On this page you’ll find our favorite Homeschooling tools! Sometimes having just the right tool can help you prepare your lessons in half the time. I have taken then time to review each recommended product so that you can see what we love about each one. If you’re new to homeschooling, please don’t think that these machines and products are required to homeschool, they are a culmination of products we bought over the last seven years.
Favorite Art Products
Over the years we've had the opportunity to try out MANY different arts and crafts supplies. Often we've been surprised that an off brand has a better quality product then some of the more popular, well known brands. And with other products we're happy to make the investment for a quality product that will last. Read about our favorite art supplies and where to find the best price.
World's Best Pencil
If there were a World's Greatest Pencil Award, we would give it to Dixon Ticonderoga hands down! After years of dealing with broken tips and erasers that pop off (or worse leave streaks across your paper instead of erasing) I've decided that the investment in Dixon is well worth it. I buy our pencils in bulk either from Costco or Amazon and it usually works out to about 15 cents a pencil. (Compare this to the dollar store pencils you can usually get 12 in a pack or about 8 cents each). The dollar store pencils are sure cute, but when it comes to sharpening and erasing, the Dixon brand blows them out of the water....they've been in business for over 100 years for a reason!
Heavy Duty Pencil Sharpener
Okay, I know this sounds a bit silly (especially if you're new to homeschooling) but a reliable pencil sharpener is paramount to the day running smoothly. I cannot even begin to tell you the frustrations of "another broken pencil sharpener" when your children are already finding excuses to ignore their worksheets. After many years with a new pencil sharpener each year I have come to the conclusion that you get what you pay for when it comes to pencil sharpeners. So rather then buy a new one mid-year, I decided to invest in a Heavy Duty pencil sharpener. I have been using this one ever since and am quite happy! (3+years so far and not a single problem! 2014)
Apprentice Desk Organizer
There are SOOOOO many different types of organizers and plastic trays out there that it really does depend on what you need for your space. I did want to highlight this one organizer because of it's AMAZINGNESS. I first saw this at Educating Layton and Delightful Learning, two homeschool blogs I love to read, and I quickly went out and purchased our own. This is called the The Desk Apprentice organizer and it is exclusively at Staples. If you are short on space and high on children, this is a great way to keep things organized. The entire thing is quite large and resting on a lazy susan so you can spint it around as needed. There are handles on the sides so it is easy to pick up and move off the dining table too.
A laminator is a machine that is helpful if you have students in PreK-3rd levels. Often I found myself printing out some great resources only to find that the paper ripped and teared in the hands of my little ones. I use my laminator on resources that need a bit more durability to them, such as charts and file folder games. You can see photos of how our laminator works here. We purchase inexpensive laminating sheets from Amazon, one box lasts us about a year.Laminating sheets are much cheeper when you buy them online. Additionally, you don't need to pick up name brand sheets, we have used Universal laminating sheets with great success!
This is one of our newer purchases. After many staplers (even the heavy duty ones) I was frusterated with how our notebooking pages and workbooks fell apart. I finally made the leap and purchased a binding machine. A comb binding machine punches tiny holes down one side of your papers. Then using the side lever you can insert the ringed combs to bind all your papers together. I took photos of the way it works here. If you use lots of e-books and printed resources this can be quite a handy tool.
Paper Pro Stapler
We own two of these staplers, (after owning a slew of other brands) and they have held up the longest. Additionally, they are easy to load, and super easy to punch. They even say one finger on the side (which made me giggle, as if I'd only have one finger left after using this contraption!) But really what it means is that the punch feature is super easy, you can staple with one finger. These staplers come in a varity of sizes, we own the 15 page version, and use our binding machine for thicker material. We have owned heavy duty staplers in the past, but if you find yourself stapling large ebooks, a binding machine is a much better investment (your sanity doesn't really have a price does it?)
Decorating a Homeschool Classroom
When your homeschool classroom doubles as your family dining area you have to get pretty crafty at how you decorate and declutter! Re-purposing buffets and other furniture items can serve as hidden storage, while whiteboards and wall maps can be tastefully displayed or covered.