BiblioPlan: My Thoughts

by GfG on February 6, 2013 · 42 comments

This is our fourteenth year homeschooling.  From the beginning, I knew I wanted a core curriculum that had living books at its core.  That was non negotiable.  At that time, the only curriculum I found that did such a thing was Sonlight.  I fell in love with it at first sight.  We used Sonlight for eight years.  I will share my thoughts on it next week, but this week I’d like to share my thoughts on the spine curriculum we are using this year: BiblioPlan.

First of all, let me clarify what I mean by core/spine curriculum: this dictates the main “theme” of our year.  For us, this means history, reading, read aloud, and geography are all connected.

I am guiding children at every end of the education spectrum and that fact dictates a lot of my decisions.  Know that from the get go.

Ok, on to my thoughts on Biblioplan!

I have used Modern (1850-2000; my first year wit BP) and Ancients (creation to fall of Rome; my second year).  This review is based on that, coupled with my thirteen almost fifteen years of experience (which affects my opinions on currics, whether I want it to or not).  Also, I did not buy their map program.

BiblioPlan is a classical education curriculum that offers much more than just history, but that is the main topic.  Read this intro page on their site to get the gist, since they say it better than I can.

Pros for BiblioPlan in my opinion: 

  • I can use this curriculum for the entire family.
  • It is a three day week plan and only thirty-four weeks.
  • The history is just enough to learn, but not so much that we feel like history majors.
  • It is not teacher intensive and there is no prep work each week.   (Can I get an amen?!)
  • They offer weekly discussion questions/comprehension questions and even six week tests (for 8th grade and up) that are based on the history only (these are called Cool History).
  • I can substitute books I already own without affecting the history comprehension questions.  This also means that people who would rather substitute with available library books can do so easily.
  • It is a terrific balance between historical fiction and nonfiction.
  • They sell a well done spine book (titled BiblioPlan History Companion) that is written from a Christian worldview.
  • They break the assignments into reading levels.
  • They break the assignments into five groupings, making it easier to know which one your child fits into well.
  • Several different spine history books are scheduled from which you can choose.
  • The spine options are different for each grouping, which allows a grade level appropriate book, but keeps all ages in the same time period.
  • The way the break up the four year cycle makes sense to me and does not cram too much into one year.

biblioplan 3 WEB

  • The components can be bought separate.
  • Assignments are just the right size for eighth grade and under and can be adjusted however you wish.
  • The Bible readings have a different focus each year and are terrific for supplementing whatever a family is already doing. (Ancients focuses on history parts of the Bible from Genesis to Revelation.  Plus the high schoolers read the Book of Job and the Book of Acts. Early Modern focuses on the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. Modern focuses on the Parables.)
  • Missionaries are highlighted.
  • More than one book is suggested for the younger grades each assignment  each level each week, so you can choose which one or ones you want, based on your child’s abilities and your wishes.
  • Writing activities are suggested.
  • Optional books and activities (such as movies) are suggested each week.
  • Has a family read aloud schedule and it is really good.
  • It follows a classical cycle of four years.
  • A nice description of each book is provided so you can decide which ones you want easily.
  • Coloring page collections for each year is an optional resource.
  • The lesson plans (BiblioPlan Family Guide) and all the other components are very affordable.  I spent $145 for all four levels (not including books) with lesson plans, The Companion, Cool History, Coloring Pages, and answer keys.
  • You get free updated BiblioPlan Family Guides when they update.
  • The book choices for 3rd and up (I didn’t buy for all 5 levels, but for 4) are good and affordable.
  •  Family Discussion Guides will be available soon to encourage family discussion, including Scriptural application and faith, of history!
  • (ETA) PDF versions are available for EVERYTHING!  This means you can save a TON if you are paperless family!  We are not paperless, but I buy the PDF versions of most things because then I can reuse them for the next kiddo coming up the pipe without telling the first, “Write your answers in a notebook.”    I also print out the lesson plan pages in the Family Guide for each kiddo and put it in their binder so they have their own copy.  If you know a reasonable printer, this saves a lot money.
  • This is a curric that can grow with a family nicely.

modernamerica

Cons for BiblioPlan in my opinion:

