2011-12 Curriculum, with Cost Analysis (just for fun!)

07.8.2011 | 9:42 am | Homeschooling

It’s almost time to gear up for school again! I made my curriculum decisions in early June and then I set to work buying everything we need—quite a task, because I buy everything I possibly can used, via homeschool curriculum boards online and also from our local homeschool consignment store. This allows me to buy books for half the retail price, sometimes much less. The only thing I buy new is consumable workbooks, and I even find those “used” sometimes, but with only a couple of pages filled out.
It’s hard mental work scouring the listings, and scoring an item can be very competitive. When I find something I want for the price I want, I have to jump on it quickly. Still, often, by the time my inquiry email reaches the seller, the book in question is already spoken for by someone whose email got there first. It can be very frustrating! But I stuck with it, kept emailing vigilantly, and within a week’s time I scored an entire curriculum for G at half the price of new. The items I buy are used, but in like-new condition (I ignore items listed in lesser condition).
So what did I choose? Let me share. :) I’m also going to list the retail price of each item, followed by the price I actually paid. Because I’m all thrifty like that, and seeing the difference makes me feel good.

Math- Abeka Arithmetic 3 I’ll be sticking with Abeka for math through elementary math, for sure. It’s hands down the most thorough, advanced, and traditional math program out there. Any curriculum that helps my 7 yr old score 99th percentile nationwide in math, is a keeper in my book. And it’s easy to teach: the lessons contain word-for-word dialogue for me to use to explain new concepts. I just can’t say enough good things about Abeka’s math program.
Materials Purchased: Teacher manual, Answer keys, Student Books- Retail Cost: $113. My Cost: $61.

Language- For the first semester, we’re going to finish up our Rod & Staff Building Christian English book. Then we’ll start Abeka Language 3. Both very strong, traditional language programs.
Materials Purchased: Teacher Manual, Answer key, Student Book- Retail Cost: $76.50. My Cost: $35.

Writing- Again, sticking with what has worked wonderfully for us: Writing With Ease 3. We used book 2 last year, and I saw G’s writing improve by leaps and bounds. He scored above 99th percentile nationwide on the writing fluency section of his testing in June. WWE uses the simple approach of listening, narrating, and dictating to create strong writing skills. It works.
Retail Cost: $34.95. My Cost: $20.

Handwriting- I didn’t do cursive handwriting with G last year. I decided to let him work more on perfecting his manuscript. This year, we’ll do cursive. He’s using A Reason For Handwriting. Cursive practice will focus on writing meaningful verses. At the end of each week, a special page is given to write out the verse in his best handwriting, decorate & color the pictures, and then give to someone who might need a blessing. I can’t wait to use this!

Spelling- Can you believe I didn’t do a spelling program with G at all last year? I decided he didn’t need one, since he’s such a gifted speller (he gets that from both his parents. It’s our claim to fame. Spelling masters, we are! ;-)). On his yearly evaluation test last month, he scored 99.9th percentile nationwide in spelling. That’s the highest score possible. Out of 1000 children his age, he would be one of the top two scorers. Spelling is just his thing.
All that said, he needs to learn to spell harder words and to nail down all the rules and exceptions. Enter Spelling Power. For grades 3-12, this is the only spelling book my boys will need. We’ll never do those weekly spelling lists that contain words he already knows how to spell (I hated this part of my school career—what a waste of time!). With SP, 15 minutes a day (on the days we choose to do it) helps identify words he doesn’t know how to spell, and he works on those words until he masters them. Over the years, he’ll master the 5,000 most misspelled words in the English language, and so will his brother, and this is the only book I’ll have to buy. Looking forward to this.
Retail Cost: $64.95. My Cost: $18. On this one I saved big by buying the previous edition, used but in good condition.
This is a one-time buy and will be both boys’ spelling curriculum for their entire school career.

