- ask friends or your local homeschool group for suggestions. find and join local homeschool yahoo groups. most of these will let you post any curriculum question you have and you will be really surprised at the responses you can get.
- request catalogs. i much prefer having a catalog to hold in my hands than view page after page online, plus i can highlight, sticker, or dog ear any page that i want to remember. take advantage of the free ones. Rainbow Resource is still my favorite catalog for doing my bulk research. and the catalog is H-U-G-E and is free. others i have used are CBD and Homeschooling Books (CBD sends out a discounted books homeschool catalog once a year). also, most publishers will have catalogs, but will also obviously make their curriculum out to the best thing ever created. i always prefer a non-biased distributor.
- book review websites. my favorite website to finalize my curriculum choice is Homeschool Reviews. it is free from publisher bias and does not just list links to reviews. it has had almost everything i have ever tried to research. or, just try to Google your book, and add the keyword "review" after. but, scrolling through links is a beast.....
- libraries. you will be pleasantly surprised at how much you can get from your local library. if they don't have what you want, they can sometimes do an inter-library loan from another branch. and even more rare, you can ask them to buy a book to keep in their stock, IF it is new and they think it will generate a lot of check outs. also, try college libraries. most have elementary teacher editions of curriculum for education majors. (become a friend to your librarian....make them cookies or sweet breads and you will be amazed at how quickly they will "have" a book for you faster than anyone else)
2. price it out.
- get the full from publisher price. this gives you the cap. you know that you will not spend any more than that amount (plus shipping).
- distributor prices (like the catalogs listed above). they will have new books, but will cut prices by 5-50% at times.
- find used book sellers online. my ultimate go to place is still and always will be Amazon. i get almost everything from there. more to try are Homeschool Classifieds (thanks Sally and Sarah), and VegSource (thanks karin and kindra). Ebay and half.com (owned by Ebay--thanks Julie and Justin) are also good places to search.
3. the purchasing. IN ORDER....
- check local groups, websites, friends, and newspapers for used curriculum fairs in your area. this is my first stop among purchasing. i make a list of all the ones in the area (usually always held in the summer or late spring) and map them out on my calendar. i try to go to as many as possible. check back later this week for my ultimate guide to curriculum fair shopping. it's an art unto itself.
- used book stores. this will save you shipping and you can usually find some good deals on teachers books, CD roms, books on tape, and paperbacks. locally, i live and breathe at McKays Used Books and CD's.
- purchase from distributor websites or distributor catalogs.
- school supply stores. especially the ones that have winter sales going.
- buy from new curriculum fairs. this is my second to last resort. it will save in shipping...unless you spend a whole tank in gas money to get there.....
- buy straight from the publisher online or through catalog. last resort, but sometimes necessary if it is a hard to find item, a brand new edition, or sold out anywhere else.
if your brow creases as mine does, when you think of all the trails you have to hike to get your books, you are NOT alone. homeschooling is not marketed as easy, and it never should be. i hope this blog can help you to ease some of the time wasted that i did over the past 4 years. happy hunting!!!
and always, comment with your tips to be published in later posts!