Showing posts with label books for homeschoolers.. Show all posts
Showing posts with label books for homeschoolers.. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Review: Should Homeschoolers Sell Used Curriculum at Homeschool Used Book?

Review: Should Homeschoolers Sell Used Curriculum at Homeschool Used Book?
Some of the Books I'm Selling at Homeschool Used Book, © B. Radisavljevic

A New Site for Homeschoolers to Shop and Sell


Before I started blogging, I was a homeschooling mom. When Jason died in 1991, I became a homeschool vendor, exhibiting at conventions on both coasts. That adventure ended in 2015 when Hubby's knees gave out. So I turned to selling online.

I built a website, and sold on many used book listing services.  In 2014 I had neck surgery and couldn't ship in a timely manner. I had to take my books offline. It's amazing what two months without a web presence can do to your customer base. So I retired the business and started blogging. It hurt to have to sell the same books sitting in my warehouse as an Amazon affiliate instead of selling them direct and shipping them.

That's why I was so happy this week to discover a new way for homeschoolers to shop for and sell their curriculum and living books: Homeschool Used Book.com. Since I still have a house and shed full of books, I read the vendor friendly terms and signed up to sell. I have temporarily turned half the guest room into a shipping area until I can redo my office.

I started listing on July 13 and sold my first book the next day. Homeschool Used Books sent my shipping label the next night and I shipped the book the next afternoon. I couldn't be happier.

Review: Should Homeschoolers Sell Used Curriculum at Homeschool Used Book?
Book Labeled and Ready to Go, © B. Radisavljevic


The Pros of Selling on Homeschool Used Book

First, Homeschool Used Book is not for selling just any used books. It's a specialized marketplace designed for homeschoolers to help each other out. Those who are homeschooling know what is useful to homeschoolers. They know what's popular and what's hard to find. They list what they have used or thought they would use and list it when they no longer need it. It is not a place for general booksellers who have not been part of the homeschooling community to expand their markets.

These are the reasons I believe Homeschool Used Book is a good deal for vendors.

  • They don't have to build their own sites
  • They don't have to collect money
  • They don't have to pay for a shipping account to print postage and drop off packages without standing in line at the post office
  • They don't have to maintain a database themselves
  • The listing interface is simple and easy to understand
  • Payments can come either through PayPal or as credit to buy books on the site. 
  • Vendors pay fees only when they sell something. No listing fees. 
  • When a sale is made, the vendor gets the listing price minus a 12% commission. 
  • Each vendor gets a "store" space to introduce themselves and let customers see all their books in one place.  
Because Homeschool Used Book absorbs most of the overhead I had selling on other sites, it's ideal for me. One reason I quit selling was that my website had become obsolete and I had to rebuild. That's hard with a 600-page website. I didn't want to do it. I also had to pay for Endicia's shipping program to get the best shipping rates, print labels at home, and skip the line at the post office. 

To get my merchandise into one of the large used book selling sites online (ABE Books, Amazon, etc) with the least effort and fees I needed to use a listing interface that allowed me to upload easily to one or more sites and keep track of inventory and customer data, print packing slips and invoices, and help make catalogs. 

Until 2015 I used a version of Booktrakker that did all I needed and more.  I could install the program on my computer and get the new updates for a one-time price. Every couple of years there was an additional charge for a major update. About the time I recovered from surgery, there was a major update. I could no longer use the version I had to upload to the various sites.

Instead I would need to subscribe to an internet version. I didn't want to start paying a monthly fee with no guarantee I'd sell enough to cover it. I don't need my own database to sell at Homeschool Used Book. That saves me $20 a month in fees that I pay whether I sell anything or not.

I calculate that I save at least $40 on monthly charges by selling on Homeschool Used Book. I also save by not needing to accept credit cards directly. What's not to like?

The Cons of Selling on Homeschool Used Books


So far I haven't found many. Because I'm so new, I haven't experienced a payday yet. My one sale did not total the $50 needed for a payout. I can live with that just as I do on every other site that pays through PayPal. I have no reason to believe I won't be paid what I'm owed when it gets up to $50. 

Parts of the site are a bit clunky in the vendor area. I've had the most trouble getting my vendor "store" to look right. Be that as it may, I doubt if that will keep someone who wants one of my books from buying it.

While trying to compare my prices to those of other vendors and to see if the book I want to list is already there, I've used the search function a lot. It returns a lot of inaccurate results, but that could be due to vendors putting their products into too many categories just to get them seen by more people. 

