A coupon and giveaway!

It’s that time of year again…Time to save hundreds of dollars on next year’s homeschool curriculum and resources! The Build Your Bundle sale begins on May 15th, but you can enter now for your chance to win ALL 15 bundles in this year’s sale. Every giveaway entrant also gets a coupon good for $5 off any purchase of $25 or more! (I coupons!)

Plus more great prizes will be awarded from May 15th-22nd, so head over now!

https://shop.buildyourbundle.com/#a_aid=9876

How to Save Money When Using a Literature Based Curriculum

literature-based curriculum - How to save money?

Using a literature-based curriculum is one of the best ways (in my opinion) to engage students. It steers clear of boring textbooks, adds variety, and builds retention. While it may be one of the best ways to engage a student’s interest, it can also really engage your pocketbook!

I homeschooled my children for 20+ years, and during that time we used (and created) LOTS of literature-based programs. We were also always on a tight budget. In creating curricula for Guest Hollow I haven’t forgotten the struggle to balance what’s best for your kids with what’s best for your budget!

In this post, I’m going to share ways of obtaining the books for a literature-based curriculum without breaking the bank…

Use the Library

This may seem like the most obvious way of saving the money, but there are lots of specific tips for making the most out of this free resource!

  • Install the Library Extension for the Chrome browser.Library Extension for Chrome
    This free extension can check your library’s online catalog while you are browsing sites like Amazon and Goodreads, and it will display the availability of an item on the same page. Here is a screenshot of the extension in action on an Amazon page. If you click on it, you can see a larger version. The extension is featured on the right side of the page:
library-extension-screenshot

Click on the picture to see a larger size.

I am a member of several local libraries. The extension checks all of my libraries – both the physical copies and e-books. I can click on the “borrow” button to go straight to the library and check the book out. This is one of my FAVORITE money-saving resources!

The authors of the plugin are also really friendly and helpful. One of my library systems wasn’t in their database. I wrote an email requesting it, and it was added literally within 30 minutes. I can’t recommend this plugin enough! I highly recommend you look at the Library Extension’s support page. Even though it’s free, this extension is worth a little extra thank you!

  • Research the electronic resources your library has access to such as:Hoopla

Hoopla 

Hoopla Digital provides a wide range of digital content and allows library patrons to download or stream media content for free. Hoopla has videos, books, music, and graphic novels available!

Overdrive and Libby – Overdrive gives you access to tons of e-books and audiobooks. Use the free Libby app to sign into multiple libraries or use more than one card for each library.Libby appLibby can also send books to a Kindle and show you all of your loans and holds on a single shelf (even if you are using more than one library’s access to Overdrive).

FlipsterFlipster – You can check out digital versions of magazines from Flipster. What’s available will vary from library to library, but there are usually some really great offerings like Time, craft magazines, Consumer Reports, Babybug, Cricket, cooking magazines, health & nutrition magazines, and more!

RBdigital
– This library subscription gives you access to audiobooks, ebooks, videos (including videos from The Great Courses), magazines, and comics.

rbdigital

  • Use your library’s inter-library loan program. This will allow you to check out books that aren’t available in your local library system. Be careful, though! Sometimes this service costs a few dollars per book or, if it’s free, you can rack up nasty fines if you turn in these books late.
  • Make requests. If your library doesn’t have a book, there is usually a way to request it for purchase. Our library system purchased a bunch of books I wanted to read while creating the High School American History curriculum.
  • See if you qualify for an educator’s card. Some libraries have a card for educators that allows longer checkout times and lower fines.
  • Consider joining a library that isn’t local for access to their e-books and digital resources. Some libraries will allow someone who is not in their area to have a library card if they are willing to pay a yearly fee. You can then use the card to access digital items and subscriptions. Click here to check out an article about libraries with non-resident borrowing privileges. Do a Google search to find other libraries that allow this.

The Amazon Ecosystem

There are quite a few online resources that can help you save your pennies via the Amazon ecosystem!  Also, when you click on and then shop through our Amazon links, you help support Guest Hollow (we get a small commission)!


  • Kindle Unlimited
    has a 30-day free trial and sometimes has special deals where you can get a 3-month subscription for 99 cents! A subscription gives you access to the Kindle Unlimited Library of 1.4 million titles in eBook and audiobook format. Some of the books in our language arts program are free through this subscription like the books by Brian P. Cleary. I’ve found some really great books through K.U. for the upcoming high school geography curriculum!

