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How I Organize and Use Our Homeschooling Materials

admin May 26, 2017

In case you’re interested in the Build Your Bundle sale, but aren’t sure where to start, I’m sharing what I’ve chosen to get and what I’m enjoying most.  Plus, I’ll share with you how I’m organizing it all and what we’re already using!

What I Got at the BYB

In past years, the sale was structured a bit differently.  “Build Your Own” bundles were a certain number of items each, and you could do buy 2, get 1 free.  But this year they’ve changed it.

It’s actually easier now.  There are specific tiers.  If you spend $100 retail, you save 75%.  At $200 retail, that bumps to 80%.  $400 is 85%, and $800 is 90%.  It doesn’t matter how many products you select; only the retail value counts.

I like this better.  In past years, I skipped over a lot of lower-value items that I thought my kids might like because I was trying to get the best “deal” in the bundle — which meant the highest value.  But now, slipping in a few $5 or $10 items is easy and doesn’t change what I pay by very much.

If you have kids in multiple age groups or skill levels (or with a wide range of interests) like I do, building your own is the way to go.

My Build Your Own Bundles (2019)

  • The Ultimate US History Cheat Sheets ($14.99)
  • Developing Algebraic Reasoning ($5.50)
  • How to Build a Birdhouse Planter ($9.99)
  • A Walk Through the Wars: World War I ($8.99)
  • A Child’s Geography: Explore Medieval Kingdoms ($29.99)
  • Anatomy Muscular System ($7.97)
  • Slime Science ACtivity Book ($4.00)
  • Animal Classification Escape the Volcano Card Game ($7.00)
  • Earth Science Reading Bundle ($12.00)
  • The Science of Seasons ($9.50)
  • US Presidents Sorting Mats ($12.00)
  • Math Mammoth Grade 3 Complete Curriculum ($37.50)

Grab Your Own Build Your Own Bundle

The retail total of this is $160, which is about $40 at 75% off.  If I add another $40 to it, the discount bumps to 80% and I actually pay the same amount — so I plan to do that.

I tend to select science (especially astronomy, biology, and Earth science), history, and math.  (Although this is not the major math I do with older kids.  It works with little ones for hands-on basics, but I chose Spectrum full-year curriculum for my 11-year-old.)  I don’t tend to pick any reading/language arts because we just don’t do it.  My kids read a lot for fun and also write independently, so we just don’t need curriculum to cover this.

I prefer options that are pretty all-in-one, but are specific to a topic.  I don’t want a boxed “first grade” curriculum for all subjects.  But I want it to cover a topic well and not require a lot of extra books, videos, etc.  I don’t want to hunt up resources myself — I wouldn’t bother to buy something if I were going to do that.

I don’t tend to like the unit studies much, or the lap books, or the “learning folders,” because they seem to be a lot of busy work.  Kids are supposed to use a bunch of paper, folders, and material to create something that’s pre-designed and doesn’t seem to be teaching them much.  Plus, they require me to do a lot of prep or get a lot of extras.  Now, they do have very detailed plans in them, so if that’s your style, you might love it.  I don’t.

I am mostly likely also going to grab the Mystery Bundle.  I do know what’s in it, but I can’t tell you. 🙂  It’s only $9.95, and it does have something for everyone, of all interests and levels.  So…I say grab it.  (It’s also the most-discounted bundle in the sale, at 92% off.)

Curriculum I Got in Previous Years

These are just a few things I’ve gotten in the past, with some of my notes on what we liked and used.  I’m including this because I actually have experience with these, unlike the materials I just chose this year.

