Used Curriculum sale on South Side

Reserve your table today at one of the largest used home school
Curriculum Fairs on Chicago’s South Side!
Date: May 28, 2013
Time: 4:00-8:00 p.m.
Location: Grace Fellowship Church
(15150 Oak Park Avenue in Oak Forest)
You won’t want to miss the great deals and money making opportunities to sell curriculum you are no longer using (or never used!). There is limited space available, so reserve your table today. The cost of a table is $5 (donated to the church hosting this event).
E-mail Sandi Grutzius to reserve your table today at
Come Buy, Sell, or BOTH!

Scholastic Warehouse Sale

Here’s the website with all the details:

They have some great deals on everything in their warehouse and you can register in advance to get a coupon for $10 off a $25 purchase. Great for stocking stuffers, gifts, or motivational rewards for your favorite “students.” It looks like they don’t have as many in the area as they used to, so it might be more of a drive for you, but still some great opportunities around the Chicago area.

Book sale

Scholastic - Read Every Day. Lead a Better Life

While you will find lots of used curriculum sales in the area this time of year, you might also enjoy adding some new books to your shelves. The Scholastic Warehouse Sale is in full swing, but will be wrapping up soon. Depending on where you are your nearest one is closing the 17th or the 24th, so time is running out.

These sales offer you some great deals on those books that traditionally schooled kids get through those little book flyers that go home on a regular basis from the classroom teacher. In these warehouse sales you get to walk the aisles of their store room and find some great deals. If you are going, be sure to register online and print a coupon before heading out. They have lots of great deals to tuck away for birthday or Christmas gifts, or to simply breathe some new life into your homeschool bookshelf.

Check out all the details at the Scholastic website.

The Staycation — Chicago style

I have said it before, and I’ll say it again — we live in an amazing area! As I continue to look for fresh ideas for field trips, family outings, and meetups with friends¬† — I keep finding them. New places, new ideas, new experiences, and all within an hour or so driving time, which is a good thing. With gas flirting with $4.50 we need close to home and cheap. If you are looking to spend your summer mostly in the Chicago area but still want to vacation, keep reading for enough staycation ideas to keep you going through Christmas.

If you want my more complete list of where you can visit in the Chicago area check out the detailed listing of field trip ideas. If you want something a little less overwhelming, let’s break it down into some favorite fives. We’ll explore the Chicago area with my top five: outing genres, free spots, deal websites, city sites, suburban sites, on our agenda for this summer, and tips to save money while seeing the world (or at least Chicago). Remember, I can not share everything there is to do. Chicago is monstrous and I found over 100 places when I compiled my field trip listing, and I’m sure I missed plenty. So, I just want to share some family favorites to hopefully help you find something new.

Favorite Five Outing Genres

Alright, so I usually think of genres when it comes to books, but a lot of our favorites definitely fall into categories as well, and genres just sounds so much better than categories.

Historical Farms — These seem to dot the landscape around here, and they each have something different to offer. Many hover around the mid-1800s and offer lots of free family fun on weekends throughout the year. Check out just a few of these around the area: Kline Creek Farm, Bonner Farm, Garfield Farm, Blackberry Farm, etc.

Water related fun — (of course there is your neighborhood or park district pool, or . . .) Splash parks are a great, often free, fun.

Tours — when it is too hot to enjoy playing outside we love to schedule a tour with a group of friends. Costco offers great tours with locations all around the Chicago area. Also check out nearby factories. We have enjoyed tours in nut factories, jelly bean factories, Oberweis, and other food related products.

Nature Trails — If we are up for a drive we might head out to Starved Rock or White Pines State Park (gotta drive through the water at least once each summer), but there are plenty of closer places to enjoy as well. Check out some lesser known Forest Preserves in your area for a new look at the world around you. Many have little nature centers with enthusiastic volunteers staffing them in the summer.

Non-professional sporting events — you probably have one not too far from you and they are way cheaper than driving into the city, paying for parking, and fighting the crowds. Our standing favorite is the Kane County Cougars. You can often get BOGO tickets on Mondays and with free parking it is one of the best sporting deals around. Lake County has a team as well, but I have not been to theirs yet to comment on it.

Favorite Five Free Spots

Cosley Farm in Wheaton — Farm animals in a stroller friendly park. Great for younger kids or big animal lovers. My best memory there, my oldest was just a few years old and we stopped in there in March sometime. A baby cow just a couple hours old was there to greet us. An amazing experience. And, at the time we had the place to ourselves, but that is a rare occurrence nowadays. ***Edited to add: Apparently Cosley is no longer free for non-Wheaton residents. Kids are still free, but adults have a $3 admission fee. Thanks to Kate for letting me know!***

Independence Grove — wonderful natural setting in Libertyville. Swimming lake, playground, lots of space to enjoy. There is sometimes a small fee if you are not a Lake County resident.

