Archive for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine


Virtual Nerd

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As many of you know, we have homeschooled our children for years.  Teaching higher math has always been a challenge.  Usually, it’s the only subject I want to ship them out for or at least hire someone to come in and tutor them.  If  I thoroughly understand something, I tend to be able to break it down and teach it.  Notice that “thoroughly understand” and “higher math” are not in the same sentence.  The cavalry has arrived though and this challenge can now be conquered at

Virtual Nerd is an interactive video tutorial with over a thousand videos.  Presently covering Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Algebra 2 and Intro Physics.  Searching by keyword, topic or textbook, questions are asked and answered.  Students learn at their own pace, gaining a clear understanding of science and math concepts as they study.  A private tutor, available on your schedule, for a fraction of the cost.

Use the 2 hours FREE to see if this program works for you and read more reviews on the Homeschool Crew blog


Subscribe today:

Will this be your new conquering hero?  Let me know.

What other challenges do you face and who do you call when you need the cavalry?


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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Our newest addition… Aleks

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Alas, there is no new child in our home, but there is a new discovery.

Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces “is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system that uses adaptive questioning to quickly and accurately determine exactly what a student knows and doesn’t know in a course.”

In November, I was asked to use and review the ALEKS online math program for one month.  This was my first opportunity to use such a full service web-based program.  Use it, we did…thoroughly, often and on-going, for each of my children, elementary through college.

THE question in our house for the past month has been, “Did you do your Aleks, today?”  Not once did I have to coax, prod, plead, bribe, threaten or even demand that any of my children do their math for the day.  ALEKS assessed each of their strengths and weaknesses and placed the results in pie form.

They enjoyed the freedom and independence of choosing which subject they would work toward mastering.  If they got it, ALEKS would add to their pie, if they didn’t seem to understand it, ALEKS picked up on it and gave them review.  ALEKS graded each problem and confirmed answers or errors, assigned tests and reassessments as needed AND sent me a progress report.

Watch this video and see Aleks in Action in less than 2 1/2 minutes.

Curious about what ALEKS might do for you?  Here’s a sample:

  • Addition/Subtraction, Multiplication/Division Practice = Quick Tables
  • Elementary, Middle School and High School
  • Algebra
  • Geometry
  • Pre Calculus
  • Trigonometry
  • Math for College success
  • Prep for GED mathematics
  • Review for AP Calculus
  • Review for AP Physics
  • Business math
  • Prep for College Physics
  • Higher education Chemistry

You can browse the full Course Library, including recommendations by grade level and course descriptions.

ALEKS is correlated with common core state standards for all 50 states, grades 3-12.  Their customer service is outstanding!

I want you to check out ALEKS, for yourself.  I think it is an exceptional program and because you’ve read this review you have an opportunity to try ALEKS, free, for 1 month.

This is a $19.95 value, per student, per month.  When you discover how much you really like them, check out their family discounted rates.  It seems expensive, but I broke down the cost and came up with surprising results.  My 6 students, for 6 months of access 24/7 is only 50 cents a day per student (figured on an actual 25 days of use, each).  There is not a math tutor anywhere that I can hire for that amount.

My crew mates have also posted reviews of this program and you can find those at


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Categories : homeschool, math, reviews, TOS
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My First Bright Idea

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One would think, that having homeschooled my children for as many years as I have I would have already met Bright Ideas Press, but the truth is that our acquaintance is quite new.

As a member of The Old Schoolhouse homeschool crew, I was recently given the opportunity to use and review A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers, written by Melissa E. Craig and Maggie S. Hogan, and published by Bright Ideas Press.

This is set up as a full year’s curriculum in 32 lessons.  It is likely, we will stretch it into 2 year’s.  Our house is a Kindergarten-to adult house.  We are using A Young Scholar’s Guide to Composers at a more relaxed pace, because we are using it as a family course and including everyone.  This tends to lead to longer discussions about each composer, his life and music.  It is designed for 4th through 8th grades, but all of us have learned something and want to continue this study.

…Composers, begins with ancient music, moves through the Middle Ages and The Renaissance, then flows into Classical and Modern music.  The authors cover composers and their music from The Baroque Period, The Classical Period, The Romantic Period and The Contemporary Period.  26 biographies in all, including the life and times of each composer, from a Christian perspective, as well as appreciation of their music.

There is nearly no teacher prep time and, since I never seem to have enough time in a day, I appreciate the thoroughness of the authors.  The only thing not included to complete this study, is the music, but Craig and Hogan have compiled a section of Listening Suggestions with YouTube links that correlate with each composer.  Our local library offered many of the suggested selections, too.

