Tuesday, July 31, 2018

REVIEW: Wonders of the World by Home School in the Woods

We’ve always enjoyed their high-quality hands-on history products in the past, so we jumped at the chance to review Wonders of the World by Home School in the Woods.


Wonders of the World is part of the series of Hands-On History Lap-Paks from Home School in the WoodsHISTORY Through the Ages Hands-On History Lap-Pak: Wonders of the World

This lap-pak includes 23 individual projects that come together at the end to create a finished lapbook.  It includes ancient, medieval, modern, and natural wonders of the world spanning thousands of years. 

This project pack is intended for grades 3-8 and comes both on CD and as a digital download.  I received the imagedigital download version, and that is available for just $18.95

In my experience, you just won’t find another lapbook product as well-organized, thoughtfully produced, and as visually appealing as those from Home School in the Woods, and Wonders of the World is no exception!


As soon as I realized that Wonders of the World included a project on The Great Wall of China, I knew this was perfect timing for us.  We’re studying countries of the Eastern Hemisphere this school year, and we happen to be currently studying China and the Great Wall!  And since lapbook projects can be completed in any order and assembled at the end, we knew we had to start with The Great Wall of China, of course!

Once I downloaded and unzipped the file, I began by printing out the printing and assembly instructions and placing them in a binder. 

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Then using those instructions, I printed and assembled the reading booklet first. 

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Then I began batch printing the materials for the lapbook projects.  You can do that as you go along, or you can choose to do it up front.  I tend to like to print a bunch of them up front so my son isn’t waiting for me when we’re ready to work on a project.  So I printed up the materials for about half of the projects before I did anything else and placed them in the binder in order.  This would make it easy to pull out the pages I needed each time we selected a new project.  You’ll need plenty of white and colored paper, as well as white and colored cardstock for any of the lapbook products from Home School in the Woods, so be sure to have a variety of them on hand before you get started.

With all of the printing out of the way, I was ready to dig into the projects!  My son is 10 and has ADHD, so he doesn’t have a lot of patience for cutting and gluing and things that require fine motor skills.  So I stayed up one night and pre-assembled a lot of the lapbook elements ahead of time.  Then we were ready to use them to study the information!

The downloadable file has a “start” button that allows you to view all of the instructions and information in your browser.  This is the easiest way to access the materials, as it’s all laid out in order for you.  There are clickable places that play accompanying audio tracks, as well as clickable files to print.  You can either read aloud the corresponding educational content from the reading booklet, or you can click in the file to have the audio track read it aloud for you.  We tried both methods, and it was nice not to have to do all of the reading aloud myself.  I do enough of that already! 

Our first project was The Great Wall of China, which is from the Medieval Wonders section.  We learned what materials were used in its construction, what dynasties worked on the project, and how long it took to built it.  We learned what it was used for and that portions of it still stand today! 

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Once that one was done, the order no longer mattered to us, so we just went back to the beginning and worked on the rest in the order they were presented.  So our next project was to complete the Timeline of the Wonders of the World.  There were printable images included for each of the wonders, as well as an answer key to show the finished order in which they should appear.  But Home School in the Woods made this super easy to figure out.  Even without the answer key, the names of the images are pre-printed on the timeline pages, so once you’ve taped the panels together, you just glue the images in their designated spots.  To make this even easier, you can print the images on sticker paper made for your printer, but I just used white glue to stick the paper images down once I’d cut them all out.  All of the images print in black and white, so you can add color with crayons or colored pencils if you desire.

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The next project was the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.  These were really cool!  We listened to the audio track for this one, and my son flipped over the images to read about them on the back as we went along.  He thought those were really cool!  We learned about The Great Pyramid of Giza, The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, The Statue of Zeus at Olympia, The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus, The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, The Colossus of Rhodes, and The Lighthouse of Alexandria.  The seven picture/information cards fit inside a little pocket for your lapbook.

