Yes, There is a K-12 Curriculum You Can Use with Your Entire Family and Not Spend a Fortune

by GfG on April 29, 2015 · 17 comments

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Would you like to save money homeschooling? Would you like to have your entire family, whether two kids or twenty, studying the same time period of history?  Would you like to have prepared lesson plans, review questions, and maps?

Well… let me introduce you to a curriculum that does all of that and saved the day for me three years ago: BiblioPlan.

BiblioPlan header post WEB

You may not have heard of it or you may have, but may not realize all it does.  This curriculum has been around for over thirteen years, but got a revamping about four years ago when Rob and Julia Nalle bought it.  I would say it was upgraded.  In a serious way.

BiblioPlan is a living book curriculum that is Biblical, organized, flexible, user friendly, affordable, and for every school age kiddo in the family. 

Living book curriculum:  Beautiful, well written, books penned by those well versed on the subject are the teaching books of this curriculum. Both nonfiction and fiction alike.  I pretty much consider these books friends and hug them often.  Really, really fantastic books. If you have used Sonlight (and I did for seven years), please know those fabulous books are here too.

The selections are really great at every level.  And the high school was upgraded wonderfully when Rob and Julia rewrote the Family Guide.

Biblical: Not only is Bible reading scheduled into the lesson plans (each year of the four year cycle has a different emphasis), but the Companion is written from a Biblical perspective, the Cool History Questions have Biblical emphasis, and the living books have missionary and church history included.

I love this aspect of the curriculum a ton.  There are non Christian spines included in the Family Guide (which has the lesson plans) for those that already own them and prefer them for whatever reason (Story of the World [SOTW] and Usborne History), but Mystery of History (MOH) and the Companion are scheduled too, which are both written from a Biblical standpoint.

Organized:  First of all, my BFF is in this curriculum. This is the BiblioPlan Family Guide.  She’s my BFF because she has all the lesson plans preprinted and ready for me for history reading, Bible reading, literature selections, maps, crafts, movies, supplemental writing, and more.   She gets her very own blog post, so check it out.

Fan.tas.tic.  Secondly, it has four levels (so that they are ability appropriate) of Cool History  Questions, which are the review and reinforcement questions for the history studied that week.  Thirdly, there are two levels of maps corresponding to each week’s study all done for me too.  Fourthly, both of these (Cool History Qs and Hands on Maps) come with answer keys.  Ahem.  Super duper.

All of this is organized and laid out in an easy to use manner for Mom. Which is really, really important for homeschooling.  Amen?

Flexible:  Each component of BiblioPlan may be purchased separately.  This allows you to use what works for your family at that time as well as allowing you to cater to specific children.  The Cool History and Hands On Maps are not labeled by “grade”, which allows you to move up or down the levels depending on your child’s abilities.

Also, the fact that many different “spines” are scheduled makes this a truly flexible curriculum.  You can use which ever spine works best for that child.  For example, my junior high and high schoolers use the Companion for their history spine, but my elementary students use SOTW and MOH for theirs.  This allows me to be sure to meet my students where they are instead of a curriculum forcing them to a level to which they aren’t ready.

Another way that BiblioPlan is flexible is that you can use PDFs for everything or hard copy or mix and match.  This allows for paper free homeschooling and on the go schooling without the need for hard copies.

Flexibility is also key in that you can choose which literature selections AND you can substitute with a similar book if you already own it. This was a HUGE deal for me!  HUGE!  I started using BiblioPlan after thirteen years of homeschooling, so I had a ton of books.  Really good books.  Many of them were scheduled in BiblioPlan so I didn’t have to buy new books, but where I didn’t have the book listed in the Family Guide, I usually had a book on the same topic or one that I wanted to use instead.  I lost nothing but making these substitutions.

Except I lost spending.  Ha!  I mean that I saved money by being a better steward of the books I already owned.

This is a great aspect of BiblioPlan for those of you who like to utilized the library.  For example, if the exact title of a book on Harriet Tubman is not available, but others are and you like them, then use those.

User Friendly:   Switching to a new curriculum always takes a step or two to get one’s bearings, but I had little adjustment time as I made the switch to BiblioPlan.  Once you get a feel for the lesson plan pages in the Family Guide, you hit the ground running.  No flipping through big binders trying to get to the sections you are supposed to read aloud, no writing your own lesson plans or trying to find books to include other kiddos, and no juggling of components.  Open and start reading.  Do the maps. Do the questions.  Do the timeline.

Do whatever you have chosen, and it’s all ready for you.

Affordable:  I can not believe how much money I have saved by switching to BiblioPlan.  Seriously.  Lots of money.  Granted I was using a curriculum for my whole family it was pricey.  At the time, I thought it was the only K-12 homeschooling curriculum that could keep us all on the same page in history, but I was wrong.  Still…. when you see the prices, you will see how incredibly affordable this is for a family.  When you realize that you can substitute literature you already have (or the library has), you see more savings.  When you understand that you can buy a la carte as opposed to one big package of materials or books you  may have to make changes to, then you see more savings.

Every School Aged Child:  I’m not kidding when I say that the lesson plans in the Family Guide are for kindergarten through twelfth grade.  Use which ever components of the plans you like for each child, but you don’t have to figure it out.  It’s done for you.  You do have to choose which spine you want to use with each child and which books you want them to read, but the selections are there, scheduled, and ready when you are.

6 BP Literature Missionary Read Aloud Readings WEB

I absolutely love that Paul Louis, our seven year old right now, and Noah, the current sixteen year old, are both familiar with Good Queen Bess and Sir Walter Raleigh this week and can chat, play, or watch something related to those historical figures and do it together.

I’ve written a full review on BiblioPlan here, so check it out.

