Showing posts with label homeschooling. Show all posts
Showing posts with label homeschooling. 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, March 2, 2016

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller



What Do You Need to Teach Spelling?


If you are homeschooling your children, you don't need new graded workbooks every year. You need sensible teaching materials that help students at any level learn exactly what they need to know at their own pace.



For some of us, spelling came easily because we read a lot while growing up and were used to seeing words spelled properly all the time. We just knew, when proofreading, if a word looked wrong. This also worked for us on standardized multiple choice tests where we had to pick out the one word that was misspelled. If you are one of those people and are now faced with teaching a subject you almost absorbed yourself by osmosis, the book reviewed below is bound to help you plan your lessons.




If spelling was a tough subject for you, maybe you don't feel confident enough to teach your children. You may need a reference book that will bring you up to speed by helping you learn words that are especially hard for you -- the ones that never stuck after years of weekly spelling tests that simply confirmed you did not know them. One book that will help in each case above is Kathryn Stout's, The Natural Speller

Teach Your Child to Spell: A Review of The Natural Speller

About Kathryn Stout


I  first met Kathryn when we were both on the homeschool convention conference circuit. We were vendors, and during the dead times when the exhibit hall was almost empty, I walked around to try to discover new books to add to my inventory. I was impressed with Kathryn and the books she had written since they were perfect for those using a unit study approach, an approach I used when homeschooling my own children. She understood what in each subject was really important so that people could design a homeschool curriculum that did not leave out anything essential as they combined subjects in a unit study.  

Kathryn had taught in public schools for eight years before retiring to teach her own children. She already knew how many books were out there to help teachers, but she wanted to compile all that information into single subject resource to help other homeschooling parents get to the heart of their subjects. The Natural Speller is the go-to book for spelling. While many textbooks have some and gone, The Natural Speller is still popular after over twenty years. That's because it has everything people need to know about learning to spell in one handy book.

What's In The Natural Speller?


This is a comprehensive tool for the spelling teacher to use for any grade level. It has word lists for all grades through eighth, and they are arranged phonetically. It teaches the teacher how to teach spelling, and suggests activities to help students practice the words, use the words to help develop dictionary and grammar skills and build vocabulary. Writing activities to go with the spelling lists are included. After all, writing is where one uses spelling.

The Natural Speller also has a section devoted to special word lists: abbreviations, calendar and number words, colors, measurements, contractions, homophones, homographs, irregular verbs, foreign words, and Latin and Greek roots. Another section contains spelling rules. Lastly, there are hints on punctuation and capitalization; models for writing letters; and activities for using prefixes and suffixes. Just about anything related to spelling is in this book.

Another great feature of this book is that it assists the teacher in designing a completely individualized spelling program for each student without buying another book. Whether your child has learning disabilities and needs to go at a slower pace or whether your child is far above average in spelling, and only needs a reference when proofreading,  get the Natural Speller. It will be all you need. Older students will probably only need it for reference unless they haven't mastered the spelling words designated to be learned by grade nine.


Don't let your children grow up to be like this person below. If you're already this person, the book will help you, too.

For more reviews of books to help homeschool families and others who want to enrich their children's education, see Books to Remember: A World of Reading Choices.



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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