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!
Remember, I am on week 23 in my first year of using BiblioPlan and I am using Modern (1850-2000). This review is based on that, coupled with my thirteen 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.
- The components can be bought separate.
- Assignments are just the right size for eighth grade and under.
- 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, so you can choose or have a supplement.
- Writing activities are suggested.
- Optional books and activities (such as movies) are suggested each week.
- Has a family read aloud schedule and it is 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.
- New 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.
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).
- One of the optional spines and the only one that is Christian (other than BiblioPlan’s Companion) is not available for Year 4 (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.
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
Overall, I am 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. Most likely.
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: This review will be updated at the end of the 2013-2014 school year because the curric has changed. I used the unrevised edition my first year and am using the revised edition this year. It is even better. More in May 2014!