But, homeschooler, if you think that the only K-12 curriculum for history, literature, Bible, and geography is Tapestry of Grace (TOG) or that it can’t be done, please know that’s not true. After using TOG for three years and spending a whole lot of money, I found BiblioPlan and realized my dream and goals could be met with less work for me, less money for me, and more pleasure for me.

Bingo!

Check out BiblioPlan and ask any questions in the comments!

 

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Bethany April 29, 2015 at 2:35 pm

I’m curious what you think the negatives, whether inherent or just possible depending on differences in families, are of BP. We’re considering shaking things up this year or next as Silas approaches high school, but we haven’t decided if or how we will. Just weighing our options. :)

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GfG April 29, 2015 at 5:15 pm

My full review has the cons for BiblioPlan, in my little ole humble opinion, but I’ll share here again:
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).
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).

Something I would add that many SL users ask: are there literature comprehension questions? No. I don’t miss these, but some people do. I simply ask the kiddos to tell me about their book and for ones that I want to really delve into, I ask. As far as high school, we buy a few of the literary guides listed in the high school resource section. I remember Susan Wise Bauer saying, “Don’t analyze every book your kiddo reads, even at the high school level. You can kill the love for a book and break the flow of sentiment and feelings the book creates. Just let them enjoy a book.” That has really stuck with me. So we do literary guides for “weird” books or ones where the deeper meaning may not be apparent (ex: The Great Gatsby), but I simply let them enjoy the beautiful ones that need no dissection (ex: To Kill a Mockingbird).

Not sure why I got on that tangent. Ha!

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Bethany April 30, 2015 at 9:11 am

Thanks, Mindy!

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Amber May 25, 2015 at 8:58 pm

I really want to purchase this curriculum. We’re about to begin our 3rd year, and don’t have any extra books on ancient history, so I’m afraid that for us it will be end up being way too expensive once I buy the supplemental books.
Would you say the Companion is worth buying if my oldest is about to be in 5th grade? (my younger school-aged kiddos will be in 1st & 3rd).

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Jackie June 24, 2015 at 10:10 am

Hi Amber, I just saw that you posted your question back in May, so I hope this helps still. Have you looked at purchasing your supplemental books used, either via Facebook pages or homeschoolclassifieds.com? These two places are where I’ve been able to get the needed supplements at a fraction of the cost. If you are looking at BP with your oldest being in 5th grade, then I suggest you look at the other recommended spines. From what I’ve gathered, the Companion is a lot heavier in reading and information. However, you might be able to just read it out loud to your child until she/he is ready for independent reading. It is also designed to cover certain sections for certain ages. I’m sure if you contact BP on their website or FB page, they’d answer you quickly and help. 😉

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GfG July 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm

I think it’s worth it for 5th grade, plus you will have the younger kiddos coming up the pipe. :)

For 1st and 3rd grade, I would focus on the 3rd grade literature books and use good readers for the 1st grader, keeping your cost down.

HTH!

(Sorry I didn’t see this until today)

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Heather June 12, 2015 at 11:28 am

So I’m impressed, but also curious about what you use for other subjects. Could you give me a brief run down on what you use for language arts (especially writing), and science?

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GfG July 2, 2015 at 1:07 pm

Sure, just search the blog for Curriculum for 2014-2015
:)

I post every fall for that year’s curric choices!

HTH

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Jackie June 24, 2015 at 10:11 am

Hi Mindy! Did you ever end up doing a blog post on the Family Guide like you mentioned above? I would love to hear your thoughts on it. 😉

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GfG July 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm

I don’t remember what aspect of the Family Guide you would like me to post about, sorry! More details please? :) It’s like I have pregnancy brain.

I did do a few posts on how I organize it, so search for Organize BiblioPlan and see i f that helps.

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Tara July 30, 2015 at 3:30 pm

Did you ever try My Father’s World? What made you choose BP over MFW?

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GfG July 30, 2015 at 3:38 pm

No, I haven’t because I could use it for all grades (including high school) and have us all study the same time period together. That is a real asset for BiblioPlan. TOG does it, but is about 3xs more expensive.

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Jackie August 5, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Hi Tara! I have used MFW since 2011, but am currently looking at BP as well. If I can answer any comparison questions you may have, please feel free to email me at thebetancourt6 {at} gmail {dot} com. I hope that’s okay, Mindy? 😉

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Jackie August 5, 2015 at 9:58 pm

Mindy, I forgot to ask, when will you be posting your plans for this new school year, 2015-2016? Thanks!

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GfG September 16, 2015 at 7:03 pm

I’m not sure. soon.

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McKenzie August 8, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Hi! I am starting what would be year 3 of Biblioplan. Right now I’m planning to just piece together our year with tons of borrowed books from TOG and a few from Sunlight. However, I don’t have a spine and I don’t have a schedule so I’ve spent a ton of time going through the books to put them in chronological order and have no idea how long each book will take. Biblioplan is very tempting, as I didn’t love Sunlight and TOG overwhelms me! I will have a 3rd grader (reading at probably a 5th grade level) and a Kinder this year, plus a 3 year old coming down the pike. I looked at the book list and only have a couple of these books. I know you said you can use other books with this curriculum but would you recommend me starting with it this year? I probably wouldn’t buy the Companion and am a year ahead of the younger version they’re producing. Any thoughts to help me out? Thanks!!!!

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GfG August 8, 2016 at 8:57 pm

I would order the Family Guide, if I were you. You don’t necessarily need all the other products yet, but having a plan and knowing the focus would be incredibly helpful. It will also give you lots of other book ideas, some of which you my have or can find. Plus, it provides movie ideas and more. You could get the craft book and that is scheduled in the Family Guide too!

Save up for the Companion for next go around.

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