BiblioPlan: My Thoughts

by GfG on February 6, 2013 · 26 comments

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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!
  • 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.

 

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{ 24 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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