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Used Curriculum Sites

That’s the catchiest title I’ve ever come up with.

WELCOME if you’re here from the Heart of the Matter Online Virtual Homeschool Conference. And YEAH for you for making it through my little talk on Used Curriculum Buying and Selling without piercing your own eardrums with knitting needles.

As promised, here is the list of Used Curriculum on-line sites that my homeschool readers and I have come up with.

And my personal favorite:

For new consumables, I recommend the following sites:

For wonderful free printables, go to:

Thanks for stopping by, and happy curriculum shopping!

Help From the Homeschool Contingency

I am scheduled to speak at the Heart of the Matter Online Virtual Homeschool Conference which begins next week. My time is Saturday, August 2nd, from 11:45 to 12:45 EST.

My grand plan included pre-recording my talk, so that I might employ the use of EDITING techniques. Because of, you know, my propensity to say something inappropriate when nervous.

My plan, however, was foiled when I recently learned that the conference software will only work on computers that run Windows.

Pffffftttt. My Mac spits on the use of Windows.

You see, we’re an all-Mac family. I worried that my burgeoning career as a homeschool speaker would be short-lived.

(And in truth, it may be, if I get really really nervous.)

A new plan was hatched. I will be throwing myself on the mercy of my in-laws, and commandeering their inferior Windows based computer, so that I might give my speech, and then be open for a little Q & A.

One hitch. I have to speak live. Not just the Q & A, which I did try awfully hard to figure out a way to pre-record that as well. You know, anticipate the questions, and pretend it was live. But, that would have been deceptive. Frowned upon in Christian homeschool circles. And by God.

Therefore, live it is. I will have a fog horn sitting by the computer, should I have need of censorship. And perhaps a small glass of my mother-in-law’s stash of Port Wine.

I ain’t skeert.

I’m in the midst of putting down my thoughts and doing the rest of my fact gathering. And I wanted to ask my homeschooling compadres for some help. I will be speaking on the subject of Used Curriculum. There are about a gazillion used curriculum websites. I have a few of my own personal favorites, but I want to know which ones y’all use and know are reputable.

Thank you ever so much!

Math Games

No one kicked their heels up higher than the teacher on the last day of school, here in the Fiddle House of Higher Learning. I may have pulled a femur. If that’s possible.

But after a week and a half, I already find myself planning for the next year. And already worrying that everything I stuffed into their heads will leak out the next time they sneeze.

I can’t wait for Biology!

But as you well know, learning never stops. I’m always looking for opportunities to quiz them on a random subject. When they least expect it.

Sometimes, the opportunity just falls into my lap. Like last night when I was tucking the girls into bed. Emme loves to play the “how old will I be when such-and-such is whatever” game.

For example:

Emme:Mom. How old will I be when the twins (very good friends of ours are adopting twins) are 5?”

Me: “Well Emme. They are 1 and you are 8. What is 8 minus 1?”

A pause just long enough for the 6 year old sister to horn in with, “SEVEN.”

Me: “So, Emme, you will always be 7 years older than the twins. So when the twins are 5, how old will you be?”

Cailey: “TWELVE.”

I will be enrolling Cailey in college when she turns 10. She’s a little math prodigy. Much to her older sister’s chagrin.

This fun game went on long enough for me to realize that I might want to implement some math drills into our summer vacation.

And then, it continued even longer, until my brain swelled to twice it’s natural size from the headache that was forming.

Emme:Mom. How old will YOU be when I’m 35?”

Now I had to think. Without the aid of my calculator. Or an Excedrin. I answered, unsure if the strain would cause my head to explode all over the pink princess bedding, “Um, 74.”

Emme: “Wow. How old will you be when I’m 50?

Cailey:Dead.

Note to self: Pick up paperwork to send #2 child to a boarding school. In a really harsh climate.

