Category Archives: TOS Review

Solid Tempura Paint Sticks, from The Pencil Grip, Inc.


This has been a very fun review for us! We have been using the Kwik Stix 12 PackΒ from The Pencil Grip, Inc.Β  I am going to tell you right now, this is as far as I can remember during my time on the Review Crew, the very first time that when I opened a box with a review product in it straight from the mail, I had two kids quite literally attempting to pull it right out of my hands immediately, lol!

Of all four of my boys, the two who have really been the most interested so far have been “The Artist” and “Mr. Loquacious”, the aforementioned children who attempted to rip THIS

Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. Reviewdirectly out of my hands, immediately after I opened the shipping box and they saw the following:


It was too funny! I had to make them let go, just so that **I* could take a look at it!

I’ll be honest, I had my doubts about the quick dry claims.

I was worried enough that I considered putting newspaper down on my kitchen table before allowing them to use them, but they got ahead of me. “The Artist” used some pages out of his sketch book:



And “Mr. Loquacious” used a pad of newsprint that I had purchased from a scrapbook store which was going out of business.



“Mr. Loquacious” did a different picture a while back, but wouldn’t let me use it. He wants me to let The Pencil Grip, Inc. know that he wants them to make these in a way that would allow for detail work, lol! However, since he’s stuck in the house after an injury, he got the Kwik Stix out and did this picture for the review. πŸ™‚

By the way, it did not matter one bit whether or not I put down paper first, these Kwik Stix truly do dry super fast, and they did not bleed onto the back side of either kind of paper! How cool is that?
As you may have noticed in the shipping package above, The Pencil Grip, Inc. also included a sample Kwik Stix, as well as a sample pencil grip. My eldest, “The Batman” is my one child who has the most difficulty with writing and printing, because of his disabilities. He asked me if HE could use it, and review it for me so I would know from him how well it works.


“The Batman” is left handed like me, as you can see. Now, you can see in the picture how he needs to hold a writing utensil. The instructions for the pencil grip said to use it with the thumb on the letter L for left handed writers, and the thumb on the R for right handed writers. Unfortunately, “The Batman” had a lot of trouble using it with those instructions, however. He needed to reverse it, and put his left thumb on the letter R. It seems to work very well for him that way!

We are VERY pleased with this product, and think you would be as well, but don’t take my word for it, go along over and read what the other Crew Review members had to say! Just click the banner below, and it will take you to all of the reviews!


Kwik Stix The Pencil Grip, Inc. ReviewCrew DisclaimerAs always, I would just love to have you join me on all of my “Journeys Through Life”. Just enter your email into the subscription box at the top of the blog, and you will be notified whenever there is a new post. Hope you join us! πŸ™‚

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I have recently had the fun of trying out a product for the moms, as opposed to just for the kids!

GREEMU is a plant based alternative to Emu Oil, which we reviewed last year. GREEMU is distributed by Devonian, and is available from Koru Naturals.

As more and more people begin to turn to plant based products instead of animal based, particularly when it comes to cosmetics and skin care, this is a fine new addition to the line up!

GREEMU contains natural ingredients such as

  • Rice Bran Oil
  • Sunflower Seed Oil
  • Shea Butter
  • Macadamia Seed Oil
  • Palm Oil

We received a 4 fluid ounce bottle of GREEMU to spend a few weeks trying out. I applied for this review not just for myself, but because two of our boys, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are African/American, and one of them, “Mr. Loquacious”, is GREATLY resistant to putting lotion on his skin and/or oil in his hair. My hair stylist, who also cuts their hair, consistently has to put what looks like a LOT of oil on his head after he gets his hair cut! So, this is why I thought using this product might help.

“Mr. Loquacious’s” biggest issue is always with either the scent, the feel, or both when it comes to lotions or oils. GREEMU, however, is practically scentless, and is not greasy at all. So far, I think the use of GREEMU for them is a good choice, since they tend toward very dry and scaly scalps without some kind of oil. If I can get them to continue use (or at least “Mr. Loquacious”, since “The Puzzler” is completely willing to use it), I believe. I also think it may be helpful on their elbows and knees, which tend to get ashy looking. As I said before, “The Puzzler” will put lotion on every night whether reminded or not, while “Mr. Loquacious” will not without putting up a fight. Hopefully, this will change. πŸ™‚

I personally really love the feel of GREEMU on my own skin. I have been ill for some time, and haven’t been taking care of my skin or wearing make up. I have decided to try putting a drop or two on my face and rubbing it in, as a way of getting back to taking care of my skin. So far, I am pleased with the results. It really does take only a drop or two, and any that is left on my hands can be rubbed into them and onto my elbows.

