Classroom Organizing

Homeschool Hardware: 10 Equipment Must Haves

  So last time we discussed all the smaller equipment you might need for your homeschool classroom.  This time I thought we should discuss all the big homeschool equipment you should consider having.  Every classroom needs some actual equipment to use.  Each families needs are different, so remember these are my top 10 picks for classroom equipment must haves.  Get what works for you. 1. Color Laser Printer I know what you’re thinking.  A color laser printer is a need?  Yes, in my home it is.  Just about every project we do requires printing.  Many of these projects (Homeschool in the Woods for instance) require color printing.  It is much more cost effective to print on a laser printer than an inkjet.  It also doesn’t bleed or smear on the page and the toner lasts way longer than ink.  I usually go through a set of cartridges a year.  It costs more upfront but in the long run I save money.  If color is not in your budget, a basic black and white laser printer will work too.  I used one for years.  No matter which one you get, make sure they have Bluetooth printing.  One that prints from your phone or your tablet is what I use.  There are so many times when I am looking up something on my device and I end up wanting it for school.  This feature makes it so easy to print.  No running to my desktop.  Just click, print and it’s done. 2. The Laminator & Sheets Okay so this is a biggie.  Every classroom needs a laminator.  You will be amazed at how often you use it.  I use it constantly for things like chore charts, cheat sheets, speed math and so much more.  I recommend an inexpensive one that has a high and low setting.  Sometimes it’s a thickness setting.  You can go with a nicer model, but really it’s not necessary unless you are doing tons of laminating in different sizes.   Some of the models come as multi-tasking devices.  They come as 3 in 1 laminators and have things like paper cutters and corner rounders built in.  Don’t forget to pick up laminating sheets as well.  The standard thickness will work for most jobs. 3. Google or Alexa Device I use my smart device all the time in the classroom.  If I need to know how much the earth weighs, I don’t have to reach for an encyclopedia.  I just ask Google or Alexa.  I can play classical music for my music appreciation classes and it can read us stories and facts.  When in comes to smart devices, my choice is google device for the classroom.  Google device wins hands down over Alexa for information because it uses google for its search engine.  So if you are choosing one, go Google .  However, if Alexa is on sale the least expensive model will do for a small classroom.  The speaker range is good and it will work for most things.  4. CD Player I know what you’re going to ask?  Why have both a smart device and a CD player???  Well, the reason is because a lot of curriculums use either a CD, USB, or MP3/4’s for their audio tracks.  I have found that there really isn’t a standard system for what companies use. I prefer to have a multitasking device.  That way, I always have what I need.  So when you go looking for a CD player, make sure it can play CD’s, USB’s and has Bluetooth.  5. Electric Tracing Light Board This electric tracing light board is another great inexpensive tool for the classroom.  It’s amazing for teaching art lessons and science class.  The board plugs into the wall and lights up.  You put whatever you are tracing on it and you can easily trace everything from leaves to portraits.  It’s thin, lightweight and portable.  To be able to use it on the go, make sure to get one that plugs into the wall.    6. Microscope Every classroom, no matter the age, needs a microscope.  Nothing is cooler than collecting specimens wherever you are and making slides out of them.  We have studied everything from bugs to Aloe Vera cuttings. Nature class just isn’t the same without one. The good news is a really good microscope doesn’t have to cost a ton.  They have come down in price a lot over the years.  When thinking of what to buy, consider that it’s a piece of equipment that will be used for many years.  We get lots of use out of ours, so durability is a must.  I highly recommend one that runs on both batteries and a plug in model.  It allows you to take it outside and study things like snowflakes in the winter.  You can even take it on outdoor adventures.  Another great feature of ours is that it allows you to attach a smartphone to it and take pictures of what you are studying.  Be sure that is has a secondary light that shines down on your specimens.  This allows you to insert larger items like giant bugs into it.  So cool! We store all of our larger specimens in Petri dishes or glass jars.  But, you can buy pre-made slides or just make your own. 7. Globe No classroom is complete without a map or globe of some sort.  This is a long term, budget friendly purchase that helps with everything from geography to art or even history.  I really like globes as they show what our earth looks like better than flat maps.  I particularly enjoy the ones that have topographical features for more of a 3d look, but a simple globe will work just fine. 8. Teaching Clock So this teaching clock is great for the elementary grades.  They make a basic plastic practice version of these that will teach children how to use an analog clock.  Get several mini versions, and you can teach about time zones. I’m also

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Homeschool Hardware: 10 Basic Must Haves

