BiblioPlan~History Comparison

When I was researching homeschool curricula, I made charts to compare my top three or four choices for history, math, writing, spelling, and grammar. Last week I began with sharing my history curricula comparison, starting with the Tapestry of Grace curriculum. My top three choices for history for our family were Tapestry of Grace (TOG), My Father’s World (MFW), and BiblioPlan (BP). All three companies follow the classical or Charlotte Mason models of education. I also made a list of short descriptions of lots of other choices for history curriculum.

I have perused every page of BiblioPlan’s website, but the only portion of BiblioPlan that I have used is the actual “Biblio Plan” or the “Family Guide” for year 1 of their history cycle, which covers ancient history. 

Description:

BiblioPlan for Families is a classical Christian history and literature curriculum designed for homeschoolers, homeschool cooperative students and Christian school students in grades K – 12. BiblioPlan’s curriculum is Christ-centered, literature-based, easy to follow and inexpensive.

Includes: grades K-12 Bible, history, church history, literature, geography, social studies, and a bit of music/art history and hand-on arts and crafts projects, plus some creative writing assignment suggestions.

For each of these four years, BiblioPlan offers nine helpful products:

  1. BiblioPlan Family Guides: Family Guides outline your daily course of study for you. They identify the best, most age-appropriate spine and supplemental reading choices for all levels, grades K-12; and then they tell you which readings to assign every day.
  2. BiblioPlan Companions: Companions serve as both textbooks and history supplements for all ages. As textbooks, Companions bring all of each week’s history lessons together in one place. As supplements, Companions add plenty of fun and interesting facts from history to liven up your class time.
  3. BiblioPlan Family Discussion Guides: Family Discussion Guides provide discussion-starting questions to help home schooling families get the most out of each lesson.
  4. BiblioPlan Cool Histories: Cool Histories are weekly assignment sheets based on the lessons in the Family Guides and the Companions. BiblioPlan offers four different Cool Histories for four different age/grade levels: Littles (Grades K-2), Middles (Grades 2-6), Upper Middles (Grades 6-8) and Advanced (Grades 8-12). The Upper Middles and Advanced levels include unit tests.
  5. BiblioPlan Hands-On Maps: Hands-On Maps are weekly geography assignments based on the lessons in the Family Guides and the Companions. BiblioPlan offers two different Hands-On Maps for two different age/grade levels: Middles (Grades 2-8) and Advanced (Grades 8-12). The Advanced level includes unit tests.
  6. BiblioPlan Timelines: Timelines are notebooks with cutouts of important historical figures and events. By pasting these figures into their timeline charts each week, students can build memorable, graphic representations of their entire year’s study.
  7. BiblioPlan Craft Books: Craft Books are colorful collections of arts, crafts and activities that go along with the lessons in the Family Guides and the Companions.
  8. BiblioPlan Coloring Books: Coloring Books are collections of simple sketches from history for the little ones to color.
  9. BiblioPlan Teacher’s Guides: Teacher’s Guides contain complete lesson plans, discussion guides, craft ideas, answer keys– everything a homeschool cooperative or Christian school teacher needs!

Four-year breakdown:

  • Year 1—Ancients (creation to the Fall of Rome) 
  • Year 2—Medieval (Fall of Rome to the Renaissance) 
  • Year 3—Early America and the World (1600-1850)
  • Year 4—Modern America and the World (1850-2000)

Strengths:

  1. BP is the cheapest option (depending on what you buy).
  2. BP sells e-versions of everything in their curriculum. So you don’t have to ship it all, could put the pdfs on your e-reader device, and could print only the things you want, a perk especially for missionaries.
  3. They offer a schedule for several popular history “spines”—Story of the World, Mystery of History, Greenleaf Guide to the Old Testament, Streams of Civilization… You choose the “spine,” or even a couple, and they’ll pull it all together in a schedule for you.
  4. Companion—their own “spine.” This has a lot of cool facts, based on the samples. I learned from it! They have revamped every year as well, enlarging and improving these.
  5. Cool histories—really are cool! These include evaluations for upper levels. They might give a more workbook-y feel for those who like that style.
  6. Maps and timelines looked more colorful and fun than any other example I’ve seen—but I haven’t seen too many. 🙂
  7. The whole family is learning together. Makes for great discussions and memorable learning.
  8. Includes literature lists.
  9. Great customer service! I contacted them, and they wrote me back the same day and were very kind.
  10. Buy it once, use it again and again.