  • Spelling Workbook (Levels 1 – 4; we have used this a little bit.  The lists are pretty nice and there are a few activities each week that help kids learn the words.  I usually only print some of them, not all)
  • Grammar Galaxy
  • The Elements; Ingredients of the Universe (this has been a cute science curriculum that’s baking-oriented, which my kids like)
  • Guest Hollow’s Jr Anatomy Book
  • Teaching Math Through Art
  • Dora and Diego Spanish Level 1 (nice option for my kid who wants to learn, very detailed)
  • Rocks and Minerals
  • Mapping the World with Art
  • The Human Body Curriculum
  • You Can Read! Word Families (we used this a bit with new readers, although it doesn’t fit our style well; I think others would like it more)
  • Map Trek US Edition 1 & 2
  • The ABC Workbook
  • Periodic Table of Elements Activity Pack (we printed a sheet or two to use with the other science curriculum)
  • The Brain
  • The Ultimate Language Art Cheat Sheet
  • The Quark Chronicles: Anatomy (just as soon as I can get this on a tablet, I know my kids will love it.  We’ve started it but it just hasn’t been convenient.)
  • Backyard Science
  • Ultimate U.S. Geography Games and Learning
  • WRITE: ELA Interactive Notebook
  • Super Sequencing Activity Pack
  • Ancient History Mini Quiz Pack Set
  • Volatile Volcanoes Download’N’Go Unit Study
  • Reading and Comprehension with Aesop’s Fables
  • Vocabulary ELA Set
  • Welcome to Mooville Adventures in Writing
  • The Ultimate Life Cycle Bundle
  • Roman Numerals Bundle
  • Ancient History Cookbook
  • Word Work Set
  • Math Facts Rocket Evasion Flash Card Game: Addition & Subtraction
  • Math Facts Rocket Evasion Flash Card Game: Multiplication and Division
  • Expedition Australia Download’N’Go Unit Study
  • Victoria and Her World
  • Oceans Unit Study Adventure
  • Sensational Sharks Download’N’Go Unit Study
  • Human Body Unit
  • Ultimate Unit Study Planner
  • Japan Mini-Unit
  • Magnificent Frigatebird – Wildlife Adventures Unit Study
  • Jellyfish Unit Study
  • Owl Unit Study
  • Alligator Unit Study
  • The Canadian Adventure
  • Space
  • Let’s Have Our Own Medieval Banquet

Grab Your Own Build Your Own Bundle

What We’re Using Most

Obviously, we can’t and won’t use ALL of this in the same year.  There are 60 different materials, and we have materials from previous years too!  I keep them all in folders on my computer — which I’ll show you in a minute.

So what have we used a lot?

I’ll be honest here.  There are publishers in this sale that I haven’t cared for.  I’m not much of a fan of the materials from Write Bonnie Rose.  They seem very information-light, lots of coloring sheets and very cartoon-ish.  You might love that.  I’ve used some of it, but the older my kids get, the less I use it.

We have really liked the game-based concepts.  Things we can print and then play together.  This feels fun, and hands-on, and I don’t need to get extra materials or prepare anything.  (I always buy anything that’s a game.)

Quark science has been nice too — basically, different science topics introduced through literature.  Especially once my kids all began reading for pleasure often, this was one of my favorite things.

Any type of science experiments or hands-on science, we have enjoyed doing.  My kids all love doing these.

A lot of the early learning printables have been nice.  We have laminated math mats with cards to practice basic facts that my 6 and 4-year-olds sometimes do.  Play dough mats have been nice.  Flash cards that teach words, colors, and classifying objects.  The kids always play with these.

Basically…we like materials that are pretty open-ended and versatile.  I’m not a fan of the unit studies, as I mentioned above, or things that are highly specific in the way they must be used, or which require a lot of extra prep for a short experience.  (I don’t mind the printing, cutting, and laminating of things like play dough mats or flash cards because we can use them again and again, for years.)

If you have any questions about the materials and if they’ll work for your family and style, feel free to ask — I’ll help if I can!

You can shop the Build Your Bundle Sale through Wednesday, May 22 only!

How I Organize It All

It’s very simple!  I’ll show you.