As you read above, last year I reviewed the Emu Oil which can be purchased from the same company as GREEMU. I will tell you now that as nice as GREEMU is (and it is nice!), I personally preferred the Emu Oil. When I used it, my skin appeared to feel softer for a longer period of time, but that could just be me. They feel and smell almost identical, with the exception of one being slightly thicker than the other. Also, as I don’t have issues with sticking to plant based products, I don’t mind using the Emu Oil. I do know people who feel strongly on the topic however, so I feel that this is an excellent product for them, and I applaud Devonian Health and Beauty for spending the time and effort to develop it.

To read what other crew members think of this product, please click here.

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Koru Naturals . . . My T. O. S. Review

My family and I have had the “pampering pleasure” of reviewing products from Koru Naturals for a little over a month now.

Along with all of the other crew members to be on this review, we received the WONDERFUL Emu Oil.

I also was given the Manuka Oil and Honey Shampoo and Conditioner.

Unlike the Emu Oil, I did NOT share my Manuka Oil and Honey Shampoo and Conditioner. No, no, no, that was just for me. Unlike some of my crew mates, I am the only female in the house, and didn’t have to share. πŸ™‚

I want to tell you why I asked for this review when it came up for the crew. Two of my children, “Mr. Loquacious” and “The Puzzler” are biracial. They are African-American/Native American. As such, they have serious problems with drying skin, especially when it comes to their elbows and their knees. Unfortunately, we have not been able to get them to use ANY kind of lotion without great protest. Ever. And we’ve been trying ever since their adoption five years ago. Well, they are 13 years old now, and I have despaired of EVER finding something they won’t fight against. They both have serious sensory issues, so with everything else we’ve tried, there has been a problem with the feel or the smell. Then, the Emu Oil arrived! First after their showers, I had them take just a few drops and apply it to their elbows and their knees. Now, this was the first time, so it was a few drops for the elbows, and a few drops for the knees, but even the twins were (so far) OK with it. There was no scent that bothered them, and it so quickly is absorbed into the skin that there was no “greasy” feel for them to object to. On the advice of my hairstylist, I also started putting a few drops into their hands and having them rub it through their hair, which also is working wonders, and they are still using it without major objection, which makes their skin less raw, and me very happy! πŸ™‚

At first, to show them what I wanted them to do, I put the drops in MY hands and worked it into their hair, which led me to an accidental discovery! Just the tiny little bit of residue on my hands, actually began softening them! Since we live in the desert, this is a nice thing! πŸ™‚ Emu Oil is a great addition to our household, and well worth the $9.85 cost for the two ounce bottle we were given. WE have had it for over a month, it’s being used by a large family of six, and we still have most of the bottle to go, so clearly, a little goes a LONG way!

Now, on to the Manuka Oil and Honey Shampoo and Cnditioner , which as I stated above, I have NOT shared. I have enjoyed using this shampoo and conditioner. It has a very invigorating smell and feel, which helps me a lot when it’s difficult to get myself going in the morning, lol! The Manuka Oil and Honey Shampoo and Conditioner has also been good in that my hair is nice and soft. I was worried about that, as I tend to tangly hair. Be aware that this product does not lather a great deal like brands that are full of sulfates and other chemicals, but that is a good thing. It isn’t the lather that cleans, and if you have color treated hair, all of the chemicals we are used to having in shampoo and conditioner tend to strip the color or make it fade faster. Manuka Oil and Honey Shampoo and Comditioner is a very nice product, and costs just $14.95 for the set.