The Ultimate Garage Sale for Homeschoolers

This is a post that only intrepid (read: crazy) homeschoolers will enjoy. If you are not a homeschooler, and yet make it through to the end, without your eyes glazing over, I’ll have a little something special for you.

Right after our state homeschool convention, there is a used curriculum sale that is held annually in a larger city, here in Florida. It is about a 75 minute drive for me. This sale is no ordinary used curriculum sale. It is the mother of all sales. Other curriculum sales strive to be this kind of sale, but will fall short every single time.

I never miss it.

But, there’s a catch. It begins at 8:00 on a Saturday morning, and only is open until 10:30 am. And it is attended by nearly every homeschooler in the state. Or at least, it seems like it. In other words, you just pray that everyone remembered to shower first.

The books are all organized by grade/subject, and the room is the size of a gymnasium. It is the most well run and organized sale I’ve ever seen. In my life. And I’ve seen a lot of sales.

This year, I was accompanied by two of my SILs, Trish and Sue. This was Trish’s first year. She was skeptical. The plan was to hit the highway by o-five-forty-five. Because you have to be there early. To stand in line. Kind of like Disney World. But, without the fatalities.

Last year we braved torrential rains to get there. This year, it was a brush fire, causing serious smoke on the highway. Trish, a white knuckle passenger, said, “What will we do? We could just turn around, right?”

Insert maniacal laughter. (mine)

“ARE YOU INSANE? A LITTLE FORREST FIRE? IT’LL TAKE MORE THAN THAT TO STOP US.”

Fortunately, the smoke cleared.

When we arrived, the line was already substantial. Causing me to rethink our departure time. Trish became even more skeptical. These pictures will give you an idea of the line, when we arrived in record time at 6:45 am. The first picture is the view to the entrance. The second shot was the view around the corner. And the line kept going. By 8:00, I think it wrapped around the building. Prompting a new zip code to be issued.

I did an impromptu interview of the people in the front of the line. “So, what time did y’all get here?” They told me 3:15. AM. Awesome. Lots of folks bring chairs and snacks. Then, just before the doors open, someone from their group takes the chairs back to their cars. Some chairs are simply abandoned. In the hopes that they’ll still be there when the sale is over.

Since this is a Christian organization sponsoring the event, it’s a safe bet that a chair hasn’t been swiped yet. Homeschoolers are a pretty well behaved bunch, for the most part.

Oh, and this is fun. At 7:15, the organizers open a hallway of FREE STUFF. With some really great books. My theory is, this is the stuff that wasn’t claimed by the sellers last year. But, I could be wrong. That FREE business may be the reason I get up a whole lot earlier next year. Although, I may travel that lonely road by myself. We’ll see.

This was what I scored. And I only paid $43.00 for all of it. I go armed with a “wish list” and was able to mark a few things off. And a couple of things were from the “free room.”

Trish is now a believer. She was able to find a teachers manual for Konos, (an older version, but still basically the same thing, I think only the cover is different) that retails for $99.00.

She paid $4.00.

My very favorite find of the year, was at a sale that I was actually a seller a month ago. I found the Konos Volumes 1, 2, and 3, Konos Compass, and two extra books (Obedience and Orderliness) that I can resell because they’re included in the Volumes. All for $100.00. Unheard of. Volume 1 all be itself usually sells for $50.00 used. Each volume is two years worth of material for studying Science, Bible, History, Geography, etc.

I’ll be organizing a carnival for homeschoolers to post what curriculum they’ll be using for this next year. Because I know how to host a carnival now. Mr. Linky is my friend. And I love to know what everyone is using.

I’m just nosy like that.

I’ll make a little announcement about that soon. It will be around the first part of July.

And now, as promised, enjoy. Kind of makes me want to go shopping for new jeans right about now. I usually look my very best under fluorescent lighting.

Conventional Wisdom

Information regarding the upcoming “Homeschool Virtual Conference” sponsored by Heart of the Matter will follow this post.