You can view sample pages before you decide to purchase this curriculum.  I can recommend this investment.  $29.95 for the book on CD-Rom or $34.95 for a 298 page paperback.  I chose the paperback.  I still favor holding a real book in my hands.  I did take my nicely bound book to a local printer and had it gently taken apart, and hole-punched.  Personally, I would still choose the paperback over the CD-Rom, but I found it inconvenient to copy the student pages from the bound book.  I now have easy access, from a three-ring binder, to the note taking and student review pages, time lines & maps, games and detailed coloring sheets.

If you’re still not convinced to look at this curriculum, consider this –

Why even teach an appreciation of Classical music in this age?  The website lists these reasons:

  • Music is from the Lord. He created it, and He created us with the ability to both make and appreciate music.
  • Classical music is uniquely part of our Western civilization.
  • Research suggests that both listening to and playing classical music aids brain development.
  • Even rudimentary exposure increases one’s level of enjoyment and understanding.

Bright Ideas Press is also the publisher of Illuminations, The Mystery of History (World) volumes 1-3, All American History volumes 1&2, and Christian Kids Explore (Chemistry, Physics, Earth & Space; Biology); Hands-on Geography.  These are covered in review by my TOS crew mates.


Bright Ideas Press

P.O. Box 333

Cheswold, DE  19936




This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.



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Busy minds and hands tend to stay out of mischief.  Granted, I am not one for busy work, just for the sake of being busy, but…  I appreciate being able to give one of my children a work sheet to occupy and sometimes even stretch their mind, while I’m helping another with a problem.

KBTeachers has been offering free and premium worksheets, activities and printable pages since 1998.  Founded by Christophe Popper, it was originally Knowledge Bears.  They have accumulated more than 10,000 pages; yet, if they don’t already have what you need, they will create it or at the least, help you find it.

ABC worksheets, to 20 page exams.”  The team at KBTeachers is not sitting back and resting on their laurels.  Though, they also developed KBears, 2006 Finalist of

They strive to improve and update regularly, giving you a myriad of options.  Categories include:

For This Season

  • Thanksgiving
  • Fall Themed Activities
  • November Webquests

English Language

  • Alphabet Factory
  • Learning Cursive
  • Grammar Writing

Math Activities

  • Math with Images
  • Counting Money
  • Addition Worksheets
  • Subtraction
  • Multiplication Makers
  • Division Practice
  • Telling Time
  • Themed Math
  • Classic Math

Science Workbooks

  • Astronomy Activities
  • Geology Workbooks
  • Weather & Climate

Biology Worksheets

  • Human anatomy
  • Nutrition Worksheets
  • Marine Biology
  • Plants & Microbiology

Social Studies

  • Workbooks & Maps

More Activites

  • Dino Workbooks
  • The Four Seasons
  • Visual Arts and Crafts
  • Free Clip Art
  • Mixed Basic Skills

You can view every page and have unlimited access with a 10 day Free Trial.  Just $29.00 for a 1 year membership, after your trial period, or the better offer of $49.00 for 2 years.  If you are not completely satisfied, after 30 days, you are guaranteed your money back.

This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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The Write Foundation, The Right Fundament

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The Write Foundation writing curriculum was developed by Rebecca Celsor.  It was originally written for a co-op setting, but can be adapted to individualized instruction.

The Write Foundation begins with the writing process, how a student formulates a topic, then a thesis, then supporting points, and by incremental teaching drills in the basics.”

The curriculum guides the teacher through steps, to teach writing.  Step upon step; concept upon concept, building on the fundamentals.

Complete Lesson Plans

Easy-To-Use Format

Organization for Writing

Checklists & Guidelines

Brainstorm & Outline Forms

“It can easily be utilized for average writers, as well as adapted for reluctant writers or the student who loves and excels in writing.”

It is recommended that Mind Benders, by The Critical Thinking Press, be used in conjunction with this program.

Rebecca Celsor has written three levels of curriculum.  Choosing the best level depends on the student’s capabilities, experience and desire.  For placement assistance or questions, contact ~ Rebecca Celsor: or call 281-356-3556.

Level 1:  Sentence to Paragraph Writing suggested ages, 11-13

Level 2:  Paragraph Writing suggested ages, 12-15

Level 3:  Essay Writing suggested ages, 14-17

Curriculum packages include – Complete lessons 1-30, with spiral-bound teacher instruction manual, and additional resources CD, for $100.00.  Other options are also available.  Grading and Tutoring is $15.00 per lesson.  Find everything you need on the Order Information page.

