I’ve rounded up my hands-down favorite homeschool supplies. Read on for how to set yourself up for a fantastic year!
Whether you’re just getting started homeschooling or coming back from a long break, there’s something satisfying about getting yourself set up for success!
Part of my not-back-to-school routine is to make sure that I’m completely set up with school and office supplies. It’s more than just a love of school supplies – it’s comforting to know I won’t need to run to the store in the middle of a lesson. Comforting to know that I have the right supplies on hand on Sunday night, and I won’t have to push our Monday project to Tuesday.
If you’re operating on a shoestring see: School Supplies List Too Long? 5 Ways to SAVE!
Where to Shop for Homeschool Supplies
I’ll be honest, I don’t love going into the back-to-school shopping crowds to shop for homeschool supplies. This year, I was shopping at Walmart when a mom-on-mom, screaming profanity fight broke out behind me. Not a single employee looked up.
Plus I get it done in ten minutes instead of an hour, and reordering online doesn’t give me the same panic attack as going back to Walmart two days in a row.
For that reason, all of the following supplies are linked to Amazon, but it’s not the only online store. Two other places to shop for homeschool supplies that I highly recommend:
Top 10 Homeschool Supplies
The following is a list of my very favorites. These are the actual brands I have used in my classroom and now use in my home to homeschool my own kiddos.
1. Electric Pencil Sharpener
(And number one for a reason) the main thing I would never want to be without: a fantastic electric pencil sharpener!
This X-Acto classroom pencil sharpener is the exact kind I have. I love it. I had one when I was teaching, and it stood up to 40+ kids for two years. At home, our sharpener is on it’s third year and still going strong.
The best part of this sharpener: You can’t over-sharpen a pencil. Do your kids have a habit of jamming their pencils in so hard that they end up being two inches long? This one won’t let you. A little blue light comes on when your pencil is sharp. Then, if your overzealous little helper keeps shoving – it turns off.
If any pencil sharpener could change your life, this one would be it.
2. A Rolling Organizer
I had this little rainbow rolling cart for a while before I figured out what to do with it. I’d seen the videos about using work boxes in your homeschool. But when I tried it – well, it just didn’t work. There was too much to cram in each box to use a drawer for one day per week.
This year I’m using it to store materials for one subject at a time. My drawers hold reading, handwriting, spelling, grammar, math, and 2 drawers each for science and history. It’s perfect. I’m so happy with how our materials are organized this year!
Fair warning: These are sturdy, but I don’t trust my toddler around them. When I first got it, I filled it with all sorts of books. It got pretty heavy. My then 2-year-old would pull out every shelf and tip the whole thing over.
This year, it’s sitting behind my desk. I also kept the heavier textbooks toward the bottom. But hey, if your toddlers are more relaxed than mine, you probably won’t have a problem. These are pretty sturdy, and they come with a little latch that prevents the drawers from sliding all the way out.
3. Thermal Laminator and Sleeves
This was a purchase I waited on. After all, I started just homeschooling one kid – why would I need to laminate everything?
Well, it wasn’t long before I missed the huge school laminator and sprung for one of my own. Since then, my Amazon Thermal Laminator has become one of my most frequently used supplies.
I love this laminator. It creates thicker, stiffer pages than the huge school laminator could ever make. I’ve used it to create reusable calendar cards, floor puzzles and activities that my kids can use again and again, and most recently we’ve been using it for handwriting.
I get the 100 sheets of laminating sleeves to go with it. The 3 mil thickness is plenty thick for our needs.
Honestly, I’ve tried the Scotch laminator and sleeves, and I prefer the Amazon brand. I can’t really tell a difference, other than Scotch is a name brand and both the machine and the sleeves are $10 more.
4. Visual Timer
This little magnetic timer is a new purchase for our homeschool this year, but it has me wondering, “What did I ever do without this before?” The answer, of course, is that I’d say “5 mintues!” and it would be more like 15-20ish…
I’ve had a few other timers that have broken in the past, but this one seems to be holding up well. The reviewers’ main complaint is that the ring is too quiet. This doesn’t bother me at all. I can hear it from across the house. I don’t need a firetruck siren to alert me that computer time is over, ya know?
I love the visual component of this Magnetic Rotating Timer. It reads just like a clock, and my kids can see the red timer ticking down the minutes from across the room. Plus, the magnet on the back is strong. I stick it to my desk so everyone can see it. Later, I move it to a high shelf so the toddler doesn’t steal it!
