We are entering our seventh year of homeschooling and I am a little proud to say that we have probably spent less than a hundred dollars on basic curriculum so far in our daughter's education. There were other things we would have bought anyway if she were in public school, binders, paper, the never-ending supply of pencils that are never to be found when needed. We did buy some bookshelves and office supplies for organizing, paper cutter, three hole punch, etc.. But as far as textbooks and Curriculum, with a capital C, we have gotten off rather cheaply. How, you ask? Creativity and timing for much of it, and what Moody would call cussedness for much more.
My Number One, always refer to, never do without, take with me to a desert island resource is the internet. You can find curriculum about anything there. You can find printables, textbooks, videos, advice, and tons of ideas all from the comfort of your own computer. You can find places to buy packaged curriculum. You can buy art or science supplies. You can join yahoo groups or other online associations that can offer you more advice or trade ideas for things in the specific geographical or academic area you need.
My second favorite resource is libraries, libraries libraries. Some libraries have great homeschooling or curriculum sections. Some have educational supplies you can check out such as microscopes, board games, science experiment kits, or other resources. Librarians also are great sources of information as to where you can find more on a subject. Often they can request books or supplies from other libraries for you to check out. Also many libraries offer “educator” cards, which have different limits on how many books you can check out or how long you can keep them.
My third favorite resource is used book sales. Library and school sales sell off older textbooks for next to nothing. Usually at the beginning or end of summer. We have gotten a shopping bag filled with texts, (and two or three more filled with novels or other books), for $3-5 per bag. Many homeschool groups or teacher associations have sales of used supplies as well. Keep an eye out for yard sales with school supplies advertised. Many teacher sell off all the supplies they have acquired over their careers when they retire. They often are more interested in getting rid of the stuff than getting high prices.
I have heard good things as well about conventions, but haven't ever gone to one. Homeschooling conventions offer many curriculum options both new and used, but may have high entrance fees and may be far away. They may also be worth it to network and get other opinions on curriculum even if you don't buy anything. Finding resources to charge up your motivation and spirit is just as important as finding resources for teaching subject matter.
Last year we bit the bullet and bought some curriculum recommended by friends. But we bought it used on Amazon and paid maybe $60 for workbooks for math, spelling, science, a set of textbooks for penmanship, and a full history program with an activity book, reading book and test book. This was a pain when the fire destroyed all our homeschooling supplies, but at least we could get new books and start from where we left off.
This year we found a website called complete curriculum, that has textbooks broken into 180 lessons each that you cam mix, match or use as is for each of the core subjects, math, social studies, language arts and science. All lessons are accessible by teacher or student log-in as editable PDFs. Teacher log-ins give access to the teacher manuals, (read answer sheets and additional activities to prepare for), as well. Students can type in their answers and print out the assignments on the website or download them and email them to the "teacher". Or for younger students, the teacher can download or print off the assignments from her log in and never use the student log in. Access to the site and up to ten textbooks, (you can look at more, just only assign lessons from ten), is less than $5 per year.
Personally we rarely used textbooks before she started middle school. We downloaded resources from the internet or wrote our own. But we used tons of printables. I am a big fan of discovery school puzzlemaker for making my own word finds or crosswords or mazes. Homeschool Share has lap books or Five in a row activities. Donna Young's printables help with organizing paperwork and planning as well as having some ideas printables for specific subjects too. But those are just the ones off the top of my head. I copied or rewrote several wikapedia entries for my daughter's sducation, and made worksheets or games to test her understanding. On many yahoo groups I joined people had done up worksheets or games on subjects I needed, but hadn't got around to. Often if I shared mine they would share theirs, allowing everyone to benefit. Many yahoo groups are local and also organize field trips, or local activities. Many field trip locations provide their own scavenger hunts or worksheets on their site to be done before, after or while you are there.
Those are the resources I use most often. I have lurked on DKos and listening to moody rant for many years, but this is my first diary so please be gentle.
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