Another con may be limited traffic. I have no idea how many homeschoolers search here for their materials. I made one sale quickly. I see others are making sales, as messages pop up saying who bought what when, but some of the sales reported were over a week old. This is probably not the first place homeschoolers go to shop -- yet. As more people begin to list, it should attract more buyers and increase sales for all the vendors. I hope this post will help get the word out. 

The thing I liked least when making my first listings was not knowing how much weight is allowed for packing material. I used to be able to weigh the complete package before printing a label. Now the site takes the weights I've provided for individual items, adds them, and estimates how much my packaging will add to that. If they guess wrong, the package can be returned for not enough postage. I've just found out they calculate two ounces for every additional one to two pounds. So it might be a good idea to adjust your weights if you anticipate your packing may weigh more than allowed in the estimate. Shipping more than one product to a customer may mean the difference between using a bubble bag or a box that needs extra padding. 

I checked at the post office today and discovered there's no way I can pay extra at the post office before shipping if the package is overweight. It's hard to predict which items may be combined in an order going to one customer and whether that will mean shipping in a box or a padded bag. So I'm now adding extra weight when I list something that may require non-standard packaging.

So Far It's Been a Smooth Experience

Review: Should Homeschoolers Sell Used Curriculum at Homeschool Used Book?
My Hall Bookcase Stores Part of What I'd Still Like to Sell.  © B. Radisavljevic


I'm actually enjoying being a bookseller again. This abundance of books has stolen a lot of my joy, not to mention how much of my house I can use. I want my living room back. If you need children's books or homeschooling materials, I hope you'll visit my store at Homeschool Used Book. While you're there, you can check out the other vendors, too. And if you've got used curriculum to sell, give the site a try. You've got nothing to lose and you may have much to gain.



Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Book Review: That's Weird! Awesome Science Mysteries

Science Mysteries Motivate Kids to Learn!


I will confess that when I was in school, I didn't like science. I hated memorizing science voabulary, scientific facts, names of scientists, and dates of inventions. I hated experiments, dissecting dead creatures, and watching test tubes. I was more interested in plants and how they grew, but not so much in listing and memorizing the names of their parts. I wish my teachers in middle school or high school had been using That's Weird! Awesome Science Mysteries as a teaching resource instead of tiresome textbooks. I've always liked trying to solve mysteries!

Book Review: That's Weird! Awesome Science Mysteries
Photo Courtesy of Pixabay. Text added on PicMonkey


Science Doesn't Have All the Answers Yet


Author Kendall Haven states in his introduction to this book that "science is the process of turning mystery into knowledge." This is done through observations in the field and in laboratory experiments. Scientists form hypotheses from these observations and then test them as theories until time finally gives these tested theories the status of facts.

But not all theories have been proven yet. There are still some mysteries science hasn't been able to explain and the theories surrounding them haven't been verified. Instead these mysteries feed our imaginations and inspire fiction and movies. That's Weird! motivates and helps students in middle school and above use science research to explore sixteen of these mysteries:

  • The Sunken City of Atlantis
  • The Bermuda Triangle
  • Black Holes
  • What Really Killed the Dinosaurs
  • Easter Island and its Stone Giants
  • Surviving Firewalks and Beds of Nails
  • Ghosts: Real or Not
  • Lightening: Killer or Resource
  • Lock Ness Nessie: Real or Myth
  • Life on Mars or Not
  • The Birth of the Universe
  • Sea Serpents
  • The Origin and Mystery of Stonehenge
  • Will We Ever Travel Through Time?
  • What Exactly Are UFO's?
  • Will Humans Ever Be Able to Travel Faster than Light?



How That's Weird! Is Organized


Each mystery in this book is presented in seven different parts

  1. At a Glance: This creates a historical context for the mystery by introducing major players and historical events that play an important part in the story. Information in this section is as factually reliable as it can be, as far as it goes. 
  2. The Mystery: This is an actual story that engages the reader by drawing him into a scenario related to the mystery. I'm much older than the target age and I still very much enjoyed the stories. The subjects were all ones I've often wondered about. Some of the events in the stories actually happened, but many have not been verified. The author has given many his own interpretations based on known facts and tells you that up front. 
  3. About this Story: The author deals with the likelihood of whether the story may be true or not.
  4. The Science: Since this book was designed to help science teachers hook their students on science through mysteries, he explains any known evidence, hypothesis, or theory scientists use to evaluate the truth of the mystery. He explores some of the controversies that surround the subject of the story. 
  5. Fact or Fiction: A presentation of the evidence for and against the truth of the mystery. Students will see the conclusions scientists have drawn from their current knowledge. 
  6. Follow-up Questions to Explore: These interesting questions help students explore the science concepts that relate to the mystery and encourage them to see how the opinions they've formed stack up against the known evidence. They are much more fun than the questions at the end of science textbook chapters I had to write out answers for when I was a student.
  7. Follow on Activities: These activities help bring the themes of the stories to life with discussions and demonstrations. They serve as starting points for teachers to run with. There is also a list of references for further reading related to the mystery. 