To find out what other crew members thought of Koru Naturals Emu Oil, along with the variety of other Koru Natural products that were reviewed, please click on the banner below.
Koru Naturals Review

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IndoctriNation: A T.O.S. Review

For my first review in this, my third year as a member of the Review Crew, I was privileged to receive the DVD IndoctriNation: Public Schools And The Decline Of Christianity In America from Great Commission Films.

As I have long believed that the public school system is now, and has since it’s inception, been brainwashing children away from their parents and away from their faith, I have been wanting to view this film for some time. So, when it came up on the review crew schedule, I definitely was hoping to be chosen for this one!

IndoctriNation confirmed many things that I had already learned during my years of homeschooling, and of researching schooling in general. So many people believe that we as Christians need to “take back the schools”, as Franklin Graham says during one segment of this film, but the problem with that is that Christians never had them in the first place. The modern school system was created by men who were nowhere near to having the best interests of our children at heart, rather, they wanted to create a society of people who would not be independent thinkers, who would do as they were told, and be good citizens, according to whomever might be in power at any given time.

Colin Gunn, born and raised in Scotland but now living here in America with his wife and seven children, was public schooled while growing up in his homeland. Here, he and his wife choose homeschooling. He remembers what public school was truly like. Wanting to document for us why the public school system is no place for Christian children (or teachers, for that matter!), he and his family purchased an old yellow school bus, and went on the “field trip of a lifetime”, traveling across America, asking questions about the origins and social impact of America’s public education system” (quote from the DVD case). He wanted to find out things such as:

  • Who established the American public school system?
  • Are my kids physically and morally safe in the schools?
  • Are the public schools religiously neutral?
  • Should Christians try to be “salt and light” in public schools?
  • Can the public school system be fixed or redeemed?


Most people, I believe, would be quite surprised by the answers to these questions, sadly.

Here is a trailer from the film:

I was really struck by some of the interviews given in this film. One in particular was a young lady who had been publicly schooled, and who was opted out of the early grade school “health” classes by her parents. She points out that if you really believe your kids aren’t going to be instructed as to whatever was taught in that class, you are wrong. by recess, she had been informed by the other children about condoms, different methods of sex, etc. She saw Christian children made fun of for their Christianity, and found herself in later years even denying that she was a Christian, something she is ashamed to have done. It was very sad, in my opinion.

Another interview was with a lady who came from a long line of school teachers, who ended up resigning because of her faith, and being flat-out told she could not tell her students why she was leaving. She was made to leave that day, rather that after the two weeks notice that she gave, and her students were taken out to play, while she was escorted off the premises from a different direction, in order that the children not see her when she was leaving.

A similar thing happened to a principal, only he was outright fired. He was told if he would promise never to mention the name of Jesus again, he could stay. It interests me though, that other religions are welcome, that I read in the news about students being taught about Mohamed, for example.

This film is extremely thought-provoking. At the very beginning, there is a caution given regarding some of the subject matter. I chose to watch it without my children. I suggest you use your own judgement as to what your own children are ready for. I will say that I strongly believe every believer who is a parent should view this film, whether their children are homeschooled, privately schooled, or in public school. I further believe that every pastor, youth worker, or children’s worker in church should view this film. I do not believe it will change the mind of a non-believer, but the plain fact is that too many believers are not in possession of knowledge that could make a major difference to their family.

The DVD IndoctriNation

is available at the cost of $19.95, and I believe it is well worth it.

IndoctriNation DVD Review

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Apologia Educational Ministries (iWitness) . . . A T.O.S. Review

Our family has really loved using material from Apologia Educational Ministries ever since first being introduced to one of the science resources after a friend had used one and told me my boys would love it. They did, too!

This particular set of books which I am writing about today though, is different. As a member of the Review Crew, I received three books in the iWitness series:

1. iWitness Biblical Archaeology

iWitness Biblical Archaeology gives an awesome look at archaeological finds which prove many things that we as believers already knew (by faith) to be true. Many people and places which are referred to in the Bible, were not really shown in “historical” texts, because there was no “proof”, but many finds over time have more than proven the truth of their having existed.

2. New Testament iWitness

New Testament iWitness takes the reader along as it investigates things such as “Who wrote the New Testament?” “How do we know?” “How was it handed down?”, among other fascinating things. This book follows the history of and formation of the canon, while the reader sorts through the information given.

