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Homeschool Supplies List: What We Actually Use

You can homeschool your kids without a homeschool room, without all the pretties, and I don’t want you to read this and feel like you have to rush to buy anything. However if you’re looking for a thorough homeschool supplies list for kindergarten and elementary, including things we use daily, I’ll share what gets used a lot here.

When we first started kindergarten, I had our curriculum, a rolling cart, art supplies, and that’s it. I began to notice little things that were missing and systems that weren’t working.

These were the things that helped me figure out what I actually needed, which will be different than what you find yourself needing. Ready to see what the most useful items have been over the years?

homeschool supply list for kindergarten, elementary, and nature study pinterest pin

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Before you make your homeschool supply list, create a space for what you’ll buy

One thing I recommend doing before buying anything is to imagine a space in your home where your stuff can go.

We do most of our schoolwork on the living room floor, so I keep our homeschool supplies in our living room coat closet.

We also keep a big bin of library books in our living room for easy access. I’d like to eventually put our library books on display shelves like these on the wall in a few rows, but a bin works for now.

Be strategic with your wall space when it comes to maps

We had a US map on the wall by our kitchen table, and it got looked at it every meal. The kids pointed out states, rivers, oceans, capitals, and more. I moved it to our “homeschool room” I created a year later, and it almost got lost on the wall.

No one looks at it which I find interesting!

Since I read our history from the couch, and have thought how nice it would be to reference a map almost every time, I think I’ll want to move the map again.

In addition to a US map (or whatever country you’re from), buy a world map or globe. The dollar store has fine maps if you need to go cheap.

You can go bright and cheery like you’d imagine in a classroom, or muted vintage colors.

While we didn’t officially do any history or geography until 1st grade, my kids really benefited from our maps even in Kindergarten. It gave them context for what state we live in, where grandparents live across the country, how far away the ocean is that we drive to, and more.

Buy homeschool supplies only as needed, because you won’t use a lot

When my oldest started kindergarten, I was pretty clueless as to what I should actually spend money on. Plus, the more you buy the more space you need to store it.

We started the year with just our curriculum, art supplies, and a metal rolling cart.

I bought things as needed, when something wasn’t working well. For example:

“I wish I had a better spot to put xyz.”

“Our marker and colored pencil setup is not working well.”

“I can’t use these nature print outs without a color printer.”

“We need a system for hanging new drawings and getting rid of old drawings.”

“Where can I put all these loose papers?”

Create systems as you need them for organizing your homeschool papers

After our first year I realized I needed a way to record what we did each day (mainly for my peace of mind should we need proof), and a small homeschool filing system for keeping samples of the kids work each year.

I also decided I didn’t love having a big stack of books for each kid every day. So i made homeschool binders with subject tabs in them with 1 weeks worth of work.

I also discovered a yearly crate system for organizing all our worksheets by week for the whole. This involved buying a filing box and more hanging folders.

I also love printing out beautiful nature activities, games, and display cards. But where to store them so I don’t have to print each year? Yikes! This is the system I created for organizing our nature prints.

Obviously you don’t need any of these things until you decide what will make your life easier!

Supply list for printing homeschool curriculum

Sometimes homeschool curriculum gives you the option to buy the PDF file and print yourself. It’s often more affordable this way (not always!) and you can hole punch in a 3 ring binder or use an actual binding machine.

For printing off curriculum I use:

Why homeschoolers recommend the Epson Color Printer

So many homeschoolers I know use this printer, and it’s easy to see why now that I have one! You pay a little more up front…but the ink seems to last SO LONG!

I purchased the Epson inkjet color printer and o my goodness it’s worth the money!

It connects to wireless and I can print from my phone, it can copy and scan, and it comes with ink bottles (which prints about 7,500 black and white and 6,000 color pages).

You won’t deal with cartridges ever, just ink bottles so it’s way cheaper to refill. I’ve been using my printer for 2 years and still have yet to refill any cartages.

Refill ink is SO cheap with my Epson (1 cent per page vs 20 cents per page if using color ink cartridges from other printers). So I paid more for the printer upfront, but it pays for itself soon enough, especially with how much I print in color. Here’s my detailed review on my Epson printer.