Fermi lab — Science lovers should be sure to schedule a visit to Fermi Lab. They have an annual open house in the winter, but visitors are welcome during other times of the year as well. They have an educational center, a buffalo herd, walking trails, and more.

Peck Farm — We discovered this beautiful place a few years ago and enjoy the old estate house with hands on fun for the kids, walking trails, an observation silo, and in the summer a little butterfly house (donation admission suggested).

Air and Water Show — How could I almost forget this? Amazing! You can’t just do this whenever you want to, but it is worth the crowds and the heat to enjoy the impressive displays.

Favorite Five Deal Locators:

Free Things To Do in Chicago — They list everything from concerts to paper shredding events to free food giveaways. Not always free, but at least once a week I find something worthwhile on this site. I get it sent to my inbox so I never miss a deal.

Jill Cataldo — mostly about saving money on groceries, but look here for other great tips, like how we could get free Brookfield Zoo tickets

Groupon — You’ve gotta know about groupon. Daily deals, buying in bulk with the rest of Chicagoland. Get your group-on . . .

Ever Save — Another daily deal site (there are even more of these out there. If this is your thing, google for others). Fun activities, good food, discount prices.

Smart Destinations — This site allows you to build on the tickets you want to well known attractions and by purchasing in bundles you get a better price (or you can buy their premade card). You only add the attractions you want, and the more you buy the more you save. It looks like they are useable for a year after purchase, too, but must be all used within 30 days of first use.

Favorite Five tips to save money while seeing the world (or at least Chicago)

Museum Adventure Pass — if you have a library card you also have access to a whole host of great place for free or at a discount. Ask your library if they participate. Each week you can print up to one pass for a place of your choice. You then present the pass and your library card at the location you are visiting for free admission according to the terms of the particular place. Each deal is different, so make sure to read them carefully. Some are for a certain number of admissions, most don’t include any parking fees that might apply. Our favorites on here are the Chicago Botanica Garden (one car in free), and Cantigny (one car in free). Okay, so we have a lot of kids, so if I can get them all in for the same low price of free it’s going to be a favorite. ūüôā

Pack your lunches — Not a place, but we save a bundle by bringing our lunches along. If my aim is to have a great time on a budget I just can’t stomach shelling out $50 for everyone to eat lunch. Sandwiches in the car or at a playground — $5 for everyone. I need the other $45 for gas anyway.

Reading incentives — If you homeschool you can sign up for these on your own and encourage your kids to read while earning great rewards for family outings. If your kids are in traditional school and they don’t do these, check into it. Great America tickets, Pizza Hut (during the school year), baseball tickets (Kane County Cougars have a great program), and more.

Explore Chicagoland — a book that you can buy with admission to lots of places around the area. Kind of expensive up front, but if you will make use of one ticket every couple weeks you can easily make your money off of it.

Think free — Brookfield Zoo may be one of the best in the world, but there are other great zoos in the area when all your money is going in your gas tank. Philips Park in Aurora, Lord’s Park in Elgin, Randall Oaks in Carpentersville (fee on the weekends), Cosley in Wheaton, Willowbrook Wildlife Center, and Lincoln Park in Chicago are a few. Not the same as Brookfield, but still lots of family fun and most with playgrounds nearby to keep everyone happy on a beautiful summer day.

Favorite Five on our agenda for this summer

– Believe it or not, I have never been to Millenium Park, stared up into the bean, and played in the giant water-spitting faces. I would really like to get down there with my kids this year.

– Another “one of these years” plans is to get to the Eyes to the Skies festival around Fourth of July weekend in Lisle. I can’t imagine much more breathtaking than watching a field of hot air balloons take to the skies. The morning lift off is free for viewing (but it is at 6:00 am . . .)

Great America. Not cheap, I know, but my kids each have tickets from reading incentives, so it works out to not be too bad. Parking is all we pay and then we bring our food in a cooler in the car. Our kids absolutely love the water park there and stay there pretty much from the time they open until they close.

Summer reading program. Free fun, better than free. Check out books, enjoy reading together with your kids, and then earn free tickets and passes. I could not imagine summer without the library’s summer reading program. Your library likely has a summer reading program with more goodies to outfit your staycation as well.