  • Amazon’s Free Time Unlimited gives kids access to books, apps, and videos for an inexpensive subscription. Try one month for free to see if the books available are a match for the program you wish to use. Note: The iOS version of the app only gives you access to books and movies. You need the Android version to access apps/games and other features. Some of the books in our Guest Hollow programs are featured in Free Time Unlimited (at the time of this writing) like An Ambush of Tigers, What do Authors Do?, National Geographic Readers: Sea Turtles, Eye to Eye, The Trojan Horse, and Phineas Gage.
  • Use Audible for audiobooks. Try it out for free for 30 days and get TWO free books you can add to your homeschool library. Audible is great for reluctant readers or for listening to “on the go.” Quite a few of our customers purchase some audio books to use with our curricula, especially the high school courses like Chemistry in the Kitchen and American History.
  • Use a Kindle or other tablet and purchase Kindle books at discounted prices. Ebooks are often less expensive than physical books. Some classic books are also FREE. The Kindle also has a feature where you can tap any word to see an instant definition and save it in the Kindle Vocabulary Builder. Kindle books can also be less intimidating to reluctant readers and there is also a special font for Dyslexics. Some Kindles also have a text-to-speech feature that can read books to your student. Kindles and eReaders are a great resource when using a literature-based curriculum.
  • Try the free trial for the Amazon-owned ComiXology app. One of our customers shared that she was able to get two free comics for our American History Curriculum with her 30-day free trial!
  • Look for used versions of the books you need (see the screenshot highlighted in yellow):
    used-books
    You can save a LOT of money purchasing used books on Amazon.

Other Subscriptions and Online Freebies

scribdScribd allows you to subscribe and borrow tons of eBooks, magazines, audiobooks, and various documents (like sheet music). You can get a 30-day free trial. I’ve used Scribd several times to borrow books when creating Guest Hollow curricula. It’s saved me a bundle!scribd

 

Openlibrary.org lets you borrow hundreds of thousands of books in digital format. You can read the books online or download them in ePub, PDF, text, and sometimes Kindle format. A lot of the books in the Guest Hollow programs can be found at the Openlibrary website like A Patriot’s History of the United States, Colonial Living, The Cartoon Guide to Genetics, and many more.Open Library

Archive.org has lots of free books, magazines, movies, software, music, and more. You can search and see if it has the book or magazine you need in a digital format.Internet Archive

Used Book Websites

There are lots of websites besides Amazon where you can get used books. Two of our customer’s favorites are:

AbeBooks.com. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.

After researching them (and seeing how great they are) we became affiliates for both. Please bookmark this page and click through the links if you plan to use AbeBooks or Thriftbooks for your used book purchases! We’ll get a small commission. 🙂 <3

Other Online Resources

  • https://buynothingproject.org/ – No trades or swaps are allowed via Buy Nothing Groups – just gifts that are freely given. You may be able to find (and share!) some homeschooling books and resources.
  • Paperbackswap.com and other book swap sites – List books you would like to swap, mail it out, and then you can choose from the other books listed on the site. You pay for the postage on books you ship out. Books you receive come to you postage-paid!

Looking Locally

Don’t forget to look at local thrift stores, homeschool consignments stores, and yard sales! Try to keep a list on hand when you are out and about with the titles of the books you are looking for.

Planning Wisely

  • Every Guest Hollow curriculum comes with a printable book list to help you with your planning and shopping. Some of the book lists even rank the books in order of importance to help you potentially cull some titles out, if necessary, for time and/or budget constraints.

    Guest Hollow homeschool curriculum book list

    Screenshot from the Chemistry in the Kitchen book list. Notice the timeframe of the book’s use is marked (weeks 1-2). There are also boxes to check to help you decide whether each resource is something you need to buy or borrow, as well as the format (physical book, e-book, audio book, etc.).

  • Purchase books a “chunk” at a time. No one says you have to get every single book all at once. You can purchase or borrow books on an as-needed basis. Get “spine” books and books that are used multiple weeks at the beginning of the year. Separate your other purchases into more manageable bits and pieces in 4-week intervals or so, if possible.

If you are using a different curriculum, check out your curriculum’s boards, homeschool groups, and Facebook groups to see if buying and selling of books is allowed and encouraged.

Using a literature-based curriculum like Guest Hollow can take a bit more work when you are gathering materials (since we don’t offer book packages you can click on and buy in one swoop), but there is the potential to save SO much money! What homeschooler doesn’t like that? 😉 Using the tips I’ve shared above will hopefully help you do the best not only for your child’s education but also for your pocketbook!

Don’t forget to pin and share this post! Spread the Guest Hollow love! Let me know in the comments if you have any other money-saving ideas! I would love to read them!

Homeschooling with Guest Hollow

Guest Hollow’s High School American History Year 1 is finished!

American history curriculum

I’m so thrilled to announce that Guest Hollow’s High School American History Year 1 is now ready for purchase! If you have a middle-schooler, you’ll be happy to know we’ve also included instructions and book substitutions for this age group in our curriculum guide!

