JAN
22
2013

Homeschool Supplies & Organization

Hello fellow teachers! I have a much requested post for you today. I’m going to share some of my “must-have” items that have been favorites in our homeschool! Of course all of these things are totally optional, but they all have been well loved and used in our homeschool and I have absolutely gotten good use out of them, so I thought I would share.

 

Desktop Carousel: I know you’ve all seen my supply caddy that literally holds our Ikea school desks in place. I honestly do LOVE this thing! It’s called the Making Memories Desktop Carousel. I found ours at Michael’s craft store and bought it using a 40% off coupon. They range $40 or so. Here’s one at Overstock.com. I’ve also seen a new one called Recollections Desktop Carousel if that helps any of you out there! I keep the majority of our supplies in this caddy so everyone can share.

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What’s in my desk: I keep all of our supplies in my drawer. The kids know to ask me before taking them…usually…sometimes…okay, not really but it would be nice. Anyway, here’s a list of the supplies I keep handy: Expo dry-erase markers, Mavalus tape, scissors, sharpies, spare glue sticks, scotch tape, push-pins, stapler, sticky tabs, pens, post-its, and my favorite pencils ever…Ticonderoga.

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Laminator: You can either laminate at home, at a local teacher or office supply store, or not at all, it’s up to you. If you do choose to purchase a laminator, which most homeschoolers find quite useful, I recommend this one, you can find it at Wal-mart and Sam’s Clubs. It’s about $30 for the laminator and $14 for refill packets.  You can get them here: Scotch Thermal Laminator & 9×11 Scotch Thermal Pouches

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Random Supplies:

  • Hole Punch (I have a single hole punch as well as a 3 ring hole punch.)
  • Mavalus Tape! (This is a must for me! It’s like masking tape, but it holds literally everything on our walls, and doesn’t mark or take off paint!)
  • Stapler & Staples  (Nothing fancy here, just a plain ole’ stapler.)
  • Workboxes (I have used the Cropper Hopper 10 Drawer Rolling Carts, and now we use our Ikea drawers. Either work great. Click here to read all about our workboxes! They revolutionized how we do school. No kidding.)
  • Calendar Poster (This is held onto a cork board with small thumb tacks. Click here to see more details on our Calendar Activities)

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Stickers: Okay, I know this might not be a new concept, but I absolutely swear by these little stickers! The rule in our home is that if you get an A on a worksheet, you’re allowed to put a sticker on top. I know it sounds silly, but everyone, even Strawberry Shortcake loves these! Whenever I’m out and about I’ll look for new, fun, smelly, sparkly, or puffy stickers to add to our collection. Everyone loves them. And yes, for the most part I grade all worksheets promptly upon turn in and if they’ve received an A, they get to visit the sticker caddy to adorn their work.

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Highlighters: You can use any brand of these you want, I was just suckered in by the color selection of the Sharpie Accent Liquid Highlighters. One of them did leak, just so you know. But we use these every single day to mark off completed items as we go through our lessons. Strawberry Shortcake usually takes them all and marks her own sheet, while I typically mark Tinker Bell and Turbo’s sheets. Strawberry prides herself on using every single color in the pack.

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Pencils. We use pencils. A lot of pencils. And this year I’ve recently discovered the Ticonderoga pencils. I know they’re not new, but they’re new to me, and I’m in LOVE! These pencils sharpen perfectly, actually erase, last longer, and the eraser actually stays attached to the pencil, even after use by say someone like Turbo.

I always buy fun colorful pencils at the start of the year, and these pencils are so awesome that even my kids prefer them over the pretty ones when serious work is involved. I keep a sharpened caddy on my desk so that if someone needs one they can grab it. They’ll simply lay the dull pencils on my desk so we can sharpen them and put them back in the caddy.

I use both the regular pencils, the Ticonderoga Red Correcting Pencils, and also grabbed some of the Tri-Write Pencils and the Beginner Wide Pencils to help with pencil-grip issues. Not sure they work for that, but they’re more comfortable to according to Tinker Bell.

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I also finally broke down and found an electronic sharpener. Really for me, with the amount of sharpening that goes on in our home, its just an essential product. We currently have the Bostitch QuietShapr Electric Sharpener – $23.62. For the most part I’ve been happy with this, but recently it decided to be weird, and now the sharpener runs constantly, so we have to unplug it when not in use, then plug it in to use it. Mildly annoying… Probably will try a different one after this one dies, but I’m just sayin’ an electronic sharpener is nice to have around.

