One of the perks, and drawbacks, of homeschooling is choosing (what you believe to be) the right curriculum for your child…and then purchasing it. Some companies offer complete curriculums for hundreds to thousands of dollars. I am not a fan of the boxed curriculum. Some are, and it works for them, and that’s fine. I am more of a do-it-myself-er when it comes to picking educational materials for each subject for my kiddos. So, each year I sit at the computer for hours (or days) reading reviews, scouring sites for used copies and the best prices on consumable materials (i.e. workbooks) that I need for my lesson plans. I have my favorite sites, which is what I decided to share today, in hopes of maybe saving someone a little time and money.
For new materials, such as handwriting books or math workbooks, I usually find the best prices at Rainbow Resource. Their prices are usually better than Amazon, but not always. Plus, the company is a family-owned company, and offer materials chosen and reviewed from a place of “been there, done that” as homeschoolers themselves. This is where I find the most comprehensive descriptions of items, plus reviews from customers who actually use the curriculum materials. Shipping is free over $50. I have read glowing reviews of their customer service, but I have never had the need to contact their customer service, so that in itself is enough to keep them as my number one place to shop for anything that I am buying new.
For anything that I can possibly buy used, such as textbooks and teacher manuals, my go-to is ebay. This happens to be my favorite place to sell curriculum materials that we no longer need. Ebay also has a sister site for buying/selling used books at half.com. The prices here are usually comparable to buying used on Amazon, but I always check between the two to compare. Occasionally, buying new on Amazon is actually cheaper than buying used because the new price is so close to the used price and Amazon offers free shipping on $25 for books. However, if used prices are better, and you can find multiple used books you need from the same seller, half.com gives a break on media mail shipping charges, whereas sellers on Amazon do not usually offer the same shipping discounts on used items. My absolute favorite site for buying books in volume is Thriftbooks. They offer free shipping on $10! Plus, you earn credit towards a $5 off coupon for every $50 you spend. Some of the books qualify for additional discounts of 2 for $7, 3 for $10, or 4 for $12. And while buying used will save you money, be prepared to occasionally receive items not in the described condition, and longer shipping times.
For free printable items, such as writing prompts, science diagrams, history maps or handwriting sheets, I find Pinterest to be a great resource, especially for items created by other homeschoolers. TeacherPayTeacher is a fantastic resource of teacher created items, however not all are free. You can search by grade level, subject, or by search terms. If you sort by price, there are almost alway freebies as well as very inexpensive items. For the creative homeschooler, TPT is a great place to sell your own creations.
Lastly, the best resource for free quality educational materials is none other than the local library. Local libraries usually offer ebooks and interlibrary loan, if the physical book you need is not available at their branch.
Once the shopping is complete, sit back and wait for the stacks of media-mail envelopes of books to arrive. True story, the mailman figured out we were homeschoolers based on the volume of books delivered to our house. He suggested we get a bigger mailbox. Just something to keep in mind.