History- We have about 6 weeks left to cover in The Mystery of History I. Then we’re moving on to The Mystery of History II. We both enjoyed MOH I so much, so of course we’re continuing. It’s history given in chronological order, including Biblical history. It’s nothing short of amazing. G declared history to be his favorite subject thanks to this incredible curriculum.
Retail Cost: $49.95. My Cost: $25.
These are pricey, but once I buy all four volumes (and I’m halfway there!), I’ll have both boys’ complete history curriculum for their entire school career. This curriculum is made to be done 2-3 times over, with more research and questioning each time as the student progresses in age and knowledge.

Science- I’m diving into an official science program this year. I chose the gold standard, the curriculum that gets raves from every Christian homeschooler: Apologia Elementary Science. There are six volumes: Astronomy, Botany, Anatomy, Zoology I (Birds), Zoology II (Fish), Zoology III (Land Animals). All from a Christian, creationist POV. All six books cover the entire elementary science years, up until about 7th grade. Each book can be used by students of all ages, so they’ll be both G and D’s science curriculum. It hurt to buy them all at once, but we’ll be using them for years to come, and they’ll have a high resale value—IF the boys will even want to give them up. The material is presented in a very easy to understand fashion, and there are lots of projects and experiments, but they’re simple ones that use materials that every household has on hand. I’m very excited about them and can’t wait to start, and neither can G. He wants to do the Birds volume first, so I guess I’ll start with that one.
I bought all six volumes.
Retail Cost: $234, at $39 per volume.
My Cost: $126, at an average of $21 per volume. They were all used, in excellent condition.
This was a major purchase, but it will cover both boys’ science up through 7th grade.

Bible- I think we’re going to read through the Gospels this year, chapter by chapter. And discuss each chapter daily. Linked with Bible teaching, I’m going to do a Character-Building curriculum as well. I’m going to use Kids of Integrity, a free resource from Focus on the Family. There is so much material there! A week’s worth of activities, lesson plans, discussion ideas, and more, for each of 22 featured character traits. Looking forward to this.

Art- I’ve never felt the need to do a formal art curriculum, because we’re all artists in this house and we create art all the time…I figured formal study of artists could wait until later years. But I stumbled upon this free download recently, and can’t resist adding it to the docket for this year. A unit study on the World’s Greatest Artists. We may not have time every week, but we can do this when we have time. And if we don’t get to do it this year, then I have it for next year, or whenever we get around to it.

And for Little D, well, he’s joining us at the school table this year! He’ll be doing preschool work. Learning letter sounds and numbers, and to write. He knows his alphabet and can count to 30. I’ll be doing a letter and number per week until we get through the alphabet, with him learning each sound and each number value. He’ll also be learning to write those letters and numbers. There’s a world of free material online for preschool, so I won’t have to buy anything.

I added up the total retail cost for everything, as well as my total cost buying most everything used. Here are those totals:
Retail Cost for everything: $573.35
My Cost for everything: $285
That’s almost exactly half price! And everything I buy is in either new or like-new condition. Postage for anything I don’t buy locally is included in the prices. This, my friends, is an example of a frugal mama at work. Now if I could just get all our tax money back that goes to the local schools we don’t use, and use that to pay for all this…maybe someday homeschoolers will be able to do that! As it is, we rely on a generous scholarship from Philip’s parents to buy all this. Without them, we’d have to starve in order to pay for it all (that’s not much of an exaggeration).

And that concludes my long, exhaustive post on our 20011-12 curriculum! I’m chomping at the bit to get started, so we may start up here in the next couple of weeks. :)

If you end up liking and deciding to buy any of these materials new, will you consider using my Amazon link in my sidebar? :D


  1. You did very well with your finds! I’ve found that if I take good care of my used books, I can usually sell them for about the same price I bought them. Bonus! I’m a new follower–hopped over from the Hip Homeschool Hop.

