Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Why Biblioplan over Sonlight, Tapestry, and Story of the World?

Biblioplan, Sonlight, Tapestry of Grace, and Story of the World are all fantastic options. This really is a personal choice. However, knowing how challenging choosing history is, I thought I would share a little about why we chose BP over SL, TOG, or straight SOTW this year.

Why Biblioplan over Sonlight?
(My experience is only with Core C.) 
  • Chronology. I like how BP uses the 4 year Classical cycle. For years 3 and 4 of the cycle, I appreciate that BP offers a focus on American history but does not isolate it completely. Using BP as a base for years 3 and 4 I can still use the great SL books, but in a different order, one that takes into account the rest of the world. 
  • There was so MUCH to Sonlight. Too many nonconnecting books going on at once. Too many snippets of poems or Aesop's Fables. I love those things, but to take out a book for a paragraph was annoying. 
  • I did not feel the flow of history and was getting bogged down by all the different books each day. 
  • In Core C there was so much great literature and "other" components, I didn't feel like the "history" portion was getting as much engagement as I wanted. The books we were reading were great, but I wanted to delve into the history of what we were reading. Nothing wrong with that but it left less time for what we were "on" in history. This made things seem disjointed to me. 
  • SL uses CHOW as a spine for Core C, and I preferred Story of the World. 
  • BP has more books that fit the time frame. It has classtime reading (which I would compare to the history portion of SL), but then a reader which ties into history, and a read aloud as a family. It is just as much reading (if not more) it is just more focused on history. 
  • Especially for medieval times (what we are studying this year) there were so many read alouds set in this setting that I felt we were missing out on in order to read other read alouds scheduled. Those books are great, but I don't want to miss out on the historical books either. 
  • I needed more hands on and had added so much to it that I wasn't sure I was even doing Sonlight anymore. Then adding the components I wanted made it "more" to do. 
  • I knew I needed to streamline to have more time to do what we wanted and eliminate the unnecessary components (for us).  Sonlight is still a fantastic program, but it works better for us to add Sonlight components to Biblioplan. Sonlight books are fantastic! 
Sonlight over BP:
Sonlight does have some components you will not get in Biblioplan, and these will make a difference for some.  
  • Sonlight has comprehension questions for the literature as well as vocabulary built in. 
  • Sonlight has page numbers to read daily whereas BP just tells you what to read that week, or if it is to be spread of 2 or 3 weeks. If it is to be spread over several weeks they will say something like (read pages 1-60 this week).
  • The books are great! Historical fiction and other just wonderful books! Even using BP this year, we still are working at getting those great SL books in. 

Why Biblioplan over Tapestry of Grace?
Now, I must preface this with "I have never used Tapestry of Grace."  However, I do have year 2 and am pretty familiar with it. I chose Biblioplan over TOG for several reasons. My sister uses TOG and is thrilled with it. 
  • TOG is SO MUCH. It is wonderful, but as I sit down with the 4 huge binders for the year, it can seem overwhelming. 
  • I like the presentation of Biblioplan options better. Both programs offer many "choices" but BP has them all on one grid for each week. This works for my mind. 
  • One thing TOG has that I would like is discussion questions for the literature. However, this would make BP book specific, taking away the flexibility that I so love in being able to swap out books. 
  • TOG does not use a spine. It is just many books.While this appeals to me, I like at least having the Companion to tie things in. The Companion gives me a spine without tying me down. I can read as much or as little as we want. 
  • Price: TOG is a lot more money. Actually, the digital versions are only about $50 different. However, that is only the price of the TOG curriculum, not including maps and extras where BP has everything in that price. Because each component of BP is in a separate PDF, it makes using the e-version on an iPad or e-reader easy, but I don't think I could do TOG as purely digital-- there is just too much flipping to be done. Also, the amount of books needed for TOG makes buying the books beyond our abilities. And the library and I are not friends...so buying is necessary!
  • BP digital can be used on the iPad. This was a big reason for me to NOT use TOG this year. I hate having to break out the laptop when schooling. I love having everything easily accessible on the iPad. 
  • While both TOG and BP both have all students on the same topic, I still feel like you are almost running two different history programs for two age groups. The spines, books, discussion and everything are different. With BP all are using the Companion and read alouds. Older students read MORE of the Companion, and then each age group has their own reader. 
  • There are so many additional components of TOG. It is a fantastic choice for many. I don't need all of that right now and don't foresee needing it for some time. Biblioplan is right for us at this time. I do love the literature student pages from TOG, and I can see wanting to create something like that for BP in the near future. 
TOG over BP:
There are plenty of advantages of Tapestry of Grace that make it the right choice for many. 
Comprehension and discussion questions (I have often heard the discussions for dialectic and rhetoric are outstanding. 
There are so many components for older students and provides a full breadth of history, geography, Bible, government, and worldview. 
Literary analysis is built in.
Vocabulary is built in. 
Literature pages/student pages-- if you like worksheets, TOG does offer this component that. (BP does have worksheets and tests for middles and advanced). 