  • Eighth grade is placed with high school and some of the books are just not eighth grade friendly.
  • The Companion is too meaty for elementary grades.
  • Buying books for each level can get costly (a pro in favor of Biblio that affects this is that substituting a book does not change anything, which is not true for other currics AND I really don’t know a way around this kind of thing when schooling a wide age range).
  • Some of the books are dry. (Of course, there are over 150, so…)
  • The read aloud schedule isn’t amazing (admitting my bias here, I want read alouds to be incredibly memorable). (the revised versions read aloud schedules are great, so this is no longer a con)
  • One of the optional spines for Year 4 and the only one  that is Christian (other than BiblioPlan’s Companion) is not available (Mystery of History).  In BibioPlan’s defense, it’s not their fault.  The reason it bothers me is that there is no Christian spine for elementary students, since I believe the Companion is over their head.
  • All but one (Mystery of History) optional spines are secular and one of them has questionable accuracy during Biblical time periods (Story of the World).
  • High school fiction reading is a bit light.
  • Not enough theology/church history for my taste.

Summary:

Pros: flexible, affordable, wide age range, classical, good balance for fiction & nonfiction, variety of spine texts, Christian, easy to use with a growing family

Cons: some secular spines, supplement for high school, adjust for eighth grade (based on your child)

Overall, I am incredibly happy with BiblioPlan.  The only curriculum that I believe would meet all of my qualifications and make my work load as well as my students’ work loads the weight I want would probably be a curriculum I create myself from a few currics.  I am not up for that, so BiblioPlan is what I will be sticking with from now on. Lord willing.

Next week I will review Sonlight.  The week after that Tapestry of Grace.   The week after that, I’ll share why I left each of those.

BiblioPlan is a wonderful curriculum that meets my needs (or at least most of them) and fits my family. 

ETA 4/22/14:  I have updated this review because I have now (almost) completed a second year of BP and an updated version (my first year was not the updated/revised version).  Notice all cross outs as updates.  I also updated the intro paragraph explaining with BP years I have used.

 

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Beth Anne February 6, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Thank you for giving all this insight on BiblioPlan. One quick question. I noticed that you said “I spent $145 for all four levels (not including books) with lesson plans, The Companion, Cool History, Coloring Pages, and answer keys.”…when I was looking on their website, there was another book called the “Family Guide.” Did you use this part of the program?

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GfG February 6, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Yes, the lesson plans are actually called the Family Guide. Sorry. Old habits. ;-)

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Jennifer February 7, 2013 at 11:46 am

Thanks for doing this. I have many questions. I think I might wait until you do the other reviews. I just love Sonlight, but I can’t do this for more than one kid.

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Thyme February 8, 2013 at 12:53 am

I can’t wait to read all about this series! I’m so interested! :)

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Becky B March 4, 2013 at 10:48 am

I’m looking into curriculum for next year as it will be our first “official” (and by that I mean the my oldest will be in K) homeschool year. I went to Biblioplan’s web page and got totally confused lol! Any advice on how to figure out what I would order for a kindy? I’ll also have a k3, but I know I want to use Rod & Staff About 3 series for him :) Thanks!

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GfG March 4, 2013 at 11:13 am

Becky,
The good news is that you can really pick and choose. The most important part is the Family Guide because it is the lesson plans.
If it was me…For just a Kinder kid, I would want the Family Guide, Coloring Pages (depends on the kid… an advanced one may not want them, but they would be a good reinforcement and could be something the K3 could do with your oldest), Family Discussion Guide (maybe), and Cool History for Littles. I would come up with my own crafts, but it would be tempting to buy their plan so I wouldn’t have to do the research.
Which spine book to buy depends on which year you would be using. If anything but Year 4, I would go with Mystery of History for the ages you have.
After you get the Family Guide, you can decide which books to buy.

Does this help? I’m happy to answer any questions.

in Him, Mindy

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Nicole March 17, 2013 at 3:44 pm

I am planning on using Biblioplan next year for my six kidlets! I am so excited to try it out! I am trying to decided if I want to use the Cool Histories or continue with narrations/outlining facts….any insights? I also, struggling between the SOTW maps vs. the Biblioplans Maps. Which do you use? Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Nic @ http://www.AFarmhouseFull.com

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Kim Adams June 2, 2013 at 2:24 am

(Let me say it’s fun to find moms excited about the same things..yeah!!!) Thank you so much for your reviews. Simple, quick and easy to read!!! You’er a girl after my own heart. I have 4 boys and I’m starting SL this year with 2 of them. They will share the same core. I did a rough 6 months of Ambleside as we transitioned out of an off-campus public school program and moved to Hawaii. I was so encouraged to find a curriculum (Sonlight) that was covered through the Charter Homeschool program they have here in Hawaii (fully paid). My kids love living books and we have grown so much this year in our family reading, but they are also SUPER excited about Math and Science. I was reading your BiblioPlan post and I was wondering if you share what math and science you are going to use?