I started working on this project in February… and during these last 5 months I’ve read/previewed 170 books (many of which were thrown into the reject pile!), watched well over 400 online videos (and culled out the best), visited hundreds of websites, and created a 194-page workbook/study guide with custom artwork and maps! This has been a nearly all-consuming project with a lot of very late nights. I’m excited to get it into your hands in time for the 2018-2019 school year! Good thing I can read fast, or I wouldn’t have made the deadline! 😉

This is the American history program *I* always wished I had when I was homeschooling! The homeschooling moms who helped me proofread were so enthusiastic after taking a look:

“…this is an AMAZING curriculum! I love how well rounded it is. Not one sided. Very clearly laid out. That is SO hard to find in a history curriculum. Everyone is going to love it. I’ve searched high and low for a great history curriculum for high school.”

“I loved it SO much! I think my favorite part is the workbook…it’s meaty without being overbearing. And I love the project elements. It isn’t too crafty or elementary-ish. You have made it to being my #1 curriculum publisher!”

I’ve endeavored to create a history curriculum that is meaty, that will get students enthusiastic about the topics, and that is designed for them to not only understand the material, but to RETAIN it. I also split American history into 2 years as I believe one year is NOT enough time to study all of the important events and people. Our history curriculum doesn’t crush everything into one year, and it doesn’t skimp on important issues.

One of the things I think students will love are the book choices. Take a look at the resources list and you’ll see tons of graphic novels as well as lots of fresh, new book choices. When creating this curriculum, I wanted to avoid scheduling the titles you seem to see in every homeschooling American history curriculum. I’ve taught a lot of American history over the years. Let’s just say I got tired of the “same ol’ stuff.” I searched high-and-low for the BEST books. These are books that are going to engage your students. Even reluctant readers will likely love many of the choices.

American history curriculum books

There’s another benefit to many of my book picks. Lots of them are available for FREE, and many are also are available via audio books. This will help your budget and will also give you options for students who have difficulty reading (or just need a change)!

I spent a lot of time searching for the perfect spine book. The one I chose was written by real history professors & historians (not a textbook committee) and specifically avoids the “politically correct” type of viewpoint. I wanted a balanced, academic book and that’s exactly what I believe I found. Here’s a quote from a review that sums it up terrifically:

“This book is certainly meant to be an alternative to the Leftist propaganda by Howard Zinn and others that passes for school textbooks these days but it does not insult our intelligence by substituting Rightist propaganda for Leftist propaganda. If it had been conservative propaganda, for instance, we might expect it to stress the central importance of the Pilgrim fathers and their Christian faith in the American founding. And double that if you are aware that Schweikart is a committed Christian. In fact, however, the book glides over this small group of blown-off-course religious renegades as the relatively minor event in the British settlement of North America that it was. The Mayflower Pilgrims get in fact less than two pages out of 928. Even Africans arrived in North America before the Pilgrims! If any of that jars you, you need to read the book.” Quote from John Ray in his review of A Patriot’s History of the United States

Students will also love the recipes in the schedule! Our Chemistry in the Kitchen Curriculum is a HUGE hit with students. I’ve received so many comments from parents who tell me how their students LOVE the time spent cooking and creating great foods of all kinds. American history students will get to learn about historical methods of making & preserving foods and also hone some old-fashioned cooking skills to boot!

I could go on and on about the curriculum and how amazing it is, so I’ll stop here (or I’d take up about 10 more pages, lol), but I invite you to look at the curriculum FAQ:

http://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/history2/highschool_american/index.html

…and also to look at the books and resources list to see some of the great things that are scheduled in:

http://www.guesthollow.com/homeschool/history2/highschool_american/american_history_books.html

Here’s a 2-day coupon celebrating our American History Curriculum’s release:

 

 

 

 

If you plan on purchasing the curriculum, this is a great way to save a few $$!

Guest Hollow’s High School American History Year 1 is a labor of love, and we think it’s going to be one of our biggest hits yet. We invite you to join the Guest Hollow family and see why both parents and students LOVE our curricula!

We also invite everyone to post your comments and questions and to join our High School History Curriculum User’s Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1020183814779100/

Happy Homeschooling with Guest Hollow!

Cathy Duffy Reviewed Beowulf’s Grammar!

Cathy Duffy reviewed Beowulf’s Grammar!

https://cathyduffyreviews.com/homeschool-reviews-core-curricula/composition-and-grammar/ungraded-multi-level-resources-grammar/beowulf-s-grammar

“Author Jennifer Guest’s goal is to make grammar more enjoyable for children to learn. For Beowulf’s Grammar, she has created a family that is featured throughout the book: siblings Abigail, Henry, and Grace plus the family dog, Beowulf. Lessons incorporate sentences and stories involving the family, all within the context of normal family life. The content is much more relatable for homeschooling families than the typical content of grammar books designed for classroom use. In addition, cartoons, colorful illustrations, fun graphics, cut-and-paste activities, games, puzzles, drawing activities, and occasional silliness make the course more appealing than traditional grammar courses.”

