24 Must-Have Homeschool Supplies for a Smooth and Successful School Year

Everyone’s homeschool journey will look a little different, and the beauty of homeschool is in the freedom to do it the way you see fit. While there are a few basics you will want to keep on hand for everyday use, the good news is most of what you need is already hiding out in your junk drawer! See how your stash measures up against this list of essential homeschool supplies.

This list particularly focuses on those early elementary years! I’ve also included some honorable mentions… goodies that are not necessities but that certainly jazz up our school days.

The Bare Necessities

These are the bare bones basics of any homeschool space. Really, just having these items available gives you plenty to get started working your homeschool magic! 

  1. Lined Paper
  2. Copy Paper
  3. Construction Paper

We go through so. much. paper. Granted, my kiddos are little artists in the making and love to make crafts, but trust me, you will go through more than you think. 

Of course you will want lined paper for handwriting practice. I love these super wide-ruled journals for the littles, since their penmenship tends to be very – enthusiastic? – when they are just getting started with pencil control.

Consider buying stock in copy paper. Really, though. It is one of the most essential homeschool supplies on this entire list. That stuff is like gold in this house. Think anything from printing off activities, to doodling and sticker fun, scissor practice, chart making, and everything in between.

I also highly recommend grabbing a few large pads of paper from your local dollar store. These are perfect for making collages, drawing, and cut and paste activities. If you don’t have a dollar store nearby, these Melissa & Doug Fingerpaint Pads are a little more pricey, but are also thicker so you can use them with paint, too.

And, last but not least, don’t forget to stock up on a few tablets of good quality construction paper!

  1. Pencils
  2. Markers
  3. Crayons or Colored Pencils

Good quality writing tools make all the difference. 

For early elementary aged kids, golf-sized pencils are great for learning proper pencil grip. These genius half-sized pencils make it virtually impossible for little hands to hold their pencil like a caveman.

Of course, Crayola is the top dog when it comes to markers and crayons, and for good reason. Crayola products do seem to last longer in my opinion.

pretty girl with long hair draws markers

For markers, we love the cute little stubby Pip Squeak markers, which are also perfect for reinforcing pencil grip. And, since they are a fraction of the size of a regular marker, you can fit a lot more of them into a pencil pouch. Win win!

Any kind of crayons work just fine, but we loved the triangular crayons when the kids were little, and now we are all about the twistable crayons. You can even get twistable colored pencils. Hello, 21st century!

  1. Scissors
  2. Glue
  3. Tape

Of course, smaller hands warrant smaller scissors. For early elementary, look for blunt tip scissors, which are still strong enough to cut but are much more forgiving for novice crafters. 

Purple glue sticks help kids see exactly where their glue is going, so you aren’t left with a big sticky mess. Okay, no promises, but at least it helps keep the mess to a minimum.

Speaking of big sticky messes, I am not a huge fan of wet glue, but it certainly has its place in the school supply cart. I have yet to find a way to preserve my sanity when the kids reach for a nice gooey bottle of Elmer’s, other than the constant reminder of “just a dot, not a lot!” 

That said, my favorite glue is glue dots, which essentially are little sticky dots that, in my book, are the 8th wonder of the world. We use them for everything we can crafting wise. They don’t have quite the same power as wet glue, but they are pretty incredible none-the-less.

  1. Hole Punch
  2. Stapler
  3. Pencil Sharpener

Again, basic office supply type stuff. 

I keep a cheapy pencil sharpener in our backpack for on-the-go learning, as well as an electric pencil sharpener at home for ALL. THOSE. COLORED. PENCILS. Unless of course you buy the twistables. Then you are all set.

  1. Binders
  2. Backpack

By far, the Five Star Flex brand takes the cake when it comes to binders. Aside from their unmatched durability, these guys have a plastic cover that can fold back over the rings, allowing it to lay flat like a notebook. As a family who is constantly on the go, this makes it much easier for the kids to do their school work in the car. And, they come with a great set of pocket dividers! Bonus!

My kids love having their own backpacks, but depending on your homeschool set up, it is not really necessary in my opinion. We do keep a “community” backpack to throw in everyone’s work for the day when we are headed to the park or learning outside of the home. 

  1. Ruler or Measuring Tape

We prefer to measure with measuring tape, just because of its flexibility in measuring things that aren’t flat. We tend to only bust out the traditional ruler when we need a nice straight edge, like when making a T-chart or bar graph.

