What To Do With Homechool Used Curriculum

When we go to homeschool conferences, we lug around a suitcase on wheels to carry all the books we purchase. And when my kids were little, we'd receive a delivery of our new curriculum in the mail and we'd excitedly open the box to browse through our new material, and sometimes that excitement would wane as we realized it wasn't a good fit for us.  I have one history program I purchased about 4 years ago, which was pretty expensive, and it's still in a box because it was just too overwhelming for us. So over the years I have accumulated a lot of books and curriculum. For several reasons, I have decided to sort through all our materials and books, and gather them all for our used curriculum sale this week. Well, it's not 'our' used curriculum sale. It's our homeschool support group's used curriculum sale. If it were mine, I would've scheduled it at a later date, since Saturday is my oldest son's wedding. Yes, as if I don't have enough to do, I add this to my to-do list, right? Well, to tell you the truth, I wasn't given an option. You see, I've had some boxes of books sitting in the garage (my husband's man cave) and my husband said I need to do something with these boxes.  

Normally I take things I don't use or need to the local Goodwill store or give it away to friends, but what to do with used curriculum?  We have several support groups in our area that have used curriculum sales, so that's one option. If you'd like to find one in your area, this is a good site to start your search for a homeschool support group.  Most support groups hold a used curriculum sale just before the homeschool conventions, which are usually in May. This way families have had a chance to sell old materials and now have money to purchase new. Also, families have had the chance to look for books and used curriculum that we need for the coming year and can be ready to purchase what we have not found at the homeschool conference.

Another option, which is what I'll do with whatever doesn't sell, is to post them for sale online. There are several websites that I've used in the past for purchases and for selling. Like I said, most of our curriculum is now online. Even our books are online.  The only exception to that is my youngest daughter. Although most of her curriculum is online, she loves her books.  She likes to look through her book shelves, pick a book, and curl up in her bed or the sofa and just read.  And she reads out loud for everyone to hear. Right now she's playing hangman online using the word list from the book she's been reading this week. 

I don't know what I'll do if I come back home with all these boxes.  I don't think my husband will let me take them out of the car and back in the house. I wish we had a homeschool curriculum library where I could donate them.  We don't have that in our area.  Well, before my mind starts to wander to the thought of starting a lending library for homeschoolers, I'll close now and go pack those boxes into my van for tomorrow's sale! But I'd love to hear what you all do with your used curriculum!

Breaking the Mold

It’s getting closer to homeschool graduation day for my oldest daughter.  It’s a bitter-sweet time. One of our friends is a photographer, so last week we went to a local park/beach and she took pictures in her graduation gown, with her best friends, and some pictures doing the things she loves most, which is soccer and long-boarding. Some of the pictures were near the beach because she loves the beach so much.  As I posted some of the pictures on Facebook, some of my friends who don’t homeschool commented on how different her pictures were from the average graduation pictures they’ve seen. And each of the girls were wearing different colored graduation gowns.  I explained that as homeschoolers, we think outside the box and break the mold.

Our homeschool support group has a graduation and promotion ceremony every year. As a matter of fact, we also have a yearbook.  For the graduation we have the option of standing with our graduate and speaking or pre-recording a message to her.  I’m going to opt for the pre-recorded message because I’m afraid I’ll start crying.  I realize I’m done with her academic education.  And I’m closing that chapter of our lives. That doesn’t mean she’s done with her own education, though. Whether she chooses to continue with college and university immediately, later, or not at all, she will continue to learn and grow in so many ways. She is just beginning a new chapter in her life, but learning will never end.  I am excited for her and I am looking forward to this new phase in our lives and in our relationship.

As homeschoolers, we realize that education does not need to be confined to what we learn within four walls. Whether you’re homeschooling, roadschooling, worldschooling or unschooling, there is a vast amount of information to soak in.  As our kids are growing, the trick is to foster a love for reading and learning, to encourage the inquisitive minds kids have and to get excited to learn new things with them.  Show them by example how to get excited about new things. We’ve made and are continuing to make beautiful memories learning together.

