Tag Archives: homeschool co-op

Saving With Used Curriculum

The past couple of weeks, I’ve been working on plans for the school year in the fall — deciding what curriculum to use and figuring out the cost. I’m finding that as the children grow older, the cost of the books we need to buy goes up as well. Add that to the cost of regular school supplies, such as paper, pens, and notebooks, along with the cost of any extra classes such as co-op classes, sports clubs, or fine art instruction, and it’s easy to see that homeschooling can be expensive.

But there are ways to save, especially where curriculum is concerned. Used curriculum can often be found at a fraction of the retail price, even the most recent editions. If you are looking for used curriculum, here are a few places you can start:

Yahoo Groups: There are a number of yahoo groups that you can join where people post their used curriculum for sale. Once you contact the seller, the two of you work out payment and shipping. Go to Yahoo Groups and check out BobJonesCurriculumUsed_Homeschooling_Curriculum, ChristianCurriculum, All-Wholesome-BooksUsedHomeschoolBooks, and TheHomeschoolMomUsedCurriculum.

eBay: If you enjoy using eBay, look for the curriculum you need in the listings there. If you don’t like the auction-style format (it can become a little nerve-wracking sometimes), check to see if someone has listed the books as Buy It Now.

Used Curriculum Sites: You might find what you’re looking for by searching a used homeschooling curriculum site. Visit HomeschoolClassifieds, VegSource, and The Book Cover.

CraigsList: Often homeschoolers will list their curriculum on CraigsList.com. Click on the link for the city nearest you, look under the “For Sale” column, and click on “Books”. You can scroll through the list or do a search for the particular book you’re looking for. Remember to use caution when purchasing items from CraigsList, and meet the seller at a public location.

If you aren’t able to find what you’re looking for online, ask around to find out where homeschoolers in your area sell used books. Do they post it on an email loop, or is there a used book sale you can attend? You might even be able to simply borrow the books you need from someone who won’t be using them this year.

It is possible to homeschool on a budget, and buying used curriculum can help. For many homeschoolers, finding that good deal is all part of the adventure.

Busy Day

Yesterday, we had a very busy day. We left the house at 8:30 am, returned for about 45 minutes at 5:00 pm, then had to leave again right away, finally returning at 8:30 pm. Whew!

We started the day by taking my oldest son John to his co-op class. It lasted an hour, so during that time, the other three children and I ran errands. We made it to two stores: the grocery store and Target, and returned just in time to pick up John.

We then headed towards the far end of the county, where a new IMAX theatre just opened up. In celebration of the opening week, all of the movies were free (they even gave out free popcorn!), so we went to see Monsters vs. Aliens in 3-D on a huge screen. Not too educational, but a lot of fun.

Next, we headed back for an orthodontist consultation for my daughter Cassie, but we arrived about an hour early — enough time to run another errand. We shopped the sales at another grocery store, but didn’t get through the entire list before it was time to go, so after the appointment, we went to one more store. Part of that list was for supplies for John’s backpacking trip this weekend, so we had to finish.

We arrived home with just enough time to pack up that backpack and head out again to have it weighed-in with the other scouts. After a short meeting, we moved on to Walmart to pick up some photos for Friday, and by the time the day was done, it was after dark.

Could this be counted as a school day? For John, it could. He attended his co-op class, read his schoolbooks during the car rides and while waiting at the orthodontist, and learned how to pack for the trip. For the rest of the children, probably not. While a lot was accomplished, not too much was done in the way of learning, so we’ll make it up on Saturday. But that’s one of the best advantages of homeschooling — the flexibility of schedules to accommodate life — or whatever else may be going on.

Field Day

P1180080Yesterday, our co-op had a field day for the elementary students. It took a lot of planning and a lot of organizing, but it was a lot of fun. It was a great way to conclude the school year for the younger children.

Even if you’re not part of a co-op, you can organize a field day with other homeschooling friends. Here are some ideas to get you started.

First, find a good location for your field day events. You might go to a public park with a field, or inquire at a church in your area for permission to use their land. We’ve had them at both places, and everything has gone well.