Summer movies. Lots of theaters offer $1 movies, or even free ones. We love these, especially on a hot day or when we just need to get out of the house and don’t feel like taking a long drive anywhere. Classic Cinemas is one company with a number of theaters across the Chicago area. They have $1 movies every Wednesday morning during summer months. Check for times and locations, and they even have the movie listings up already.

A couple miscellaneous¬† items that just didn’t fit nicely anywhere:

Explore Chicago — a website that has all the happenings in the city

Famplosion — lots of family fun all listed in one place.

Do you have a favorite that you don’t see here?

Please leave a comment and let us know your secret getaway in the Chicago area.

And, be sure to check back in here tomorrow when I will post about a hundred other links for other cities around the country. If you do have a chance to travel a bit you can find inexpensive activities in just about every state. Don’t miss the great staycation

Free Zoo Tickets

Any super couponers out there?

If so you probably already know about this deal, but for those of you who don’t, here is a great way to get free tickets to Brookfield Zoo and stock up on pop for all those summer get together, or for your kids to sell to make some money, or¬† . . . ?

Here’s the deal:

Summer Fun Stay-Cation Deal! Meijer is running a great Catalina sale in which buying $15 worth of participating Coca-Cola products generates a Catalina good for 4 FREE admissions to the Brookfield Zoo! (We saw this deal last year too on the Shedd Aquarium, and it was such a GREAT deal!) 12-packs of Coca-Cola are on sale for $3 each. Buying 5 will cost you $15, and you’ll get the pop AND 4 free admissions to Brookfield Zoo!

To read more about this and to find lots of other great deals, jump on over to Jill Cataldo’s site. In the face of lots of extreme couponing that border on inappropriate or even illegal I appreciate Jill’s desire to coupon ethically and still come home with lots of great deals.

Staples Deals

Fourth of July must be over because the back to school deals have begun!


Be sure to swing by Staples for their penny deals. See all the details in their add or view it online.

While it is a good deal, it is not as incredible as past years because this time around they require an additional purchase.  Be sure to read the stipulations carefully.

So, with an additional $5 purchase you can get pencils and folders for a penny each! They have lots of other great deals for $1, so be sure to look and see what you can use or stock up for the year ahead with these great prices.

I’m sure there are more to come in the weeks ahead. They usually have different items on sale for a penny or a nickle each week for a few weeks. Snatch them up while you can!

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

I have mentioned on here before the Homeschool Buyers Co-op. This is a free website that offers great deals to homeschoolers. I finally joined (no idea why I waited so long), and I can tell you it is completely painless. And, the deals are amazing!
Membership is free and confidential, and gives you access to great discounts from over 100 educational suppliers.
They also have a “SmartPoints” program where you get points for doing things that benefit you and other homeschoolers. You can then use your SmartPoints to buy curriculum.

If you click the following link and join, I’ll get 100 SmartPoints, and you’ll get 100 SmartPoints just for joining. (Click me!)

Tune in tomorrow for a great freebie that you will need to be a member of the co-op to join. Free higher level math for the summer . . . be sure to check it out.

Black Friday Sales

Department and electronics stores aren’t the only ones with amazing deals this week.

If you find yourself with some extra money in your budget, or relatives asking what you would like for Christmas, or maybe you just want something a little educational to give your kids this Christmas season . . . you will want to check out the amazing sales taking place at various homeschool vendors.

I’m sure to miss some, but here are a few of the deals that I have come across recently:

First, a freebie from The Old Schoolhouse Magazine — a holiday planning guide. Free to download!

If you do some shopping in their store and spend more than $50 you also receive over $300 in bonus gifts for free. They have additional bonuses if your total increases. Check out their 4th annual Black Friday Special for details.

CurrClick always has great freebies everyweek, and this week they will also have a Black Friday giveaway. Be sure to check out their website during the day this Friday, November 27th. They are sure to have some great stuff both at great prices and free for the taking. also promises to have some great deals in honor of Black Friday. They will offer 35% off most of their products starting November 24 and continuing through the 30th. While at their site, make sure to check out their freebies also. Great inspiration that will cost you nothing.

Hands of a Child also has deals, especially for the Super Members. They have extended this, and I just got this email:

You’re in luck because we’ve extended the sale for everyone staring November 26th through midnight on November 29th (EST Zone)

All Project Packs in any format are 35% off

Everthing else on our site is 20% off

Visit our website at to shop starting on November 26th!

Code: BlackFriday

Be sure to hit apply to see the discount in your cart during step 4 of checkout.

And, don’t forget the Scholastic Sale right here in the Chicago area.