 

Stacking Files: These mesh stackable paper trays were found at our local office supply store. I have four of them, one for each of my kiddos. As they complete their work for the day, they put their work on a pile on my desk. I do my best to grade them immediately and hand them back for correcting, or sticker-izing…is that a word? Stickering…sticker-bedazzling…whatever. Once they’re corrected and/or decorated, completed work is turned into these files. Really it’s just a holding place so I don’t have to put them in my 3-ring binders immediately because I’m lazy. Once they’re full the work goes into the binders.

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White Board: Until I win the lottery and get an electronic smart board, I’ve got this bad boy. It’s a 5×8 white board that was picked up at a used sale for…..drum roll please…$5! No kidding! That’s a deal in America man! And we use this…I mean U S E it! Actually I’m running out of room as you can see below, but whatever you do, I highly suggest a chalk or white board.

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To go along with the whiteboard…I find Expo cleaning clothes and of course dry-erase markers useful. I happen to have a few of these Melissa & Doug erasers just because that’s what was at the store when we went, but you can use anything you want. Even paper-towels will work. I don’t use the white board wipes all the time, only when my board starts getting that left-over marker residue on it that won’t wipe off with an eraser.

And no, I really don’t use other brands of dry-erase markers. So far the washable ones I tried do not erase well at all, and other brands just don’t show up as well on the board, so I haven’t bothered. If you know of a wonderful brand that is less expensive please let me know!

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File folders: Lapbooks…organization…‘nuff said.

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Reading Incentives: I’ve mentioned these before as well, but those of you who are new, these are our reading incentives! I visited ImageStuff and ordered a variety of reading incentive brag tags!You can see my full post on these gems in my homeschool reading incentive post.

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Alphabet Stamps & Ink: One of my new happy finds are these Hampton Art Ultra Washable ink pads. The Teeny Tot has been using the See and Stamp alphabet stamps from Educational Insights lately and I was sooooo happy to find washable ink! The other stuff gets everywhere and then doesn’t come off easily so I always hesitated to let her use the stamps. Now I don’t have to worry about it! Plus…they’re scented which is so fun!

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Storage:

The next shelving unit is the Expedit 25 cubbie shelving unit. This is one of my favorite storage units ever! The top row are all of my LOTW binders and our school work binders. I keep all of their finished worksheets in their annual binders, then at the end of the year, they go down to the basement for storage.

The next row of blue bins are books, lapbooks, then some other miscellaneous games and activities. Mostly for the Teeny Tot. The Blue Organizer Bins are from Lakeshore Learning.

The next row are one of my favorites. They are Small (10×11) Clear Document Cases from The Container Store. They house all of our manipulatives, math links, alphabet tiles, color cubes, lacing buttons, wooden shape blocks, etc, etc. We also put our art supplies in them which makes it very easy to store and access all of our supplies.

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Small Manipulative Storage: I mentioned these little beauties in previous posts, but they’re take-out containers from one of our local BBQ restaurants. I simply washed them out and now they house all of our tiny manipulatives that we use for preschool. It’s great to be able to pull out one little tub for one of the Teeny Tot’s workbox games.

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Storage and Record Keeping: Each year I use 3” 3-ring binders to store the schoolwork for each student for the year. I keep them in our homeschool room so I don’t get behind in storing their work. As my file stacks get filled, I take all of the papers out and put them in these binders which will eventually make their way to the basement for permanent storage. The small pink one holds all of my information, attendance, product receipts etc. You can see details here in my storage and record keeping post.

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More organization posts that you might enjoy:

 

So those are some of my top picks for what it’s worth!

Have a favorite supply you can’t live without? Leave a comment below!

Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, all items were purchased with my own money, I just love them and wanted to share!

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Comments

  1. Wow! Thanks for a great – and timely – post! We’re almost at the start of the new school year here in Australia & I’m gathering supplies and reorganising everything like only a maniac can ;)

    I’m jealous of your expedit case – we have one but it isn’t in our schoolroom *cough* kitchen. Im also digging those pencils and the rainbow whiteboard markers – exactly what I’m after the moment. I’m s sick of only writing in dark green and blue!