Weaknesses:

  1. 3-day schedule only. (a strength for some people) So Bible also is only scheduled 3 days.
  2. Bible doesn’t seem very strong. It seems like an add-on and is mainly church history in the last three years.
  3. It doesn’t seem as meaty, especially for the high school years, as the other programs.
  4. Nothing for literature except the lists and schedule—no worksheets or discussion guides.
  5. Some think the coloring sheets for littles are corny/cheap. People seem to like SOTW activity guide better.
  6. Doesn’t include quite as many neat extras as some of the others, though they seem to be beefing up their program even from last year when I first researched them.
  7. Have heard some complain that the hands-on projects are more “busy work”—more useless.

Comments/Modifications:

I have only used a BiblioPlan Family Guide for ancients, and BP seems to be adding to their program. In the past year, they have added a component to target schools or co-ops. They also added a family discussion guide, which may be somewhat like the coveted Tapestry of Grace’s Socratic discussions; I hear however, that the discussion guides are only for history, not for literature. This is a positive addition in my view, since the high school level looked fairly light before, and I would want more thought for the rhetoric level.

It is so nice that BP schedules so many popular resources for you, lining them all up together. That way if you wanted to use Story of the World but didn’t want it so secular, you could add in BP’s Bible recommendations or readings from other Christian texts. Some people like to do Story of the World on the first run-through (gr. 1-4) and Mystery of History on the second (gr. 5-8). This seems to me to be the most attractive use for BP.

It’s unfortunate though that with something called “BiblioPlan,” I would probably want to supplement the Bible part of it. I know another homeschooling mother (minister’s wife) who doesn’t do Bible at all, because she feels they get enough Bible through church, daily family devotions, and personal devotions. There may be a point to this. Another lady commented that the “Biblio” part refers to books–BP schedules literature to coincide with history. Anyhow, overall I felt that the Bible portion was inadequate.

I was impressed with their maps and timelines. To me, this sounds like a dry part of classical education, but theirs looked interesting. I also like their family companion, and that their cool histories include evaluations. However, I believe the evaluations are based more on the companion, rather than a textbook, because BP is set up so that the families may use different textbooks. The companion ties it all together. In the case of a family not purchasing the companion, the evaluations may not prove as helpful.

BP is a good product for the price and is not too much overkill for history and literature. I would want to supplement for reading comprehension though—maybe Progeny Press on the upper grades.

Price:

BP is apparently the least expensive option of my top three choices for history curriculum, but you are not getting science and other extras.

Buy a “bundle” and save 5%; enter code and get 10% off. Have “bundles” for “littles” (K-2), middles (gr. 2-6), upper middles (gr. 6-8), and advanced (gr. 8-12).

Family Guide e-book $33, hardcopy $43.

Companion e-book $30, hard $60 (for ancients); for modern the e-book is $40, hardcopy $90.

Cool history littles or middles e-$14/hard-$22

Cool history upper middles or advanced $17/$25

Hands-on maps $14/$22

Timeline $14/$22

Craft book $5/$6

Coloring book $6/$9

Answer key $5 e-book only

Prices are from 2012 and may have changed. I checked some of them, and they were correct.

BiblioPlan is an attractive, well-done product. I found two blogs discussing why they chose BiblioPlan over Tapestry of Grace and Sonlight:

One Magnificent Obsession: Why BiblioPlan over TOG, Sonlight, or Story of the World?

Grateful for Grace: After 13 years of homeschooling with Sonlight and Tapestry, she chose BiblioPlan.

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About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
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7 Responses to BiblioPlan~History Comparison

  1. Pingback: My Father’s World~History Comparison | Ita Vita

  2. Pingback: Plethora of History Options~History Comparison | Ita Vita

  3. Lisa Bolton says:

    Thanks for the helpful review and links! This helped clarify some of the options I’m looking at for our family. It is also nice to get some perspective on the international aspect of using these various programs, as our family is currently living in Asia.

  4. Pingback: Why I Chose My Father’s World (vs. Biblioplan or Tapestry of Grace) | Ita Vita

  5. Karen says:

    Hi, thank you for your review. I see what you are saying, however when I looked at this History program, I was not expecting it to meet all of our Bible requirement or Lit. requirement. I wanted it to fulfill our History needs with a Biblical perspective and having God’s Word as a part of their History reading. I love that it is literature based with lots of book options to choose from. We do a Bible study together for our morning devotions. And to help with the Literature, we use Total Language Plus. We did the BiblioPlan Medieval and was able to use the Lit. books and study guide from Total Language Plus to tie in with that time period. So I guess it all depends on what the parent is expecting from a curriculum.

    • Amy says:

      Yes, you’re right. If you have other curricula you enjoy for Bible or lit, BP might be the perfect fit! I’ve also been tempted by Total Language Plus. 🙂 Are you going to use BP for next year then, after Medieval?

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