One of the many perks to being a homeschool mom, here in the House of Fiddle, is the opportunity to attend the yearly Homeschool Convention in our state. Fiddledaddy dutifully takes over the care and feeding of the offspring, so that I can take off like a bat out of a hot place attend the event beginning on Thursday. And drag my sorry return home on Saturday refreshed, recharged, and renewed. Ready to face another year of he homeschooling.

I usually attend with my SIL and favorite partner in crime, Trish. We really look forward to this time of the year. In fact, she called me in early December, after a particularly harrowing day, asking, “Is it too early to start packing?”

The actual seminars don’t begin until early Friday morning, but we make it a point to arrive at check-in on Thursday, to beat the crowd. And have plenty of time to peruse the exhibit hall. And paint our nails.

This year, though, the thought also occurred to 2000 other harried homeschool moms, and when we arrived at the exhibit hall five minutes after opening, we immediately began tripping over all the other homeschoolers. With their deadly carts.

Now, we brought our carts too, mind you. But, we used our carts to haul food up to our room. And then, wisely, we left them there. The cart people should be outlawed. They are a dangerous breed.

Just my two cents.

The first place we headed was to the Rock Solid booth to purchase all of our consumables (workbooks) for the year. They send out a 10% off coupon to be used only on Thursday. Hence, the large crowd. And the carts. After braving claustrophobia, bruised shins, and a 45 minute wait in line to pay, we returned to our room to unload. And unpack.

This is what I found in my suitcase.

My first born daughter had been campaigning hard to go with me. She went so far as to pack her own suitcase, complete with several coordinated ensembles. And her trusty puppy dog and yellow blanket.

I tried to sell her on the fact that her daddy would need her to help keep her sister and brother alive.

Not a good argument, in her estimation.

I wiped away a single tear, slammed my suitcase shut and hollered to Trish, “WOOHOO! FREEDOM!” And with that, we headed down to the exhibit hall again, to trip over more carts.

Trish and I are both serious homeschool convention attendees. We sit through as many seminars as humanly possible, and at night, sift through material, plan, and strategize until our eyes glaze over at 9:30. Then it’s lights out. A good nights sleep. With no commercial interruptions. And no little children waking us up at dark thirty.

Two nights out of the year, we get a full nights sleep. Heaven.

This year, I did something a little different. Instead of taking copious seminar notes long hand, in my unmistakable chicken scratch, I used my computer to type out my notes during the sessions. I could actually read what I had written afterwards. Genius. My plan was to blog live, but that plan was foiled when I didn’t bring the right adaptor cable.

The weekend ended all too soon on Saturday. In the driving rain, they kicked us to the curb. And we aimed the van toward home.

Four faces pressed up against the window to greet me when we pulled into the driveway. A banner hung on the front door, “WELCOME HOME MOMMY! WE MISSED YOU.” And I was smothered with hugs, kisses, and appreciation.

“Don’t ever leave us again,” Emme warned, as I tucked her into bed that night.

And I couldn’t help but wonder, “is it too early to begin packing for next year?”……….

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I wanted to give you homeschoolers, or you just “thinking about homeschooling” readers and opportunity to sign up for a virtual homeschool convention, sponsored by Heart of the Matter. The “convention” runs from Wednesday, July 30th through Sunday, August 3rd, and there is an “early bird” special for $19.95.

I’ve been asked to speak, and the topic I’ve chosen is “Buying Used Curriculum.” A subject near and dear to my heart.

If you sign up, be sure and tell them that I sent you in the “special instructions” box.

While it’s not a 3 day get-way, I think it will be hugely informative and fun. And LOOK! No pesky carts to trip over.

See you there.

Not Complaining About Florida Today

sundaysnippets.jpgI lived in Los Angeles for ten years. I still miss it. Miss my girlfriends. Miss my BFF, Kathy. Miss the weather. Miss the mountains. Miss the best garlic pizza in the history of all pizzas from Jacopos.