    Amber. x

  2. My son is begging that we get a carousel like yours! Stickers are so motivating! I love reading about how other people homeschool. I blogged about “A Day In The Life Of Our Homeschool” today.

  3. Jerri mayfield says:

    Thanks so much for this post. I loved the video tour too. I would love to pin this but I did not see a pin button. Could you point me in the right direction on how to pin?

    • Hi Jerri,
      There should be a pin it button at the bottom of the post. You might have to click on the post title to get to the actual page then look at the bottom of the post there as well for a pin it button.

  4. Thank you for the inspiration on setting up a sucessful and functional homeschool/homeschool room. I showed your video to my husband and it encouraged us to move some bedrooms around to make a homeschool room in our on post housing (we’re an Army family living at Ft. Benning GA). He even drove all the way to IKEA in Atlanta yesterday (2 hours away!) to bring us a Expedit 4×4 bookcase, a drawer unit like yours, a table top and 2 legs to make a desk for our 2 small boys. We will have to expand our furniture in the future when the boys get bigger, but for now I am *thrilled* with the set up and that everything is in one room now, not spread all over the table that we have to clean off when we want to sit down and have a meal. My 3 year old is working on LOTW (letter E this week) and my 5 year old is doing your Road Trip USA since he is obsessed with the USA right now. :) Your curriculum is top notch and I love sifting through your blog and finding nuggets of information and inspiration for my homeschool. God’s blessings on you, your family and your homeschool. :)

  5. I am pretty sure this is what Heaven looks like….

  6. I forget where I heard about it, but you can use cheap toothpaste to clean your whiteboard. Just smear some on and work it off with a wet rag, then dry the board before using. It works great! Or if you have some really stubborn spots, I use rubbing alcohol with great results too!

    Your organization is enviable :) Great job!

  7. Hydrangeas and Harmony says:

    No tips to share because we organize things very similarly to you. My kids have separate desks so I got them desktop supply organizers at Walmart at the beginning of the school year to hold their individual pencils, erasers, etc. I just wanted to say that I watched your schoolroom videos and decided to try your reward sticker method. The kids (even though they’re upper elementary) have loved it! It’s given them an excitement to finish up their independent work and to take more time to do it well (to maybe earn 2 stickers for that 100%). We also are using the stickers for their behavior reward jars… 5 stickers = 1 additional ‘good man’ for the weekly reward jar. Thanks so much for the idea—it’s been an encouraging lift during this mid-year, post-holiday, bleak-winter-days slump.

  8. We had the same problem with our pencil sharpener running. We found that if we pulled the shavings tray out slightly when not in use, it wouldn’t run. We later found debris lodged inside that fixed the whole problem when removed. It finally died since I forgot to tell my 5 year old that mechanical pencils don’t need sharpening;)
    I LOVE your blog, you bless and inspire me!!

  9. I didnt know if you knew or not, but Dollar Tree has the dot markers like you use for the letters. They are called Bingo Markers, but they are the same thing! In lots of colors. And lots cheaper than the Amazon link you put.

  10. Your website always provide me with a wealth of information that I can’t wait to try!! We are currently prayerfully considering homeschooling our little kindergartener next year and your website is such a huge source of encouragement and inspiration to me, thank you so much!! I wanted to share that in the dollar spot at Target yesterday I saw some really neat teaching supplies….pom poms, leap frog folder games, dry erase learning books…I stocked up on a few things, was really pleased :)

  11. I lucked out last year and got this Recollections Desktop Carousel for 20.00! Last week I picked up their knock off Ikea Alex 5 drawer Units for buy one get one free and saw these carousel’s were on clearance.. at 49.97! That’s not clearance prices! lol I love the carousel. I did a post about the organizers and how they compared to Ikeas. ;) Love your blog!!!!!

  12. We love stickers in our house too, and those Expedit cubbies!

  13. Erica,
    I just recently stumbled across your blog and I must say I am in AWE! We have homeschooled for three years, but recently put our son in school for a semester only to pull him back out again. I am so thankful for not only the time and dedication you put into your site! but also the wonderful materials you make accessable for free! What a blessing! Thank you for the work you are doing. You have a dedicated follower in me! Thank you and God’s blessings on your blog and homeschooling!