My son and his friends had a blast this week with their science experiments.  I didn’t mean to make a pun there.  There were no explosions, but it was fun.  In his Chemistry course he was learning about Kinetics and Catalysts. He was so excited as he took videos and pictures of the different reactions to the mixtures.
In one experiment he and his friends mixed Hydrogen peroxide using yeast as the catalyst. They also used different concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. They added soap and watched the reaction of the oxygen being released as the process was sped up by the yeast and the oxygen escaped into soapy bubbles. The soap was used to make the release of the oxygen observable.

These are the kinds of memories I will always treasure. Our curiosity spills over into learning as we research, experiment and have adventures together.  Homeschooling is more than a way to educate my children. It’s  a way of life for us. It’s natural learning. And when it’s graduation day and you put a slide show together,  it’ll be so much fun to have all those pictures that reflect the fun, the memories and who your children are. Like our daughter’s graduation pictures reflect who she is and the many things she enjoys doing. 

The Universe in Perspective

After having spent time last week on a study of the universe with Sam, I knew that it was something we would need to review. My husband brought home a movie about astronauts in outer space. He didn't know about our science lesson from last week and that Sam had some trouble understanding some of it. So it wasn't something he planned, but the timing was perfect.  Sam got to watch the movie with us and she observed some of the things that were in the book she read in her lesson on Exploring the Universe. She was able to see what an astronaut wears in space. She watched a girl putting on a space suit and noticed that the suit is bulky, heavy and thick. In one of the scenes the astronauts were in trouble as they were running out of oxygen, so she understood that the space mask supplied the oxygen for the astronauts, which helped them to breathe. She saw that they didn't need to wear their space suits or masks if they were in the shuttle. And she also noticed items floating around in the space shuttle, like a clipboard and a pencil, just as her lesson had spoken of last week.

In addition to watching the movie about space, the shuttle, and the astronauts, this week we had a lunar eclipse, or what's been described as the blood moon. Sam didn't stay up to watch it at three in the morning, but we talked in simple terms about what an eclipse means. I showed her videos and pictures how the moon looked to help her understand, since she is a visual spacial learner.  Some of the pictures showed planet Mars and the star Spica near the moon.  Sam recognized that a star and a planet look the same to us from this distance.  So together we looked up how to tell the difference between a star and a planet. I've never liked just giving my kids an answer.  When they ask a question, we look it up.  I guess it's the researcher in me.  I love looking up things.  So Sam learned that planets revolve around the sun and they almost never twinkle. She said, "Like the song, twinkle, twinkle little star?"  Exactly!  So Sam got to learn a little more than we had bargained for or than her lesson of the universe covers, thanks to the eclipse.

As I looked up pictures and videos for her, my thirst to learn more got the best of me. I mean, it's not every day we have a blood moon. So as Sam repeated the lesson from last week and moved forward a little more with it, I continued some research of my own. Her online lessons free me up to do things like this sometimes. She also likes the feeling of being able to work independently at times, while having me close enough to observe her or help her if needed.  Some of the things I found in my research were so interesting. Certainly more than I could share with Sam, but they were things that I could talk to my high schoolers about. Homeschooling my kids has give me such a thirst for learning. I've never enjoyed reading, writing and learning as much as I have the last 15 years. I wish I'd had more freedom as a kid and a teenager to discover the world of learning, but my years in school consisted of rushing to get homework done and sticking to the curriculum placed before me. Homeschooling is more natural learning, at least in our home it is. Foster a love of reading, and the world is your oyster. I have to add that I think it is so cool that I didn't plan to rent that movie my husband brought home, nor did I plan a lunar eclipse, yet it helped Sam to understand the very lessons she was having trouble with last week. This just confirms for us that homeschooling is God's plan for our family.

Exploring the Universe

This week has been chaotic in our home. We're getting closer to the date of our oldest son's wedding. We're shopping for the dresses and the suits, shoes to match, fitting for alterations, calling invitees who haven't returned their RSVP's, and preparing for the Rehearsal Dinner, which will be at our house. At times like these I'm so glad for the online curricula we use for Samantha.  I don't need to worry about planning lessons with either one. I feel like I have homeschool help.  If only I could get household help, but that's a different story.  In addition to having the lessons already planned and providing progress reports, I have teaching guides that help me dig deeper into subjects and worksheets which help reinforce what she learned online.