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Next up was a study of Stonehenge!  I was particularly interested in learning more about this one, just because I was born in England.  We learned the meaning of the name, the layout of the stones, and where they came from.  We couldn’t believe that stones as heavy as 7 tons had been brought to the site from as far as 20 miles away!  We also learned that no one really knows the true purpose of this unique arrangement of stones, though there has been much speculation, nor do we even know who exactly built it!  We also learned that it’s not the only arrangement of its kind, as there are many others across the British Isles and Northern France, which was news to us!  And this lapbook element opened up into a 3-D pop-up.  Holden really liked this one!

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Our next project was on The Leaning Tower of Pisa.  This one was fun!  We learned about the original construction of the tower and how the settling of the earth underneath it is what started the leaning of the tower.  Attempts to correct it only made it worse!  It eventually became an attraction, and in recent history, it was closed in order to sure it up and make it safer for people to occupy.  The bells are no longer used, but it remains an attraction because of how it leans!  Because of the corrections, however, it is no longer the most crooked tower in the world.  But at least it’s safe!  This particular lapbook element is interactive, in that you can use the paper that extends from the tower to make the tower straight or cause it to lean.  That’s what made it fun!

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That’s as far as we got during the review period, but we look forward to continuing down the list of projects, exploring things like The Catacombs of Kom el Shoqafa, The Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest, and the Golden Gate Bridge.  You can see all the projects listed in the image below.


We’ve had a lot of fun with this lap-pak so far, and we have many weeks of projects left to complete.  I like to pull it out and do a new one each week.  In the meantime, I will store the completed lapbook elements in a clear pocket in the binder to keep them all safe until they are all done.  At end, we’ll assemble them into a lapbook.  I like to make a non-traditional lapbook using white cardstock that folds up and closes with a Velcro button and can be 3-hole punched and stored in a binder where we keep all of our finished lapbooks for future reference.  I have instructions on how I make them available elsewhere on my blog, in case you’re interested.

And if you have ever used any of the Project Passport products from Home School in the Woods, you will be excited to know that they’ve finally completed Project Passport: Ancient Rome, which completed the entire series!  In fact, you can now purchase the entire Project Passport Collection as a bundle!  They have so many wonderful hands-on history product lines…be sure to check them all out!

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this and other products from Home School in the Woods by clicking the banner below.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

National Cheesecake Day on Monday, July 30th!!!

That’s right…National Cheesecake Day is right around the corner, and that means a great deal on a slice of your favorite cheesecake at Cheesecake Factory! 

Stop by any time on Monday to order your special treat for HALF PRICE!!!  Limit one slice per customer, and each customer must be present (so you can’t order for your hubby who is still at work).



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

REVIEW: Smart Kidz Radio by Smart Kidz Media

We’ve enjoyed our past experiences with Smart Kidz Media, so I was happy to review their all-new Smart Kidz Radio!


Smart Kidz Radio is an online streaming radio service targeted at children ages 2-10.  It offers wholesome, ad-free programming that is intended to communicate positive character traits, strong moral values, and build self-esteem. 

Best of all, this membership service is FREE!  If you want to upgrade your membership to include additional on-demand programming, you can get a monthly subscription for $3.99/month or an annual subscription for $39.  But you can start by trying out the on-demand content with a 14-day free trial!  You’ll get hundreds of additional stories and songs in a variety of categories to include:

Song Programming

  • Early Learning Radio Program (Ages 2 – 4)
  • Good Behavior Skills Radio Program (Ages 3 – 6)
  • Living Skills Radio Program (Ages 4 – 10)
  • Survival Skills to Grow On Radio Program (Ages 6 – 10)
  • Bedtime Songs Radio Program (Ages 2 – 8)
  • All-Time Favorites Sing Along Songs Radio Program (Ages 4 – 10)
  • Relaxation from Stress Radio Program (Ages 4 – 10)
  • Favorite Christmas Carols and Songs (All ages)

Story Programming

  • Classic Fairy Tales
  • Not So Scary Tales
  • Grandpa Tyler’s Storytime
  • Best Loved Bible Stories
  • Favorite Christmas Stories
  • Peter Rabbit Tales

Since this is an online streaming radio service, your children can listen anytime, anywhere they have access to Wi-Fi on any device such as a tablet, computer, or smartphone.  Programming is rotated periodically and runs around the clock!