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GfG June 2, 2013 at 9:23 am

It is fun to meet like minded moms! :)

We use Teaching Textbooks for 5th grade and up and Right Start Math for younger kiddos.

Apologia science for elementary and Hugh school. I use ABeka for 7th grade as a transition from Apologia elementary to high school.

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Amy June 9, 2013 at 10:48 pm

I ran across your blog and inspired to look into Biblioplan more. I’ll be honest, their website is quite confusing. I have an upcoming 1st grader. We did Sonlight for Kindergarten and felt it was way too much reading, etc. I have two younger children not in school. Do you think this is good for a mom with younger kids to take care of? Also, I’m assuming there are answer keys with the Family Guides. I only saw it mentioned on the Teacher Guides for co-ops on the website. Thanks so much for your review, I am eager to learn more about it and hope I can figure out what I will need.

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Melissa August 16, 2013 at 12:37 pm

I am curious how much time do you spend each day on the Biblioplan schedule? We are going to use it this year and I am making our schedules :)

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GfG August 16, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Hmmm… Let’s see…
SOTW read aloud: about 20 min
MOH read aloud: about 10 min
reading to K child: about 15 min
family read aloud: about 30 min
Bible reading: about 10 min
discuss Cool History Questions (once a week): about 20 mins

The rest, the kiddos do on their own, so the time is varied by level and skill.

HTH!

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Christi August 20, 2013 at 3:13 pm

This is the best review I have read so far! Very informative. We are using ancients this year with our seven left at home and so far, loving it!

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Jennifer January 17, 2014 at 10:51 am

Thanks so much for your review! I have a daughter that will be in 8th grade and a son that will be in 4th next year. I’m considering doing the Modern BP. I understand from your review that you feel the Companion is too much for elementary ages. From the samples, I would tend to agree with you. My question is, can you still answer the questions in the Cool Histories workbooks easily without the companion- just using one of the other spine books? Also, which spine would you recommend for Modern? Thank you!

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GfG January 17, 2014 at 11:14 am

The Cool Histories are dependent upon The Companion. We bought The Cool Histories: Classic for the younger kids this year. These questions are dependent upon Story of the World, not The Companion. We use Story of the Word AND Mystery of History for our spines for the younger kids. MOH has not come out with their modern version yet, so I would use SOTW and the Classic questions.

BiblioPlan will be coming out with a younger version of The Companion in the next few years. It will not be rewritten, but it will be in more bite sized pieces.

HTH!

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Stephanie February 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm

Hello! I found your site when doing a comparison between Biblioplan and Sonlight. We’re doing SL Core B this year with my 7.5 year old 1st grader. I also have an 5 year old daughter who listens in on the reading. I had intended on doing SL next year but my friend does BP and it intrigues me. We are a family that LOVES history and reading. I like the idea of buying a plan that can be used for 4 years but not sure if I need to add anything in that is included in SL but not in BP. Next year will be my first year schooling both kiddos and trying to do some teaching simultaneously with minimal to no prep work. I would really appreciTe your insight!

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GfG February 19, 2014 at 10:50 pm

Hi, Stephanie!
So.. is your question, “What should I add in from SL to BP that BP doesn’t have?”
:)
Happy to help, just need more clarification.

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Stephanie March 11, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Yes, you summed it up quite well. :) I’m curious what I should add from SL to make sure we’re all covered. Thanks!

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Stephanie March 11, 2014 at 8:46 pm

I also wondered if it’s necessary to start with year 1 (Ancient). We covered some ancient history this year but I’m kind of itching to do the medieval one but I’m afraid I might be jumping too far ahead. Does the order matter?

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GfG March 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm

I don’t think the order matters, as long as you cover each time period eventually.

Hmm…I add some SL books that BP doesn’t include. I can’t remember which ones. I go through BP’s list each year and substitute with books I have from SL if I have them and if I like them. If a BP book sounds intriguing, I will buy it, but I try to use what I have from my 5 SL cores and 3 years of TOG.

HTH!

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Megan April 23, 2014 at 4:01 pm

Hi! I am so grateful for your reviews of the homeschool curriculums! I used Tapestry of Grace years ago and have just recently decided to home school again. There is JUST NO WAY we could afford TOG right now. :( BiblioPlan looks like a great tool for our family! Here is my question . . . does it give Writing Aids, like TOG? I am NOT creative so I really have to rely on curriculums. Also, do you have to buy additional books to accompany this curric? Thanks so much!

