07 May 2007

Homeschool Resource Cataloging

My sister-in-law and I were brainstorming about a way we could share our homeschooling materials with each other so that we don't duplicate books and spend a lot of unnecessary cash. Ideally, we'd be helping to teach each other's children, but she lives 2 hours away so that's just not a possibility. Darn.
But since we share a similar homeschooling world view and read a lot of the same books, it stands to reason that we would likely invest in the same homeschooling materials. So we asked ourselves, why not share our resources?
She lives 2 hours from me though, remember?, so it's not like we can just pop over and take a gander at each other's bookshelves when we're preparing for the next unit study.
What to do, what to do?

I've heard about LibraryThing which is a home library cataloging site. Today I went and checked it out. Basically, you type in all your book titles and you're instantly connected with other book lovers and their book lists. You can swap books, read each other's list of favorites, get book recommendations, look up ISBN numbers and Dewey Decimal locations- the whole kit and caboodle.
Except it's only for books.
We have music. And movies. And themed action figures. And science kits. And I'd probably even catalog my vast selection of cardboard boxes and tempera paints, and my hubby's tools on there if it'd let me. (You just never know what a homeschool parent is going to require for any given unit.)

So LibraryThing, while a very cool idea, is just not going to do it for me.
What to do, what to do?

After Christmas shopping on Amazon.com, and receiving a few items from a wish list I'd created there (that I'd completely forgotten about), I got to thinking, "Why can't I use an Amazon Wish List for my homeschool catalog?" So I tried it today and am thrilled with the results so far.

Here's what I like about it:
- After creating my "wish list" (which is Amazon's term, I'll just go through and mark that each item has already been purchased so Christmas this year won't find me receiving five copies of a CD I already own), my sis-in-law can quickly scroll through and see which books I have on my shelves, located a 2 hour drive away.
- On Amazon.com, she can usually see the book cover, read some reviews, get the ISBN number, and often times can even get a peek inside the book (I love this feature!) to see if it's what she is really after for her homeschool unit.
- If I don't own what she is looking for, Amazon also includes other recommendations for books along the same subject matter...
- for which she can access the same detailed information as above to decide if that's the book for her. If she likes it, and wants to spend the $ on it, she's already "in the store" so all she has to do is press "Add to Shopping Cart."
- And Amazon carries music, video games, toys, movies, and clothing. I could add it all to my catalog and sis-in-law would now know that I also have toy Jamestown Settlers and Powhatan Indian figures, and a DVD on the Jamestown Settlement to go along with that upcoming Early Settlers unit she's planning.

The downsides I've found so far:
- There is no real search option for the wish list. Sis-in-law can sort my list by toys, music, books, games, etc. But she can't type in keywords like "Plymouth Colony" or "Art Resources" to narrow the field.
- Obviously, not everything is in the Amazon system. Many of my older books are listed without cover photos or inside peeks, and some of my very old and/or privately published and sold items are nowhere to be found. (I have a CD of Colonial American music I picked up in Williamsburg last summer that I couldn't find in the Amazon system. I assume that's because it's produced and only distributed in select Williamsburg stores.)

This has been a public service announcement from Green Grass, Quiet River School. We hope it helps someone out there in homeschool blog land.


Blogger Erin said...

Good grief, that's a boring title for a blog post.

8:19 PM  

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