Holden is 10.5 years old, so he’s almost outside the recommended age range for this, but we still found some things to enjoy.  The live streaming radio content had a mix of children and adult voices singing the songs.  Songs are not traditional songs you’d recognize, but more like original content that communicates positive character traits and moral values to your children.  There was a variety of music styles from slow and peaceful to mariachi-sounding instruments accompanying the lyrics.  Although Holden couldn’t sing along and wasn’t particularly interested in the topics due to his age, he thought some of the music was catchy and didn’t mind listening to it.

We also tried out some of the podcasts, which were the on-demand style of content.  We could start those at any time and listen instantly.  He enjoyed those songs more, as they were more recognizable classic children’s songs, sometimes with a twist.  For instance, we listened to Itsy Bitsy Spider, and there were additional verses to the song that we’d never heard before that continued the story of the spider’s adventures in the rain!  That was kind of cool, and the sound effects that played between the lines of the song made it more interesting to listen to.  If I had much younger children, this would really be fun content to have!  There were also some traditional children’s stories there.  We listened to Goldilocks and the Three Bears, and Holden said he enjoyed the different character voices that were used and thought they were funny and added to his enjoyment of the story. 

Most of the stories were approximately 20 minutes in length, so they’d make great listening at bedtime if you don’t have time and opportunity to read to your children yourself.  The songs I saw were approximately 2-5 minutes in length.  The on-demand content that’s available now is minimal compared to what will soon be available!  Smart Kidz Media is expecting to add the full content any time now.  If I had small children, I think I would get more use out of the on-demand content than the streaming radio, largely because the stories are very nicely done, and I could choose to listen to them at my convenience rather than listening to whatever is randomly playing.

Overall, this is a nice service that’s easy to use, and every live streaming song communicates positive values to your children.  I understand they also intend to come out with apps very soon to make accessing the service even easier than using a browser.

Check out what other Crew members have to say about Smart Kidz Radio by clicking the banner below.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

REVIEW: Dinosaurs and the Bible by Northwest Treasures

Since we went on a cool field trip to a dinosaur museum in Glen Rose, TX recently, my 5th grader was really excited to review the online course called Dinosaurs and the Bible by Northwest Treasures!


Dinosaurs and the Bible is an online video course consisting of a total of six approximately 20-minutes video lessons.  In addition to the video classes, there is also a downloadable worksheet with comprehension questions for each lesson, a final exam, and a complete answer guide.  It helps answer your questions that link the existence of dinosaurs with what we know about the bible and helps to prove the correlation through geological findings.  You can watch the trailer to find out more.

The lessons are delivered through the Vimeo app, and if you don’t have an account, you can get a Vimeo account for free.  You can add the app to your smart tv, tablet, or streaming device such a Roku or Fire Stick, or you can log in on the Vimeo website and watch on your computer.  The course is currently on sale for just $19.99 (regularly $39.99), and you’ll receive access to it for 6 months from the date of purchase.

I also received access to another course called Taking the Mystery Out of Geology.  This is a single episode that is 20 minutes in length.  This course is intended to help you work out geology as it relates to the bible and compare it with thoughts you might have after being exposed to evolutionary thinking.  You can watch the trailer to find out more.  This course can be purchased for just $5, and you will receive access for 3 months from the date of purchase. 

Both of these courses are intended for grades 5 to adult.

My primary focus for this review, though, is the Dinosaurs and the Bible course, so let me tell you about that!


After our field trip to Dinosaur World in Granbury, TX earlier this year, Holden became more interested in learning about dinosaurs.  On that trip, the kids also got to dig for fossils in a trough full of sand, and they were so excited at all the things they found!  So when this review came up, I knew he would really be interested in learning more.  And of course, every Christian family has probably wondered at some point how dinosaurs fit into what they know of the bible!


The first episode, How We Got Our Modern View of Dinosaurs, talks about how dinosaurs came to be named, all about the first dinosaur fossils that were discovered, and who were the key players in studying dinosaur fossils at that time.  It also discusses modern geology, uniformitarianism, evolutionary ideas, paleontology, and how the modern view of dinosaurs differs from actual scientific discoveries. 