    Comment by MissMOE | 07.18.2011 | 10:58 pm

  2. I love seeing the cost comparison! I try to buy most of mine used also.

    Comment by Amy | 07.18.2011 | 10:59 pm

  3. excellent work! very smart. stopping by from the hhh :)

    Comment by september | 07.19.2011 | 11:09 am

  4. I also hopped over from the HHH! I will soon start my first year homeschooling my 5th & 1st graders. We’ll be using the same science & history. I’ll be following along & trying not to misunderstand you. :)

    Comment by Tracy | 07.19.2011 | 2:37 pm

  5. I am impressed and excited for you and your homeschool curriculum finds! I’ve been buying our needed books used through used book sales and a great used book store.

    Thanks for visiting me at A Season for All Things. I’m your newest follower and look forward to reading more of your posts. ~ Ellen

    Comment by Ellen | 07.19.2011 | 3:11 pm

  6. Stopping by from HOTM Not Back to School Blog Hop. We use Apologia Science, too. It’s fantastic! And we’re starting MOH Volume II as well. I love being able to do those subjects together with my children. I hope you have a fantastic school year!

    Comment by Marsha | 07.31.2011 | 10:23 pm

  7. I hopped over here from HOTM’s NOT Back to School Blog Hop and WOW! What a great job you did! I loved this! I do hope you’ll head over to see what’s going on at our homeschool!
    Thank you for sharing, and have a great year!

    Comment by Sally {with eager hands} | 07.31.2011 | 10:46 pm

  8. Hi – I’m new to your blog. I am using Mystery of History for the 1st time this year. Love that you wrote, “its nothing short of amazing”.

    Blessings to a great homeschool year !

    Comment by Stef - Educating Layton | 07.31.2011 | 10:51 pm

  9. Some great finds at great deals;) I”m also going to try SPelling Power this year! I”m hoping to purchase it used… hoping:) But we’ll see, like you said it will last them through 12th grade. I’m NOT that great at spelling… I thought I’d give it a whirl too;)

    Comment by kelly @ In Everything | 07.31.2011 | 11:35 pm

  10. It’s so awesome that you get support to pay for your curriculum. Awesome job at being frugal in your spending!

    Comment by Amy | 08.1.2011 | 10:33 am

  11. Wow! Great job being frugal!!!! I tried to do that last year!!

    Comment by Renee | 08.2.2011 | 8:13 am

  12. Wow! You did such a good job! I did purchase our math curriculum used this year, but didn’t end up saving much. It’s just one of those that holds it value, I guess. I’m still looking for a few things to fill in. Maybe I will get lucky and find those used as well. :) Have a great day!

    Comment by Terri | 08.2.2011 | 3:39 pm

  13. I LOVE the cost analysis and MUS is Fantastic!

    Comment by Rebecca | 08.3.2011 | 5:39 am

  14. Thank you for posting that Kids of Integrity link. I will definitely check that out!

    Comment by Thia | 08.3.2011 | 8:13 pm

  15. Great finds! I had never heard of the Kids of Integrity before. It looks awesome! I’ll have to try it out with my children. We use AWANAs for Bible study, but it never hurts to do a bit more.


    Comment by Eclectic Education | 08.4.2011 | 4:29 pm

  16. Stopping by from the Blog Hop. I always try to get everything used or at a discount as well…I love that you included that!!

    Best wishes for a fabulous year!

    Comment by Theresa | 08.4.2011 | 7:14 pm

  17. It’s great that you’ve provided the price comparison. I’m a frugal momma too and buy some of our curriculum gently used. There is a homeschool consignment store in the city nearby so I can also resell anything that isn’t working for us and apply that money towards buying other things. We are very fortunate in that in our province, we get reimbursed for any homeschool expenses up to a maximum amount per child. We get around $700 per child per year to spend and it can be spent on books, curriculum, field trips, art supplies, classes, or lessons such as piano or swimming. It’s such a blessing! If I followed our provincial curriculum, I would be eligible for about $1200 per child per year, but for me, it’s not worth it for the extra paperwork and not being able to homeschool the way I want to. (didn’t mean for this comment to turn into a mini post – sorry!)

    Hope you have a great year!

    Comment by Sharla | 08.7.2011 | 8:56 am


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