5. Rolling Book Cart
Can I just geek out for a minute? Yeah, I’m rocking a rolling cart to and from the library this year. And I don’t care who sees. I love it.
This Office Depot folding cart is the same brand I had when I was teaching, and rolling binders, workbooks, and texts back and forth on the daily. Our library is walking-distance this year. But not so close that I want to lug all of our books around in my backpack. This cart is big enough, sturdy enough, and smooth enough to carry all of our library books back and forth (well… as many library books we can find).
6. A Stockpile of Printer Paper
I stockpile mad amounts of paper. I have to – I print everything. Center activities, worksheets, my kids’ homeschool workbooks, curriculum guides, my own planner pages and stickers… Plus, my kids eat it.
No seriously. I think they are actually eating paper. Where else could it be going?
So I stockpile it at the beginning of the year. I buy the 5 ream boxes of copy paper because that’s about how much we go through each school year. I also love the boxes. I’ve previously painted them and used them for toy storage, old papers, all sorts of things.
See the top box in the image below? That was from our kindergarten homeschool room. It’s a paper box. Spray painted with decorative duct tape around the edges. They are 20x more sturdy than the fabric boxes. That one held our wooden train set. You can see our other boxes breaking down, but not the paper boxes!!!
The paper I have stocked and ready to go for the first day of homeschool:
- Regular old multipurpose paper (and a lot of it!)
- White cardstock
- Neon paper
- Labels (I label everything, see cart and boxes above)
- Construction paper
- Loose leaf and primary lined writing paper
7. Colorful File Folders
I use colorful file folders all the time to get my own papers organized. I had no idea how much I would be using them in our homeschool.
We use colorful folders to create lapbooks and folder games. I cut them in half and punch them as dividers in our binders and workbooks. And I keep one in our rolly cart when we go to the library so we can get their library coloring pages, challenge sheets, and bookmarks home in one piece (and not lost in the middle of a book).
8. Remanufactured Printer Ink
Okay, hear me out on this. I have been using remanufactured printer ink in my HP printer for about 4 years. I am telling you, there is no difference between the more expensive name brand ink and the re-purposed cartridges.
Wait. There is one huge difference: the remanufactured ink is about $53 less than HP ink for a color and black cartridge. Yeah, you read that right.
I have seen a lot of people promote the HP ink program, and that’s great if you’re into name brands. But these remanufactured cartridges can save you 60% on ink. And I’m telling you, you will not notice the difference.
9. High Volume 3 Hole Punch
Well this one just wreaks of “former teacher.” But I am one, and I love my high volume punch.
Why spring for a high volume punch? First of all, the regular three hole punches don’t last. It’s annoying. They aren’t expensive, but they aren’t free. So when I buy something (and then buy it again) I want it to last more than one school year.
Secondly, punching 3 pages at once is a huge waste of time. It just is. You’re never getting those 4 minutes back. Ever.
You’re going to love this 3 hole punch from Bostitch. Mine looks a little different, but it’s also about eight years old.
This little guy punches 40 sheets cleanly. That means when I’m printing out a packet for my kids I can punch the entire thing at once. It cleanly punches through lamination and cardstock and even file folders. Yes, mine has seen some abuse, but it’s still going strong.
10. An Amazing Planner
If you follow this site, you knew this one was coming. I’m a total plannergirl. I have been for many years. There are so many different kinds of planners to use. Find one that is perfect for you and use it to keep yourself organized.
That’s the trick isn’t it? It’s easy to get organized. You buy the right supplies. You set up your homeschool room. You get all ready for a new homeschool year…
But it’s difficult to stay organized.
Organization is ongoing. It’s like cleaning your house. You don’t just do it once. You have to keep it up. That’s where a planner comes in.
This year I’m using my own design, The Homeschool Portfolio. I designed it for relaxed homeschoolers that don’t do much planning. It’s more of a record book. So if your style of homeschool planning is “just do the next page… or lesson… or chapter” this might be the right fit for you.
More homeschool planners:
- Free Homeschool Planners to Create Your Custom Binder!
- Find the BEST Homeschool Planner! (Printed planners)
I hope this helps you get set for a fantastic homeschool year! What would you add to this list of homeschool must-haves? Add your ideas in the comments below!
More homeschool organization from the Resource Room: