There are the books and the school supplies, of course. But beyond that, what are some helpful tools to keep handy for your homeschool? Here’s my list of the items that have kept our homeschooling running more smoothly over the years. And don’t forget that every successful homeschool needs a PLAN, so a program like Homeschool Tracker makes everything easier!
Abacus: This simple counting tool is your child’s first and most easy-to-use math manipulative. Use the beads to do simple tasks like counting to ten, or to explain more difficult concepts like multiplication and division. The wooden Melissa & Doug version is a sturdy classic; you can also opt for something like the Counterpillar (below) for pre-K and Kindergarten.
Teaching Clock A simple, colorful clock face will make teaching and understanding time so much easier. Our Learning Resources Teaching Clock has moveable hands so you can illustrate the difference between minutes and hours. Set the clock and have your child write the time in the area at bottom with a dry erase marker. It’s also fun to have your child choose the time and quiz you!
Pretend Money: Most children want to learn about money from the get go. After all, that’s how you buy candy and toys! The Learning Resources set pictured below has all the basics: pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, plus bills in denominations of one, five, ten and twenty. It’s also less than $10.00!
Math Fact Charts – There’s only so much wall space in a homeschool, and a lot of families don’t even have a dedicated “school room.” So it’s nice to have reference charts of a compact size that you can fit in small spaces or even store in folders or binders. Math facts will come in handy while your child is memorizing (grades 1-3) and later on when they need a quick refresher while working on more complex problems. Carson Dellosa has a fantastic selection, and you can get free shipping by joining their Spark Rewards program at no cost!
A Sturdy Pencil Sharpener: Once you install a table or wall-mounted sharpener, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it. Classroom Friendly Supplies carries a durable, reliable sharpener in lots of bright colors. You can read my full review here.
Mini White Boards: Tired of working sums on paper? Need to draw something to reinforce a lesson? Mini whiteboards are very hands-on and eliminate paper waste. It’s kind of like the modern version of a slate, which was the staple of one-room schoolhouses.
Base Ten Blocks – Understanding place value is a crucial math concept which will reappear year after year in different disciplines. Base Ten Blocks are the gold standard for visualizing this key concept. I like this set because the ones, tens, hundreds and thousands are different colors.
EZ Grader – I’ve already worn out two of these over 11 years of homeschooling! The EZ Grader takes the guesswork (and the math) out of figuring grades. Set the total number of problems in the window at the top, and then look below to find the number of problems missed, and you’ve instantly got your number grade. Measuring 4×8 inches, the EZ Grader stows easily in a drawer or binder. It’s only $10 and ships free from Amazon.
Globe – I love a globe that’s both useful and beautiful. Juvale sells a classic one on Amazon that’s less than $20 and ships for free with Prime.
Reference Books – The three reference books we use the most? Atlas, dictionary and thesaurus. If you have multiple homeschoolers, it’s helpful to get each one of them a cheap paperback dictionary. Otherwise, Webster’s classic hardback version is the gold standard.
I purchased DK’s Essential World Atlas this year because it’s a more compact size, has a sturdy “flexibound” cover and contains more detailed information beyond the maps (political, social, etc.).
For 12 and under, DK’s junior version is easy to understand, and has large colorful pages.
Now I’d love to know which tools and resources YOU value most as a homeschooling family! Let me know in a comment below.