If you don’t have a color printer or need a curriculum pack printed and bound, check out the Homeschool Printing Company. I use it for things I need printed and bound, and it’s WAY cheaper than Office Depot or UPS printing.

My laminating set up for occasional projects (skip the laminator if this is your first year homeschooling)

You don’t NEED a laminator. And remember, anything you laminate can’t be recycled and does add a lot of plastic trash.

But I really like mine for things I plan to use over and over. Here’s an example of how I used it to make some memory verse cards for our family.

You can find this sheet here on Etsy.

It took me a couple years to get a laminator, and I’m not sure why? They are not expensive…mine is in the $20 range and a pack of 100 plastic pockets is less than that!

I really like my Amazon Basics laminator. I can now print off all the amazing nature study resources I bought, and laminate anything I want to use year after year using these laminating pouches.

Organizing and storing your homeschool supplies

Clutter is so real with homeschooling some days, and it’s easy to find yourself with all these materials and books without knowing where it’s “home” is.

It was easy to see we needed a spot for library books (sure they’re temporary but there’s always new batches), curriculum, paper, art supplies, and a way to display their artwork.

I now keep all our library books in their own bin…but lets be real. The kids love looking at them so daily they get spread over the floor and picked back up again.

Our books, curriculum, and art supplies get stored in the living room and our coat closet in a rolling metal cart and a cube organizer. The printer gets stored in my bedroom, cause I’m classy like that.

Organizing your homeschool curriculum:

What I use my metal rolling cart for

I use my yellow rolling metal cart to store most of our curriculum and craft supplies in. I have organizers within that to separate loose item like glue sticks, tape, and markers. They also help separate daily school books from other fun items like Water Wow’s and coloring books.

It’s also nice for storing games in. However, if you’re an addict like me and lean toward gameschooling…you’ll need an entire cart for just that.

It travels easily from room to room. It’s easy to put away (we store ours in our coat closet), and organizes most of my random crap I mean supplies 😉 .

Yellow metal rolling cart used to organize homeschool supplies.
Smaller bins help store loose items, and I also use cups to organize in the bins.

Get a cube shelf if you don’t have other storage

If you already have a homeschool closet (or a bookshelf), you can skip the cube furniture and just buy a few bins to organize the shelf.

I wanted something cute in the living room because that’s we do our school. It had to hold everything my rolling card didn’t. Do you like?!

homeschool organization ideas using a cube shelf and baskets.
This cube shelf is from Target, the Threshold brand. Bins are from Aldi, which sadly I can’t buy more of.

Things I keep in my organizer cubes:

  • The Good And The Beautiful Math Boxes that don’t fit in our rolling cart.
  • Books
  • Supplies like a hole punch, brads, velcro dots, and geometric shapes.
  • Our internet router, controllers, and endless cords to electronics
organizing bins holding homeschool supplies
Here’s what’s inside of one of my bins. It catches all the random things, stapler, colored shape blocks, hole punch, brads, small laminating pouches, and I’m sure it will get more full.

Similar cube shelf ideas on Amazon

School supplies for the kids

Whatever you like, organized somehow. Things I buy are:

  • Pencils
  • Colored pencils
  • Watercolor paint & Tempura paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Markers (a few packs a year. I like the Dollar Store pack of 20, Crayola Color Tips, and glitter gel pens)
  • Kid scissors (Dollar Store has them, or Amazon Prime)
  • Glue sticks (One pack of 4 sticks has been plenty for the year, but we are not huge crafters).
  • Clear tape (probably 10 a year with 2 kids?)
  • Tangram shapes (this is not for scheduled school, but they like to play and make all sorts of flowers and designs once in a while)
  • Clipboards from the Dollar Store. We have one for each kid. They take these around everywhere to color on or take their work outside.
  • Blank notebooks & white computer paper for drawing/painting/nature journaling.
  • White mailing envelopes for sending letters to grandparents and cousins
  • Small blank whiteboard & lined whiteboard, both at the Dollar Store
  • Deck of cards for playing math games, war, go fish, and more

Math maniuplatives you’ll want to have

Most 1st and 2nd grade math programs (and kinder too) will have a supply list if you don’t purchase a kit. We are using Singapore Math for my 2nd grader and Math With Confidence for my 1st grader. Both use really similar pieces all the time including:

  • 10 frame (any 10 frame will do, this is just the one I made for my kids)
  • place value set
  • deck of cards
  • a clock to play with
  • money and coins (real or play money)

Puzzles and games

The more my kids learn without being told they are learning, the better! Even non “learning” games are valuable. Kids use strategy, counting, spacial reasoning, logic, and have to learn to control their emotions when they lose.

