I spend about $850 on curriculum annually. That sounds like a LOT of money, doesn't it? It probably is, although considering public schools in the area budget about $5,000-odd per pupil, spending around $850 for TWO children means I'm super-cheap. I'll admit to being one of those homeschoolers who buys the "kits" with everything in them. Then I buy extra workbooks for the other child so that we can do all our lessons together. I not only have to have everything in the set, but the "additional recommended texts" so that I can do, say, the "reading" that goes with our Social Studies. I like all my workbooks AND my textbooks to be from the same company... and I like all my items to match one another. I really do.
But that doesn't mean I don't have a good eye for a bargain. You can, too, with this handy-dandy advice from the Cheapo Homeschool Mom:
The *best* bargains are the crafts you make using stuff from your catchall drawer, the curriculum you can construct with a bit of printer ink, paper, and an internet connection, or the extremely expensive, colourful and detailed books you got absolutely FREE.
Usually when we're studying science or reading on a particular subject, one of the children will develop an interest in a related subject. For instance, recently we read about the seashore and aquariums during our reading time and Elf wanted to learn more about the octopus. No reason that can't be an additional science unit, you know.
So, to make a unit on a subject, I start out by spending about an hour surfing the web. I log in to my local library and reserve BUNCHES of books about octopi that would be in the teenage reading level or a bit below. I figure I can always NOT check out a book that is on reserve if I find it doesn't meet our needs when I go to pick up the books later. I'll reserve even those books that are right on the shelves in our local library so that when I walk in, all the books I want are right behind the counter with my name on them. Now, you just CAN'T get more convenient than that. All I have to do is wait a couple days for the books that were in the other branches of the "system" to arrive. When you think about it, that's less time than it would take to order a book NEW and wait for shipping...
Perhaps while I'm at my desk reserving books and surfing the web, I'll type a search on "free octopus printouts" or "free octopus worksheets" or "homeschooling octopus unit" and see what I get. I can print worksheets for the children to do after I read to them and discuss the subject. Often, I find worksheets on a subject in several different "levels" so that if I were teaching older AND younger children the same subject, they could all learn together. Right now, however, I treat my 7- and 6-year-old boys more like twins educationally.
I'll weed through the books after my library trip and arrange the order in which I want to do the worksheets. I invariably learn something through these studies. The curiosity of the children catches, and it's a very exciting time when we go through a unit we've invented ourselves. Sometimes the books I've checked out or the websites I've visited will also detail a simple craft. If the materials are relatively cheap or ones I already have on hand, it won't take much more than a week of very casual off-and-on work to devise a short study on a subject that is extremely economical.