Last year, our family began using BiblioPlan for our History, Bible, and Literature studies. Having used it for a while now, it seems to be a good time to share our experience, for anyone who may be interested in using it for their own families.
I’ll begin with explaining what drew me to BiblioPlan in the first place. We have been homeschooling for fourteen years, and as a large family, we fell in love with the idea of multi-level homeschooling pretty early on.
For anyone unfamiliar with the concept of multi-level homeschooling, the idea is that certain school subjects can be studied together across multiple ages. History is one of those subjects. While specific assignments and literature selections will vary by age, students of multiple ages can study the same time period together, read certain books aloud together, engage in enriching discussions together, and work together in group projects.
About ten years ago, we began using My Father’s World for our whole family, and absolutely loved it! We continued for the next six or so years (sorry for the ambiguity; we have been on this homeschooling journey a long time now, and it is difficult to remember exact dates and years). As the older ones grew into the high school years, we found the curriculum to be less of a fit for us, because the multi-level aspect was more for the 8th grade and younger set. We longed to keep the kids together for at least one or two subjects, so the search for another curriculum began. Enter: History Revealed, which turned out to be a great hit as well! The audio CDs, the text, and the projects were fantastic. We used it for several years and loved it; however, we did feel that it was not the best fit for our younger children, and we missed certain elements of My Father’s World for their sake.
Last year, I began the year with grand plans of having two distinct sets of multi-level groups. The older set would use History Revealed, and the younger set would use My Father’s World. We did this for several months. It certainly was a busy time! We probably could have plowed our way through it for the rest of the year, but I was a little overwhelmed, and I began praying and searching for ways to make it all a little more doable. During my search, I came across a curriculum I had never heard of before… BiblioPlan. I explored the website to gain an understanding of how it worked, looked at samples, read reviews, and then, I took the plunge.
What Drew Me to BiblioPlan
BiblioPlan won me over for four reasons:
- It includes Bible, History, and Literature (as well as other subjects, depending on which components you use)
- It is a multi-level curriculum that can be used for Kindergarten all the way through 12th grade.
- It is written from a biblical worldview.
- It is literature-based.
*At this point, I risk spending too much time re-writing things that I have already written about. I will be giving a broad overview of how Biblioplan works in this post, but if you want more specific information and pictures of sample pages of the components, I recommend you read my previous review HERE.
But moving on…
What components are available?
The heart of BiblioPlan is found in two essential components:
- The Family Guide, which contains a daily grid telling you and the kids what to do each day. It also gives (optional) supplemental texts, varying assignments, and recommended literature for every age group. I am simplifying; there is much more in this guide, but those are the critical elements from my perspective.
- The Companion, which is the main textbook. An alternative text geared specifically to the K-6 group is Remember the Days.
Other components that are not essential to the core of the curriculum, but can be used depending on which subjects you want to cover, your family’s homeschool style, and your goals are:
- Timeline book
- Family discussion guide
- Cool History books (these contain review questions and essay topics which are age-appropriate to the level that you purchase)
- Coloring book
- Craft book
- Hands-on maps book
- Hands-on notebook projects book
These components are all produced and sold by BiblioPlan. However, the Family Guide has alternative suggestions that make the curriculum very versatile! A family can easily use this guide with other main texts that they already own. For example, if you are a big fan of Mystery of History (or Story of the World, or Streams of Civilization, etc.) the Family Guide‘s grid will tell you which chapters to read in those alternative books each day!
Which components do we use?
I will start by saying that I bought the whole shebang last year, and we tried almost all of it. By the end of the year, we mainly used:
- The Family Guide
- The Companion
- The Timeline Book
What other resources did I add?
In addition to the BiblioPlan pieces listed above, I added in the following:
- Mystery of History (used at the beginning of the year)
- Story of the World (used later in the year)
- History Revealed audio CDs
- History Revealed projects
- History Revealed articles
Mystery of History and Story of the World were used as read-alouds for the whole group. For older kids, these were a supplement to the Companion, and for younger kids, these were the primary texts.
As for History Revealed, well, I can not seem to let go of it. As mentioned earlier, we just loved it!
How did we use BiblioPlan?
We studied History as a family three days a week. The curriculum is written to be used this way, and this format worked out ideally for our family! Some kids worked part-time jobs, and it was not possible to do our studies as a family every day. This schedule also allowed me to spend more time on the non-History days to work on Science with my younger children.