This world puzzle we use often, and it was a fun way to learn the continents and oceans without a formal curriculum.

Favorite math games:

  • Tiny Polka Dot (we use different games in there for ages 4-8)
  • Sums in Space (addition and subtraction within 20 and even and odd practice.)
  • Candy Thief (making combos of 20)
  • Math Noodler (2nd grade or higher, is silly and fun and kids are doing math!)
  • I Sea 10 (making combos of 10)
  • Sleeping Queens (my kids are obsessed! Kids can get rid of cards by making easy equations with numbers in their hands. Think, 6+3=9. Or 5-3=2.

Supplies for Nature Study

  • A blank journal
  • Watercolor paints and brushes or colored pencils
  • Magnifying Glass
  • A net for catching fish/bugs
  • Nature books

We used Exploring Nature With Children in our homeschool co-op this year, and I’ll be digging in deeper every year after this. It’s a gem! The book comes as a PDF download that I printed and had bound. No pictures, just a few pages of print for each week. It includes books to rent from the library, poetry, explanations of that week’s topic, nature journaling help, and even craft ideas and extension for older kids.

Topics range from Tree Study, Blossoms, Bees, Ants, Pond Study, Winter Equinox, Moon, Butterflies, Caterpillars, and so much more.

There’s a recommended timeline but it’s easy to swap weeks and sometimes we skip if I’m just not feeling it. It’s zero pressure, and I am learning along with my kids because I knew so little about all the topics before this.

We are basically learning to stop and observe what is in our own backyard at different times of the year through a new lens of wonder.

Follow Lynn at Raising Little Shoots on Instagram to see how people are using her nature study!

Other supplies for homeschooling

A composition notebook for each kid, the kind with half a page to draw a picture and half to practice writing/copywork. For kids who can’t write much yet, remember it’s ok to write their words down for them!

Or, you can write their words on a separate piece of paper for them to copy into their notebook.

A portable speaker for music and audiobooks

I almost forgot to mention! This white Bose wireless bluetooth speaker was my Christmas present and we’ve used it daily for homeschool for 3 years! Worth. Every. Penny.

Clear sound. Great sound that can fill a room if you need it to.

My 6.5 year old son listens to free audiobooks through the library… it’s made our quiet time so much better (for both of us). It’s also easy to now play music from anywhere in the house or even outside!

How we display art and drawings

I’m sure there’s a prettier way out there to display your kid’s art, but we use these clear hanging pockets also at the Dollar Store! Now she has to pick her favorites and she can swap them out as she likes.

We’ve tried hanging string and clothespins too, which was cute but the pages ended up all curling a lot.

This is a great alternative if you don’t get a laminator but want to write on paper sheets. Or make chore charts in these.

And that’s the end, my friend!

Hope you have a few good ideas for setting up your functional homeschool space. For more real life ideas, go join this Facebook page called Real Life Homeschool Spaces. It’s so helpful and will take away some of the pressure that’s often out there on Instagram to have a gorgeous space.

Functional first, pretty if you can afford it. That’s my motto.

If you enjoyed this, would you take a second and share this post? I’d so appreciate it!

Liz

Shannon

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

Thank you so much!! I really gained a whole lot of insight from this post! I appreciate you sharing what works. This is our first year; Starting kindergarten on Monday with my 5 y/o and am full of excitement, but subtly consumed with worry that I have no clue what I'm doing or what I'm doing won't be right. This post really was a gentle reminder to do what works best for Us. Thanks again!

Liz

Wednesday 12th of August 2020

Thank you Shannon! You can do it, one day at a time. It's totally normal to feel insecure, and I think a lot of confidence comes by just watching your kids grow and improve as you teach a little each day. Thanks for reading!