll see on the Greek root side of "water" (hydra):

And here are some screen shots from the Latin root "Aqua": 


Click HERE to see a great video to give you an even better idea of Dwane and his great personality and the amazing content of this program!  

Click HERE to download two sample lessons for FREE! 

After viewing the lessons on each root and their new vocabulary words, your students are directed to Quizlet, an online testing site to study, play games, practice the words, and to test what they've learned. The combination of the videos and Quizlet is so well done, I was pleasantly surprised how much of the lessons my daughter was retaining each day. 

The Flash Card section of Quizlet: Choose to flip, slide, or show both word and definition at once.  Choose to have just the word read to you, or just the definition read to you, or both.  For some of the more difficult words, this is a wonderful option!  My daughter always chooses to have both read to her. 

The Speller section of Quizlet allows the student to type the word being spoken.  There is an option for repeating the audio as often as needed.  If they spell it correctly, the definition pops up; if they spell it incorrectly, the program shows the correct spelling for the student, so more visual repetition is built in. 

The Learn section of Quizlet allows the student to see either the definition first and type the term, or to see the term first and type the definition.  Missed words are then shown again, allowing the student to practice the missed terms until correct.

Below is my daughter's screen from the root word "chronos," and you can see how she missed three terms the first round, so the program repeated the missed terms and she typed them correctly the second round.  As in other sections of Quizlet, students can choose to have the term and definition to be read to them.

In the Race section of Quizlet, students must quickly type the term which corresponds to the definition which is floating across the screen. They must type the correct spelling of the term before it disappears off the screen.  If they miss the term, a box pops up to help them spell it correctly, once again reiterating the correct spelling. They have two "lives," or chances to get it right!

In the Scatter section of Quizlet, students must drag the the correct term to the correct definition in order to make them disappear off the screen. The timer in the right hand corner allows the student to have a sense of urgency and to try to beat their own time.

And finally, the Test section of Quizlet, which is my favorite. Please note on the right hand column how you, as the teacher, can decide which types of questions to have on the test.  Click the box next to the type of question, how many questions per test, and whether the term or the definition shows up first.  Then click "create test," and allow your student to see how much they learned! As you can see, my 6th grader has been doing very well on her tests, and has not made less than an "A" on any test.  She is VERY proud of that fact!

If you child is a visual and audible learner, this is the vocabulary program for them!  Compass Classroom has done it again, creating Word Up! The Vocab Show!  With over 200 vocabulary terms in 10 lessons make this a wonderful bargain, and I highly recommend it! 


Recommended for ages 10 and up

Purchase price: $15, available as DVDs or Downloads.  (Click HERE to purchase)

FCC Disclaimer: I received a copy of Word Up! The Vocab Show in exchange for my honest opinion and review. No other compensation was received.

©2014-2016 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. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

StarToaster: Orphs of the Woodlands (A Review and Giveaway!)

Orphs of the Woodlands

My child is not a natural reader, so any chance I can find to get her interested in reading, I am all over it.  Enter, and their innovative and interactive online program/book  Orphs of the Woodlands. We were honored to be chosen to review it for the last few weeks.

Online Learning

A Fun Approach to Learning

As the readers are introduced to the story of Orphs of the Woodlands, they are allowed to "apply" for an unknown job that promises adventure.  In this application, the students can create their own name for their character, and that name is then part of the story for the rest of the book.  Can you see how your child would immediately would be drawn in? That main character then takes off on great adventure to save the Orphs of the Woodlands. My 6th grader named her character "Squirrel Booshy" (an inside joke and pet name for the newest member of our family). 

If your child enjoys medieval fiction, action, adventure, and mystery, they will really enjoy this style of writing. Good guys, bad guys, character development, and lots of surprises keep your child engaged and moving forward in the story. This is a complete electronic book, with 15 chapters sure to please the adventure-loving kid in your family.  

Features of the Program

One of the very cool features of Orphs of the Woodlands:The Treasure of Hightower is the "hover" ability the reader has when they encounter a word that may be difficult for them. These select words are in brown and the reader can hover their mouse over that word to see the definition and part of speech.  

Interspersed among the hundreds of vocabulary words (great for preparation of standardized testing) are also sound bytes of different sound effects, fun activities, and even recipes for a fun distraction. 

