Summertime is when parents are either considering the next year’s education plans, or are gearing up to purchase next year’s homeschool curriculum and supplies. No matter where you are on that spectrum, you’re probably preparing for some shopping soon.
As a veteran homeschooler, I’ve got a short list of “must-haves” to make our homeschooling run smoothly. So let’s get started.
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This should be a no-brainer, but stocking up well on really good pencils pays off. Some mysterious unnamed person usually steals ours, so I like to get plenty and hide some of them. After buying cheap ones and being frustrated by the poor lead quality and erasers that don’t actually erase, we’ve settled on Ticonderoga.
This is weird, I know. But glue sticks are quick-drying, cheap, and mess-free. I used to buy those little 3-packs during the school supply sales, but I eventually switched to the giant ones. We use them for our history smashbooks. I like to have LOTS available. Because these also get stolen by that mysterious person. And they run out quickly. Pick them up cheap at the back-to-school sales in August, or save yourself the trip and have this big box delivered to your front door.
Electric Pencil Sharpener
With the never-ending pencil supply, you need a convenient way to sharpen. We have gone through many pencil sharpeners in our homeschool career, and have finally found one that lasts and that works. This one is electric, and can even plug into a USB port for convenience. It sharpens pencils evenly (you know how frustrating it is to have one-sided pencil lead??) and it’s simple enough for my youngest child to operate it on her own. This little thing saves my sanity.
Touch Screen Wireless Laptop Computer
I bought the HP Envy x360 last year and have loved it. Not only is it touch-screen, it also converts to tablet mode. Of course, the best part is that it’s wireless, so I can move it around the house to suit our needs. Sometimes my boys use it in the kitchen to do online lessons. Sometimes I plug it into the TV in the living room with an HDMI cable to watch lessons on the big screen. Sometimes I sit on the couch to blog. And I teach with it in the library every morning. It’s pretty much priceless for me.
These are so common now, and I am thankful because I feel like the Jetsons. We can print from any device in the house, at anytime. My daughter prints her French lessons from her room upstairs. I print lapbooking pages from my comfy seat on the couch. My son will ask for a Lego coloring page and I can print from my iPhone. I have the HP Envy. I like the small, sleek look and the push-button screen for commands. Oh, and the Instant Ink program is priceless. I chose the $9.99 plan for 300 pages per month. When my total printed pages nears 300, HP automatically sends me new color and black ink cartridges in the mail. Since I print a LOT, this is a huge savings for us. (If you choose to join HP Instant Ink, be sure to click my referral link, and I’ll get a free month. And thanks. : )
I first bought this laminator because it was on sale one day on Amazon. I didn’t realize it would become my new BFF. I have used this to make so many things in our homeschool reusable. I mean, with 5 kids, I’m going to want some of my supplies to last. : ) Just a few of those things are the hundreds chart for multiplication, homemade flash cards, chore/school charts and schedules (they make a great little wipe-off chart), and games (like this cool Periodic Table Battleship game). I also use the laminator at Christmas time for little gift tags, as well as making visual rewards when I teach English online. It’s one of the things I use on a VERY regular basis. The link below is the best deal ever. You get the laminator, a package of laminating sheets, AND the Amazon Dash button to click when you need a refill sent to you ASAP.
Colored Ink Pens
Do you remember when your teacher used a red pen for grading and notes? Yeah, as the mom, I love that red pen. But I also like all of the other colors. I keep a pack of colored pens just for my own use, when creating schedules, scribbling notes, marking papers (my kids insist on “grading” even though we don’t really keep grades; they like that big ol’ 100 at the top of the page). I use many colors, but red is still my favorite.
Of course you can’t teach school without paper. There are THREE must-haves on my list all year ’round: basic printer paper, white card stock, and spiral notebooks. Printer paper is obvious, but not just for the printer. All of my kids love to draw, and they like unlined paper, and they still don’t understand the concept of using a sketchbook, so they use printer paper like it’s water. White card stock is great for all kinds of projects: lapbooks, notebooking, posters, and of course the laminated stuff for mom. Since sprial notebooks are reeeeallly cheap during back-to-school sales, I buy about 25 at a time. They’re great for spelling lists, copywork, etc., and are great to have in the car.
I use this thing weekly. And have used it for YEARS. It’s great for adding stuff to 3-ring binders. This high-capacity model punches up to 20 pages at a time. Need I say more?
I started buying these when I got really tired of my kids taking all the big books off the bookshelf to use as a writing desk. So now we have one for every child, plus a couple of extras. These are used on a DAILY basis here for drawing, math worksheets, and more. They are also carried along on car rides for the same reason. My son recommends this specific kind because the top of the paper doesn’t get wrinkled:
As my children have gotten older (meaning: the youngest is 6), they all prefer colored pencils for art work. So I quit buying 50 packs of cheap crayons at the back-to-schools sales and finally invested in LOTS of colored pencils. Since there are 4 kids, we need to have multiples of each color. I highly recommend this! Oh, and if you see a pack of just red or just black, grab it up. Those colors disappear fast!
Well there you have it! That’s my list of the supplies we use constantly. You can use this list when the big sales start this summer, or (if you’re like me) order them all online and let the UPS driver do the hard work.
What do you have on your must-have list? Share in the comments below!
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Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board and The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Review Crew. You can also find her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
My mission for 2017 is spreading the great news that #AnyoneCanHomeschool. I’m looking forward to writing a book, recording a podcast, and speaking to parents all over North Texas. Check out the latest on these projects here: