Scheduling and Shopping for Multiple Levels of Literature & History {especially with BiblioPlan}

by GfG on May 28, 2014 · 10 comments

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{The steps I outline here could work for some other curriculums that utilize living book plans.  You may lose aspects of the curriculum, though.  I am currently doing this for BiblioPlan.}

I shared how I organize and plan for the year with BiblioPlan, using all four levels (six kiddos, for me).  I described the steps that leave me with pretty much open and go (and color coded, yea!) lesson plans for every kid for the entire year.  Step three of that process is a very important step: choosing the books for each week.   I promised to share how I do that in more detail, so here ya’ go:

Choosing the literature selections for each week.

1st: I get all the books I own for the correct time period and spread them out on the floor. 

Now, it is to my benefit in planning four levels of BiblioPlan that I already own five Sonlight “cores” and three Tapestry “years”.  Yup, that’s a lot of books.  A whole stinkin’ lot.  BUT…. don’t give up on this plan if you are just starting out in your homeschool journey.  Read all the way to the end.

Books on the floor WEB

I group the books by subject.  For example, all the books about Leonardo da Vinci go together, the ones about King Arthur, explorer books, etc.  That will help me as I move on to the next steps.

2nd:  I see if I own any of the options scheduled.

I go through each level, starting with high school (I will elaborate on this next week because high school is sorta a big deal and many have asked).  Week by week, I look at what the title of the book is and see if I own it.  If I do, I check mark it in my Family Guide.

The check mark doesn’t mean that the book is now officially scheduled.  It just means that it is a possibility.

3rd: I go back through the list and look at the weeks that don’t have check marks yet and see if I have a similar book.

Oftentimes, I may have a book that will work instead of the particular title selected by BiblioPlan.  For example, I may not have the exact book about Hudson Taylor, but I have another one.  I will write in the title of the book I own and check mark it.   Yes, I like check marks.

Same thing happens for books that aren’t exactly the same in perspective, but match the topic or focus of the week.  This year, I don’t own King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table but I do have Black Horses for the King, which I love and Chloe has read a King Arthur book last time we hit this time period.  So, I Black Horses for the King instead.

This step saves me a ton of money.  It is one of the big pros for BiblioPlan, in my opinion.  You can substitute quality books that correspond to the unit of study that you already own, if you don’t own the particular title.  With Tapestry of Grace, you lose benefits that you pay (a lot) for if you don’t use the particular book scheduled.  That meant I spent a lot of money on more books, when I already owned a ton.

Remember, I do this for each “level”.   And I drink chai lattes while I do it.

Family Guide edits WEB

4th:  I check the read aloud list to see if I own the books selected, check marking the ones I do.

I loveLOVElove read aloud time together.  I’m not always as diligent as I want to be, but when I am, our family is seriously blessed.

Don’t skip read alouds.

5th: I look at all the books I have left on the floor and I make a stack I affectionately call the “I love these books and we have to read them this year” stack.

This stack will get assigned in some kind of way.  Either a “level” (I have two kiddos in one level) will read it or it will get put in the read aloud schedule.   I’m pretty serious about this list, since I have read many books over the last fifteen years of homeschooling and I have favorites.

These books are like special friends that I get to hang out with every four years.  They get assigned in the next step or number eight.

If you are just starting out and don’t know which books belong in this kind of pile (remember, not everyone agrees on these, but…), look to see which books are Newberry Award winners and which ones are used in multiple curriculums.  While neither of these qualifiers guarantee you’ll love a book, it will be a big hint.

(As a fun note, Eagle of the Ninth won the Newberry Award the year Charlotte’s Web was in the running.  Clearly, Charlotte’s Web has “won” in the long term, but Eagle of the Ninth is in my  “all my kids will read or hear this book read aloud” stack, which is another name for the “I love these books and we have to read them this year” stack.)

6th: I go back through the Family Guide and look for weeks that have no check marks.

This part involves a few options for me to decide between and I take each child into consideration for the decision.

I choose one of the following for each “blank week”:

  • I buy the book BiblioPlan has listed (I keep a running Excel list with the Amazon price, so I know what I’m looking at spending if I buy all on my list.  I have found Amazon to be my best option and always check the used selling options).
  • I substitute with another book I own that I really like and don’t want my kids to miss.
  • I look at the level near the one that is “blank” to see if there is a book check marked that the particular child could read instead of one of the ones scheduled at their level.

Making sure that I don’t buy books that I don’t need to buy or that could be covered by another book saves me a lot of money and makes me a better steward of both my money and my library.

7th: I look at my Amazon total and decide if that is an acceptable amount to spend. 

If it’s a bit high for my taste, I look at the books still left and decide if I can substitute in a way I didn’t see previously.  I double check for free Kindle versions.  I make sure I’ve looked at the used options.

Excel Book List

As a reminder, I spend the bulk of my money on high school at this point because I’m still building that library.

8th: I check my “I love these books and we have to read them this year” stack.

Any books left get plugged in somewhere.  If I don’t have a read aloud on the list, I put it there. If a week is light for a “level” or child, then I plug it where it fits the focus of study (the headlines at the top of each Family Guide lesson plan pages helps guide me in this as well as the books assigned).

9th: After all the decisions have been made and written in the Family Guide list, I mark each student’s lesson  plans.

This is the last step.  As I mentioned in this post, I print out a copy of the lesson plan pages for each kiddo and put it in their binder.  So now I either highlight the student’s assigned book or I write it in myself in pen and then highlight it.

**NOTE to those who don’t have the amount of books in their home library that I do:

You can use aspects of this plan!  Even if you only have a few books, make the most of them.  If you are just starting, then I encourage you to do the following:

  • Start with your oldest child.
  • Choose only one book a week, unless you have a generous budget.
  • Consider using the library for read alouds or other books.  I am not a big library user because I have issues with keeping track of library books, because I like to have a good home library, and because I need the book at as specific time.  BUT read  alouds are fewer in number and give you a bit of flexibility.  If you end up loving the book, then you can buy it afterwards to add to your home library.
  • Be sure to make the most of the books that are used at more than one level.  If you the choice of buying two books, one for each level, or one that both levels can share, go with the one.

These nine steps for choosing and planning literature and history books for multiple levels takes me a few days (if I can work at my favorite pace… barely interrupted) and I actually love doing it.

I love seeing books I love again. I love saving money.  I love planning.  I love getting a feel for our year.

These steps are how I only spent $200 on four levels of books for this coming year.  More than half of that was for high school.

In one more year, I shouldn’t have to spend any money on any levels.  One can hope, right?

How do you make the most of your BiblioPlan? 

Scheduling Books PIN

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