Why not JUST Story of the World?
I often see this asked at the Well Trained Mind Forums. Why use BP? Why the extra expense when Story of the World and activity book is plenty? My answer to that is, if it is plenty for you and working, you do not need Biblioplan. However, for me, it was not enough and it was not working. 

  • Being strictly chronological made it seem jumpy to me. A week in Egypt, head to China, back to Egypt, on to India, back to China, Egypt again, etc. For my younger kids, I felt a little more continuity was needed. I didn't want to abandon chronological history, but the organization of BP was what I was looking for. 
  • Story of the World was often so much information and so much breadth that I felt we were missing out on some depth. BP and specifically the Companion allows me to pick and choose what to go more in depth with, without me having to look elsewhere for the material.
  • Church history. There were a parts of SOTW that I did not agree with Biblically. Also, I want a deep Biblical worldview and understanding of Biblical and church history for my children. Biblioplan provides this Biblical history in year one, church history in year two, and missionary studies in year three and four. There are "giants of the faith" each week highlighting a person from these areas. BP's timeline also shows where Biblical and church history tie into the rest of the world. Sure you could read the Bible or Trial and Triumph along with Story of the World and infuse church history, but I appreciate the succinctness BP gives to these areas in conjunction with the rest of the world. 
  • Crafts: Story of the World tends to not have as many boy friendly crafts as BP, which tends to offer more "real" projects and less paper crafts.
  • The book lists can be challenging in Story of the World, there are so many suggestions and picking those that will be great can be a challenge. I like using the BP and SL booklists because I know they will be great! 
Straight SOTW over BP:
  • It really is plenty for many.
  • Price. 
  • It keeps it simple
  • The Activity guide offers questions and narration and summarization helps. Of course you could use this along BP but it would be an additional purchase.  
In Conclusion....
Choosing history can be so confusing, what finally helped me decide was to think of what I wanted in a history curriculum. If we could study history any way I wanted, what would a week look like? Then move backwards.  Which curriculum is closest to that end? Biblioplan serves that purpose for us. It requires the least amount of tweaking to be just what we want. 

In the end it came down to which did I want to be my "spine", my starting point. I am not locked in, I can adjust as needed. Adding Sonlight books to Biblioplan has been perfect. I love the Bibloplan scope and sequence and all the extras. The Companion ties it together in "my mind," and having that connection helps me to better teach my kids.

All of these are fantastic programs, and choosing one will be very individual to your families needs. I hope sharing how and why we chose has been helpful! Only a few years into this homeschooling journey I have already seen how needs and wants in curriculum change, and I cannot make a long term commitment to a curriculum, but I can take each year as we go and make the best decision for this year now. Next year may bring a new wishlist and maybe a change. I will continue to regularly assess our needs and meet them.


Looking for more? Check out these other posts about Biblioplan!
A Week with Biblioplan (Coming Soon)

9 comments:

  1. I love and use TOG, but I would love to see the book list for Biblioplan. :)

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    1. Mary, TOG is a wonderful program. Biblioplan did recently release their book lists on their website. :)

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  2. Thank you so much for this summary! It was so clear and organized - exactly what I needed. I have been going crazy the last couple of weeks trying to figure out what to do for history next year. I have had the same concerns about choosing Sonlight or TOG that you mentioned which provided a much needed confirmation to go with Biblioplan. Thank you!

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  3. Thanks you so much for this! Not much out there about Biblioplan - you answered so many of my questions!
    Many blessings,
    Michelle in AZ

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  4. What a great job you've done here. You pretty much answered all the questions I had. I love that you combine BP and sonlight! Thank you!

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  5. Thank you for posting this wonderful information! I stumbled upon your blog when I googled Biblioplan reviews, and I'm so glad that I did! I am trying to decide between BP and Simply Charlotte Mason, which I love both. Are you still using BP, since this post was back in 2012? I would love to see how it's going for you all. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Jackie! Thanks for stopping by! So glad this was helpful for you! Since year 3 of Biblioplan was not ready for this fall we are taking a break and doing U.S. History. We really enjoyed our time with Biblioplan however and plan to jump back in when we cycle around again! :)

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  6. Hi! I really appreciated your post. I am in the middle of deciding on our history for next year. I have several questions: Which Sonlight books did you keep and read? And, do you consider a lot of the narration/copywork (I assume there is some in BP?) in history for your Language Arts or do you also use other curriculum for that?

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    1. Which BP year are you considering? and for what ages of children? That would give me an idea on which Sonlight book to recommend :) There is very little writing scheduled (especially for lower grammar). As far as if the narration/copywork counts --that depends on the age. My son who is 6 only does copywork in our writing program (Writing with Ease) but does do narrations as a part of history and literature as well. My daughter is 8 and does her writing curriculum (Brave Writer and Writing and Rhetoric) and also does written narrations for history and science. Hope that helps! :)

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