Whether you have been homeschooling for years or have become an unexpected homeschooler due to school closures, you probably already know: Having the right homeschool supplies on hand is essential to a stress-free day. After years of homeschooling, running a preschool and running a homeschool supply company, I created a homeschool essential supplies list. The things I couldn’t live without – and the things my teachers asked me to order again and again. Almost everything you need to do in your homeschool can be done with these 34 items. Ps: I know many of you barely have a moment to yourself, so I included some printable freebies under the first heading. These are appropriate for ages 3 to 6 and should keep your kids occupied while you browse this article.
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The Essentials – The Must-Have Homeschool Items
1. A great printer for homeschooling
A good color workhorse printer is essential. You can use it to print out most of your paper-based work – including the million homeschool freebies. A great printer doesn’t need to be expensive. This version under $70 has served me well for years. To save money, get off-brand cartridges that work just as well.
And speaking of freebies – here are some fun FREEBIE worksheets to keep your little ones occupied
2. A great laptop (at a reasonable price)
Let’s face it. Its the age of information, and homeschooling people without good technology is very difficult. But technology is expensive and laptops especially so. A few weeks ago when my older son needed a new laptop, I consulted with several technology experts and asked them to find something great “as cheap as possible.” This is the laptop all three recommended. It is fast, has a great screen, the capacity to do everything you need for homeschool, and is less than $600. My 14 year old loves it.
3. Great headphones (at a reasonable price)
Headphones are essential when you have many people working in one room. This terrific pair of headphones was recommended by a friend. We are now huge fans, and my 10 year old loves using them for school work. And at about $20 a pop the price to quality ratio just can’t be beaten. Just a heads up – they don’t extend so although they work great for kids, they do not work for teenagers or adults.
4. A Kindle, a library card (and amazon prime)
For little homeschoolers, nothing can beat the wonder of holding a new book. In fact, there are many wonderful board books that a preschool or lower elementary student must experience the old fashioned way. But as your little learner grows, so will their reading speed and the size of their books. Eventually, a great kindle reader becomes a homeschool necessity. When that happens, there is no need to leave your beloved library card behind. Many libraries will allow readers to borrow books for kindles, totally free of charge, from the comfort of their own home. And, if you have an amazon prime membership you can borrow hundreds of thousands more books, including the much-beloved Harry Potter series.
5. A Laminating machine
This is a machine we used in my preschools, and it has stood up to constant usage for years. Best part? It’s under $25. These laminating pouches are an amazing value and should last a long time in a traditional homeschool.
6. The ideal homeschool desk
The ideal homeschool desk really depends on your ideal homeschool. Check out this comprehensive article 10 Best Homeschool Desks article to find an option that works for you. I am partial to the group desk/dining table option and this is the one I love.
7. A colorful rolling organizer – keep your homeschool supplies organized
No matter if you have homeschooled for a day or a decade, you already know we have to keep things organized in order to teach. That’s why I adore this colorful rolling storage unit/organizer. This one unit can keep all your materials handy and neat. Great price and great quality make this storage unit a winner.
Educational Games – The Fun Homeschool Supplies
8. Magna Tiles – best homeschool supplies favorite
Easily one of the best toys ever invented, Magna Tiles are a lifesaver in homeschool or a preschool. Flexible and virtually unbreakable you can use these for math work, colorwork, even to learn building design and engineering. The possibilities are endless.
9. Jenga is a great addition to any homeschool supply list.
If simplicity is a trademark of genius, Jenga is both. These flexible wooden cubes can be utilized to teach math: from addition to subtraction, multiplication, and division the cubes are an ideal tool. And using the cubes as intended (to play Jenga) develops small motor skills like almost nothing else. Plus the natural wood material feels great on the skin so it’s wonderful for many students with sensory issues. No matter how you look at it, Jenga is a winner.
10. Money and coins game
Who doesn’t love board games? In both traditional school and homeschool environments, board games are an essential way of learning and having fun. This super cute money and coins game from Learning Resources helps your young students understand currency and math. A great addition to your board game collection.
11. Wooden pattern blocks puzzle set – another homeschool supplies favorite
This awesome game helps develop your child’s critical thinking, spatial perception, and small motor skills. And it is so fun, easy to play your entire family might get in on the fun. For even more fun challenge older kids to recreate a complex pattern from memory.
12. Sight words bingo – useful homeschool supplies
Learning sight words can be stressful and frustrating. Instead of rote memorization (the old fashioned way), play a fun sight words Bingo game instead. Your little learner will love this game and you’ll love the results!
13. Apples to Apples
I am not sure if this game was designed by an educator, but it certainly feels like it. One of the best board games of all time, Apples to Apples helps increase your vocabulary while developing crucial critical thinking skills. With so many versions, you are sure to find one that’s the best fit for your family. For younger students, the junior version is a great hit. And for religious enrichment, check out Apples to Apples Bible Edition.
