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Here’s the one thing I’ve learned about shopping for curriculum and other materials: it adds up quick!

Nonetheless, I thoroughly enjoy the hunt for the next thing that will surely spark my kids’ interest.

So we decided that since today was an inside day, since my younger daughter and son are still fighting off a cold (which is a total buzz kill for homeschool group activities, bummer!), we headed over to our local Barnes and Noble to eat some lunch, look around, and hopefully leave with our bank account still in the black.

After a lunch of some grilled cheese filled pretzel concoction, banana, and orange juice with a side of sugar cookie with rainbow sprinkles (out of sympathy for my sickies, we headed to the children’s section to poke around.

My current favorite is a series of biographies on various historical figures and other related texts. Albert Einstein caught my eye, but the previous 3 we have at home haven’t gotten enough love yet to justify adding to the collection just yet. I contemplated getting some Little House on the Prairie books, but figured we could easily get those at the local library. While the girls continued to browse, I headed over to the Homeschool section. I can’t recall if I’ve ever seen these in different stores, but he fact hay our store has one doesn’t quite surprise me. The selection, however, was quite sparse this trip.


Below the Rosetta Stones, there were some overview books, and a copy of a classical education book I have been eyeing. There was also a book about top 100 book picks for kids that seemed interesting.

Though I didn’t have the opportunity to do so with these books, I highly recommend using the goodreads mobile app book scanner. It instantly gives you ratings and commentary on whatever book you are scanning. While not all books are available (such as the world history timeline I found in the sale section) it does have a fairly large catalog.

I am also in the market for some materials to start teaching the kids Latin, but I didn’t find anything that piqued my interest. I did, however, find some schmencils–more on those later.

After the trip, we decided to head over to the local learning supply outlet. The place is huge, and perhaps obviously, has TONS of stuff. The girls had a fun time looking around, particularly at the different art supplies (scented dough!) and stickers, see e.g.:


We ended up leaving empty handed, but it wasn’t for lack of selection. Because there are oh so many different kinds of everything, I’m trying to reflect on or experiences this far and make a narrow wish list. For example, this store has about 10 different kinds of counting manipulatives, which I’m grading I can find gently used for much less than $20 a pop.

All in all, it was a very encouraging trip. There is literally no shortage of different activities, games, books, and other supplies should we get stuck in a rut. I had a very hard one passing up the science kits in a can–such as grow your own crystal kits, 5 senses category boards, gravity kits, earth kits, etc. I find it ironic how excited about science I am, considering I wanted to be a neurosurgeon in 4th grade. Not sure what happened there!

Anyway, my number one piece of advice is not to impulse buy. You could easily put down a major chunk of change on “fun” things, leaving very little left for your core curriculum budget. Also, I would shop around for the best price. Even though this place is supposedly an outlet, their prices weren’t that low.

Looking is certainly fun though!