…so says the venerable Cathy Duffy Cathy who is best known as a curriculum specialist. Ms Duffy is the author of the two-volume Christian Home Educators’ Curriculum Manual where she researched curriculum and methodology for all subjects and all grade levels.

We are very pleased that Cathy said so many nice things about Beowulf’s Grammar and the attendant curriculum and workbook.

Please check out Ms. Duffy’s review as linked below, and remember, for a few more days you can still take advantage of our special Easter discount by using our 15 percent off coupon for purchases of anything in the GuestHollow Store (http://guesthollow.com/store/)! The coupon code, (which will be good ONLY for this week), is:

easterdiscount2018

If you enter “ easterdiscount2018 “ when doing a checkout on the GuestHollow store anytime during the next week, you will receive a 15 percent discount on your ENTIRE order!

Check out Duffy’s review below!

https://cathyduffyreviews.com/homeschool-reviews-core-curricula/composition-and-grammar/ungraded-multi-level-resources-grammar/beowulf-s-grammar

We’re having an Easter giveaway!

We’re having an Easter giveaway! Leave a comment to be entered. One winner will be chosen and notified on Monday, April 2nd. The winner gets to choose one item of his/her choice from our store (or can choose to get a coupon code for the up-and-coming high school American history curriculum)! Happy Easter!
P.S. The artwork is my daughter as a fairy-tale character. 

More updates!

The Science of Seasons Curriculum and Little Otter’s Anatomy have both been updated. We’ve updated the schedule links and replaced some books. We’ve also created printable book and materials lists for planning and shopping purposes due to popular request! 

Did you know the Science of Seasons curriculum is a prime example of our teaching philosophy? It’s cross-curricular (covers more than just science topics) and is full of great books, literature, activities, and videos. Check out the topics list:

http://www.guesthollow.com/…/sc…/seasons/seasons_topics.html

Since it’s just 14 weeks long, it makes a great “light” program to do over the summer, or to jump in and start if your younger kids need something a bit refreshing to liven up the last of the school year.

Little Otter’s Anatomy is a gentle program for preschoolers through 2nd grade that tracks with our other two anatomy programs, so you can have ALL ages studying the same topics. It also makes a great introduction to science for little learners with topics they can relate to.

If you purchased one of these programs within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:

http://guesthollow.com/store/help-section/

If you use the online version of the schedules, you don’t need to do anything as those are always kept up to date!

We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!

Botany has been updated!

 

We’ve just updated the Botany Curriculum Schedule.

botany curriculum

 
 
Links in the schedule have been updated, and we’ve scheduled in a newer version of the Worms Eat My Garbage book. We’ve also replaced the Plant Propagator’s Bible with the book: American Horticultural Society Plant Propagation: The Fully Illustrated Plant-by-Plant Manual of Practical Techniques. We’ve removed some that are no longer available new: Molds, Mushroom & Other Fungi and the book Skunk Cabbage, Sundew Plants, and Strangler Figs: And 18 More of the Strangest Plants on Earth. We’ve also added a printable book and resource list for planning purposes with a nifty shopping checklist.
 
Did you know our botany curriculum features tons of great recipes for budding student chefs? Students also study bees and worms and are encouraged to create nature journals.
 
If you purchased this program within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:
 
We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!

Biology has been updated!

The High School Biology Curriculum is now updated! We’ve fixed any broken links and also updated the scheduled Biology Coloring Book pages with the new 2nd edition. There is also a printable book and materials list to help you with your planning and shopping.
 
If you purchased this program within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:
 
http://guesthollow.com/store/help-section/
 
The online biology textbook also now has comments enabled, so students can report broken links or leave a comment about the material they are studying. Comments must be approved, so there will be no “spam” comments.
 
We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!

Jr. Anatomy has been updated!

Homeschool anatomy curriculum

Jr. Anatomy is now updated! We’ve fixed any broken links and also removed a book from the resources that is no longer available new (The Truth about Poop and Pee). It’s been replaced with the book: Poop Happens. We’ve also added a printable book and materials list to help you with your planning and shopping.

If you purchased this program within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:

http://guesthollow.com/store/help-section/

We’ll be uploading new schedules for the other curriculum programs soon!

 

The High School Anatomy Curriculum has been updated!

High School Anatomy Curriculum

 

 

The High School Anatomy Curriculum Schedule and the corresponding printable shopping/book list has been updated. We’ve fixed any broken links and also removed a book from the resources that is no longer available. If you purchased this program within the last year, you can access the new schedule via your downloads by logging into your store account. See this page for help:

http://guesthollow.com/store/help-section/

We will be updating the other two levels of the anatomy curriculum in the next couple of days!

Happy Homeschooling!