The second episode, The Classification of Dinosaurs, talks about how the animal classification system, how dinosaurs are classified today and why that may not be an accurate method, when dinosaurs were created in the bible, and more information on evolutionary ideas relating to dinosaurs.

The third episode, The Great Dinosaur Rush, talks about the period of time in the 1800’s when mass amounts of dinosaur fossils were discovered in larg20180724_160805e fossil beds.  It also discusses the first artistic likeness of a dinosaur that was published of the Brontosaurus and why that image has given us a false concept of the actual dinosaur (you’ll be surprised to learn that the head and certain feet were missing from the skeleton discovery, so the artist drew what he thought they might have looked like!).  It also gives some background on the two key figures in the study of dinosaurs at that time and how they came to compete with one another (there’s a rather comical story of how one died and bequeathed his skull to be saved so his competitor and former friend could compare it with the size of his own skull, supposedly proving the first guy was smarter because his skull was bigger!).  Holden and I laughed about that one.  Now that’s a real rivalry!

The fourth episode, The Extinction of the Dinosaurs, talks about the modern idea that the dinosaurs became extinct due to a comet or asteroid that crashed into the earth 65 milli20180724_160815on years ago as compared with the biblical account of The Flood.  It goes into how the large fossil beds always reveal disarticulated bones, meaning that they are never connected but are instead scattered and separated.  This indicates a catastrophic event, and the lesson explains how this could be due to the crushing effects caused by all the flood waters that picked up and deposited large amounts of sediment across large areas.  It goes on to compare the geological time table with a biblical time table that explains how the existence of dinosaurs fits in with our biblical knowledge and the understanding that earth is not millions of years old.  It talks about the impact The Flood had on the earth in terms of volcanoes, tectonic activity, and finally, climate change.


The fifth episode, Dinosaurs and the Ice Age, talks about conflicts people have about the Ice Age, how that would have affected the dinosaurs, when the Ice Age might have occurred, and why.  It goes on to explain how the great waters of the deep broke up, creating cracks in the earth’s crust, and flooding the earth and how the resulting climate change and amount of moisture in the air could have easily created snowpack for glaciers and the existence of the Ice Age.  This, thereby, explains what killed the remaining dinosaurs after The Flood.

The sixth episode, Fossils, Age, and Soft Tissue, talks about how geologists began to use f20180724_160832ossils as time markers and how they began to use radiometric dating to determine the age of fossils and therefore the age of the earth.  We loved how it went on to explain the fallacy of radiometric dating because it once again relies on assumptions that are not proven by scientific methods.  Furthermore, it gives alternative reasons why radioactive levels may have been unstable after The Flood, which would eliminate the reliability of modern radiometric dating altogether.  It also discusses how some dinosaur specimens have been found containing soft tissues that never fossilized, and how the fact that the known rapid deterioration of soft tissues eliminates the theory of dinosaurs remains that are millions of years old.


Holden and I were totally fascinated with this educational series!  We learned lots of new-to-us information that just further supports what we already know in our hearts to be true based on our bible knowledge, but proves it to us with geological understanding.  It made perfect sense to us!  I can always support my beliefs with scripture, but to those who don’t fully believe in scripture, having this scientific understanding makes it easier to show the Truth to others who need something more to convince them.

We really a20180724_160935ppreciated the opportunity to learn from this course, and I would definitely recommend it to those who want to further understand how science and the bible are tied together in regards to the existence and extinction of dinosaurs.  The accompanying worksheets would make great comprehension exercises for an older child.  Since Holden is 10 and just starting 5th grade (so he’s at the lowest of the recommended age group), we used them as a springboard for discussion, and I took notes as we talked about the answers.  The final exam included 15 multiple choice questions that basically summarized the main ideas in the course, and I think anyone who watched the series could successfully answer those questions correctly.  It was a nice way to sum up and end our study!