Who Would Find this Book Useful?


It is recommended for for students in grades four and up. I would say that it's more appropriate for teaching classes of gifted students at that age. For regular classes I'd not introduce this until grade six or seven. Homeschooling parents should also find this a wonderful resource they can use in a number of ways. Once they read it, they can determine when and how to use it with their own children. I'm guessing if it's left around where children can see it, older children will pick it up on their own. 

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed the book even though science has never been my favorite subject. The stories really grabbed my attention and made me want to read the evidence for and against their being true. I considered it recreational reading. I think anyone who enjoys mysteries might enjoy reading this book. 





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review

What Ever Happened to Critical Thinking in Education?

As we look around our American universities and the streets of many cities, we see that many people no longer care about critical thinking or examining any opposing opinions. In fact, you don't have to look any farther than social media to see that.  Yet schools used to teach logic and critical thinking. As recently as a few years ago, when I was still selling books online, my best seller was a small flip chart: Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking. Recently, its publisher, Edupress, sold its educational supply business to another supplier. Fortunately, it's still available for home, school, and business use.

Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review
Top Selling Critical Thinking Aid for Students, Educators, Writers, and Speakers
Collage of my scans edited on PicMonkey

When I Was Still Selling Teaching Resources Directly, This Flew Off My Shelves and I Shipped It All Over the Country.

Several years ago when I got my Edupress dealer catalog, it had a new item in it -- a small chart called Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking. I decided to try a few of them and listed it in my catalog. 

The results amazed me. It quickly became a best seller. Large school districts were ordering it in volume so they could give one to every teacher in the district. I discovered that education professors were giving workshops and recommending that everyone in the workshops buy this little chart. 


Why is this inexpensive little chart so valuable to educators?


This handy chart, which is easily held in one hand, started a stampede of educators to get it because it took the work of Benjamin Bloom and made it easy to understand and refer to. Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking was the work of Linda G. Barton, who based it on the original Bloom’s Taxonomy. 

This little spiral bound chart can be held in the hand while teaching a class or leading a discussion. It doesn’t take up much room on a teacher’s desk when he or she is planning a lesson or writing a test. As you can see in the photo to the left, it has a separate page for each level of thinking in the cognitive domain. If a teacher wants to make sure her test or discussion questions and lesson plans cover each level, all she has to do is flip from page to page.







This Mug Will Remind You or Someone Else to Think Critically 


Do you know someone who needs it? 



As you can see in the picture below, each page is easy to flip open. On the other side of the page you open is a definition of the level of knowledge that page covers — in this case, Comprehension. Under the definition is a list of keywords — verbs– that tell how one would demonstrate mastery of this level of knowledge: eg. classify, explain, outline, summarize, etc. Under the spiral are open-ended questions that students would need comprehension to be able to answer.  


This little chart is so useful it finds its way into the hands of workshop leaders, Bible discussion leaders, and even writers. Why writers? It helps them organize writing, and its questions can also act as writing prompts when writer's block attacks. The questions can encourage you to take your topic in a new direction. 


A New Flip Chart Appears

Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking was so popular that more flip charts were introduced. People loved the original Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking but had also been requesting an updated version. Before long, it was followed by Quick Flip Questions for the Revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. While it was still new, I sold more of these than of the original flip chart. But soon others discovered what I already knew -- this dirty little secret.

There is nothing new in this updated version. The words for the headings have been changed, but "Creating" has the same material as "Synthesis" had in the original version, and everything else that appears different is just in a different order. The levels of the cognitive domain of learning have been divided by the authors into these levels: Remembering, Understanding, Applying, Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating.

Either of these handy resources helps one improve thinking skills at any age with the flip of a page. Either is an indispensable tool that helps teachers write lesson plans, master Bloom's Taxonomy, and develop higher levels of thinking. It will help students develop analytic skills. They will learn to ask their teachers the right questions and to see through some of the nonsense they will find in their social media feeds.


How to Use the Flip Charts at Home


Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review
You Can Even Use the Flip Charts at Home
Photo © B. Radisavljevic


There are many ways to use the flip charts in families. They can even help improve child/parent communication. There are both threatening and non-threatening ways to ask questions. If it's your words which put children in a defensive stance (not your tone of voice), this resource can help you frame your questions in a way that may not raise the same barriers to communication. (I would not hold the book in your hand for these encounters. Learn the most useful questions and keep them in your head.)