  1. Reward Stickers

Okay, could you make it through your school day without reward stickers? Sure. But reward stickers encourage hard work and keep your kiddos motivated to do a good job. So, they absolutely deserve to be on this list of essential homeschool supplies if you ask me!

  1. Printer

You’ll definitely need a printer. Since we travel a lot, I like this compact little gem, the Canon Pixma TR150

Even if you have purchased a comprehensive curriculum or your curriculum is primarily workbook based, you will need a dependable printer for all of the extras that come up, including the countless Pinterest projects you will feel compelled to do. Ask me how I know.

  1. Calendar

It’s a good idea to keep a calendar somewhere in your workspace so you can keep track of key dates and deadlines. This can be a great educational tool, also, and an opportunity to open your school day with a sort of “circle time”. Get your child involved by either crossing off the days as you go or moving a clothespin from one day to the next and writing the date in their journal.

  1. Maps

Maps are essential when you are teaching geography, but are also really helpful to reference any time you are reading a book set in a particular country or state. 

I definitely recommend getting both a United States map and a world map. There are all sorts of cool techy maps out there which can really bring learning to life, like this talking map and interactive globe. That said, a simple poster will do the trick too!

  1. Manipulatives

Manipulatives are any type of tangible item you can use to represent math problems. These math cubes are very popular, especially for teaching place value. For teaching fractions, I really like these tower cubes. There are lots of cute options available, like this counting bears set, but really you can use anything from paper clips to buttons, pom poms, or even cereal like Fruit Loops. Tasty!

  1. Planner

If you are designing your own curriculum, or piecing subjects together from different curriculum, it really helps to have a homeschool planner. Not only will you be able to plan ahead for the week, a planner helps hold you accountable and is a great record if you ever need to show what you have done for the year.

Setting Up Your Space

You don’t need to have a designated school room, although it is nice if you have the space. No matter where you set up shop, having a place for all your essential homeschool supplies to live is important.

  1. Organizers

A good, sturdy bookshelf works wonders when it comes to keeping everything in its place. Pop some magazine organizers onto one of the shelves for storing curriculum, workbooks, and journals. Invest in a few storage bins for rounding up all the random learning goodies, like manipulatives, blocks, flash cards, and puzzles. 

And be sure to reserve one of the lower shelves for your book collection so that it is accessible for kids.

When it comes to corralling worksheets and daily activities, a workbox organizer may very well save your sanity by helping you stay organized and on track for the week. 

You can set up your workboxes however you’d like. I personally love using a rolling cart organizer to hold daily assignments for each school day. Using workboxes to organize your workflow is a homeschool hack that I liken to meal prepping. Totally worthwhile, in my opinion.

  1. Supplies Cart

You’ll need something to keep all of your smaller supplies like glue, paint, and crayons organized. This supplies cart is a great way to get the day rolling (pun intended) and keep all of your must haves at arm’s reach.

  1. Chalkboard or White Board

To chalk or not to chalk? I personally cannot stand the feel or sound of chalk against a chalkboard, or the chalk dust that comes along with it. So I am all about the white board, but, you do you.

Many homeschool parents set up their school space with a chalkboard or white board on the wall, but that doesn’t mean you have to run out and get anything big. 

These multi-pack dry erase lapboards are double-sided and backpack friendly, offering handwriting practice and doodle space all in one!

And I absolutely love these letter tracing dry erase boards for practicing penmanship and cursive writing. They are great to keep in the car for errands!

Honorable Mentions

  1. Paint and Brushes

You should consider having paints among your essential homeschool supplies. We loved the Crayola paints when the kids were smaller, but now that they are getting a little bigger, we are moving on to tempera paints, since they tend to be thicker and more versatile. That said, I still slap an old tshirt on my kiddos when we whip out the paints and cover the surface with some craft paper or a tablecloth from the dollar store, just to save my sanity.

But more often than not, we are reaching for these acrylic paint markers. We originally bought them to make kindness rocks, and now we use them for all sorts of things. The best part is, there’s no dipping paint brushes in water every time you change colors and no waiting for paint-drenched paper to dry. 

If you are using traditional paints, having a variety of different paint brushes, round stamper brushes, and foam brushes really amps up the creativity and fun level. Or, make your own DIY brushes by bundling some q-tips together with a rubber band or pairing a clothes pin with a pom pom or feather. 

