|Publisher: BiblioPlan for Families
Review last updated: December 2013
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BiblioPlan offers a unique approach for teaching history for grades K through 12 together. It teaches from a biblical Christian (Protestant) worldview although not all resources used within the program do so. BiblioPlan identifies itself as a classical program, and so it presents levels with reference to the grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages. It also uses the history-study guidelines from The Well-Trained Mind, Susan Wise Bauer’s book about classical education. While the primary focus is history, students do so much reading and writing (more as they shift to upper grade levels) as well as geography that they should be receiving credit for literature and geography, and possibly for composition.
The Bible is used heavily in the first BiblioPlan to teach both biblical history and knowledge of Scripture itself. Church history receives significant attention in the second course. Subsequent courses feature biographies of significant Christians—“giants of the faith” —within each historical period and geographical area. So BiblioPlan will also provide either partial or full coverage of religion for each school year.
A chart in the introductory pages of each Family Guide or in each Teacher’s Guide shows high school credits that might be assigned for each course.
There are four BiblioPlans:
Ancient History: Creation to the Fall of Rome
Medieval, Renaissance, and Reformation: the Fall of Rome to the Renaissance (Note: while the focus is primarily on western civilization, this course does cover Asia, Africa, and America prior to Columbus, as well as Islam.)
Early America and the World 1600-1850
Modern America and the World 1850-2000 (Note: this course has a slight conservative slant.)
You should cycle through these four courses with your children, shifting them up to higher levels the next time (or even a third time) around. You can begin a student in BiblioPlan at any level beginning with whichever of the four courses works best for you, although you should have the entire family working from the same BiblioPlan course each year. As you cycle through the program a second or third time, you select the activities and readings for a higher level each time, and you also purchase the Cool History pertinent to the higher level.
The core components of each BiblioPlan are the BiblioPlan Family Guide and the BiblioPlan Companion. Within each BiblioPlan Family Guide is a set of one-page, weekly lesson plans for 34 weeks. Lesson plans chart out which pages of which resources are to be used on a three-day per week schedule. Students might do independent reading, research, and/or writing between sessions depending upon their level. The schedule has rows listing optional resources for different age levels, writing assignments for the various levels, as well as assignments from alternate spine books. These lesson plans are prefaced with information about required and optional resources as well as general instructions.
Each course integrates historical literature relating to both biblical/church and secular history. But BiblioPlan differs from similar programs since it recommends many literature selections for supplemental reading but does not require specific books. Recommendations of fiction are included in the Family Guide for each unit. Fiction lists are arranged by levels as well as for family read alouds. Lists include descriptions of the books, suggested age ranges, and the number of pages for each book. These descriptions are very helpful since you need to choose from among a number of options.
The Family Guides also list a writing assignment for each week, with assignments for three different levels: young writer, grammar, and logic levels. Assignments for the rhetoric level are in the Advanced Cool History books.
The BiblioPlan Companions serve as spine books, with one for each course, corresponding directly with the weekly plans in the BiblioPlan Family Guides. The Companions surprised me with their breadth and depth of content. Written from a Christian worldview (Protestant), the Companions are somewhat like textbooks with readings and background information, biographical sketches, timelines, bullet-point summaries, charts, maps, and “Fascinating Facts.” Sections printed in black-and-white cover the basic narrative and timeline. Sections with colored backgrounds cover the biographies and other special topics. Division of the content into the various sections breaks up the reading into more manageable chunks, and all of the chunks are not absolutely essential. This is important since the Companions are lengthy books; the Ancients Companion has 354 pages, the Medieval Companion has 747 pages, and the Modern Companion has 588 pages! While older students can read the Companions on their own, parents need to read the appropriate sections aloud to younger students. The Cool History books for Littles (see description below) identify which sections in the Companion should be read. The Companions occasionally have “In Brief” sections that summarize information that is repeated in greater detail. Young students or others that are overwhelmed can get the key points from these sections without having to read everything. On the other hand, older students can skip the “In Brief” sections since they will be reading the expanded presentation instead. The Companions are also heavily illustrated with pictures and maps that support the text information.
Within the Companions, geography is integrated at points where it connects with the history throughout each course, so students learn geography in context, an approach that I think works better than teaching geography on its own. The geography is supported by map work activities in the supplemental Hands-On Maps book for each course.
Each course recommends optional spine books that you might choose to read from along with the Companion. The Story of the World, Mystery of History, Streams of Civilization, and Trial and Triumph are examples of some of the suggested options. However, these are not required.
In addition to the Family Guide and the Companion for each course, families will need the Family Discussion Guide plus the appropriate Cool History activity book for each student. (These are described below.)
Weekly assignments charts also include lists of the possible literature selections for four levels plus optional movies/DVDs or audio CDs. Another section of the assignment charts lists optional hands-on activities. There you’ll find mention of other BiblioPlan products such as the Hands-on Maps, Family Discussion Guide, timeline figures, coloring pages, and crafts as well as mention of specific cards from Veritas Press’ and Classical Conversation’s history card sets.
BiblioPlan publishes a number of supplements, with some supplements specific to each of the four volumes of BiblioPlan. Some are essential and some are optional. Permission is given to reproduce pages of the following supplements for use within your family.
