How to Go to a Curriculum Fair... and Survive!

I think one of the most memorable moments of a homeschooler's  journey is the first time you venture into the almighty curriculum fair (insert horror film music here).   I was fortunate enough to have a good friend baby step me through my first one, but some of you may not be so lucky. So, I decided to point out a few things that really helped and a few things that I wish I had known on my first trip.

Things to do before you go:

  • You need to read about the curriculum. 
This post will give you a starting place. Read, read, read, read. Then sleep on it. 

  • Check the Exhibitors List.
Print it out. Look-up each online and high-light the ones you don't want to miss. Many fairs are enormous and it is just not possible to see everything. Make sure you see the ones you came for.
My favorite vendor collects  a line quickly. I always go there first for the items I know I want.

  • Research the guest speakers. 
Know who is speaking and when. You'd hate to be thumbing through the used books when your favorite author is speaking just down the hall!

  • Prepare for the load.
Books are heavy! If you have a way to carry your books such as a crate on wheels with an extendable handle, don't forget it! I plan on purchasing one this year. My first year left me with sore arms even after multiple trips to the car.

  • Set a budget.
There are lots of enticing educational goodies awaiting you at a curriculum fair. Make sure you set a budget and get your basics first. Be realistic. Look up items you are interested in on-line and have an idea of a realistic price. Make notes. You can often find the same books and supplies for three or four different prices at the fair, so shop around!

  • Know the Lingo
I wished for a cheat sheet with terms on my first visit. Here are a few terms that contributed to the  head-swimming daze I found myself in. 
Bible-based (apologetic, creationist, etc.)

Once you are there:
  • If you haven't settled on a learning style, take the first day to gather information and the second day to buy. Things look differently when you have a chance to step away from a vendor and spread out on the living room floor.
  • Wear comfortable shoes and if possible leave the kids at home. I am often tempted to take my oldest child, but I know in the end that I'll buy things I didn't intend to buy and she'll wear out way before I do.
  •  Plan to make a day of it. I take a large comfortable bag with water, a snack, cash, and pens and paper. I like to have my notebook handy for price comparison and other notes. 

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