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The most inexpensive way to do Sonlight?


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#1 three4me

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:16 PM

I'm thinking WAY ahead to next year already!

DD is currently 4.5. She is learning to read and doing Horizons math K and doing scripture memory work. We mostly just read a bunch of library books to fill out our school day (which is pretty short!). But I think next year we might be ready for something more formal to follow. I'm interested in Sonlight, but there's no way we could afford a package. Basically I'm wondering what I NEED to buy, assuming that most of the books I either already own or can borrow from the library.

I just need to know that I can make Sonlight more affordable. Or if I CAN'T, then I can start thinking about something else :)

FTR, we'll probably skip P4/5 and start with Core A...I think. And we'll stick with our math program. So mostly I'm just looking at history/science/LA.

#2 frugalmama

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 10:32 PM

You can do Sonlight really cheaply with a little work. Find a used IG and buy it, either here or off of Homeschool Classifieds.

For the books, if you have a really good library you can just borrow them, but I'd buy if you can. Thrift shop, use paperbackswap, yard sale, etc and you can find most of them really cheap / free, especially for the lower grades. I've also picked up quite a few of them through Scholastic book clubs too. Buy off Amazon for the rest - they are normally cheaper than buying through Sonlight. One thing I do is pick up extra copies at thrift shops and sell / trade them for ones I haven't been able to find.

The really nice thing about Sonlight is that if you buy all the books used and the IG used, and then sell as a set when you're finished with it, you normally break even or even make a little.

I am doing Core B this year, and I think it might have cost me maybe $200? And I ended up buying most of the science new as we decided to use it late.

#3 three4me

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Posted 02 October 2012 - 11:51 PM

Thanks for the input! So it's basically just the IG and reading books, right? Are there any activity books or supplements that need to be bought through Sonlight (or used)?

#4 Down_the_Rabbit_Hole

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:20 AM

You can do Sonlight really cheaply with a little work. Find a used IG and buy it, either here or off of Homeschool Classifieds.

For the books, if you have a really good library you can just borrow them, but I'd buy if you can. Thrift shop, use paperbackswap, yard sale, etc and you can find most of them really cheap / free, especially for the lower grades. I've also picked up quite a few of them through Scholastic book clubs too. Buy off Amazon for the rest - they are normally cheaper than buying through Sonlight. One thing I do is pick up extra copies at thrift shops and sell / trade them for ones I haven't been able to find.

The really nice thing about Sonlight is that if you buy all the books used and the IG used, and then sell as a set when you're finished with it, you normally break even or even make a little.

I am doing Core B this year, and I think it might have cost me maybe $200? And I ended up buying most of the science new as we decided to use it late.

:iagree:
Don't forget ebay. I have purchased cores there extremely cheap. I have also used paperback swap to get books, but I only look for books there that cost more then $8. This is a great way to find expensive books for future cores. I put all the $8 or more SL books into my wish list and over the years they have been trickling in.

#5 Down_the_Rabbit_Hole

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:24 AM

Thanks for the input! So it's basically just the IG and reading books, right? Are there any activity books or supplements that need to be bought through Sonlight (or used)?

Yes and no. There is also language included in the cores now, but you can skip it if you want. An activity cd is available for the lower cores but I am not sure what is on it.

#6 boscopup

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:07 AM

Used IGs are easy to come by. Shop your local thrift stores, craigslist, homeschool classifieds for the books. You may have better luck finding an older version.

#7 tess in the burbs

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:35 AM

I will say that while you can find used IG and use the library and buy used books you may find the effort not worth it. I bought SL cores for years and decided this year to buy on my own for better price. My library has proved to be useless. They didn't have most of the books and when I did try to get them...someone was always requesting so the books I needed longer I couldn't keep...so it was constantly wait until the book is back to us. And money wise....I have spent so much here and there....it's added up. Probably not as much as a full new core but it's close. We tend to keep our books too so I am not making money selling afterward.

If you plan on selling after then it might be worth your time. But I have decided it's not worth my time to constantly price check multiple sites, shop the used store, and double buy b/c I didn't have my book list with me..... :grouphug: Good luck in however you decide to do it.

#8 Samiam

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:18 AM

You can definately do it cheaper. And with Core A, Language Arts is NOT a required part of the Core. You can do just History. Just science. Just readers.

Here's the thing to keep in mind and something I didn't initially realize, until Core D, so Core A,B,C the "Readers" section is NOT related to the History section at all. It's completely different and just "readers" for the sake of learning/practicing to read. Had I realized that, I would not have done their Readers curriculum this year ,and would have spent my extra $$$ on more history add-in books. So factor that in...look at what is actually used in the HISTORY program if that is your focus, and remove the READER program if you do not need it.

So history. You can get a used IG, and then get the books. Same with science (although you do need the worksheets so if your used IG doesn't have those, you'd have to buy them). Same with Readers.

Here's what I did. 1. Went to Sonlight, went to each section, say History, then loaded my cart with EVERYTHING I need for History (and left out some "extra's that they want to sell you, like the huge binder, maps, etc). Did the same for Science and the same for the Readers. So that gave me a total of what I would spend at Sonlight and the cost of each item there.

2. Printed out my cart. Had that paper with me at all times. (And now that I am getting caught up with technology, actually have it listed on my iPhone/iPad in the Evernote App)

3. Started shopping for used prices. Shopped here, Amazon (buy 3, get 4th free!), Half.com, local used curriculum sales, HSing friends, etc. When I saw something I needed, I knew instantly whether it was a good deal or not.