Help Wanted, Earning Stars, and Caring for Orphans

At the end of each chapter, the reader will reach a "Help Wanted" section where all the jobs are performed. These jobs allow the reader to earn stars, which is used like currency to help care for all the orphans in their cottage.  The interactive map allows the students to purchase more and more land around the original cottage, and the more they read, the more jobs they have access to.  The more jobs they have access to, the more land, crops, food, medical supplies, etc., they can purchase for their orphans!

These jobs include games and lessons in math, grammar, thinking skills, communication skills, memory skills, vocabulary, the arts, and science tasks and are meaty enough to please moms while short enough to please fidgety kids.


My Recommendation
I can't emphasize enough how much content is in this program! The students are introduced to so many different concepts from over 300 lessons as they read the wonderful story of The Treasure of Hightower! As a bonus, all of the progress your child makes can be viewed by via the Parent Section of the website, with your unique password.  I encourage you to investigate this wonderfully interactive and unique approach to reading and learning, and I highly recommend this if your child loves doing lessons on the computer or tablet!

Learn More

Want to see more of how Orphs of the Woodlands works? Check out this YouTube video which is a great introduction to the program (watch it with your student): 

In the following video, you will see one of the types of lessons the students will see during their adventures, courtesy of one of the "good guys" in the story, Professor Forp: 

Purchase Information

StarToaster's Orphs of the Woodlands is recommended for grades 4th - 7th, and is available for purchase in 60-day increments for $25.99.  To purchase a 30-day extension, the additional cost is just $7.99.  

For a limited time only, however, subscriptions are 30% off, making each sub only $18.19 for the 60-day period! Just use promo code ORPHS30 between now and 12/31/14!

Enter to Win a Free Subscription! 

Even cooler, the kind folks at have allowed me to offer my readers and friends a chance to win a FREE subscription to Orphs of the Woodlands: The Treasure of Hightower!  Entering to win is super easy---just follow the instructions below, a few easy clicks, and you're done! Contest ends Wednesday, 11/12/14, so don't delay! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FCC Disclaimer: I received a 60-day subscription to in exchange for my honest review of the program. No other compensation was received.  The opinions and recommendations are my own.

©2014-2016 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.

Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Objects in the Mirror

As I was backing up my Chevy Avalanche in the Winn-Dixie parking lot today, I held my breath, and moved really s-l-o-w-l-y, just like I do every single time I shift the gears to the "R" slot.  I am terrified of backing into something, or worse, SOMEONE.  

While I have never (praise the good Lord above) hit a person with my vehicle, I may or may not have backed into and over a few things in my day.  Mangled bicycles, fenders, mailboxes, and smashed lawn sprinklers are my proof.   

On this day in the parking lot, after another successful reverse maneuver, it really hit me how much time I have spent looking backwards, and I don't mean driving in my truck. No, it's those stupid, negative tapes from my past which most often plague me and I have to consciously push them away with prayer. 

You see, I've made horrible mistakes in my life. In my mid-twenties, I made decisions that changed the lives of my family and countless other families.  This small town has made sure to remind me how much I messed up, so I have had to fight extra hard to walk in the forgiveness and grace the Lord has granted me.  

My past also includes wrongs done to me--abuse and family relationships that rival any soap opera storyline. Satan loves to remind me that I can never be more than a sum of these things. 

But I know the rest of the story . . .
I know Who holds both my past and my future. God's word says my sins are as far from Him as the east is from the west.  If I pick them back up, well, it's honestly just wasted time which could be spent in the grace that is already mine. 

God's word also says He promises to be a shelter for those who seek Him when life gets hard, and one of the very best ways to quiet the voices of satan [lowercase intended] is to start listing all the ways God has protected me and preserved my life. For me and my family, they are countless! He has healed my hurting soul in ways I can't even put into words!

There truly is no better feeling in the world than knowing you are being used by God to accomplish His work for your short time here on earth. After all the mess I made of my past, I am beyond thankful that God still sees me worth enough to do so.  He is pretty awesome that way. 

I have now learned that looking at my past should only mean learning from the mistakes without missing the beautiful life right in front of me

Fix your eyes on Jesus and the adventure ahead He has planned for ALL of us.  


©2014-2016 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. Follow me on Facebook or Twitter! Links can be found in the right sidebar on this blog!



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