Each day began a little differently. If we were on Day 1, I used the Family Guide to give the kids their independent assignments each week (the Companion Guide chapters, Bible assignments, literature selections, and any projects). If we were on Day 2, we would begin by working on the timeline.
Next, I would read aloud to the whole group from either Mystery of History or Story of the World.
Then, I dismissed the older kids to go work on their independent assignments, and I would read the Bible to the younger kids. Depending on the chapter, I would sometimes use a children’s bible (the Egermeier Story Bible is one of our favorites), or I would use a regular bible.
Later in the day, usually right between lunch and naptimes, I would read aloud from a family literature selection.
How did I supplement with History Revealed?
The History Revealed text was used as a supplemental resource that the kids could read from. They would also choose projects from the book to do, usually two every month. Sometimes these projects were done individually, sometimes as a whole group, and sometime as a few mini-groups.
While we are on the subject of projects, let’s take a little rabbit trail for a moment and talk about assessment. Projects have always been one of my favorite ways of evaluating what my kids have learned. The second primary way is simply through discussion. We are a family of history buffs, so this type of conversation comes pretty naturally to us. Between the History Revealed projects and the frequent family discussions, I did not find a need to use BiblioPlan’s Cool History books for assessment. Honestly, I think I may be the only BiblioPlan user who does not use Cool Histories, but this is what works for us. Part of the genius of BiblioPlan is in the versatility. The basic structure is there, but you can edit and tweak things to make it work beautifully for your family!
But back to History Revealed.
So when did we squeeze in those audio CDs? Well last year, we didn’t. Using the audios was a decision we made this summer. And next year, we won’t need to squeeze them in, because we have already listened to them! As we were driving to and from the beach on vacation this year, we listened to the entire set that corresponds with our history studies next year. We all needed something to engage our minds during the drive, and we got to get a head start in our history studies while we were at it! And bonus – my husband loves history as much as the rest of us, and he got to join in!
What I like about BiblioPlan
I like the worldview.
I like how it is organized.
I like the fact that it is literature based.
I like most of the literature.
I like the Companion.
I like the fact that I can use it with all of my school-aged kids.
I like the fact that my kids enjoy it.
I like the fact that my kids are learning a lot from it.
I like the versatility.
I like the fact that I can use books I already own and love.
I like the ease of use.
What do I not like about BiblioPlan?
The one aspect I have been somewhat dissatisfied with is the literature. I was not comfortable with quite a few of the selections, both in the family read-alouds, and some of the individual reading assignments as well.
For example, some Greek and Chinese mythology was assigned as a family read-aloud for the whole group. I do believe that knowledge about mythology is important; however, I prefer waiting until the children are a bit more rooted in their Christian beliefs before introducing it, perhaps from around 3rd grade and older. I felt it could be confusing for my younger children, so I decided to assign those books as independent reading for some of the older elementary kids.
Another example, this time for the older kids, was that some of the high school level books contained content I felt was inappropriate. A book entitled Gift of the Jews, for instance, contained some graphic sexual content. To be fair, the Family Guide did warn us with a note, “PARENTAL CAUTION: SOME MATURE THEMES.” However, until one of my high schoolers brought me the book to show me the content, I did not realize just how graphic the mature themes would be. “Mature” had a much more mild definition in other resources we’ve used in the past, so I was not expecting that and was not as careful as I should have been.
Also to be fair, I must mention that Ancient History can be tricky in general. We have found an abundance of great literature to represent every other time period, but I have always thought it harder to find quality, enjoyable books for everyone for the ancients. In other words, this is not so much a BiblioPlan issue, but more of an Ancient History issue. Still, I would have appreciated having a little more specific information in the warnings.
These are minor complaints as long as you are aware going into it! Until I came across those aspects, I was not prepared. Now that I know, I can remedy the issues by either skipping or previewing any books that contain “mature themes,” and finding substitute read-alouds from the library or from my own shelves when necessary. For the most part, we have enjoyed the majority of the recommended literature – with a word of warning to not blindly give the kids every book, especially those that come with warnings.
I am really looking forward to studying BiblioPlan‘s Medieval History with my kids next year. Having tested the waters and figuring out how to taper this versatile curriculum to suit us, I can’t wait to jump in again!
For further reading about how we homeschool and what we have used, check out these other blogs: