Saturday, July 4, 2009

Choosing Curriculum and a Freebie for You from Me

I am so excited!! The curriculum we ordered from Rainbow Resource is here!! We were all waiting for the UPS man's knock!

How do you choose what to buy for each child for school each year?

This is what I do:

1. I decide on the topics to be covered for History and Science for the next year. I have a running list of what topics we have done since we started homeschooling and that helps me to see what we have covered so far. For History we do the next time period in chronological order and that makes things easy. For science we do not do things in any certain order but I try and make sure we hit all the major topics in a very loose rotation.

2. For other subjects I look to see what areas are weak and what needs more attention. To choose what program/curriculum to use for those needs I look at what has worked for that child before or what we have liked as a family. Also, I am sorry to say, price makes a BIG difference! I have curriculum I want but can not afford and so had to settle for something that is good but not what I ultimately wanted.

3. Then I look at the resources I already have on that subject. I want to make sure to utilize the things we have and like. I also do not want to order things I already have.

4. Next, I look at my favorite websites and catalogs. (Next week I am going to do some posts with lists of my favorite sites). I want to see what new things are out on the market since the last time I did this topic. What looks good?? Have my friends recommended any resources?

5. During the school year I am looking for new resources that look good and putting them in a folder in my online bookmarks (I use Startaid so I can access my bookmarks no matter what computer I am on, even at the library, and they are saved online in case my computer crashes). That means of course that I check that folder for things I have been looking at over the past year(s) and see what still looks good, what things are on the topics/areas of need for the coming year. If things are not needed for the coming year I move them to a different folder with next years date. If things do not still look like something we need I delete them. The online list is helpful also because I can take my hubby to my online list and just click on the items one at a time so he can see and read about them and help me make the decisions on what to buy, what does not seem needed, what is not a good fit for our family, and what is overkill. Since I already have books.... LOL lots of them.... LOL about 3,ooo of them... Free Smileys Free Smileys my hubby has to reign me in and say... "We already have resources for that, you don't really need it!"

6. Then I make a list. I do the list on my Curriculum Planner sheet pages that I made on my spreadsheet program. I write each subject on separate pages so I can see the amount of things I want/need for each subject. That helps me keep things in control and not go overboard on wants for any one area, mostly a problem for History. I transfer the things from my online bookmark list and if there are any new things I have recently found I add them to both lists, online bookmarks and Curriculum Planner sheets.

7. This list is also for comparing prices between companies. The companies I use the most are Rainbow Resource and Amazon. I do use other companies and you will see the lists of my favorites when I do that future post so be watching for it. Click on the picture below to see more detail of one of the sheets I used this year. I gave you ONE of my History pages. There were two total I think... and the second page was almost full too!!! LOL I told you I have trouble limiting myself on History!

The book that is crossed off is one we (translated "my husband") decided not to get. Then my husband wanted to see the books listed a different way so I transferred everything to new pages (the check marks on the right were to let me know which ones I had copied so I did not miss any).

I use Rainbow Resource because they have such a great selection, great reviews and a wonderful HUGE catalog!!! I look forward to it coming each spring and this year my dd saw the mailman walking toward our house with a large book and said, "Woohoo, I think our Rainbow Resources Catalog is here!" and she met him at the door. She was jumping with excitement!!! LOL Free Smileys

I use Amazon to search for and buy used, cheaper copies of the curriculum/books I want. I have to factor in the shipping because with shipping for used stuff it comes from different providers and costs $3.99 per book. With Rainbow Resource orders over $150 get free shipping. So the prices for the Amazon listings includes the 3.99 shipping for better comparison of prices. I can usually find some great deals however and those books we sometimes order a few at a time so it does not tax our budget as much.

8. Below you will find one of the final pages we used for looking at, reviewing, and deciding on what resources to buy for this year. The way my husband wanted them re-organized, that I mentioned above, was by company. Especially the Rainbow Resource/Amazon comparison. Once I combined the resources instead of having them by subject I only had 3 pages... but all three were FULL!!

If you click on the picture you will see it larger.

The stars were for things I definitely knew I wanted/needed. The pink lines are for maybe's and the blue lines are for things that will have to wait or hubby decided we did not need at all. I highlighted in yellow, in the price column, the things we decided to buy from Rainbow Resource to clarify that. After the order was put in and received; I checked them off with big check marks using a marker (not shown).

Hopefully, you can see that these pages are very helpful in my planning for each year. I made them a long time ago and use them every year.

I would like to share with my readers the spreadsheet you see in the pictures above.
Here is the link to my Curriculum Planner Sheet on HSLaunch
You can download the pdf at the link above and then use it in your homeschool planning.

Let me know what you think, especially if you download it and use it. You can also rate it at HSLaunch.

And please leave a comment about how you choose curriculum or leave a link if you have a similar post on your blog.

Besides the posts on favorite sites for choosing curriculum I want to do a post with what we already ordered for this year sooo be on the lookout for that.

I have been working on this post all week and now it is done. Time to spend time with my family and celebrate the birthdays and the 4th of July!!!

Thanks to all our present and past service men and women,
Daddy I love you and miss you,


Sheri said...

MY! You have been busy already! I haven't given too much thought really, which is stupid-but I am so focused on a bunch of mini-projects and the trip-I have it all locked in my brain somewhere. I see you got MOH 3? I think we're suppose to review a company that has that...I hope so anyhoo-cuz I have been wanting to see what the MOH is all about. Luckily-I have most of what we need...I just need to order consumable math worktexts, a few DVDs to accompany the Latin I want my dd to work thru, a few odds and ends-mostly stuff for me to use as reference. Yippee for that. Cost is a huge factor for us as well-I try to never pay full price (couldn't anyway-but even if I could-I would really hunt for a cheaper price b4hand)...I am going to do some shopping at the Art museum in DC-want to get some reprints for the boy to study for his art appreciation for the year, and I am sure I will find some other cool books/activities to tie into the school year at most of the museums...Once I get back-I will have to get serious and figure out exactly what we need, what is a "gee that would be swell to have" and the "only in our dreams" stuff-order the essentials and work around what we cannot afford. Luckily-the TOS crew review items from last year have been such a blessing-have covered a lot of the things we couldn't do...and this year seems to be extra stuff we can always use. Whoopie!

LOVE Rainbow Resource-been using them for years-I devour that catty like a good novel!

Yah-too bad we won't have time to take a drive to DE...hubby is working with a gal (we're bringing her the dog she needs to use) and so we're tied to the VA area-but luckily my sis-in-law can come down and visit and take us to a few places whilst he is working-the rest we'll see as a family. I would be cool to meet-and we may someday!

Have a blessed 4th today and enjoy your fam. Happy Bday to your son on his 15th! My how fast they grow!!! My baby will be 8 on Wed. Makes me feel rather oldish for sure!

Take care and we'll be chattin

Anonymous said...

Hello sweetheart,

I stop by your blog so many times and don't leave a note. This time I wanted to encourage you on your love for learning and teaching. Hope you can get the border thing fixed on the sidebar...if you need help let me know. We can make it a date night. Love, hubby

Michele said...

Hey Deb, Wow, great post! Definatly encouraged me to get started on planning for next year. Hopefully we can get together so i can glean some wisdom from you and your many years experience. Your love of teaching, learning and books shows strongly and is very contagious. I love you and miss you and will see you Sunday


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