Welcome to Life at the Holman's.

Within this blog, you will find everything from recipes to school ideas to everyday fun stuff and things we have learned along the way. From time to time you will find just a tidbit of our journey here in Oklahoma. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Buying Used Curriculum

When it comes to purchasing home school curriculum, the costs can really add up, especially when you have multiple children.  You can spend $50-100 an year even as much as $500+ for one child.  When you start adding in multiple children, you see the costs really begin to rise. However, there are several ways to overcome the costs of home schooling and minimize the amount you spend while maximizing your child's education.

One way to reduce the cost of home schooling is to develop your own curriculum through various free resources found online. There are so many websites online that offer free lesson, games, tests, etc. that one could spend hours and hours of time combing the Internet and still not even touch the surface of what is available.  I know I have found myself overwhelmed at times with so may sites and ideas that it becomes hard to pick and choose what to do.

In the past, I have done a lot of my own research and curriculum writing.  I have written my own history lessons as well as my own science and math lessons.  We have used lap books, library books, and various online sites to put together units that cover a variety of topics from China to our current unit on the ocean (we will be starting our lap book portion of the unit next week!).  The downside is that writing your own curriculum is very time consuming.  It takes several hours to prepare just one unit for one subject which then only covers about 7-10 days.  Also, if you are not careful, printing off the various lap book pages and unit sheets can really add up in cost.

The upside to developing your own curriculum is that your kids have a learning tailored to them.  I like it because I can teach both of my children the same topic at the same time just adding various levels of difficulty depending on their learning ability.  My kids have thoroughly enjoyed every unit that we have done thus far and have learned a great deal.  The self-created units are more hands-on and usually have more activities and less "textbook" teaching.  We are able to tailor each learning experience to allow for more "teachable moments" which in turn lead to a more expanded learning because we do not feel bound to a textbook to learn what they "say" we need to learn.

While I would love to write up all my kids units for every subject, time just does not allow for it.  As the children get older, their units require more in-depth study to prepare.  Because of our lack of time and increased difficulty of subject matter, I make sure we have a "spine" for each of our subjects in order to have a goal in mind, and we then base lessons off of this text and supplement with the Internet as well as other library books.  I am so glad we have a textbook option, but one of the biggest problems with textbooks is they are EXPENSIVE!  That is why I wanted to share some of the ways I avoid having to pay the higher prices...buy used!  Here are some sites that I have used to purchase my used texts:

Vegsource Home school - Vegsource is a site that actually covers a wide variety of topics.  They have a home school section that has a "Swap Board."  You can use this board to advertise books that you have for sale as well as find used curriculum for all sorts of learning styles. One thing I do not like about this site is that the list format they use is sometimes difficult and time consuming to search through. However, I recently found a World History 5th grade A Beka book that I was able to purchase for $5.00 shipping included.  It saved me quite a bit so it was definitely worth it to me!

EBay.com - Of course, E Bay is my good ol' standby.  I have purchased tons of books as well as sold many books/items on this site.  My most recent purchase was a set of 4 books that would have been close to $100 if I would have purchased them at regular price. The books have been recently discontinued, and it was going to be difficult to even find them, but as usual...you can find just about anything on E Bay! The books were brand new with the stickers still in tack, and I paid $26 with $4.00 shipping.

There are also several Yahoo! groups that have used curriculum for sale.  You can search in the Yahoo! groups for just about any "type" of home schooling you want, and you will find a group to join (many of them have "for sale" areas).  One group that  I found was the Use Home School Books  group.

These are just a few of the options that you have when it comes to purchasing curriculum. I guess you could say that I am a very patient person when it comes to buying curriculum because I am willing to wait until I know that I have a good deal before I make a purchase. I buy curriculum in advance -usually beginning in about December (or whenever I see a good deal!) looking for the following school year's books. And, I always keep in mind that one day down the road, we will be finished using our curriculum, and I will sell it all over again!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

GREAT Math Learning Site!

A couple of months ago, I was introduced to the website www.kahnacademy.com through another website that I follow.  We have only used it a couple of times because we are actually in the process of "reviewing" another online math curriculum.  However, tonight on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, the maker/creator of Khan Academy was featured in the Education Nation portion of the show.

When the clip came on, the kids said, "Hey...it is Khan Academy...we have that!"  I listened to the remainder of the interview/news clip and was reminded of why I was so drawn to the website in the first place.  The Khan Academy is a great site for just good old math basics practice.  The site has educational videos that correspond and help teach the various math concepts.  I must admit that I have not used the video clips as of yet, but I am looking forward to seeing just what they offer in the very near future.

On the website, the Khan Academy has a video portion and also a practice portion.  In the practice portion, the student works his/her way through a maze of math topics on various levels.  If the student is struggling with the concept or needs to be instructed on the idea, there are videos located on that webpage (at the top of the practice area) that the student can click on to be shown how to work those particular types of problems.  As one level is mastered, the next level is opened for practice.  The student is give a choice of a 2-3 suggested areas of study, and they choose what they would like to learn and click into the lesson.  They are taken through a series of problems on that designated topic.  The student is then required to master the topic by getting 10 problems in a row correct.  At that point, they are allowed to move on.

Throughout the lesson, the student is earning points and "badges" that pop up on the screen at various times.  There are badges for "speed," "answering 12 problems," "going transient," etc.  You can then click into your point area to see how you are doing and see how many badges you have earned.  The student can also see what he/she has mastered and what they have yet to master.  Even I have had a lot of fun with the website.  I have been working my way through the math progression ladder myself.  I decided go through the site on my own that way I would be able to see exactly what my children would be using with the site.  Also, it is fun to be able to see how quickly I can answer the questions and get through the topics.

I will say that I am very impressed with what this site has to offer.  It is a wonderful tool for any parent - home schoolers and public schoolers alike.  Probably the greatest part of all is that it is absolutely FREE!  So, check it out and see if this is a program that could work for you.