Next, plan your field day events. The events the children participated in yesterday included:

  • Three-legged race
  • Wheel barrow race
  • Sack races
  • Tug-of-war
  • 50-meter dash
  • Softball throw
  • Bean bag toss
  • Egg-on-a-spoon race
  • Bowling (using plastic soda bottles)
  • Water balloon toss
  • Wet sponge over-and-under relay

You don’t have to do all of these activities, however. Along with the other moms in your group, see what other events you can come up with. You might want to try:

  • Frisbee throw
  • Jump roping
  • Relay races/passing a baton
  • Ping pong blow
  • Soccer ball dribble
  • Football throw
  • Hoola Hoop Marathon
  • Basketball free throw
  • Egg toss
  • Miniature golf

In preparation for the games, set up a “station” where each game will be played. Be sure all necessary equipment is at the station.

Next, divide the children into groups based on ages and/or height. You might also want to separate the groups by gender as well.

If you haven’t done so already, enlist the help of the other parents. Have a parent supervise each station and make sure all the students are playing according to the rules. Provide each parent with a clipboard, pencil, and paper, so they can write down the names of the children who come in first, second, and third place.

At the end of the games, you can reward the children in several ways. You might assign point values to first, second, and third, then give those with the highest points on each team a special prize. Prizes can include toys, candy, gum, restaurant coupons — whatever you think they would like. Or, you might give out ribbons to those who placed. Either way, it’s also good to have a small prize or ribbon for everyone who participated.

However you organize it, field day is a good day to teach about friendship, sportsmanship, and fun!

Balancing Craft

butterfly 1This was my last week doing crafts with the kindergarten/first grade class at our co-op. It was bittersweet — while it was a bit of work planning and preparing the crafts, it was fun to watch the children work on them, and it was so good to see my son Luke enjoy making them and showing them off to his siblings.

For this last formal class, we read the picture book Mirette on the High Wire by Emily Arnold McCully. The story takes place in France in the late nineteenth century. Mirette’s mother, a widow, rents out the rooms in her home to traveling performers. One of the performers who comes to stay is the Great Bellini, a tightrope walker. Mirette wants to learn to walk on a rope, too, and Bellini finally agrees to teach her.

Our craft for this story was the Balancing Butterfly craft found on EnchantedLearning.com. Here’s how we did it:

Supplies:

  • Cardboard butterflies
  • Sculpey clay
  • Pencils
  • Pennies
  • Tape
  • Markers

To prepare, I made a butterfly pattern with a piece of cardstock. I found that a butterfly with a wingspan of about 3 inches worked well.

Next, I traced the pattern and pre-cut the butterflies for the students using thin cardboard I had on hand. EnchantedLearning recommends using old cereal boxes.

The students then…

1. Decorated their butterflies with markers. We talked about patterns again, and how they could make patterns on their butterflies.

2. I also provided each student with some sculpey clay. They worked the clay with their hands to soften it before rolling it into a ball. Then they flattened one side on the surface of the table to make it stand evenly.

3. I then let them choose a pencil, and they stuck the unsharpened end down into the clay so the pencil was standing upright.

4. Next, they tried to balanbutterfly2ce their butterflies on the eraser end of the pencils. They could balance them if they placed the center of the butterfly on the eraser.

5. Then we added pennies to the wings. We taped one penny near the top of each wing. This changed the center of gravity to a point closer to the head of the butterfly. The butterfly would tip, but it still balanced on the pencil.

This simple craft was a hit!  They played with them that morning, and then my son played with his some more when we got home. My daughter Lillie then made one for herself, and she plans on making more with her cousins this weekend. Give this project a try, and watch the butterflies soar!

Out For the Day

Traffic_Assorted_8580 (15)Ever have one of those days when you feel as if you are just running…running… running… until the day ends? We had one of those days.

It started out in a rough way — my son John had forgotten to do one of his Geography assignments for his co-op class, and it was due at 9:00 am. I got up at 5:30 to get a jump on the day, then I woke him up an hour later. By the time we had to leave, he had his project done, but that’s about all that was ready.

I knew we had yearbook pictures to take, but the kids didn’t get their clothes out the night before — it was a mad scramble to find something clean that sort of matched for their group picture. As it was, two went in t-shirts, one in a long-sleeved velvety shirt, and one in a hooded sweatshirt. So much for coordination!

After we dropped John off at co-op, my other three children and I ran errands until class was over. When it was time to pick him up again, I realized I hadn’t purchased the right supplies, and I would need to take them all back. Oh well, anther time — we still had to get John and get to the place where the photos were being taken.