3. Old Testament iWitness

Old Testament iWitness goes into discussion of the differences between the Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible. It asks questions such as “Who wrote these ancient books?” “how were they collected?” “Is it mythology or history?” As with the other two books mentioned above, the reader is led through looking at evidence for him or herself, and gaining a great deal of knowledge in the process!

These books are written and designed by Doug Powell, who purposely does not write from his own opinion. He gives facts, actual photos, archaeological proof, and then we are expected to think for ourselves and come to our own belief. While they are very well put together for all ages, the suggested reading level is age 11 and up.

The first thing I want to tell you about is my initial impression when the books arrived. These are extremely sturdy paperback size books, but there the similarity ends. these books have very thick and sturdy pages, which means they will last, and continue to be a good resource on our shelf for many years to come. The other thing that caught my eye immediately was the layout of the pages. As an avid scrap-booker and paper crafter, the scrap-book style layout of all the pages was really pleasing to my eye. There is a nicely done combination of pictures and text. The text is all arranged on separate pieces which look like pieces of scroll or parchment. Over all, the look and feel of each of these books is, in my opinion, of very high quality.

Both “The Artist” and I have been reading through them, beginning with iWitness Biblical Archaeology. I must tell you that this is the book which turned out to be a favorite, although we enjoy all of them. πŸ™‚ However, I have always wanted to learn more about archaeological finds which prove the things I know to be true because of my faith in God’s Word.

“The Artist” and I had different “favorite” parts, though. He says his favorite was when the archaeology book gave information about the Mesha Stele or Moabite Stone. It discusses how one group attempted to destroy it, rather than have the Turks get it, but that the original discoverers managed to find enough of it to reconstruct much of the stone, giving valuable information regarding people and places within the Old Testament.

“My” favorite part was the recounting of the story of the flood of Noah’s time, as related by different cultures throughout time. I had always heard that different cultures had their own passed down stories of the flood, and iWitness Biblical Archaeology talks about several of them. It then also shows the similarities and differences between Genesis and these stories. For me, it is just one more reason that I believe there is no real excuse for claiming God does not exist.

In Old Testament iWitness, I was interested in the sections about the manuscripts and how they were copied, along with how the books were arranged and included.

In New Testament iWitness, I was again interested in the methods of copying, along with differences in copies, and why certain books were rejected.

The bottom line is that we really enjoyed these books, and we definitely recommend them. They can be purchased at the cost of $14.00 each from Apologia, and I must say that I feel they are well worth the cost.

You may also check out Apologia Educational Ministries via social media:

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99 other crew members also reviewed these iWitness books. Please click the banner below to read about what they thought!
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Fix It! Grammar . . . A T.O.S. Review

In all of the years of working on the education of my kids here at home, we have never, ever actually used a formal grammar program. Or, for that matter, ANY written grammar program, to be honest! I have basically practiced an informal method of correcting their spoken grammar as a part of our daily life, something I will continue doing, as I believe it works quite well for SPOKEN grammar. However, “The Artist”, who was the student reviewing a fiction writing course last year, really wants to go back to it, and to learn to be better at writing stories, so I thought that the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Teacher Manual] (Book 1), along with Fix It! Grammar: The Nose Tree [Student Book](Book 1), would perhaps be a good thing for him. I took a look at how it worked and decided to give it a chance.

This grammar program is from the very well known Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).

IEW is a company I personally have never really taken the opportunity to really check out, because I was afraid it would be too difficult for my special needs guys. However, I am extremely glad we were blessed with the opportunity to review Fix It! Grammar, because it really works, in just minutes a day!

Here is the basic concept . . .
Method: modeling proper grammar within stories. Instead of being taught a grammar rule, and then being forced to practice it with a bunch of exercises, followed by the next grammar rule, over and over (Lather, rinse, repeat, so to speak) in Fix It! Grammar, the grammar rules are taught as they are needed, within the context of a story that builds upon itself until, at the end of the lesson book, the student has written correctly, the entire fairy tale used at that level.

The Process: 15 minutes per day. The level we received is giving us 33 weeks of grammar instruction and practice, in only 15 minutes per day, and 4 days per week.

