Homeschooling Items that Make My Life a Little Easier

homeschooling items that make my life a little easier, Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Even before I had children, I already knew I wanted to homeschool. There are a number of reasons for this, which I’ll write about in a future post. Homeschooling is a lot of things. It’ fun, interesting, joyous, and often exhausting. But I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Keeping myself organized (or at least trying to) can help curb homeschooling exhaustion. To that end, I buy a lot of “essential items” for homeschooling online.

Because we have a very active homeschooling community in Kingston, I already drive to a lot of places with the kids, so minimizing the amount of driving I need to do is one of my priorities when it comes to planning. Purchasing things online helps with that. Certain items that I need to buy in bulk are also often cheaper online (even with the shipping fees). Here are some items that we use frequently, which I now no longer go anywhere to buy (thanks Amazon!):

1. Notebooks – Lots and Lots of Notebooks

I love notebooks of all kinds, and with three kiddos at home, plus a Mama who can never have enough notebooks, buying in bulk just makes sense. And if you’re buying online, you might as well get all the notebooks you need at once and save on the shipping fees. If you don’t use all of the notebooks this year, you just save them for the next. This 24-pack of 70-page notebooks covers all the bases. Here’s what we use our notebooks for:

  • Checklist Notebook
    • Each day, I write a checklist of the tasks that need to be completed. Each kid has their own notebook for this. I help the younger ones check off theirs, while my oldest girl reads the items and checks them off independently.
  • Free-flow Notebook
    • All three kids have notebooks in which they can do anything – draw, doodle, write, etc. For K-girl, my oldest, who loves to draw, I’ve gone through several notebooks in the last couple of years (which is why buying in bulk is sort of a necessity).
  • Math Notebook
    • My 7-year-old has a notebook on which we do some math problems and projects. We use Right Start Math, but I also develop my own word problems and projects, depending on her interest and ability level.
  • Writing Notebook
    • I tried and tried to find calligraphy notebooks in town, but never did find them. I was looking for the ones with the lines that help kids to differentiate between lower and upper case letters, etc. Well, since I couldn’t find these (or at least none I liked), I went through the painstaking process of making my own by hand. I just used  a ruler and two different colour pens and made my own lines in a plain notebook. I personally like the spiral notebook for this, but if you can’t be bothered to make your own, there are alternatives. Here’s a “tablet” for handwriting that has coloured lines also. It uses a landscape layout and is not spiral bound, which is why I don’t use it; however, if you don’t need the spiral, it could be a good option. And, if you have a doodler like I do, I finally found a writing notebook with “primary rule” lined pages that also has a space for drawing. This may well be the next purchase after K-girl is finished with my current homemade notebook.

We have other notebooks as well, but the above are the ones for which we use spiral notebooks. We also use exercise books that have lined pages with a blank space above the lines; mostly we use this type for science. That way, we can make pictures of our experiments and then write about them as well as answer questions below the picture, on the lined pages. Here’s an example of this type of notebook.

2. Pens – lots and lots of pens

With a daughter who loves to draw and will use any writing utensil in her reach to do so, plus a household full of people who don’t live by my motto of “a place for everything and everything in its place,” I’m constantly losing pens. So I bought an obscene amount of them in the hope of curbing the great mystery of the disappearing pens. I love to write too, so having a lot of these is never a bad thing. These are my favouite.

3. Plain old regular paper plates

My 7-year-old daughter loves crafts, and it’s always nice to do an activity the whole family can enjoy – her siblings can join in on paper plate crafts. Unfortunately, I can’t find plain old flimsy paper plates anywhere in town! Not only are the only ones available more expensive, they don’t work that well for a lot of crafts. So off to Amazon I went, and I found the ones I was looking for! These paper plates are great for all kinds of crafts. Beware that they are flimsy and thin, so I personally recommend them for crafts but not for actual use as food plates – it’s worth investing on the sturdier ones for that (or better yet, use reusable plates). Check out my Pinterest boards for some ideas for paper plate crafts.

4. Foam Sheets

Keeping with the craft-theme, foam sheets come in really handy for a lot of the creations my daughter decides to make. I’ve purchased them at the dollar store before, but because she goes through them so quickly, it actually ends up being more expensive. The craft store’s packages are far too expensive as well, so once again, I turned to purchasing them online. We got this pack. Be aware that these are thinner foam sheets than some folks are used to, but for our 7-year-old’s crafts, they work just fine.

5. Modge Podge

Again with the craft stuff. My daughter has become slightly obsessed with My Froggy Stuff videos – and I don’t blame her. This woman can do insane things with cardboard boxes and scrapbook paper. Her videos are pretty amazing. But I have found myself in the position of needing to buy things I had never even heard of to satisfy my littler girls’ love of crafts (have I mentioned I’m the least crafty person on the planet?). Mod Podge is one of these things I hadn’t even heard of before we discovered My Froggy Stuff. It is, however, a really great tool for crafts of any kind. It’s basically a glue and sealant at the same time, so it works for a lot of different things.

6. Electric Pencil Sharpener

This is probably one of the items I’m most thankful for purchasing. With three kiddos who love to draw and colour, I was getting irritated with the amount of times I needed to be sharpening pencils – the two younger ones don’t quite have the coordination to do it themselves yet. I was fortunate enough to find an electrical pencil sharpener at Dollarama, of all places. It cost $3.50 and it works just fine. If you haven’t been as fortunate with your bargain finds, here’s one that’s a bit more expensive, but looks pretty good, too. Personally, for home use, I wouldn’t fork out any more than $20 or $30 for one of these, since the less expensive ones work just as well. If you’re buying one for a classroom full of several kids, though, you may want to consider the heavy duty options.  I highly recommend getting one with a cord (because batteries are a pain in the behind). There’s also options with USB connections now, but I didn’t see the need for this. My inexpensive one that I can plug into any outlet works well for my family’s needs.

These are some of the items that make my life easier as a homeschooler, especially since I don’t have to get out of my house to buy them. Online shopping for the win.

What items do you consider essential for your homeschooling?

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