The line for the pictures was a little longer than I expected. Normally, it wouldn’t have mattered, except there was a fall party the kids all wanted to go to, and it was starting the same time our pictures were to be taken. When we finally finished up, we were already an hour late.

But we continued on… and unprepared! Everyone was supposed to bring some type of lunch food to share at the party, but I didn’t remember until that morning. We stopped for a moment by the grocery store for cookies and chips, and kept going on our way.

We eventually made it to the get-together, and it was relaxing. We visited with friends and enjoyed the colorful mountain scenery for a few hours. Then we had to hurry to…

Another activity — a PE class for John. We stayed an hour but then had more errands to do. We stopped by two stores on the way home, finally arriving around 5:00 pm.

A day of fun with friends? It was, but did we get any schoolwork done? Except for John’s co-op class, the answer is “no.”  A day like that is just proof of the saying, “You have to stay home to homeschool!”

Ready for the Test?

october_27_001This morning, John had his first test in his Geography co-op class. The class meets once a week, and he was given a syllabus at the beginning of the course, so he knew the test was coming up. The class meets on Mondays, and we were all headed out of town for the weekend; I knew he wouldn’t have much time to finish his homework. I reminded him all week that he needed to get it done early (I realize now I reminded him too many times), and he said he would.

Off we went for the weekend, arriving home again Sunday afternoon. “Are you ready for tomorrow?” I asked him again Sunday night. He answered in the affirmative, so I went on to help the others prepare for the next day.

This morning we got up later than expected and rushed around to get out the door in time. In the midst of the fray, John calls out, “Oh no, I forgot to study for my geography test!”

“But I reminded and reminded you,” I replied.
“Yes, but you were going to email the teacher to ask her about the website.” There was a certain website that would help with studying, but he forgot the web address.

I grumbled as I continued rushing around, and he went off to study as quickly as he could. I had told him that I’d get the website address for him, but it was still his job to keep up with things.

He went into class, and I saw him just for a moment afterward. “I didn’t get any of them right,” he whispered before heading off down the hall.

I think he probably answered more of them correctly than he thinks he did, but either way, we both learned some valuable lessons from this experience. He learned that he is responsible for his homework and his tests, even if I fall short in emailing a teacher. And I learned that I shouldn’t take on his responsibilities; he knows when his assignments are due, and if he has any questions, he can email the teacher himself. After all, he is the one who receives the grade, not me. If I had to receive one, I’d have given myself a B+ for my efforts. But I probably would have made a C- in Laundry for the week.

To Join or Not to Join?

a-coopTo join or not to join a co-op next fall…that is the question. It’s a question I ask myself every spring as co-ops begin accepting applications for the next school year.

We’ve been part of two different co-ops, one for just one semester, the other for a year. When we joined the first one, my children were eight, five, three, and six months. We had several friends who attended the co-op and loved the enrichment classes that were offered. The year we joined, though, the format changed a bit, and my eight-year-old was in a math class with other third graders. It didn’t go very well. Homeschooled elementary students, even those in the same grade, tend to work at math at different paces. Depending on the curriculum used at home, students might also be learning different concepts.

They changed that class to Spanish for the next semester, but a couple other things weighed in on my decision to stop. The class was experiencing a lot of discipline issues that went unresolved. Also, the financial cost was more than we could comfortably afford, and it was hard helping out on my required days with a baby in tow. So, we finished off the year at home.

Two years later, a friend approached me about joining a Classical Conversations co-op. We participated for a year, and since I taught the finances worked out all right. We didn’t re-join, however, because I still wanted to follow the curriculum we were already doing at home, and the lessons from the co-op just became extra work we had to do. Classical Conversations is a great program if that’s the basis of your curriculum, but it just wasn’t the right one for us.

So here we are, with my oldest going into eighth grade next year, so I’m thinking about co-ops again. Co-op classes can be great resources for teaching those upper level classes like Chemistry, Biology, and Algebra II. We looked at a co-op on Monday that offers those types of courses to middle and high school students for a very reasonable price. Right now they’re full, however, and we’re on a waiting list. I’m not sure how long the list is, but the director encouraged me to consider starting a new co-op with friends who are also interested.

So now the question becomes… to start or not to start a co-op?

Photo by ShelahD