As a supplement to this course, Northwest Treasures recommends and sells a dinosaur fossil kit.  Since Holden had enjoyed the fossil dig he did at Dinosaur World so much, I decided to reward him at the conclusion of the course with a small dinosaur dig kit to do at home since for him, finding the fossils is as much fun as the fossils themselves!  That was a fun way to wrap up our studies.

If you have a child who is younger than 5th grade, you might consider the course Geology for “Little Eyes” for PK-3rd grade.  If you have students at the high school level, you might consider the course called Northwest Treasures Curriculum Project.

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about this and other courses from Northwest Treasures by clicking the banner below.

Monday, July 16, 2018

IHOP’s 60th Anniversary Special!!!

Tomorrow is the day…it’s IHOP’s 60th anniversary celebration!  And that means Sparkler Animationyou can stop in and enjoy a short stack of pancakes (3) for just 60 cents!  The hours for this event are 7 AM – 7 PM on Tuesday, July 17th.

Participation in this event has become an annual family tradition for me and my kids.  I used to keep my high school-aged son out of school to join us for this breakfast, and then I’d drop him off at school afterwards.  It’s just something we’ve always done together. 

So this year, my husband is going in to work late so he can join us for the first time ever, and even though he and I are on a nutrition plan for 21-Day Fix at the moment, we’re making an exception for pancakes.  Yay!  I *LOVE* pancakes!  And although my son is now adult, he happens to have the day off tomorrow, so he’ll be joining us, too!  Even better!


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

FREE Slurpee Tomorrow @ 7-Eleven Stores!!!

As if Cow AppreFREE Slurpee Dayciation Day at Chick-Fil-A wasn’t enough of a treat today, now it’s time for 7-Eleven Day on Wednesday, July 11th, from 11 AM to 7 PM! 

Stop by and get a FREE small Slurpee of your choice.  It’s hot enough for a refreshing treat, that’s for sure!


REVIEW: Advanced (5th and 6th Grade) and Wall Maps and Timeline Set by Bible Study Guide for All Ages

My kids have used products by Bible Study Guide for All Ages both at home and at church before, so my 5th grader and I were happy to move up and review the Advanced (5th & 6th Grade) level and the big Wall Maps and Timeline Set!


20180709_225201Bible Study Guide for All Ages is a four-year program of bible study lessons for children and young adults of any age.  Various levels of study are offered starting at kindergarten age. 

This time, we’re moving up to the Advanced Level (5th & 6th Grade) since my 10-year old son, Holden, just entered 5th grade.  We received both the Advanced Student Pages and the Advanced Teacher Key, plus the giant Wall Maps and Timeline Set with the corresponding Label Book, in addition to the Bible Book Summary Cards.  Because we’ve used this in the past, we also already own the Children’s Songs CD Set

While it’s not required to have all of the accessories, it is recommended.  It does aid in the learning by providing visual aids to assist with grasping the order of events and songs for auditory learners to assist with memorization.  I know my kids have enjoyed having the “extras,” and it helps me keep it all straight, too!

If you keep a pace of teaching 2 lessons per week year-round or 3 lessons per week for the school year, then this program will last you a full 4 years.  Each time you complete a book, you move on to the next set of lessons.  As a child gets older, it’s easy to pick up where they left off with the next lesson number while just moving one level up.  The lesson content is the same across the levels.  The level of input from the student just increases with each level, such as moving from circling multiple choice answers to filling in the blanks to open-ended questions.

The pages are printed on legal-sized paper, and each lesson takes up one sheet of paper on the front and back. (Please note that most of my photographs show a comb-bound letter-sized book with laminated covers.  This is because the book I received for review started with a lesson number beyond the scope of the Label Book I received.  So in order to fully demonstrate the use of the labels for the timeline and wall maps, I actually had my son complete lessons from the previous book, which I had already purchased in downloadable format.  That’s why it looks smaller and has a different cover).


We were already planning to use Bible Study Guide for All Ages for our new school year, so when the review came up, it seemed only natural to write one!  We’ve come and gone from this program a few times over the years.  We used it at home for a while when my older kids were younger and still in homeschool.  We also chose to use it at church in order to teach bible study classes for a while.  We had one class with mixed ages, so my husband used the level that is a teacher’s guide written for all ages!  That worked well.  So we have a fair amount of experience with these products already and were really looking forward to getting back to it this school year.