The Write Foundation gave me the first 15 lessons of Paragraph Writing to use for this review.  We found the rhythm of the lessons easy enough to establish and follow.  Once memorized, the checklists will be recalled time and again.  This curriculum had a positive influence on my children’s writing process, grammar and even their spelling.

Sample lessons are available, as well as reviews of this product by my crew mates.


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

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Could I? Would I? Should I?

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These are the questions we asked before we started our most recent unit study.  William Tyndale was God’s Smuggler.  Could I have done what he did?  Would I have been willing to give all he gave?  Should I even consider breaking laws set by man, to further The Kingdom of Heaven for The Glory of God?

William Tyndale, God’s Smuggler is a 21 page unit study, written by Kim Kargbo and published by her company, Soli Deo Gloria Resources. Soli Deo Gloria is Latin for “To God Alone the Glory.”  They provide unit study curricula, Bible studies and teacher resources for homeschooling families.

Soli Deo Gloria Resources is based on the belief that:

  • “If we educate our children so that they will be intelligent and successful – we may be seeking THEIR glory.
  • If we educate our children so that they will impress our family, friends and neighbors – we may be seeing OUR OWN glory.
  • If we educate our children so that they can pour forth facts and figures accurately – we may be seeking the glory of KNOWLEDGE (and knowledge puffs up).

But if we educate our children so that they have a big view of God, are aware of their individuals giftings and seek to use them for the advancement of God’s Kingdom around the world and in eternity – then we are seeking GOD’S glory.”

and their products clearly reflect this belief.  They have more than 20 unit studies, covering a wide range of subjects with each unit.

The William Tyndale study is shorter than most and is ideal for those that have never attempted to use a unit study method of teaching/learning or for those that want a break or filler between other studies.  It can easily be taught in five days or stretched over a longer period, like we did.  It incorporates history, science, geography, character study, Bible, art, and language arts.  It adapts well for grades K-12.

Kim supplies a list of resources needed: choices in movies, books and websites.

We were able to rent 3 of the 4 movies she recommended, from Netflix, and all 5 of the books listed were available from our local library.  It is her suggestion that you get one book and/or one movie corresponding to the age level(s) of your children. 

I wanted everything, because I have multiple age levels and because I wanted to be able to tell you just how hard/easy it is to fulfill her resource list.  Kim has compiled numerous activities and projects:  ie.  mapping, copywork, timeline, puzzles, etc. that reinforce the material covered in this study.

William Tyndale, God’s Smuggler is an $8 e-book.  Time is valuable.  I guarantee it would take, me or you, more than an hour to “build” our own unit study.  That alone makes this a wise investment, but the content of this study is likely to have eternal dividends.

I’m not going to tell you how we answered our original questions.  I encourage you to learn about William Tyndale and his contribution to your family.  He was a Christian hero and we’re glad we had a chance to meet him.


This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

You can read other reviews of Soli Deo Gloria Resources, written by my crew mates, if you click here.

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Remember class field trips?

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I used to love going on class field trips, when I was in school.  I had no idea, though, all of the pre-planning and preparation that went into it before the permission slip was even sent home for my mother’s signature.

As a home educator, the organization and planning of field trips is now my responsibility.  Just to take this crew to the lake for a couple of hours, takes nearly 30 minutes to pack and then another half hour to unpack.  Beach towels, life jackets, sunscreen, water bottles, volleyball, frisbee, snack, shovels, pails, sifter, blanket or chairs, etc.  This is for swimming only; if there is any hiking or fishing planned, well… you can imagine.  A day at the zoo… wow!

* Smithsonian National Zoo, Washington, D.C.

My children and I recently visited the Blue Creek Rainforest Reserve of Belize, Central America; Cloud Lake bog in Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada and five deserts in the southwestern, USA.

* a waterbug

I didn’t pack a thing!  No bug spray, because there were no mosquitoes.  No sunscreen, because there was no overbearing sun or drenching humidity.  No umbrella; no rain.  No water bottles, because we didn’t get thirsty. No leeches or waterbugs to contend with; yet, we observed them up close and we watched a jaguar, without fear of being pounced upon!

*Blue Creek Rainforest Reserve


*Leafcutter ant

Thanks to Digital Frog International, and their Digital Field Trips on DVD, we were able to explore 3 eco-systems from the comfort and ease of our home.  Scientifically sound, virtual reality field trips to the rainforest, the wetlands, and the desert.

