I should add; this post is very long.
Biblioplan's History Companion (BPHC) for the last four years. Admittedly the first two years we read it as an occasional selections/optional spine idea alongside our main history spines SOTW3, in 2011, and SOTW4, in 2012. We read through parts of The Early Modern, and, Modern Times History Companion this way as they have a very heavily loaded American history base; which would be perfect if we were American homeschoolers... we're not ☺
After the first two 2 years of using year 3 & year 4 of BPHC in that casual fashion I decided I wanted to have a go at using the Ancients History Companion as our biblically based history spine. That History Companion includes all the elements that I like:
- World history and the history of the church included in each chapter; and it's presented in a writing style that makes for engaging reading.
- Factual. Or as much as the retelling of history can be ☺. "Facts" are known to change as new findings are discovered and are often written from the world view of the writer; an atheist would certainly write the history of the early Hebrews differently than a Christian historian would :p
- Does not reek of religious egocentrism
(the over-obsession with one's own religious understanding) This aspect was a very important one for Dn and I. We are wanting to impart our belief system to the children - not someone else's. Discussions on others differing beliefs are good, but not a year long refutation, every history lesson, of those beliefs. See a further explanation in the next point.
- Shares a wide range of belief systems (no belittling, or hate fest towards other religions ). This is really apparent in The Medieval History Companion, which gave me pause for reflection initially as I could not ascertain if the authors were Catholic or not. The authors write with a 'these are key view points to consider' from various sides of the religious cultures in that era; not just the-non Catholic or Catholic view point of medieval history. We didn't want to have to teach our way through a secular text (plenty of those out there), Islamic or Catholic faith based text as we are non-denominational Christians. It took me a while to work out the angle the authors were coming from with church/Christian history: the church's history includes input and upheaval from many factions and the Companion includes those happenings from the many differing 'sides'. Once I got reading further into the Companion it is definitely Christian - though not 'preachy' like other guides we've looked at - however, the authors do impart a Christian tone without belittling others belief systems or trying to ram their personal doctrinal beliefs down my neck ☺
- A much quicker overview than a standard non-fiction book, yet has more in-depth detail than a standard encyclopaedia would have on the same topics.
- Encourages the children, and me, to want to do further study.
- Can be used effectively with ages 13+ In younger years the guide is an excellent tool to select portions from to read aloud to the children. Once the children get to age 12, I note the portions to be read and let them read The History Companion themselves.
- And as a much liked extra; both children are keen to on-share portions of the history detailed in BP to Dn & I, as well as to others, long after we've finished the history companion those portions are written in.
(Just one suggestion though; don't (!!) print out all the pages like I did. Expensive.)
During 2013, and 2014, Biblioplan's History Companion was the history spine that held our history schedule together. We also used Story of the World (audio)for Daisy, Jay and I went through The History of the Ancient/Medieval World ~ Bauer together (be advised; there is some eye popping content in those books!) along with using Sonlight's Book of Time with Amy Pak's Timeline figures towards that end also - BPHC leads, SOTW, HoAW & SL's Book of Time followed.
DK's History: The Definitive Visual Guide, for that.
A few homeschool mums have enquired about the other Biblioplan components we may use:
We do not use Biblioplan's schedules (found in the Family Guide) , Discussion Guides, Timeline figures, Craft or Colour in pages.
ETA: For any that are unfamiliar with Biblioplan; The Family Guide 'schedules in' a smorgasbord of options to select from, including a wide range of popular spines.
I do use and refer to their book lists! (Love book lists.)
We also use the maps (both children will be using advanced this year).
Even though their maps are not to the standard of Knowledge Quest - BPs maps are not pleasing to look at :D - I do like the question and review technique that BP use to go with each level of mapping work.
We have used some of the Cool History pages in the past - but they always seemed to be the last thing we'd get to and so it was more efficient to just pull out the questionnaire sheets I definitely wanted to review with the children and turn them into a quick discussion time instead.
Also adding; in the highschool years BP include literature guides to go with the books they schedule/suggest the student may like to use. We've preferred to, mostly, choose our own literature selection and guides. With any of the the guides we are wanting to use, I just select out the topics I want the children to cover either verbally or in a written context. Discussion at this age is a key area I'm wanting to cultivate more and more.
Another ETA comment:
How we use Biblioplan
Until this year, I'd spread our scheduled history learning/reading out over 4 days dividing BPHC out over the week. Last year (2014) I just handed the children BPHC and they dividing up their own reading load.
So along with reading portions of The Companion each of those 4 days, Jay & Daisy would also work out the reading load required for other 'spines' that we were wanting to go through. I found it best to let then choose from amongst the options themselves. I wanted them to read from 1 encyclopedia and often from at least one other non-fiction book... picture books aimed at younger years count too ;)
Usually they'd elect to do encyclopedia reading/primary source reading/research on Weds and Daisy would read books like Famous Men of xyz over the 4 days too. We started to trim off more and more of her Famous Men of xyz readings as Biblioplan was covering many of those lives also.
Class time mapping and review happens on day 4, Thursdays. (Review might just be oral, or written. Though this year I'm having both children type up a brief narrative of what they have read about a key figure, or event, from various sources during the week. At the end of each 6 week run - we work on a 6 weeks on and 1 week off term - we place our timeline figures.
SOTW was being used as our car time audio; however, we're now using SOTW in a very hit and miss fashion for Daisy, as she is getting a better coverage of history elsewhere.
Easy. All done n dusted.
With encyclopedia reading/research I purposely do not schedule in the pages required to be read anymore - Jay and Daisy are more than able to find the information they need to be reading about themselves.
**This year the scheduled reading/review history slots are to be allocated out are over a 3 day period, with a Friday slot for delight led extras the children may want to indulge in (more online study/documentaries, audios etc).