And don’t forget the watercolors! Watercolor paints are so fun and forgiving, it is hard not to unleash your inner artist with a watercolor palette by your side. Or try these watercolor gel crayons – just draw, add a bit of water, and blend!

  1. Playdoh

I know, it sort of makes me cringe too. I can’t handle the mixing of colors, the “Who left the Playdoh out all night?”, and the crumbly pieces that inevitably make their way into my carpet at the end of each day. But, hear me out. When it comes to making learning fun, Playdoh is where it’s at.

There are so many cool activities and learning sets that can take your PlayDoh play sesh to the next level, like PlayDoh Make and Measure and PlayDoh Shape and Learn Letters.

But you don’t have to get all fancy to make PlayDoh a part of your school day.

Let kids create to their heart’s content, forming sculptures, making impressions, rolling letters to make their name, and working on fine motor skills. Tactile play really engages the mind and helps your child’s imagination blossom. 

  1. Wooden Craft Sticks

There are so many little craft projects you can make out of wooden craft sticks! Craft sticks come in several sizes and colors and are a pretty inexpensive add to your shopping cart. Their versatility makes them one of the best essential homeschool supplies.. 

  1. Do-A-Dot Marker Set

Do-A-Dot markers are super fun for the littles, and mommy-approved given that they are generally low-mess. Grab a set and let your child’s imagination go to town, making all sorts of cool designs and patterns. 

There’s also a whole slew of inexpensive educational workbooks on Amazon just for these amazing little tools.

  1. Laminator

I wouldn’t put this high on the list when you are first starting out, but mark my words: a laminator will eventually make its way into your life as a homeschooler, one way or another. 

Laminators are great for those learning tools you use over and over (like homemade flashcards), and can also be used to preserve your student’s best work. You can snag one for around $20 on Amazon, which still amazes me considering how powerful of a tool it is.

  1. Journals

We love composition journals. I have never stopped to actually count, but I would bet we have about 10 different composition journals floating around the house at any given point. They are definitely one of the most essential homeschool supplies!

Journals are great for keeping your child’s work together in one place. You could have a dedicated journal for each subject, or date the pages and have one journal be a compilation of their work throughout the year. Keep one in the car for on-the-go flexibility.

  1. Laptop

So much of the world today is experienced through the lens of technology, and it’s undeniable that technology will continue to be an integral part of the way our children experience life.

While some parents are weary of screen time, there really is some rich educational content available on the internet. And, given the technology age we live in, it is important to incorporate typing and computer literacy from an early age.

Furthermore, a laptop is especially important if your child is using an online curriculum, or if your state requires you to log in to a dashboard to submit documents or report grades.

If it’s not in the budget this year, you can always head to your local library and use the computers there.

  1. iPads

iPads are obviously more portable than laptops, and with the right case, they are a little more protected in little hands. An iPad is not a necessity for home learning, but it is a great option to have for watching educational videos and allowing children access to educational apps like Reading Eggs or ABC Mouse.

  1. Scanner

Many new printer models have a scanner built into them, but not all. A scanner is very helpful in keeping records of your child’s classwork or art projects when you are short on space. Just scan the document in and save it to your child’s file on your computer.

Or, check out the TurboScan app for ways to turn your smartphone into a scanner.

  1. External Hard drive

If you are scanning documents onto your desktop, you will eventually need an external hard drive. Having a secure backup will save you a lot of headache should your computer run out of space or encounter a problem.

  1. Bluetooth CD Player

I really think that playing soft music while the kids are doing their school work or making crafts enhances the school experience for everyone. I have a dedicated playlist of classical music and learning songs that I play when I am not actively teaching.  

Having a bluetooth CD player is also great for listening to children’s audiobooks or playing CDs for memory based learning

  1. Headphones

If you are going to explore audiobooks or learning CDs, you’ll probably want to invest in some over-ear headphones for the kids. These headphones are great because they can be linked together, allowing multiple children to listen from the same device.  

A backpack with essential homeschool supplies

Final Thoughts on Essential Homeschool Supplies

While you can homeschool very successfully with a simple “stick in the sand” approach, these are some of the essential homeschool supplies (along with a few honorable mentions) that have made our schooling journey a little more enjoyable.

My biggest suggestion is to keep it simple, and don’t buy every gadget or workbook you come across. Clutter can be debilitating, and I find that I get much more done and have more motivation when I don’t have the mental weight of STUFF sitting around waiting to be used!

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