We walked the forest floor, climbed trees and sat atop the canopy.  We waded through swamps and suffocating mud.  We crossed the arid lands of the Sonoran Desert, the Painted Desert and Cattail Falls oasis in Big Bend National Park; the Black Rock Desert and even Death Valley.  On our way, we learned about the organisms; plants and animals that inhabit each eco-system.

While in the rainforest we participated in an in depth exploration of botany, in the wetlands the in depth exploration was of photosynthesis, and in the desert, homeostasis and adaptations.

Digital Field Trips is science at it’s best!

  • interactive software
  • animation
  • graphics
  • illustrations
  • stunning photographs
  • videos
  • detailed text
  • narration
  • integrated dictionary
  • 360^ panoramas
  • zoom
  • ambient sound
  • diagrams
  • games
  • worksheets

Home licensing for each, single disc is $60; the set of 3 is $125.  School licensing is available.  Visit the Digital Frog Shop online for products and pricing.

Try before you buy – download a free limited version at

Call ~ 1-800-621-3764 (international)

1-(519)-766-1097 (local)

Fax ~  1-(519)-767-9994

Each of my children found these field trips fascinating.  My elementary age and pre-reader needed some assistance to navigate the terrain, but my middle school through high school found the trek easy, but fully engaging.

I have no doubt, we will travel with Digital Frog International, time and again.

They also have The Digital Frog 2.5, virtual frog dissection, anatomy & ecology and Science Matrix:  Cell Structure & Function.

Many of my crew mates, from The Old Schoolhouse (R) Magazine Homeschool Review Crew, reviewed the 3 disc set, Digital Field Trips.  Click below to read their reviews.

This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.


Categories : America, homeschool, reviews, TOS
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A Non-Tech view of Cool-Tech Software

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I appreciate technological advances that make my life so much easier and connect me and my children to places we might never have a chance to visit, and to information we could never afford, if it were only beautifully bound between the covers of a book.  I like the good that comes from having a personal computer and access to the internet.

I don’t have a clue how “it”  works, but the benefits to our homeschool have far outweighed any personal negatives we’ve experienced.

One such benefit was the opportunity, these past few weeks, to use software from LanSchool Technologies. If two or more of your computers are networked together and they meet the system requirements listed here, LanSchool software allows you to manage and even monitor every computer in your classroom.  The $99. perpetual home use license, allows up to three computers to be monitored and includes 3 years of tech support and upgrade protection.  Click on the LanSchool logo below for a guided video tour.

LanSchool Technologies is the award winning provider of classroom management software since 1986.  There is a license for every need, from small or large, private and public classrooms to non-profit and corporate use.  You can access a fully functioning 30-day free trial for your classroom and if you are a teacher, tech coordinator or administrator, with a valid school email address, you may sign up for a free copy of LanSchool Home.

Contact LanSchool Technologies at

By telephone:  877-370-5546 (USA) and 801-770-3096 (International)

or fax:  240-331-1316

Mailing address:

LanSchool Technologies, LLC

770 West 210 South

Orem, Utah  84058

LanSchool believes, “Parents today are faced with the challenge and opportunity of using technology in the home.  Computers are amazing educational and entertainment tools, but they can also be a huge distraction and danger to kids.  LanSchool Home v7.5 allows parents to easily keep track and restrict what happens on the family computers.”

LanSchool Home v7.5 helps parents:

● Monitor real-time thumbnails of their home computers

● Limit distractions such as the Internet, games and
instant messaging

● Track Internet history

● Log every keystroke typed on a computer

● Limit computers access by locking out the computer

● Provide help through remote control

● Chat with family members

I have a non-tech view of this cool-tech software…

We have two computers in our home utilized, on occasion, for schooling, they are located in the main area of the house and are about five feet apart.  At this time,  I find it difficult to use our LanSchool software to it’s fullest potential.  It is easy enough for me to verbally make assignments and keep my students/children on track.  We are basically a one-room schoolhouse!

I think this would have been more of an asset to us, if our home were larger, or multi-level and if,  we had children that made use of the computer in a less public area.

Since I can’t foretell the future, I’m glad LanSchool Home is a perpetual license.   Using state-of-the-art-cool technology, I’m equipped to monitor and protect my family’s computers, as the need arises.

Several of my crew mates have written reviews of LanSchool Technologies software.  You’ll find them at

This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew. I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.


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When I first downloaded my recent e-book for review, I didn’t expect to glean anything new from it.  At first glance (now, THERE’S a thief to watch out for),  Travel Kits:  A Simple Way to Bless Others by Donna Rees, published by The Old Schoolhouse (R) Magazine, seemed like a book I had already lived and I had hoped to review something new to me and beneficial to my family.