Sam's science lesson this week was about exploring the universe.  This is a completely new topic for her.  We had to take this a little slow this week. The science lesson began with a short story about a boy getting into his astronaut suit and going into his shuttle. His space shuttle was a big box which seemed to have been colored and made into a simple space ship by the boy.  I think this will be a fun project for Samantha and her friend to do together.  The boy in the story talked about his pencil floating when he let go of it because in space things float, and he talked about the things he saw in space. When Sam finished the story, there were some discussion questions. This was helpful in helping me determine that while she understood some of the things the boy saw in space, she didn't necessarily understand what space is.  

While a typical child may understand this in 1st grade, Samantha, who is a teenager with Down syndrome doing first grade science, had a hard time conceptualizing what space is.  Outer space or our universe is not something she has seen or that we've talked about all that much.  So I found some videos online that we looked at together.  She was amazed by some of the videos we saw. Actually, I was amazed myself.  Just seeing how small we are and our earth is in the big perspective of the universe.  I had to constrain myself so as not go into other areas. With my other kids this would've led to so much deeper conversation into Creation versus Evolution, constellations, gravity, speed of light. Samantha and I looked at a video that showed the earth zooming out to the universe, a video of the planets, stars and galaxy, and videos of space shuttles.  We will continue studying the universe for some time. 

This is one of the things I love about homeschooling. Learning can be so interesting and exciting. I get to observe the wonder and the spark in their eyes as they learn something new and something amazing, and I get to learn with them. It doesn't need to stop at the wonder of watching them take their first step. I cannot capture every moment on camera, but I sure wish I could. 

Learning With and About Our Children

As I observed Samantha doing her  physical science lesson on Motion, I learned some things....not so much about science, but about my daughter and areas that we need to improve on.  There were vocabulary words in her lesson that I thought she should know already, but because they're not words that we use every day, like slither and burrow, she was not familiar with them.  So in addition to adding these words to her weekly vocabulary, I'll also have some homework for myself and the rest of the family to use these words whenever possible in conversation. Because Sam has Down syndrome, if she doesn't use or hear a word on a regular basis, it's more reasonable to understand that she is not going to be familiar and, therefore, not understand the meaning of the word. So when she was given a selection of vocabulary words and asked to select which of these words indicated motion, she was not sure when she came to slither and burrow whether or not to select them.

At her age, she likes to work independently. But even if our kids are older and don't want mom looking over their shoulder at all times, we're still their parent and teacher and we need to be close by for guidance. Before I get off subject (because I do have an opinion on the 'helicopter mom' metaphor), it's because I was looking over her shoulder that I noticed she was having trouble with some of the words. So I used my handy dandy Google tool and found some pictures of burrowing. This helped her to decide on her own whether burrow is a type of motion. I try not to give my kids the answers; I want to help them find the answer on their own. See, I'm the type of homeschool mom that when my kids ask me how to spell a word, I have them sound it out.  As a matter of fact, even if it's my husband, I'll have him sound it out.  This mom doesn't take her homeschooling teacher hat off for dad either. ;)

As we were doing the lesson, there is something else I learned. I need to get Samantha started with an art curriculum. There was a portion of the lesson where I left her alone because she was asked to draw pictures of something in motion.  As I was taking the towels out of the wash and putting them in the dryer, I heard Sam laughing so hard that I had to go see what was so funny.  I mean, I thought she was doing science! Well, I just have to post a picture here of her drawing.

She thought her picture of her dog was so funny, she couldn't stop laughing.

Next she was asked to draw a picture of an animal in motion, so she chose a bunny rabbit. This time I helped her out by showing her the different colors and tools she could use within the program to help her with her drawing.  I gave her some tips here and there on how to draw the bunny, too. I'm sorry.  I'm not such a great artist either. I'm looking forward to starting the art curriculum, not just for Sam, but for myself too.  We may learn a thing or two together.  I'll keep you all posted on how that goes. But in the meantime, what are you learning about your kids as you are teaching them? As we go through curriculum teaching our kids, sometimes we learn right along with them, and sometimes we learn about our kids.