I started this way in advance, so I have time to shop around. In the end, around July, I buy from Sonlight what I have not been able to find used.

So I save a TON of $$$ doing it this way. The effort and time is worth it to me. I have unlimited time (well, I could have unlimited time if I remove the time-wasters in my life ie Facebook, forums, etc, lol). but I don't have unlimited money.

I've already started for our curriculum for NEXT year. I know we will do Core C so I've already listed what I need. Thankfully, or oddly enough, I have several of the books on my shelf already...the "pro" of being a book/curriculum junkie, I guess, so I do not have a need to purchase a WHOLE set of books from Sonlight. Going used and the hunt-n-gather effort is worth it for me. Our library stinks...IF they even have the book, it's always checked out when I need it. I prefer to own any book I consider necessary to our schooling.

#9 Dinsfamily

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 11:01 AM

You've already gotten a lot of great advice.

I just wanted to add that P4/5 is one of my favorite cores and is perfect for most 5yos (I did it with both of my olders at 5). You might want to take a closer look at it before you dismiss it. :D. Maybe even combine some of the books with Core A.

#10 three4me

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 12:28 PM

Thanks for all the replies! I'll keep taking a look at the website, and maybe will also consider p4/5!

#11 isitnaptime

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 12:55 PM

Thanks for all the replies! I'll keep taking a look at the website, and maybe will also consider p4/5!


My kids also love the P 4/5 books. We did part of it as summer school and even my 8 year old is asking to finish the core. You can also work through it faster and start A sometime later in the year. I am doing A with a K'er and 2nd grader (just the core). While the 2nd grader is technically over the age range, she loves it and gets a lot out of it. I didn't want her (very sensitive) getting to the upper cores too early, and I wanted to combine them.

There is a music CD with core A you would need, and some of the books are only available from Sonlight, or used. Also the timeline figures are optional.

I believe this year they also changed the Core A IG, so I would read up on the changes and see if it would make sense to only look for a 2012 guide or buy new. The lower level IG are very reasonable to buy new.

I have found it makes sense to buy the big expensive books used from Amazon with their 3.99 shipping, but not the cheaper books. Those make more sense to buy new on the 4 for 3 deal.

#12 armom

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 01:12 PM

I have a couple cores new from Sonlight and a couple used. I would say you can find Cores used, but if the Core is not complete I think you can end up spending quite a bit to peice together. I have found a few complete Cores on ebay for a good price. I did peice one together and spent close to the amount I would of new, and had used books. I did save some, but did not feel like it was worth my time.

#13 Upward Journey

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 01:46 PM

I own all the Cores except for the 200 and 530, & I have never bought a full Core. What I would advise is to buy the IG new from SL now. By buying the IG directly from SL you gain forum access and can also upgrade the IG in the future for 1/2 price. Then start gathering your books :) You can have save a lot of money this way, esp. if you don't care about which edition books you use.

#14 G5052

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 01:52 PM

I did it through five cores, averaging around $100 total per core. It took a lot of work and coordination, but I had more money than time then. I always did a combination of these strategies:

  • Emailed every local list I knew of looking for used cores and books
  • Ask friends with older children if I could buy or borrow their cores and books
  • Checked the libraries locally to see what they had
  • Took advantage of limited free interlibrary loan through my work (I couldn't do this for everything though)
  • Took advantage of local interlibrary loan (back when it was $1/book, now it is $5 plus postage!).
  • Substituted local library books on the same topic
  • And I outright skipped some books that were only used a week or less that were expensive


#15 three4me

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 05:01 PM

Wow, thanks for the ideas! Here's one more question... If I DO decide to tive P4/5 a try, is there any reason we can't start mid-way through this school year? Or are the lessons seasonal?

#16 Dinsfamily

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 06:08 PM

Wow, thanks for the ideas! Here's one more question... If I DO decide to tive P4/5 a try, is there any reason we can't start mid-way through this school year? Or are the lessons seasonal?


No reason at all. The lessons aren't seasonal. We started in June and finished in January (with a hefty dose of P3/4). We went right into Core A (then Core K) in February.

I will say that they changed Core A a lot this year. I prefer the older Core A. They took out some of my favorite books that provided a lot of meat in the core.

#17 KAM

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 08:09 PM

I thought about trying it with the library but it just seemed like it would be a huge hassle. I do save a lot of money though by buying books from Amazon and Rainbow Resource. RR especially is often much cheaper than SL. Then I order the IG and any books I couldn't get cheaper elswhere from SL.

#18 Jennifer Bogart

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Posted 03 October 2012 - 09:11 PM

You can often find a complete used core for 1/2 price, we've done that, and it's a great deal :).

#19 three4me

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 09:39 AM

You can often find a complete used core for 1/2 price, we've done that, and it's a great deal :).


Wow, really? Where did you snag that?

#20 Jennifer Bogart

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:19 AM

Wow, really? Where did you snag that?


Used homeschooling curriculum yahoo groups! Just do a search when you hit yahoo groups.

#21 melmichigan

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Posted 04 October 2012 - 10:38 AM

The first year or two I purchased full cores, and then quickly changed to piecing together my own, eliminating books I didn't want. I purchased my IG's from SL, the idea at the time was that I might want updated ones later (no longer the case in my situation). With so many kids, and avid readers I chose to purchase the books new so I made lists of 4 for 3 books on amazon and made sure to purchase in sets of 4 of the same price range so that I got the most $ out of my free book. I saved hundreds of dollars and still had new books.

You can use your library, it helps to go through the lists ahead of time to know what your library has available. You can also purchase used from all over the place. :)


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