Homeschoolers will also find these charts valuable. I still like the original version best. Home educators should get a copy for each child of middle school age and older. When the parent assigns reading she can also have the children answer one or two Level IV-VI questions orally or in writing afterward. After the family watches a video, TV commercial, or show together, maybe one of these Level IV and VI Questions would be appropriate to discuss together at the end:


  1. How would you prove...? disprove? 
  2. What choice would you have made?
  3. How is _____ related to...?
  4. What motive is there?
Parents need to help children get into the habit of analyzing what the media puts in front of them instead of just accepting it at face value. 



Why Not Get one of these Handy Critical Thinking Tools Now?




Quick Flip Questions for Critical Thinking Charts: A Review


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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts

Picture Books Clarify Science and Math Concepts 

Big, small, tall, fast, heavy, old -- what do these words mean? Maybe each person has a different idea about them. Author and artist Robert E. Wells wrote a series of books, The Wells of Knowledge Science Series, that illustrates these concepts. Although they seem to be about math, math is so tied to science that readers will learn a lot of science as they grapple with math concepts. Even though these are picture books designed for children, I confess I also learned a lot from them. 

Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts

What's Smaller Than  Pygmy Shrew?

Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts

What does the word "small" suggest to you? A marble? A bee? Robert Wells introduces his world of the small with a pygmy shrew, which is three inches long. He then challenges readers to think of what's smaller. He contrasts the shrew with an elephant, which in comparison makes the shrew look very small indeed. He then contrasts the shrew with the ladybug, which is smaller yet. 

Then he introduces the creatures that can only be seen under a microscope -- the ones you might find in a drop of water. He explains what cells are and then shows us the animals with only one cell -- the paramecia and amoebas which are both protozoa. Wells' imaginative drawings will bring them to life for you and younger readers. Before Wells is through, he has explained and drawn bacteria, molecules, atoms and their parts, and has challenged readers to guess how many atoms are in a pygmy shrew. There is a small glossary at the end to help children remember unfamiliar words. 


Is a Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is?


In this book, Robert Wells explains to all ages the relative sizes of large from a blue whale all the way to the whole universe. The opening picture shows an elephant, horse, and lion standing on a pier watching the tail of a blue whale that is larger than all of them combined. Then he shows the same animals looking at a jar that contains 100 blue whales. He then puts two such jars on a platform with the animals between them. 

With the animals still standing on the bottom platform, Wells draws a stack of platforms ten high and then on the next page puts them on top of Mount Everest to show how small they are in comparison. By this time the animals are no longer visible. Wells goes on and on until he reaches the universe itself, having introduced numbers in the millions and billions along the way. Even adults will find this book, and others in this series fascinating.

What's Faster than a Speeding Cheetah? 

`Reviews of Picture Books that Help Children Grasp Difficult Math and Science Concepts
This book explores speed from that of the ostrich and cheetah to the speed of light. I love the illustrations which show the race between some children, an ostrich, a cheetah, a swooping peregrine falcon, and a propeller plane. Soon the children, ostrich, and cheetah are in the plane with a frustrated falcon trying to catch up. The falcon then lands on the tail of a jet and passes them. 

Readers then learn about the speed of sound and space travel as all the characters get into a rocket ship. Just as we see a meteoroid whizzing by, we learn that all of us have something that's even faster – something we can hold in our hands. The book concludes with is a chart comparing how long it would take at all the speeds from runner's feet to light to get from the earth to the moon.

These Books Are Great for Unit Studies in Home Schools


The Wells Knowledge of Science Series is Ideal for Unit Studies


When I was homeschooling, I was always on the lookout for engaging books that targeted visual learners. These books fit into that category. Jason understood what he could see better than what he only read or heard. He was a hands-on kind of child. He also loved animals, and all three of these books have some animal characters.

 One of more of these books could fit into a unit study about light, sound, astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics or transportation. Instead of just reading a definition for a word like protozoa, a child will see a large illustration showing its relationship to other objects it is part of, as well as things that are part of it.

See all the books in  The Wells of Knowledge Science Series, which are recommended for ages 7-10. I believe they are good also for those over ten who want to understand these science concepts. The pictures are imaginative and fun and keep science from being dull. I suggest you get a physical edition rather than a Kindle edition because your children will want to pour over these books. I wish I'd had these for my own children, but they weren't written yet back then.

Find more of my reviews for picture books at Books to Remember.

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Reviews of Picture Books for Teaching Difficult Math and Science Concepts







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