Thursday, June 16, 2011

Affording Your Curriculum Choices

The eternal question. First of all, let me state for the record that I firmly believe you can homeschool your children with nothing but a Bible, pencil, paper, a library card, the internet, and a printer.Or some combination of those. And do a good job of it! But thankfully, we can afford to buy some curriculum.

But I can't afford to buy everything I want. Everyone's situation is different and guess what else? Every YEAR is different! But I thought I'd share how one family, who doesn't make a ton of money (and what homeschooling family does?) but can afford to buy some stuff this going to do it.

Think of it as a behind the scenes tour to that last post!

The first year we homeschooled, I still worked part-time when we ordered our curriculum. I stuck with ABeka, as Sweetheart had been using that in private school. I knew exactly 0 homeschoolers.  I drove to a local hotel where they had the curriculum set up, picked out my wares, and wrote a check for $210.00.

It has never been that simple since!

For next year, here is what we are doing:

1. Borrowing
Once you get some contacts, like a homeschool group or co-op or some friends....this one is an awesome deal! I loan, and I borrow. Homeschoolers are good like that. Here is what I'm borrowing next year:

from our old church

from a friend

from a lady in our homeschool group who has used her copy to teach 8 children to read. i feel honored to be using it.

from a friend in Georgia--the DVD and teacher book.

Plus, the Instructor's Guide for Core A of Sonlight. A friend is giving that to me. It's an old one.

2. Buying Used
Oh my word there are so many different places to do this! From local stores, to online, to curriculum sales. Ask folks in your area. There are TONS of places to find used homeschool curriculum. Even friends. The best thing I did this year was mention curriculum on Facebook! Within hours I had leads on several things I needed. I also put a request on our homeschool group's website and got some offers like that. And if a homeschooler or teacher has a garage sale---GO! Here is what I'm buying used for next year:

Actually, I already bought this, but I bought it used.

I'll look for this one used too. 

  • Plus a LOT of the books from Core A for Sonlight. 

3. Make Your Own
I think this is a frugal thing, but sometimes I just cannot fork over money for something I KNOW I could do cheaper myself! Now granted, sometimes it's better to just fork over the money if your life situation means you will not have time to make the items. Here is what I'm making for next year:

We've made our own timelines for 3 years so I'm not going to purchase one from Sonlight for next year. The girls love making their own pieces so we're going to stick with that. It's the cost of a sketch book from Hobby Lobby and some die cut people.

4. Use the Library
We'd all love to own every book. It would make life so wonderful. But let's face it, it's cheaper to go to the library. Notice I did not say free. The library is never free for me. Did I tell you about the time 3 year old Little Bit set up to play "library" with me? She had books, a card, and her cash register. Hmm. Anyway, here are some things I'm planning to use the library for next year:

  • A lot of the books for Sonlight Core A. 
  • Supplemental books and movies to go with whatever we're studying. 

5. Get it Free is a great way to get free books. Many e-books are free and the Kindle app is free. Currclick has free downloads each week. Also visit Any others I missed?

6. Re-Use
Who doesn't love non-consumable materials? Here are some things I used with Sweetheart that I will now be using with Little Bit next year:

7. Buy New--however reluctantly
Look for sales, look for "free shipping days", look around....there are usually multiple places that sell curriculum. If you have to buy new, find the cheapest place. Consider shipping costs too. I have an awesome app on my phone where you scan a barcode and it shows you all the places you can buy an item online and compares the prices. Sometimes you want to buy new. Especially if it will be used with multiple children. Here are some things I am buying new for next year:

These are less than $6 a piece + shipping. Consumable, but very affordable. 

Consumable--and affordable. Less than $8.00

The Junior version of this will be out in July. Yay!  Consumable and not  cheap, but worth it. I'm going to compare prices a lot of places. 

Again...offered many places. I'll have to shop around. IF I can't find it used!

These are less than $3.00 each. 

Ug. Bite the bullet. It will be used again by Little Bit. 

Already got this on sale + free shipping. Great deal!

Will be used again for Little Bit. 

It's work, I'm telling you. Lots of time spent on the computer and hoofing it around to different sales and stores. But it's worth it. Any other ways to get your homeschool curriculum? I mean...legally?


  1. Hi, I hopped over here from HOTM. I just wanted to share Homeschool Dollar Store for your list ( Great stuff and really cheap.

  2. Who makes the science journal and where did you get it?

  3. Brenda, if you want the Christian Kids Explore Chemistry, I have it and would be happy to send it your way! Or are you definitely going with Physics? See, even just blogging about it can bring offers! ;-)

  4. Another source for lots of free enrichment and some core curriculum is

    I shop Goodwill for supplemental stuff and have found things like A Beka readers as well.

    Watch the consumables. I bought one book for 3 kids to share (I have a copier) but was totally frustrated the entire year; I would copy several weeks at a time but then it seemed to take a few days to do it again when they ran out, our copier went down that year for several months and I ended up going to Staples- KACHING! My husband watched me go through the angst for a $15 book and asked why I did that to myself when he didn't ask me to? So last year I just gave it to the next child and planned on buying it again for the last child.

    We also save money by grouping our kids together for subjects that are learned and relearned such as Bible, History, and Science. One Sonlight core we'll do over 2-3 years with 4-5 children so the $400 outlay to buy everything new works out to be quite reasonable on a child/year basis. Then we just add handwriting, reading, and math at their levels.

  5. Mary, they are from

    Erin--thank you! We are set on physics for this year though.

  6. Hey I just stumbled on your blog when I was following the thread "she wears skirts", which well I'm a work in progress. :) But, then aren't we all. Thank you for sharing your curriculum choices. I'm figuring mine out this week and hopefully have a post up soon about our choices.

  7. Slipping pages into sheet protectors and using dry erase markers and/or using consumables in a text sort of way (student copying problems onto a piece of paper) help stretch various sorts of books as well.

  8. Okay, so the timeline instructions for TMOH stressed me out to no end, and I LOVE what you are doing so much better. Thanks for the idea! And, regarding that, did you do the memory cards to go along with it? That's is kinda stressing me out too, so I am wondering if I could just skip it.

  9. No...I didn't do them. We just reviewed our timeline all the


I don't get to talk to a lot of actual grown-ups during the day, so your comments make me really happy! :)