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GfG April 23, 2014 at 4:15 pm

You still have to buy the living books you want to use and the spines (textbook-ish books: Story of the World, Mystery of History, The Companion, or Usborne). It has writing suggestions for each week for each level. It is similar to Writing Aids, but not exactly. I believe you can see examples on the free samples here:
http://www.biblioplan.net/2011/03/biblioplans-free-samples-free-sample.html

Hope this helps more!

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Megan April 23, 2014 at 4:53 pm

It helps a lot! Thank you!

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GfG April 23, 2014 at 4:56 pm

I do want to say that a perk for BiblioPlan that isn’t with TOG, is that you can replace the living books with others of similar topics if you like, without affecting anything. For example: I had 3 books on Rosa Parks on our shelves. So, instead of buying the one in the BP plan, I just replaced it with one of my 3. Saving me money. I couldn’t do that with TOG because the SAPS were dependent upon the particular book.

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Debbie April 28, 2014 at 12:13 am

What am I missing? How did you spend $145 on all four levels? Looking at the website, the bundle for each level seems to be about that amount. Help. I’d love to spend $145 for all 4 years. :) Thanks!

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GfG April 28, 2014 at 7:04 am

Hi, Debbie!
You don’t need a bundle for each kiddo because that would duplicate materials. You only need one Companion per family, so buying a bundle for each level would not be necessary. Also, I buy the ebook version of almost everything.
This year I bought:
The Companion ebook (I, honestly, wanted to buy this in hardback, but the kids like the Companion being in a binder versus the book AND my dh thinks we can save some money printing it out ourselves).
Family Guide ebook
Classic Cool History Questions ebook (Two of my youngest three are not ready to read and retain The Companion and to keep the younger two girls together AND to not make my 11yo feel badly that her 8yo sister could do it and she can’t, we use Story of the World and Mystery of History as the spines for these three kiddos. Classic Cool History Questions correspond to SOTW; why do I do both? Because SOTW isn’t Biblical in worldview and MOH is, so we want at least one Christian spine, but I want the questions for reinforcement and I like the girls doing that independently)
Upper Middles Cool History ebook
Advanced Cool History ebook
Hands on Map advanced ebook (I’m having my 8th grader and 10th grader both do the advanced).
With the conference special (the local homeschool conference was this past weekend), I spent $132.

I will not need to rebuy ANY of that when we cycle back through Medieval in four years!

Factor in printer ink or a printer to print out The Companion…. maybe $50?…. I am at $182. In four years, I will need to reprint only the Cool History and the Hands On Maps. That’s it! I won’t have to buy a thing.

I will now buy literature books, but I am confident I won’t have to buy many because BiblioPlan uses a lot of the same books I have from other currics in the past AND I can sub in books on the same topic if I own them. ex: If a George Muller book is scheduled and I don’t own that one, but I own two others… I can use one of those.

I will do an entire post on how I plug in my books, but I hope you get the idea.

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Jen May 10, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Thank you! THANK you, for the excellent review on BiblioPlan. I, too, have used Sonlight–and loved it–but it’s no longer working well for the age spans of my kiddos. I need something we can all do together, more or less. I’ve also read about (and even tried a quarter) of TOG, but it was too much–in money and teacher prep time.

BiblioPlan looks like it might be *the one*, as you alluded to in another of your blog posts. = ) Well, or at least *the one* until I would have enough time to put together my own curriculum. That should happen about the year that my youngest goes off to college. *sigh*

I read your next blog post where you talk about your hubby working a lot in the summers because he’s a camp director. So. Is. Mine! Ahhh…methinks you are a kindred spirit.

Anyway, back to business. Do you feel that BP is substantial enough for high schoolers? My oldest will be a junior, and the next one down will be a freshman. Did they read The Companion and MOH? Or just The Companion and the other suggested literature?

Sound like my younger two (1st & 4th) would be okay without The Companion? We already own SOTW Vol. 2 , but not MOH. I guess what I’m trying to ask is, should I buy MOH in addition to The Companion, or could we get by without it? If we were doing the Ancient year, I would automatically buy MOH due to the Biblical timeline accuracy issue.

Thanks for your help, and I’ll be praying for you as the camp season begins!