This program is incredibly easy to set up and to work through! If you have the student book, then your student will need a note book divided into two sections, which are Rewrite and Vocabulary.

On day one of each week, your student will read and correct ONE sentence. Yes, one. He or she will read the sentence, look up the bolded word in a dictionary and write the best definition which fits within the context of the sentence, and write that into the vocabulary section of their note book. This will be built on each day until at the end, they have their own vocabulary dictionary to refer to. Then, he or she will copy the sentence for that day into the rewrite section of their note book, using double spacing.

On days two through four, the student will use the abbreviations at the top of the page, as well as the provided grammar flash cards to help them remember how to mark the section. As with day one, the student does their “rewrite” in the notebook, writing with double spacing. They are to use their best handwriting, so this is also a nice addition to the day in giving them that particular practice!

While we received both the Teacher book and the Student book (both are very nice, spiral bound books), If you prefer, you CAN just purchase the teacher book at the cost of $19.00. The teacher book comes with a license allowing you to download the student book and print as many copies as needed for use within your own homeschool family. The Student book, available for $15.00, is well worth it though, depending on how much it costs for you to print, and whether or not you have more than one child. I happen to have four boys, so knowing that I can print it as needed when each of them is ready for this, makes this a bargain for me.

A placement test is provided if you are unsure where to begin your student, however, like many people, I chose to begin with book one, so as to create a good foundation upon which we can build with the levels which follow. There is also a webinar available to introduce you to Fix It! Grammar, along with how this program differs from traditional methods of teaching grammar.

Fix It! Grammar is intended for 3rd grade and up, but as I said, I personally think that if you, like us, have not done a formal grammar program, it’s best to begin at the beginning.

What did we think of it? Well, I find it incredibly easy to use! “The Artist” really does not enjoy being MADE to write, although he enjoys writing on his own time, so this was the perfect choice for him. I mean, really? One sentence per day? Even my lazy writer who constantly complains about his hand cramping from too much writing, is fine with this! He really doesn’t mind giving up 15 minutes out of his day, and when he is finished, he will have completely written the entire fairy tale himself, with correct grammar! The only real problem we have is keeping him from reading ahead to see the rest of the story, lol!

You will find IEW on the following social media:

You Tube

Bottom Line? Not only do I very highly recommend Fix It! Grammar from IEW, I think we will be continuing with it level by level. It is a very painless way to learn written grammar, and frankly, I like that. There is no reason education HAS to be dreary, if there is a better way, and this is definitely a better way, in my opinion.

Other Review Crew members have been reviewing this and other levels of Fix It! Grammar, so please click on the banner below to find out what they thought!
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Filed under education, Fix It! Grammar, Grammar The Easy Way, home education, homeschool products, homeschooling, Institue For Excellence In Writing, Language Arts, Schoolhouse Review Crew Post, special needs education, TOS Review, writing fiction

Learning About the Old Testament and Ancient Egypt With an Online Course From Veritas Press . . . A T. O. S. Review

For a good number of years, my eldest, “The Batman” has repeatedly asked to learn about ancient Egypt. For all of those years, I’ve tried and tried to find unit studies, lapbooks, anything, that would be Biblically based, and would be at a level he could handle, but absolutely nothing I found would work for him. Enter, this review from Veritas Press!

We were fortunate enough to receive a full year access to the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt, which costs $199.00, as well as the physical Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards, which are available for $19.95.

Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt covers the period from creation through the fall of Egypt to Rome.

The Veritas Self-Paced History is suggested for grades 2 – 6, but in our family, this is literally one of the first educational programs I have not had to make major tweaks to accommodate our special needs kids. πŸ™‚ Now, “The Batman” is 21, but with his developmental delays, his educational level in many areas is much younger. He is REALLY enjoying this class! I am so glad I was able to get this review! I have many times over the years, received catalogs from Veritas Press, and just thrown them away, because first, I thought their material looked too difficult for my kids, and second, because we don’t follow the “Classical Curriculum” method of homeschooling. Veritas Press, according to their website, is a Classical Christian Education provider, following the “Trivium“, which approaches education in the order of three stages of learning; grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric.

