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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