Getting started is very simple.  The student pages provide you with one sheet per lesson.  We are using it at a pace of two lessons per week during this school year, so for us, this program can actually stretch out longer than four years in total if we choose to keep it going.  One side of the paper provides new lesson material based on stated scripture passages, while the other side provides a summative review of past lesson material.


After you present the scriptures to the student, there is a series of questions that ask the student to fill in or mark something in the illustrations to the right of the questions.  The illustrations provide clever drawings that do a great job of summarizing the events in the passages.  Each question and corresponding illustration activity breaks down another verse or verses from the stated scripture passages.  The activities might involve circling something, crossing out something that doesn’t belong, labeling, filling in the blanks, matching, or explaining why something happened.  This is a wonderful way to make sure the child understands what’s happening in the scripture, broken down a verse at a time.

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On the review side, questions might involve true and false, matching, filling in the blanks, and other answer forms.  There’s also memorization practice, an interesting fact, either a timeline or map activity on the paper itself, small group activities, and questions that help the student apply scripture to their daily lives.  I really liked the “Apply It” section, because it always asks Holden to state what God is saying to him for his life by using the word “I” or “me” in his answer.  This was a good way to spark discussion between us on how scripture actually applies to his own personal life. 

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The teacher pages are a handy thing to have when you are short on time or are stumped by something.  They provide complete answers to the student pages and are actually a reprint of the full student pages with the answers filled in and marked on the pages.  In addition, they give instructions for placement of the labels on the big wall maps and timeline.  This is instrumental if you are using those items, because it’s broken out by lesson so you can quickly prep for that activity before the lesson.  In the Label Book, there is a guide for placement of all of the pictures and labels, but it’s obviously easier to have it laid out for you in the margin of the teacher pages.


The Label Book contains answer keys for the timeline and wall maps in addition to the cardstock images and labels that you will cut out and put in the appropriate places.  Some labels will need to be removed at times so it doesn’t get too “busy-looking,” so I found it’s a good idea to apply them with simple poster tack.  This allows you to remove and reapply the labels as necessary.  There’s also a section of labels that need to be applied before you begin the first lesson, and there’s a simple illustration in the book for how to place those on the timeline.

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There are 3 wall maps in the set, but in the ten lessons that we completed during the review period, we only used maps 2 and 3, so those are the only ones we have mounted on the wall at this time.  Just know that there is a third map, as well.  When using the timeline and wall maps, you’ll need to have sufficient wall space available.  You’ll see in the photos that they take up considerable space, so you’ll want to verify you have room to mount them before purchasing.  Even if you don’t use them, though, the student pages have small versions of the maps and timelines printed on them, so your student will still have the opportunity to look at and study them.

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The Bible Book Summary Cards provide a simple summary of what each book of the bible is about and who wrote it.  It also has a handful of questions and answers to verify the student remembers this information.  Many of the review sections in the lessons will ask the student to review certain summary cards for the lesson.


We continue to enjoy these lessons just as we have in the past.  Holden is 10 years old and seems to be at a good age to understand more of the meaning behind the scriptures than maybe he did in the past.  When he was younger, these lessons were good for teaching the basic bible stories so that the events and characters became familiar to him.  Now he’s old enough to use these lessons to see how scripture is meaningful and applicable to his own life.  These lessons have sparked some good discussions between us, and I know he’s noticing more details than he has in the past. 

Overall, we really like this program, and I love the built-in review.  Holden has ADHD, so sometimes his recollection skills are lacking, and I’ve found the review activities are a great way to keep the material fresher in his mind.  The variety of pencil activities ensures no two lessons are exactly the same. 

This was our first experience with the big wall maps and timeline.  At first, I thought they took up too much wall space to continue using them, but now that we have a fair amount of labels on them, I can see how they are really useful to strengthen understanding of how events fit together and where events took place.

Take a look at what other Crew members have to say about various products from Bible Study Guide for All Ages by clicking the banner below.