I've been a school supply junkie much longer than I have been a homeschool mom. There's just something about office supplies that gets my heart fluttering with excitement. It's not an irrational relationship. There have been some pretty incredible school supplies that have revolutionized the way we learn. Here's my top 10!
1 - Coil Binding Machine
If you've seen my homeschool room, you'll know that I am addicted to spiral binding. The official term is "coil binding" since I'm not actually using wires to bind my materials. It's so nice to have your book lay open without losing your place all the time.
Inexpensive spiral binding machines are really just a glorified hole punch that punches many more holes than three. Once you get the hang of it, you can make your own spiral notebooks, sketch books, or even spiral your CC Timeline cards. The only other materials you need are a crimper (to close off the coil once you've put it in), and the coils. My favorite sizes are 15mm and 20mm.
2 - Ticonderoga Pencils
Ticonderoga pencils are worth buying for the eraser alone! There is nothing worse than watching your child melt over his paper that was ruined by a cheap eraser. I do love having these erasers on hand for heavy erasing jobs. There's nothing like burning through the eraser on the back of the pencil before you've even had a chance to sharpen it!
3 - Laser Printer
I used to have a fancy color laser printer. That thing went through ink like nobody's business. It really didn't print any cheaper than the office supply store, and it was a pain to keep all of those ink cartridges ready to switch out. Did I mention it was huge?
We finally wised up and got a black and white laser printer for printing at home, and took our color jobs to the print shop. It's so nice because I can make copies of worksheets, and I'm also not tempted to just print copious amounts of fun things in color at home. There's accountability at the print shop!
4 - Scanner
One of my latest acquisitions is a scanner. You could probably buy a printer/scanner combo, but sometimes they get super bulky in your space. I also have a wireless printer, so I rarely sit by it to work. This scanner just plugs right in to your laptop, and you can use it wherever you're working. LOVE IT!
Right now I'm working on scanning my timeline cards so that I can make stickers to add to a personal timeline. This could get real fun real fast!!
5 - Binders
Binders have gotten really pricey over the last couple of years. However, I need them for everything. I cut the spine off of my Draw USA book, put it in page protectors, and the book has become an interactive resource. I need my binders to last though. My favorites are the Staples Better Binders. They really are better!
I love that they have rubber edges, a d-ring, and the one hand opening. My son and I each got a binder three years ago when we started Challenge A, and they both are still going strong. It's worth it to invest a bit more early on, than having to replace them with cheap products you have to replace every year, not to mention wrestle with all year long while they're driving you crazy.
6 - Page Protectors
Piggy backing on the binder idea, a box of heavy duty page protectors can last you the whole year and save you on making copies. With some ultra fine dry erase markers, your kids will also be able to write in places that a normal pen could. What would I do without page protectors?
7 - Binder Rings
I am not good with note card boxes. Everything inevitably ends up getting dumped out. I love binder rings for keeping up with flash cards...and boy do we have a lot of them!
They come in a variety of sizes. My favorite are the 2" rings, and they're super cheap, so you can have a bunch of them!
8 - Laminator
9 - iPhone
I know this doesn't really qualify as a "school supply" but it has been such a revolutionary tool in my homeschool that I can't not mention it. First of all, we have several apps that we LOVE.
- The CC Foundations Memory Work Tutorials, any Cycle (I heard rumors that the android version was coming out in the fall!!
- Stack the States
- Kindle app - you don't need an actual kindle device to read ebooks. Your phone can double as an eReader
- Audible app - and we load up our phones to make them portable book readers. If you see my kids with earbuds in, that doesn't guarantee that they're jamming out to music. My son listens to books while he mows the lawn. That's revolutionary!
10 - Apple TV
Now if you're as tech crazy as I am, you can revolutionize the use of your TV by adding an Apple TV. This cool device allows you to show your phone screen on the TV, among other things. What I love about this is that I can open my Kindle app, and using the whisper sync feature show the book on the screen and we can all read along as we listen. This has saved me on days when I'm sick and can't read, or my allergies have just gotten out of control and I can't read a sentence without coughing.
You can also use apps like Paper by FiftyThree to turn your TV into a white board. It's pretty awesome!