We, on the other hand, are extremely relaxed, eclectic/unschoolers, so I wasn’t sure this would be a great fit around here, but so far, he is doing very well, and without very much help in navigating his way through the class site! πŸ™‚

Once we received our access, all I had to do was go online and register myself as the teacher/parent, creating a user name and password. After that, I simply had to add “The Batman” as a student, creating a user ID and password for him, and then register him into the course chosen. I had a few false starts and problems, but a quick phone call to customer support took care of that! One definite issue was that we needed to use the Firefox browser instead of Internet Explorer. Once we did that, things started to go much more smoothly. πŸ™‚ “The Batman” and I watched the tutorial on how to use this course. The tutorial was actually interesting to the both of us, and gave “The Batman” plenty of opportunities to practice the different things he was being taught how to do, so that once he began the course, he was able to do them by himself.

OK, so by now, you’re likely wondering how the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt works, and how we are using it, right? Well, this class is COMPLETELY done online, up to and including the quizzes and worksheets, which is great for “The Batman”, who has very poor fine motor control, and thus, very poor hand-writing. He is very much enjoying that part, for sure! The lessons are all done at the student’s own pace, hence the name “Self-Paced History“! This is good for us, because we are definitely a “go at your own pace” kind of family. πŸ™‚ The only thing he is using that is not online are the very nice Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Flashcards, which you can see below:

This is the front of one of the very large, colorful cards.

The reverse side of the card nicely sums up what is being taught, along with giving ideas for additional resources.

Of course, he is also using his own Bible, because the course uses the New King James Version, whereas Our family uses only the King James Version, and we want to be certain that he doesn’t miss something by using a different version of the Bible.

There are suggested literature resources to add in if you choose, but since so far they have been books that we do not own, what I have had him do at the end of each lesson where there is extra reading, is to read the summation of that portion of the book referred to. This is working out OK for now, but I know that he would like very much to have the go-along books, as he is so very interested in this time period. If you do prefer to have the Literature on hand, there are three different literature kits available for the Veritas Press Self-Paced History: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt. They are:

Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Literature Kit Level 1, available for $110.30 (a savings of $17.44), and is recommended for children who would be generally in 2nd or 3rd grade, and comes with 13 books.

Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Literature Kit Level 2, available for $88.35 (a savings of $16.39), and includes 10 books.

Old Testament & Ancient Egypt Self-Paced Literature Kit Levels 1&2, in case you have children at multiple levels, available for $151.14 (a savings of $27.47), and containing all of the books in both levels.

I am seriously considering at least the purchase of the level two package for “The Batman”, so that he can read them along with the lessons and have them to keep.

One of the things I really enjoy is that at the beginning of each lesson, we review a memory song about the 32 events we (I say we, because I find I am learning along with “The Batman”, as are the other children) are going to be learning. Repetition is a great thing when it comes to something like this, and basically, we are learning a Biblical timeline through this song. Both “The Batman” and I like very much the fact that if he logs off before finishing a lesson, the course remembers where he was, and when he logs in again, he is asked if he wishes to pick up where he left off. He can also print off the quizzes and such when he finishes them, something he loves to do so that he can show them to his dad when he gets home from work. πŸ™‚
2014-07-01 06.04.14

The lessons themselves are quite fun, using videos of characters who speak and move, fun games, fun songs, and tests/quizzes that are in different formats, helping “The Batman” to remember that there are different ways to answer the on-screen questions. Sometimes, he has to drag things to the correct order, sometimes he has to click the correct answer, and so on. This has been good for him, as he has always been one to not like things changing too much. Each “lesson” runs anywhere from 10 – 20 minutes, which is really just about perfect for “The Batman”, and there are 160 lessons in this course. Here he is, along with HIS Batman, going through a lesson. πŸ™‚
2014-06-27 04.57.26

I am very pleased with this course, and would definitely consider more Self-Paced History courses from Veritas Press, though I’d need to plan ahead for my budget, as I would want to have the literature bundles as well. As I said before, because “The Batman” really loves this time period, and wants to learn as much as he can, I intend to ask his dad if we can manage to order the literature bundle. It is so rare that we’ve been able to find something this good, that he actually WANTS to learn about. I believe it’s more than worth it, and then the books will become part of our permanent educational library.

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