14. Scrabble – homeschool supplies games
Another great game that helps your students (and you) expand your vocabulary and work on your spelling, Scrabble is king for all the right reasons. You’ll find several versions of this classic game, including Scrabble junior ideal for younger students. Play the game with a good dictionary by your side to get the most educational benefit
15. Legos – the homeschool supplies necessity
One of the most famous educational toys in the world, legos are a must-have for any homeschooling household. Chances are you probably already familiar with the hours of fun Legos can provide. But try searching online for words “legos and homeschooling” and you’ll find thousands of incredible homeschooling with lego ideas. At Brainy Box we love legos and recommend them with many kits – like our Freebie Secret Life of Sharks kit.
Logic, critical thinking, math and impulse control – that’s only some of the skills you will develop when playing chess. But if you think this ancient game is difficult to learn, nothing can be further from the truth in 2020. Simply log on to one of the popular websites (chess.com and chesskid.com are both great) and you can learn the game for free. While playing online is fun, nothing beats the screentime-free chess match with real wooden pieces in your own home.
17. An Abacus (counting beads)
Did you know that an abacus was first invented 5,000 years ago in ancient Babylonia? The oldest item on this list (by comparison chess is only 1,500 years old) remains a great way to learn math including addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. This colorful version uses high-quality materials, lasts forever and is beautifully made. And here is a more budget-friendly version of an abacus.
Household Items – The Homeschool Supplies You Might Already Have
18. Food coloring
Ask any educator about the one household item they can’t live without and chances are they’ll say “food coloring.” Many preschool science experiments call for a few drops of this magic liquid. Even milk can become a work of art with the right colors. In short, If you are working with preschool or lower elementary age students, food coloring is a must.
19. Measuring cups
Chances are, you already own a set of measuring cups. But how can you use them to teach? Fractions are so much easier to understand when you are measuring oatmeal, cookies or chocolate chips. Ask your learner to bake with you and help you calculate (and eat!).
Arts, Crafts, and Writing Homeschool Supplies
20. Easy to grip pencils
Life is easier with an easy to grip a pencil. If you have ever taught a preschooler to draw, you already know it can be a struggle to get them to hold a pencil. That’s why Ticonderoga pencils are an old teacher’s favorite. And this electric sharpener works for both traditional and easy-grip pencils.
21. Learning scissors and cutting books
Learning to cut is an important life skill. Be sure to avoid frustration with this great pair of learning scissors. And while we are on the topic of cutting, I can not recommend highly enough this amazing Kumon Cutting Book. I’ve seen dozens and this, by far is the best. Kids adore this one. Of course, eventually, you’ll need a pair of adult scissors too.
22. Triangular crayons
Cutting is not the only important life skill the youngest students will need to learn. For very young students, this jumbo triangular crayon is a lifesaver. Eventually, they graduate to the smaller triangular version and of course regular crayons. And for older students consider oil pastel crayons – an unusual and beautiful option.
23. Markers, pencils, and sharpies
No home with creative kids can be complete without some drawing supplies. It doesn’t need to be complicated – stock up on markers, color pencils, and sharpies and keep them organized with simple glass jars or a beautiful, specially designed organizer.
24. Wiki Sticks, pom poms, and googly eyes – the crafty homeschool supplies addition
Having awesome craft supplies on hand is one sure way to beat boredom and always keep learning. Wiki stixs (we use these in our freebie Anatomy kit), googly eyes and pom poms are all super versatile. Some homeschoolers like to keep glitter around as well. I find that it gets into everything and prefer not to use it in my classrooms. The choice is yours, but you have been warned 🙂 Glass jars are ideal for organizing craft supplies.
25. Popsicle sticks and wood glue
Popsicle sticks and wood glue are two craft essentials that can keep kids busy for hours. The learning possibilities are endless, just search for “popsicle stick projects” online. We even use these materials in our freebie Buildings and Constructions set. In the manual, you’ll find detailed instructions for creating a bridge.
26. School glue and glue sticks
27. Paint and brushes
Whether you have a preschooler or a high schooler, paint and brushes are welcome in any homeschooler home. Start off with a washable paint set and upgrade to quality paints your child grows. Our Art Appreciation kit is a great way to learn about artists and to create your own artwork. During 2020 school closures, use coupon code 2020homeschool and download all Brainy PDF kits totally free.
28. Construction paper
Another craft staple, you can create thousands of projects with good old fashioned construction paper. And while we are on the subject, origami paper is beautiful, inexpensive and can keep your kids busy for hours creating art.
29. Cardstock and printer paper
30. Handwriting paper, wide rule paper, and notebooks
These are essentials you do not want to forget when stocking up your homeschool. Handwriting paper helps you to teach youngest students good calligraphy skills. Wide rule paper and notebooks are essential learning tools for older students.
31. Handwriting without tears – a homeschool supplies classic
32. Chalkboard paint is a creative addition to a homeschool supplies list
I know whiteboards are considered to be more practical these days, but I love the old look of chalkboards. An easy way to add a blackboard to your homeschool room is to paint one wall with chalkboard paint. Not only will this be helpful during learning time, its a great outlet for creativity. Add some fun, colorful chalk and you are all set!