But, today, I’ll not complain about living in Armpit, Florida. Because, here in Florida, I can homeschool my children amid much support. The lawmakers in our fair state understand that as parents, we have the right to oversee our children’s education. And if we choose to teach them ourselves, we have a system in place to make sure that they are receiving a good education. A system of checks and balances, that include testing and/or home evaluations.

The statistics stand on their own. The homeschooled children in Florida and across the country, are certainly keeping up, and exceeding the educational standard set by our school systems. We have a lot of options. And help.

I have been following the homeschooling issues that Californians are facing. It seems that the California Court of Appeal recently decided that it is illegal for a family to homeschool, unless a parent is a certified teacher.

There is a petition put out by HSLDA for advocates of homeschooling to sign to support the “depublishing” of this ruling. To sign it, click here.

Also, at the bottom of the petition are a number of websites you can check out to become better familiar with this situation.

Homeschooling requires a lot of sacrifice, commitment, and dedication. And it’s not for everyone. Many children thrive and do extremely well in a public or private school setting. But it’s a very personal choice. Let’s keep the decision as to what is best for the children, in the parent’s hands. Not the government.

My 2 cents.

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This public service announcement is coming to you from the comfort of my bed. Well used kleenex are strewn about me, and my beloved bottle of Nyquil rests on my night stand.

The pestilence is once again residing in our home. It has taken down the three children and the main care provider.

Pray for us, that we don’t drive each other insane.

It would be a very short drive.

High School Daze

I have a precious reader named Carol, who just sent me a question regarding homeschooling.

“I have a homeschooling question for you. I have a daughter who is currently in 10th grade. We are looking into different options for her for school for maybe even the rest of this year, for sure next year. Homeschooling is one of the things we are considering. I know you’re not there yet with your kids, but I was hoping you could point me in the right direction as to where to look for info on homeschooling a high schooler. What do you plan on doing when your kids get that age?”

Well, Carol, I plan on making certain that I’m adequately medicated. I will then play my 8-track tapes that I’ve been saving, at full volume, and rock out to Queen and The Doobie Brothers, anytime my children have friends over. I will wear the same dress, everyday, for two weeks straight. And steadfastly refuse to brush my hair.

And further, I will sit in the back seat with Fiddledaddy, and flick him until he slugs me in the throat. Whereupon I will tattle on him. And take his favorite doll. Just for sport.

Oh, I jest. (Sort of.)

The high school years seem blissfully far away. We’re taking it one year at a time. I really do see us continuing to homeschool through high school. If we see that it continues to be what is best for our kids and our family.

I may sound like a broken record, but honestly, attend a homeschool convention if possible. I know that our local convention has all kinds of seminars on homeschooling high schoolers. In fact, I’ve already started packing for our homeschool convention.

It’s in May.

Depending on your local homeschooling laws, you could also look into duel enrollment. Homeschooled High School aged kids are able to take some local college courses. And there are a number of really wonderful on-line courses available, I know that Bob Jones really excels in this area.

Here is where I want to turn the discussion over to you all who are homeschooling high school aged kids, or have survived and are finished.

Also, I would love it if those of you who are teaching high school in the school system would weigh in with your experiences. What are some of the obstacles you are faced with when working within the “system” while trying to meet the needs of your students?

And let me say, for the record, how much I respect you all who are teaching in the public and private schools. I know that there are many many of you who have such a heart for the children. And that you put in very long hours, and take a lot of heat.

I’ve spoken with Carol a little bit about why she is considering a change. The only thing that she is comfortable divulging right now is that her school system is rather large, and is having a difficult time meeting the needs of students who need extra help.

I know she will appreciate any advice or ideas that you give her.

Y’all rock. Have a great weekend.

I’ll be back tomorrow with “Saturday Stirrings” and my new friend Mr. Linky.