Travel Kits… are defined as “a collection of items that will entertain and/or delight the passengers (especially the younger passengers), thus making the trip more pleasant for everyone.”  I have been doing this for over 20 years.  I just didn’t have a name for what I was doing.

For years we’ve lived in N. Georgia and the rest of our families lived in central Florida.  Nearly every year, at least once, we would make the ten hour trip to visit them, catch a few waves and walk over the dunes.  We have wonderful memories of traveling together, because it was FUN!  I packed numerous activities/toys/books to keep everyone occupied;  we played car games, sang songs and made-up stories in round.  Most of the time we didn’t have a working radio and this was well before DVD players in the vehicle.   We’ve gone from the Walkman (cassette player), to portable CD player, to an MP3 player for our most recent trip.  I would prepare our food before we left home and we would eat in the station wagon… that became a mini-van… that grew as we did, to a 15 passenger van, maybe stopping once to have a picnic, but usually only for gas and bathroom breaks.  We could barely afford the trip! let alone eating out or extending the length of the drive for any reason that might require a hotel room for the night.  Plato said, “Necessity, is the mother of invention.”  Invention is kin to creativity.  I wanted to create fond memories and needed to maintain peace and harmony for 10 hours, each way.

Every idea I had and so many more! are written in Travel Kits:  A Simple Way to Bless Others. Donna writes from her experience and some of us you’d think she knows personally, because Chapter One begins, “For those of you who like to ‘cut to the chase,’  here’s an overview…”  Just enough instant-idea access to put together a travel kit for this weekend.Realistically, because she simply and clearly outlines the:  who to make a travel kit for, what to put into your kit, when to share the gifts, where, how, and possibly the most important ~ why make a travel kit.  Purchase, for $12.45, download, quick-read and go!


Go deeper than first glance… Pour a glass of sweet southern iced-tea and leisurely consume the smart, thoughtful, and easy-to-achieve ideas in this e-book.  Travel Kits… is so much more than it’s cover and overview and it deserves more than a cursory look.  There are more than 90 pages,  many with pictures, illustrations and how-to’s.  Links, including those to official tourism sites for the states and territories.  Games to play in the car, new and old and new spins on the old.  Recipes that pack-n-carry well, a trip checklist and tips from fellow travelers.

Step in a little more and you’re in past the heart…  In telling us why to make a travel kit, Donna says, “To bless others.  Jesus exhorted us to do to others as we would have them do to us.”  [Luke 6:31]  Yes, I made travel kits for my children when we took long trips,  but, as I read this book and applied it, I  was reminded that this is a wonderful way to love and serve others, OUTSIDE of my home.  Travel Kits… is a great gift idea.  One we can put together as a family.

Travel Kits:  A Simple Way to Bless Others. It’s in the name.  They’re not just for using on vacation, but may be organized for a long, unfamiliar ride to a doctor’s office, or a hospital stay.  A basket, a bin, a bag, it matters not, but full of things that say, “I’m thinking of you.”  “I care about you and I hope this makes you smile.”  “Congratulations!”, it becomes a blessing.


a new baby kit,

a first house kit,

a basketball camp kit,

a missions trip kit;

2 Thessalonians 3:13, “…never tire of doing good…”

Recently, after house-sitting for a week, my girls washed the linens and swept and mopped the floors, and got everything in order for when Mrs. B. came back home.  Really, no more than you might expect. Then, flowers were bought and put in a vase,  a pretty coffee cup was purchased and a card propped against it.  Fresh milk and an individual salad was put in the refrigerator, a couple of single frozen meals in the freezer, close to the ice cream surprise so it wouldn’t be missed and deli bread left on the counter.  Everything was too spread out to be tied up with a pretty bow, but…

a welcome-home-weary-traveler kit was born.

I think Travel Kits:  A Simple Way to Bless Others would be most useful read by an adult or an older child, but the travel kits themselves apply to all ages of travelers and most modes of  getting there and back.  It was, indeed, a benefit to read this e-book and I recommend it to you, my readers.  It was a “sleeper”, full of unexpected stirrings and promptings and blessings-waiting-to-be…

This product was given to me, free of charge, in exchange, for my honest review, as a member of the TOS Homeschool crew.  I receive no other compensation for my reviews on this blog.  The opinions expressed are my own.

You can read other reviews of this product written by my mates, at:

The Old Schoolhouse Store, hundreds of products and free shipping, always.


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