Monday, August 29, 2016

Top Ten Homeschool Must-Haves for Preschool and Kindergarten

I recently shared our Homeschool Curriculum for Pre-K and Kindergarten and thought it would be fun to share some of the other supplies we just can’t live without for schooling. Lots of moms think it takes lots of money and expensive curriculum to get their little ones started with homeschooling, but as you'll see, we could do most of our lessons with just the ten items listed below!

I’ve included links to make it easier for you to track down these items and make them your own! I should mention that I'm not being paid to recommend any of these products, nor are there any included affiliate links. I just know how much I wish someone had given me a list like this when I was planning for my first year of homeschooling, and thought it would be helpful!

Here are our top ten homeschool supply must-haves:

1.       Printer- We have an Epson Workforce printer that gets a lot of use in our house! We love to find work sheets, coloring sheets, or craft patterns online to print and do at home. Invest in a good printer that will last you several years, because you will use it nearly every day!

2.       Markers, Crayons, and Chalk- This one is sort of obvious, but it bears mentioning because you’ll definitely need them! We aren’t picky about our crayons or markers at this point. We just buy the generic brand from Target or Roseart from Amazon. We do a set for each child, because sharing is not a strength of preschoolers, amiright? DON’T FORGET A PENCIL BOX to contain them! You might think, “they come in a box! They’ll be fine!” but no. It’s hard for little hands to get those markers and crayons vertically back in those boxes, so they’ll end up rolling around at their feet! Invest in a couple of cheap pencil boxes like these and save yourself the trouble!

3.       Storage- This is big for homeschooling. We happen to have a room dedicated to our homeschool, but I also use it as an office (and I HATE clutter) so the mess still needs to be contained in an organized fashion. We utilize a pair of vintage school desks like these for the kids to keep their workbooks and pencil boxes. We have a separate chest where we keep other supplies that we aren’t using- extra workbooks, math resources, science supplies, paper, extra white boards, etc. We’ll probably need to expand our storage as the kids get older, but for now, this works great for us!

4.       Art cart- speaking of storage, we use this handy rolling cart from Ikea to keep all of our art supplies. We often do art projects at the dining room table or even on the porch. This cart makes it easy to take our supplies wherever we need them!

5.       Paints and brushes- I come from a family of artists, so we’re serious about our art projects! Most of them involve paint of one kind or another. We keep all kinds of paint on hand- acrylic, watercolor, tempera, etc- and we buy a big bag of brushes of varying sizes and styles that lasts us all year! Again, we’re not too concerned about the quality at this point. Generic brands work just fine for little ones and are super cheap. As they get older and begin to do more intensive art projects and studies, we’ll invest in better quality! But for now, anything that won’t poison them as they shove the brush in their mouth is a winner!

6.       Easel with Paper roll- Oh, Ikea. The homeschool mom’s best friend. This little easel is precious and super affordable! I like it because it covers all the bases: chalkboard, white board, and paper roll, plus a little tray for holding writing and drawing utensils. It’s lightweight and easy to move around too! We like to roll the paper over the top and hold in place with clamps for paper art projects! This easel is perfect for us right now because we don't have a large white board on the wall, so it doubles as a teaching tool for me!

7.       Counting Bears- You’ve probably seen these or used them yourself. They’ve been around even since I was a child! We got a set that has ten bears for every color. Sometimes we just use them to add and subtract, sometimes we dump them out and have a race to see who can put them in their color cup the fastest, and sometimes we use them as citizens in our block cities. They get pulled out all the time, and are even great for keeping my youngest busy when big sister needs mom’s help on a lesson.

8.       Letter line- I hesitated to buy this letter line last year because Vesper already knew all her letters by sight. However, since she started writing them, it has become a very valuable tool! If she gets stuck on remembering how to draw a particular letter, I ask her to locate the letter on the letter line. We use it for letter practice with my youngest as well!

9.       Paper, paper, and more paper- Construction paper. Printer paper. Notebooks. Graph paper. Paper rolls. Get all you want and never worry about it going to waste. They’ll use it for EVERYTHING.

10.   Scissors and glue- Kids really REALLY like learning to use scissors. There’s something so dangerous about it and they feel so accomplished when they’re able to cut correctly! We just grabbed a pair that looked tiny enough for little hands, but I'd love to try out these scissors as I've heard really great things about them. One of our favorite cutting activities is straw-cutting. I literally just let them cut up a bunch of straws and then we thread yarn through them to make jewelry. Sometimes we roll them around in paint first too for some color. Easy. Cheap. Fun!

Glue kind of goes hand-in-hand with the scissors lessons too, and you’ll find that you need a LOT of glue sticks and paste! Now, glue is the one item we don’t buy cheap. The cheap ones dry out before you can use them or don’t stick well and your child’s art projects are pitifully falling apart as they hang on the refrigerator!  Invest in Elmer’s and you’ll be just fine!

Bonus Tip: For most things, I suggest getting each child his or her own item rather than expecting them to share. Encourage them to take ownership and pride in their supplies and only use them for school purposes. We have a separate set of markers and crayons for use outside of school time, but each child has his/ her own shiny new set at the beginning of the year to use on schoolwork!

I hope this was helpful to anyone considering starting out their little ones in homeschooling! I'm happy to answer any questions, just leave them in the comments below!

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