Rummage sales are a different kettle of fish than thrift shops; mainly because things like books aren't screened quite so well. You're more apt to find the musty, the weird, and the almost-used-up mixed in with the cool stuff; but on the other hand, you sometimes find one person's whole stash of childhood books, or Grandpa's history obsession. When you can get a shopping bag full for a couple of dollars, though, it's not worth going through everything to see how many pages are coloured in or whether the fractions pages are exactly what you need. Better just to fill the bag and then sort (and dump if necessary) when you get it all home.
We filled a family-sized bag at a church sale this morning (the first rummage sale we've been to in months); the girls found some craft bits and pieces, a nice picture frame, and a couple of little china ornaments for their rooms. The clothes were nothing to get excited over, although we did pass people coming out with stuffed garbage bags, so I guess everyone has her own idea of what's worthwhile.
I was paying particular attention to the boxes of books because of a workshop I'm doing next month, on using thrift shop and yard sale materials to round out homeschool curriculum. So what I put in the bag this time wasn't so much what my own Squirrelings need for school, but Exhibit A of what one good rummage sale might net you. And I think this was pretty typical, including the couple of things that turned out to be garbage:
A nursery rhyme songbook, very slightly musty (Ponytails can use it with our keyboard)
An NIV New Testament
A New Webster's Dictionary
Several story books: The Sword in the Tree, Lynd Ward's The Biggest Bear (very worn), Robert McCloskey's Lentil, Jerome (an interesting '60's book about a frog prince who stays a frog, but it's too wizardy for most homeschoolers I know), Red Riding Hood, and The Dancing Palm Tree, a book of Nigerian folk tales which looks pretty good
5 childrens' word search books, partly used
A Mark Trail nature colouring book (good only for a few animal cutouts)
2 Golden Step-Ahead math workbooks, slightly used (one is grade 4 level and might be a good supplement for Ponytails)
A Beaver Scout handbook--pretty useless
Splitting the Atom: A yo-yo trick book that I gave to Mr. Fixit
Chalk Around the Block, a book of games like hopscotch to play outdoors
Insects Indoors and Out, by Hortense Roberta Roberts
Three how-to-draw animal books, one by Ed Emberley
An old edition of Inside 25 Classic Childrens' Stories, by Miriam J. Johnson
A mostly-used Christmas colouring book that sneaked in with the puzzle books (dumped that)
Part of a Discovery toys card game--but too many of the cards are missing to make it useable
A hardly-used Veggie Tales Silly Singalong colouring book
There were a couple of other things I might have taken as well (if I were looking hard for school things), but didn't: a big coffee-table book with photographs of Canada; more so-so childrens' books; classical music cassettes in dubious condition; a game of Careers and a game of Snakes and Ladders, both in good condition; binders and storage tins; and a couple of plastic dollar-store gizmos to practice addition and subtraction.
So I now have my Exhibit A. If you want to know what I'd do with it (other than the obvious do-the-math-problems), I guess you'll have to come to the workshop. :-) [Update: or you can read the posts I wrote about it, starting here.]