    Carlee

  14. Super jealous of your school room and all the things you use to organize. We are a family of 5 (mom, dad, 3 boys ages 12,7 & 5) who are traveling the country in our RV. Our “school room” is in our living room/dining room. Its really just a couch, 2 chairs and a small table that only two people can use at once. We use a lot of your same curriculum and printables in our daily lessons, but I wish we had more storage space so we could do even more. Since we are schooling in such a small space we like to get out of the RV as much as possible. One day we could be doing our school work at a state park by a waterfall, next day at the zoo, and another day at the beach. We plan to travel for the next few years but once we settle down and buy a regular home I hope our school room is as nice as yours.

  15. If you can get one a laminator is a must have. You can do bookmarks, puzzles, certain worksheets that you fill in with a dry erase marker again and again, Plus we did door hangers for Mother’s day. Just like the hotels have, but gifts for Mom. Ones that say “Do not disturb, Mom is taking 10 :)

  16. Danielle Wilson says:

    I am really interested in how you store/organize/house the LOTW in your binders. Trying to figure out how to do it. Thank you!!

  17. I love how you keep organized! i shared your ideas on twitter and also emailed to my friend who’s also home schooling. thanks a lot for sharing your big and great ideas here!

  18. I love your tabletop caddy. I have my old shower caddy (cleaning caddy) from my college days, now serving as our supply container. We love it because it is very portable.

    My kids’ public school insists on ticogonderoga pencils. It is a bit frustrating since not all families can afford them (especially when they have so many decorated ones for free already). The schools put them in a classroom bin so when a kid needs theirs sharpened, they just swap it out for a different pencil which disrupts the class less. I wish we could all just send $ and let the school supply them ( and they would get a bulk rate). The Tico pencils are the only ones allowed to go in the electric pencil sharpeners (but those are owned by the teacher). They are nice, though.

    That’s a very nice setup you have there -your kids are lucky!

  19. I seriously heart your Expedit bookcase. We also love dry erase crayons for coloring on the whiteboard. Crayola makes brights and classic color set. Also, if you’re looking for a really cheap whiteboard (that doesn’t need to be magentic), you can buy huge sheets of laminated showerboard for ~ $10 at Home Depot or Lowe’s. I got my DH to cut it to fit our wall and cut/paint some little trim to tack around the edge for a finished look on the wall.

  20. Completely hooked on your blog! This is so comprehensive. Thank you!

  21. Wanted to say thank you for the very useful information that you take time out to post. I am just starting on this journey and I am so overwhelmed, and when find sites like yours I feel bit more confident in my decision. I am just stating to put my homeschool room together and you have helped quiet a bit with questions I didn’t even know I had, but I do have one question if you don’t mind answering. What size board is your calendar on? Also, did you make the extra things for the board? I love the word of the day as well. Such little things make a big difference.

  22. I hope someday to get this organized! We live in a small space and I find all this homeschool info that I need to file and organize very overwhelming!

    For the whiteboard, I use a Magic Eraser and it gets the old marker off well!! Also works on shoes, walls etc.

  23. OMG you are so organized! I am filled with envy. I wish I had your space. I have a huge set of cheap bookshelves in my kitchen, a rolling cart with about 10 drawers, and baskets everywhere! We plan on moving within the next year to a bigger house so that will help a lot. Lots of great ideas and I have been thinking about getting a white board forever and a day now.

  24. Hi Erica, first, how I would love to get together! It is nice to know that there is someone out there that is as passionate as I am! I was wondering where you got that poster on the character? ” I am patient” posted on the board. I use character first but they do not have those kind of posters. Thank you.

  25. Absolutely amazing. You’re an inspiration… and also, make me ashamed! lol

  26. Sheril Munsee says:

    Ah! It’s so nice to see beautifully organized classroom supplies! We moved in May and the classroom was sure easy to ignore with the door shut. Until this week, where all I want to do is cry when I go in there.
    Anyway, I’m pretty sure your laminator is half price at Walgreens! I’m going back to grab that baby today! Blessings!

  27. WHITE BOARD FOR CHEAP!!!!!!

    I just had to add that you can buy White boards at Lowe’s in their SHOWER deptartment for 8 ft. x 5 ft. They are less than $20 and use dry- erase markers perfectly. We put this up on the wall and my husband framed around it with inexpensive molding. It looks like a picture frame on the wall! I promise you can use any dry erase marker and marker cleaner / or even a dry cloth and it erases perfectly!

    Hope this helps some of you create a wonderful school room!

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