For Him,
Jen

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GfG May 10, 2014 at 9:48 pm

I think BP is substantial enough for high schoolers if you include the Cool History Questions, maps, and some of the literature guides. We just have them do the Companion for the spine. This coming year we will be doing Year 2 and I will add Trial and Triumph to the reading. Also, I add Omnibus reading for any of the books I choose that are in Omnibus. This is just an extra I like because it addresses worldview discussion. If I would do this on my own, I wouldn’t have bought Omnnibus. Also, while Omnibus is a hefty price tag, I knew I would be able to use it for six kids, so it was worth buying USED. :)

HTH!!

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Jen May 11, 2014 at 5:35 pm

Do you mean Omnibus from Veritas Press? Or is there an Omnibus section within the Cool History for Advanced that I don’t know about yet?

We already own Trial and Triumph, so I was planning on that as well. It looks *really* good. We also have the first two books in the Living History series (I still need the 3rd). I might do a combo of those since they each feature some different Giants of the Faith.

I *love* buying used. Yay for Amazon and used book sales!

Thanks for your input. I appreciate your time. = )

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GfG May 11, 2014 at 5:48 pm

Yes, Omnibus from Veritas Press.

Yeah, we owned Trial and Triumph too. I also really like Courage and Conviction as well as Monks and Mystics for this coming year, for my 8th grader. They are great.

I’m happy to help.

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Toni June 5, 2014 at 9:51 pm

Mindy- can I just say that you rock? :) I love your thoughtfulness in explaining BP and what you like about it. I am leaning towards switching from SL for my youngest 4, mainly b/c I like MOH, and the fact that BP has tests for middle schoolers. My high schoolers will most likely continue with SL b/c they love it and were looking forward to 20th Century World History, although we would cover that time period if we did BP Modern. Just trying to figure it all out.
And BTW, I noticed that MOH IV is being released this summer! I wonder if BP will update their Modern to schedule it in? Hope camp was fun! Love you!

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Allison June 9, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Hi! Thanks for your great review of all these three terrific curric’s! After never hearing about BP and then reading your review, I’m really intrigued and might give it a go for my family this next school year. I’m curious to your opinion about using in for young kiddos though. My oldest two who I am currently schooling are 7 and 6 (will be in 2nd and 1st in the fall). Do you think it’s worth it to use BP when they are so young or would you recommend waiting a few years until at least the oldest two would be ready for it…don’t really want to buy it and only use it for the 2nd grader if it’s going to take quite a bit of my time. And do you think MOH (which I have had my eye on for a while but have hesitated b/c of my kids ages again) would be appropriate to start at their ages?

Thanks!
Allison

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GfG June 9, 2014 at 11:42 pm

I’ve been asked this a few times and, honestly, I’ve avoided it because I don’t want to hurt any curric owners’ feelings, but…
I didn’t start doing full on history curric with my first born until she could read at the 3rd grade level. Would I change that now? I don’t think so, especially if I have littles in addition. So, my answer would depend on the reading and maturity level of your 7yo.
It won’t take a lot of your time and if you’re looking for a curric that you can “grow” with over the years, BP is one that can do that.
Yes, I like MOH for those ages a lot.

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Allison June 10, 2014 at 6:47 pm

Thank you! I just don’t want to jump start into a history curriculum too early and have the kids be overwhelmed or bored :) I will try the online trial they have and see what we think. Thanks for your feedback!

Allison

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GfG June 10, 2014 at 7:08 pm

That sounds like like a great plan!

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Stacy July 22, 2014 at 12:28 am

Hi! I love your BP review pages. I’m curious, does year 4 (Modern 1850-2000) cover a substantial amount of US history or is it predominately world history? My student still needs a 1/2 credit for US history and I want to be sure that this curric will have enough US history to earn him that 1/2 credit. The 3 week sample that I downloaded has minimal US history for week 3, so I’m a bit concerned that this will be the case for most weeks. I’ll be checking back soon in hopes that you’ll reply.

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GfG July 22, 2014 at 11:19 am

Stacy, In my opinion, it definitely gives enough for a half credit in American history. You could choose books to give more of an emphasis also. HTH!

Thanks for asking!

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Stacy July 22, 2014 at 8:36 pm

Thanks for your input!

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Amy Franklin July 23, 2014 at 6:06 am

I just found A Living History of our World through Queen Home School!!! LOVE IT!… Story of the World through a Christain Worldview!

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GfG July 23, 2014 at 7:50 am

I will check it out! Thank you!

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