In the “My Documents” folder on my computer, I created a folder called “Homeschooling Materials 2016.”  Within that folder, there are a bunch of sub-folders for each subject.  The list on the right side is the list of subjects.

When I click any given folder, then all of the materials I have on that subject come up!

Then, it’s easy to just open whichever one I want, and print the exact pages I need — and only the pages I need!

Benefits of Digital Files

All of the options through the Build Your Bundle Homeschool Sale are digital (how else could they offer such awesome prices?!).  Some people really like physical books, but I actually really like these.  This is why:

Always Organized

I don’t know about your toddlers, but mine love to go and pull books off shelves every chance they get.  Well, pretty much just my almost 2-year-old.  Even my older kids often forget to put things away like they should.

When the files are digital, they are all organized exactly how I want them on my computer…all the time.

Saves Space

No physical books, nothing to store!  Can you imagine storing 60+ books and materials from every year?  So many shelves.  So much to move, if needed.  With digital files, there’s nothing there at all!

Easy To Know What I Have

If I really had 60 – 100 books, it would be easy to forget what I even had, and have to spend a lot of time sorting through them.  They could get lost.  When it’s digital, it takes only a few seconds to click the right folder and see what’s there…then fill in the blanks as needed!

Saves Paper

I don’t have to print everything in these books…I only print the parts that we really need!  We tend to skip over parts that don’t work for us, or that are not needed (like extra practice on concepts they already get).  Plus, some of our materials can be used fully digitally, which also saves paper!

Re-Print for Future Kids

When you buy paper workbooks, then you have to re-buy them for each kid.  But when you have a digital file, you can re-print for each kid.  No need to buy again!

Never Lose Books

Kids sometimes ruin books…you know?  Lose them, forget them, spill stuff on them.  If it’s a physical book, you’ll have to re-buy.  But if it’s digital, no problem, just print again!

As you can see, there are lots of advantages to digital books!

What Should I Get?

I can’t tell you what you need!  But definitely take time to look through what you have, and then shop for items that will work for your child over the next year or so.  If you sign up for an account on the Build Your Bundle site, you can save a shopping cart and come back to it later.  You have through Wednesday, May 22 to actually finish the process, so you don’t have to decide 100% what you want today!

I’m happy to answer any questions about the products I’ve purchased and used personally if you have any!  And the BYB team is happy to answer other questions if needed.

AND…if you choose to grab any bundle through the BYB, you’ll get access to a special offer through Earthley.  That’s pretty great!

Even if you’re just looking for a little summer enrichment…you should check it out. 🙂

What homeschooling materials are you choosing?

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4 Comments

  1. What is your 9 year old doing? I have a 9 year old an need homeschooling advice! So easy when they’re young, but it’s getting harder and harder every year!

    Reply

    • Right now she’s reading books at a 2nd – 3rd grade level (of her choosing; we go to the library to pick things together). She does math from this website: http://www.k5learning.com/free-math-worksheets/third-grade-3/ We do sewing and cooking. We also take field trips to different places and see historical sites or take nature walks, and we go a little more in-depth with plant identification and stuff like that. She watches a lot of “learning videos” on TedX and other channels on a variety of topics. And, we explore whatever else she’s interested in as it comes up.

      Reply

  2. Do they do this sale every year? We’re planning to adopt a child next year who will most likely be pre-k age and ESL, so we don’t need to buy materials until next year.

    Reply

  3. I have never really understood the draw of electronic bundles. That’s probably the same reason I find Pinterest rather useless also, though. I’m more of a put-it-all-together so you can see it in front of you at the time you actually need it type of a person. I just don’t save things, I guess, even if I know I might be able to use them later.

    Reply

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I’m Kate, mama to 5 and wife to Ben.  I love meeting new people and hearing their stories.  I’m also a big fan of “fancy” drinks (anything but plain water counts as ‘fancy’ in my world!) and I can’t stop myself from DIY-ing everything.  I sure hope you’ll stick around so I can get to know you better!

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