  Whenever I read questions from parents about homeschool, someone always asks what items you can’t live without.  So I thought we would talk about must have classroom equipment or as I like to call it “The Homeschool Hardware”.  Today we will talk about 10 of my favorite must have items you need for your classroom to run efficiently and smoothly.  Keep in mind, these are my “must haves”.  So if you wouldn’t use them, don’t.  You do you.   1. Three Hole Punch It’s amazing how something as simple as this, is so necessary.  I use mine weekly.  Make sure to get a simple, easy to use three hole punch.  I like ones with adjustable guides and an easy disposal bin like this one.  It also requires less weight to push, making it easier for kids to use.  If you are limited on space, go for a compact model.   2. Paper trimmer or cutter If you have the space for a full size paper cutter, I would definitely invest in a big one.  I don’t have the room for it so I use a small paper trimmer.  It still works great, but you can only cut one or two pieces of paper at a time, not twenty.  Make sure it has an extendable ruler for odd sizes of paper.  You also want to have one that has an easy to swap out replacement blade option, as paper tends to dull them out rather quickly.  I’ve tried quite a few and my favorite is this Cricut paper trimmer. 3. The Whiteboard I have several sizes of whiteboards.  If your classroom is big enough get a wall mounted white board for everyday use.  But, I always like to keep a small portable whiteboard around 8.5×11 inches.  This makes it easy to take on the go.  Sometimes we like to work outside when the weather is nice.  Make sure to get one that is magnetic.  It makes it easy to keep things attached to them.  You will also need it for curriculums that use magnetic pieces such as All About Spelling. Don’t forget your dry erase markers.  I only use Expo brand.  I have tried many others, but they just don’t erase as well.  Honestly, not all the colors are as erasable either.  I find that the standard colors are the best.   4. Boogie boards If you are not a fan of whiteboards or you just want something a little more techie, I love our boogie board.  If you haven’t seen these, they are awesome.  It’s like a writeable etch-a-sketch.  You can write, erase and write again thousands of times, without needing a new one.  Ours is a couple of years old and still going strong.  These are great for school, car rides, the doctor’s office and church.  It keeps the kids busy and isn’t distracting. 5. Pencil Sharpener I tried going my first year with just a little handheld pencil sharpener. Nope, it just doesn’t cut it.  Every five minutes I was attempting to hand sharpen a pencil.  So now, I keep two models in the classroom, an old school classroom pencil sharpener like this one below.  Kids just enjoy using it and find it fun.  Plus, it gives their fine motor skills a workout.  But if that’s not your style, I also use a fully electric pencil sharpener.  Get one with different size holes so you can sharpen colored pencils and odd sizes.  I also recommend one that has a large disposal bin so you don’t have to change it every three seconds.  You will want one that plugs into the wall, not a battery operated only model.  They don’t have enough power and you will be changing batteries all the time. Speaking of pencils, Ticonderoga’s are my favorite.  They are the best, hands down.  They work better, sharpen better, and they don’t lose chunks when you sharpen them, making them last longer.  For a few pennies more, they are totally worth it.   6. Tape Dispenser I used to buy tape in the little portable handheld dispensers.  But honestly, we go through a lot of tape during the year.   Not only that, I hate waste and excess packaging.  A tape dispenser is more economical and less wasteful in the long run.  The initial investment is worth the long term savings.  You don’t need anything fancy here.  Just get the basic one. 7. The Stapler A stapler is another must have in my opinion.  My advice is don’t buy the cheapest one.  Nothing is as annoying as a stapler that jams every time you use it.  So go with a decent quality one and don’t forget the staples.  If you are low on space, they make these mini versions which actually work very well.  You can also get a full size vertical model that saves space as well. 8. Pencil/Pen Caddy I’m a big fan of desk caddy’s.  Every classroom should have one.  I prefer a desk caddy that spins like a Lazy Susan.  They make it easier to access what you need quickly.  It also makes it easier for kids to put their things away.  Keeping your classroom tidy is a full time job if you don’t keep on top of it.  The easier the clean up, the happier you will be. 9. Hot Glue Gun Glue sticks are great.  But when I need more I reach for the hot glue gun.  It works for art projects, history, and science.  It’s also cheap and effective.  If you are saving space, get the smaller models that come with smaller hot glue sticks.  Otherwise, I like the sturdiness of larger hot glue guns.  When looking for a glue gun, make sure to get one that stands up on its own.  Otherwise you will have a hot mess.  Another feature to look for is a high/low temp switch.  That way you can adjust the temperature based on who’s using it.  A nice feature when working with little ones. 10.

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