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Homeschooling- It Ain’t For Sissies

Recently, as in today, I got an e-mail from a sweet reader asking me about homeschooling. I probably get at least a question a week asking me about some facet of homeschooling.

And the ones that begin with, “ARE YOU INSANE?” don’t count.

Today, Sara, sent me the following letter:

“Right now I am struggling with the decision to homeschool and go against the grain so to speak! LOL I was a teacher before having my children and now stay home. I know what the public schools are like here…and in my heart know I want to homeschool. The pressure is from all our friends that are getting ready to register for Kindergarten on Thursday. The “peer pressure” is killing me! 🙂 I would love some encouragement from another homeschool mom. How did you make the decision and what was it like in the beginning? Thanks so much!!!”

I love to rehash this story, so bear with me. When Fiddledaddy first broached the subject of homeschooling to me, Emme was 2, and I was sleep deprived with a brand new infant, Cailey. And my nipples may have been bleeding.

Through bloodshot eyes, I said the following words, “Are you insane?” And I may or may not have punched him in the throat. I’m not sure. The events are a bit fuzzy. What with all the lack of sleep, post partum depression, and the fact that my nipples were laying on the floor.

Receptive to the idea? Not so much.

It took me two more years to come around. By that time, I had read my friend, Lisa Whelchel’s book, So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling. She’s a real friend. Not one of my imaginary friends.

Lisa had been a seasoned homeschooler for many years before we started having babies. I think for a good number of years, she was the only person I knew that homeschooled.

She very gently talked to me about homeschooling a kindergartner. And her experiences. She even did it with 2 other preschoolers underfoot. They are teenagers now. Each unique and wonderfully well adjusted. And Lisa’s twitch will disappear in the next few years, I’m sure.

I jest.

Anyhoo, I warmed to the idea. But, it wasn’t until I attended my first homeschool convention, that I really felt like I could do it. I was blown away by the community of homeschoolers in our state. (We’re in Armpit, Florida.) There is a lot of support here, and the resources are numerous.

Sara, the first thing I would tell you is that you can’t do it alone. You need support. I know what you mean about facing all of the inevitable questions from well-meaning family and friends. And some not so well-meaning! You’ve got to thicken your skin a bit, and be prepared. Do a little research. Statistically, find out how homeschoolers fare on test scores alone. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Mostly though, you’ve got to go with your heart. Homeschooling isn’t for everyone. And it’s not always easy. But, if you really feel like it is the best thing for YOUR family (not your friends’), then you have to commit to it. And you’ve already earned a teaching degree! Why not apply it to your own children. The student to teacher ratio is excellent in a homeschool!

The hardest obstacle we face right now, is homeschooling with a nearly 3 year old, high maintenance, toddler hanging from the dining room light fixture. It’s a distraction.

I’ve solved this dilemma at present, by assigning a “helper” to Jensen, while I work with one child at a time in 20 minute intervals. This works when you have 3 children. And since their attention span is short at this age anyway, it makes sense for the Fiddle House of Higher Learning.

Sara, I don’t know what your state requires to homeschool. But, that’s the first place to start. Check into the closest homeschool convention. Get involved in a support group. And then enjoy this precious time with your little ones.

There are a lot of books available at the library on homeschooling. You’ll be overwhelmed at first, since there are so many different methods. I wish I had read Cathy Duffy’s “100 Top Curriculum Picks” when I started. (I’ve seen it at the library.)

And that’s another thing. Don’t get bogged down by the curriculum. My first year, I ordered the whole kindergarten kit from A Beka, because I wanted to take the guesswork out of it. I needed someone to lay it all out for me. I’ve since moved on to different curriculum for different subjects, but A Beka was a great jumping off point for me.

I wish I could give you a big old cyber hug. I know what a huge decision this is. The blogosphere is very full of wonderful homeschooling blogs and support.

I want to turn this over to y’all who homeschool. What is the best piece of advice you could offer Sara, or any other mom considering homeschooling?

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