Cool History: These are books with assignments specific to each level. You need to purchase only the levels needed for your children. Choose from four levels: Littles (K-2), Middles (grades 2-6), Upper Middles (grades 6-8), and Advanced (grades 9-12). A fifth option is also available for those who want to use Story of the World. Cool History Classics draw questions from both the Companion and Story of the World targeting grades 1 through 6. You would choose this in place of another Cool History if you know that you want to incorporate Story of the World as a spine. In each Cool History, there is approximately one sheet per week plus occasional supporting activity pages. Cool History books for Littles include the specific reading assignments in the Companion. With Middles level students, parents will need to use their own judgment as to which sections to read, probably reading most of the colored sections rather than the black-and-white sections. (Upper Middles and Advanced students should be reading almost everything.) While all levels have questions on the readings from the Companion, other activities vary depending upon the level. For example, younger students have coloring activities. The two lowest levels have hands-on activities. The second and third levels start children into research activities, while the fourth level requires students to do significant research and essay writing. Examinations are included in the two upper levels. Answer keys are included at the end of each book.
Hands-on Maps: These are four different sets of worksheets with map work and geography activities that correlate directly with each BiblioPlan course. There are one or two pages per week to be completed. Work is primarily labeling and coloring, but sometimes students are asked to draw in boundary lines. Reviews and exams are included. They are available for two levels: Middles (grades 2-7) and Advanced (grades 7-12). Students at the younger levels should be given only selected assignments from the Middles book, and they will require parental assistance. By fifth grade, students should be able to complete map work independently.
Family Discussion Guide: Family Discussion Guides provide key points to review and discuss with children as well as a range of questions. Some questions ask children to recall information while others require higher levels of critical thinking. Parents should pick and choose questions most appropriate for their children. Parents need to be familiar with material in the Companion since questions are based on its content. Parents are sometimes directed to retell stories or events from the Companion.
Timeline: A Timeline for each BiblioPlan includes pictures of people, places, and events that are printed in full color. These are a mixture of reproductions of artwork (especially portraits), drawings, photographs, drawn figures, and flags. The timeline itself consists of pages that can be mounted on a wall or put into a notebook. Timeline pages show where figures are to be mounted and include descriptive text. Unless you have a high-quality color printer, you might want to purchase the print edition of this book rather than print it out yourself. The timeline is best for students in grades K through 8.
Coloring Book: A Coloring Book for each BiblioPlan has pages with drawings of key figures or events for young students to color.
Craft Books: Craft Books for each BiblioPlan course have a number of crafts and activities for each unit. For example, when students are studying the Roman Empire, they might make a banner, hold a mock chariot race, dress up like roman citizens (and have a Roman feast), or make Roman warrior’s equipment. For some projects, you’ll need craft materials like a hot glue gun, paint, felt, pipe cleaners, and poster board as well as some unusual items like a ceramic flower pot. Craft books are parent resources rather than student books. There are craft ideas to suit all ages.
All of these resources work together to make it easy for parents to present history in a far more interesting fashion than traditional textbooks. Having the supplemental resources available as e-books, makes it easy to print out whatever pages you choose to use, with copies for as many children in your family as will participate.
BiblioPlan is written from a Christian worldview. However, its ecumenical approach makes it usable by those from different denominations as well as by those holding young earth and old earth views. For example, Ancient History begins with a discussion about the age of the earth, presenting different options with a respectful attitude. Parents can easily assert their own preference at this point. Noah’s flood, the Tower of Babel and other biblical events are treated as factual. Occasional mention is made of evolutionary viewpoints, but generally with a tilt toward creationism. For example, Ancient History acknowledges that both evolutionists and creationists believe that there was an ice age, but it presents dating explanations from both perspectives differentiating based on belief in either uniformitarianism or catastrophic processes.
Modern American and World History also reflects this ecumenical approach with coverage of both some Catholic missionaries along with Protestants. Most Catholics should find Modern American and World History an excellent choice since it includes discussion of events from such as Mexico’s repression of the Catholic Church. (This is probably the best modern history text I’ve yet seen that includes discussion of Christianity without leaning almost exclusively toward Protestantism or Catholicism.)
As you might expect, the Medieval Companion is the most challenging. While it treats Catholicism with respect, it highlights Protestant heroes and events.
Co-ops or Christian School Classes
BiblioPlan has created a special Teacher’s Guide for those teaching co-op classes or in Christian schools. The Teacher’s Guide for each BiblioPlan course provides very detailed instructions for teaching same-age or multi-age groups. Group class teachers would use this guide rather than the Family Guide. Teachers would also not need the Family Discussion Guide.
BiblioPlan resources are available as e-books or in printed hardcopies, with substantial savings on e-book versions. Sample pages from the various resources as well as all of the options for purchasing bundles and versions are available on the publisher’s website. You can also download free, three-week samples of Ancients, Medieval, and Modern courses at the publisher’s website so you can check it out before buying.
BiblioPlan: Medieval, Renaissance & Reformation Companion
- $109.95 List Price at Rainbowresource.com
- $97.95 at Rainbowresource.com
BiblioPlanís Cool History for Middles: Early Modern History U.S. and World History 1600-1850
BiblioPlan: Early America and the World (1600-1850)
BP Ancient History Hands-On Maps Advanced
BiblioPlan: Ancient Cool History Upper Middles
BP Ancient History Family Guide
BiblioPlan: Medieval Cool History Upper Middles
BiblioPlan: Modern America and the World (1850-2000)
BP Medieval Cool History for Littles
BP Medieval Cool History for Middles
BiblioPlan: Medieval, Renaissance & Reformation
BP Medieval Cool History for Advanced
BiblioPlan: Ancient History Timeline & Timeline Figures
BP Ancient History Companion
BP Ancient History Family Discussion Guide
- Suitable for: families or group classes
Audience: grades K-12
Need for parent/teacher instruction: moderate to high (depends upon age of students)
Prep time needed: moderate to high
Teacher's manual: Guides are the core
Educational philosophy: eclectic: classical, real books, unit study
Religious perspective: Christian (Protestant)
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