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  1. #1

    Default What are your "must haves" for Homeschooling?

    As a never-done-before Homeschool newbie, I'm trying to start purchasing manipulatives, supplies, so that I am not racing around trying to get everything at the end of the summer\beginning of fall. I am trying to figure out what would be really useful for my two kids (4 and 8 in the fall) and what we will get the most "mileage" out of. I think we'll have a white board, obviously pencils, erasers, etc. but what else should I be looking for now to get set for next year? Also, what was something you bought, thinking it would be great, and it was a complete waste of money?

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  3. #2


    I'm not a super experienced homeschooler. But looking at your kids ages, my first impulse is to say "relax". A library card, and maybe a math curriculum for the 8 year old until you have a little time to see what works.
    Mom to"E",10-my artist, "J", 8-my engineer/one man demolition crew ,"R" 6,-sweet,brilliant and in constant motion and "D"- well she's 3

  4. #3


    Well, you have to remember that everyone is different. What's "must have" for one family is a waste of space for another. And, of course, you can spend a little or a lot depending on your means and general approach.

    My boys are 8 yo. We've gotten the most "mileage" as you say, out of...

    * small whiteboards - I have some on strings that hang up and we use them constantly
    * easel whiteboard - and I covered the blackboard on the back with cork tiles, which I found useful - be sure to get a magnetic one if you can
    * Cuisenaire rods along with base-10 flats and a cube - if I could have only one math manipulative this would be it
    * Abacus - also very useful
    * colored pencils and good markers - worth a little extra - in general, we use tape, glue sticks, and piles of construction paper or colored cardstock a lot
    * composition books - just our preferred notebooks
    * an electric pencil sharpener - others didn't cut it for our heavy pencil use
    * a children's dictionary and an atlas - We have the MacMillian dictionary and a National Geographic atlas
    * poetry books - we have several Silverstein and Prelutsky volumes and it's nice to have a good general book too - the Barefoot Book of Classic Poetry is nice or Poetry by Heart is an OOP one that's nice

    We've also gotten a huge amount of usage out of games. In particular, Rat-a-Tat-Cat, Zeus on the Loose, Knock-Out, Corners (from RightStart), and a few others get pretty constant use for math and the Bananagrams tiles get good use as well for language arts. Also a big thing of dice has been useful for us.

    I also think an organization system is a must, but that's so very individual. We have a box for each child for workbooks, a box for each child for finished work, a sort of caddy with pens, pencils, scissors, etc. that can be moved on and off the dining room table easily, and several shelves for books. Plus current book boxes with reading materials out.

    The one thing I have that has gotten huge homeschool mileage has been the iPad. It's been a great tool for us. But again, remember that this stuff is individual. It's certainly not a must, that's for sure.

    We have had curriculum mistakes, but I can't think of anything I bought in terms of manipulatives or supplies or reference books that I really regret. I mean, there are things we don't use as much as I had thought or hoped - play money, for example or a cute organizational set of boxes that turned out to be not quite right or the history encyclopedias, which were worth having but don't get a ton of use here. And things we got use out of for awhile, like some math reference books or various games or the pattern tiles, but which aren't musts anymore.

    Good luck!
    Last edited by farrarwilliams; 03-25-2013 at 04:48 PM.
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  5. #4


    Crayons, art supplies, library cards & nature are must haves here! We often use the toys they already have to do math.
    Exhausted Mom of 3 wild & crazy boys! Ages 10, 7& 5
    Our School website
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  6. #5


    A timer. I don't have a great sense of time and I would lose track of how long we'd been working on something. It's a great way to give the kids a visible "end in sight" and a good way to gauge when the pushback is coming because they are at the end of their attention span.
    Batman--9, ASD, private school for now, afterschooling w/ R&S Math & Grammar, Memoria Lit., CHOW, Mr. Q Science
    Robin--7, PS and loving it, afterschooling history and science with brother.

    "When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained."-Mark Twain

  7. #6


    Our [$10 off Craigslist] globe

    plus what everyone else said.

    You can do a lot with everyday, around the house stuff--math manipulatives, science experiments, history craft projects, etc.

    Save your money for library fines.
    Mother of two monkeys...daughter age 10 and son age 11.5.

  8. #7


    take your kid to your local school supply store and see what they gravitate toward. I have purchased some things I thought they'd love and they didn't, then there have been some things I thought were lame that they've loved.

    Like farrar said every family is different. You will probably spend a lot of time figuring out what doesn't work

    I'm new to this, but I have learned to put little stock in something someone said they loved until you can see it for yourself. It seems every time I buy into it my kids hate it.
    Tamarin - 7, Lemur - 6, Howler - 4, and Capuchin - 1.

    Six Monkeys in the Country, my blog about homeschooling, farm life, raising young children and my ridiculous opinions.

  9. #8


    We use very, very little other than our preferred curriculum. A great world map is essential for us and we do use the microscope a fair bit. General manipulatives like most of what's been mentioned simply wouldn't get used here. I agree that your best bet is to wait and find out, other than the absolute necessity of a library card.
    Mama to one son (12)

  10. #9


    Hey Farrar, I've been thinking of buying Zeus on the Loose for my 5yo who is Greek god obsessed. I'm glad to see you liked it, I think I'll go ahead and order it from Amazon. He is currently in love with the Scrambled States of America game, I would like a break from playing that one every night!
    "...and the walls became the world all around." Maurice Sendak

    Mama to Jeremy(second grader)

  11. #10


    Quote Originally Posted by Mslksdh View Post
    Crayons, art supplies, library cards & nature are must haves here! We often use the toys they already have to do math.

    Also, lots of books. We go to the library once a week, but I have also spent a lot of time building our home collection... This can be done very inexpensively with garage sales, second hand stores, and see if you have any Scholastic warehouses nearby. I discovered that by volunteering at a Scholastic warehouse book sale they pay you with books! (Actually, vouchers you can use on books and other supplies). Even if you don't volunteer, I have found a lot of GREAT stuff at those sales super cheap.

    Also, one resource that is super helpful to me is Pinterest... A lot of good ideas on using stuff around the house to enhance learning for your kids. Things I just would have never thought of, but once you see an idea you can adapt it for use with your own kiddos.

    Don't stress and have fun.
    Playing and learning as we grow! DD1 12/17/2008 DD2 12/15/2010
    Math: Horizons Handwriting: Handwriting W/O Tears
    Reading: All About Reading Science: Sassafrass Science
    Spelling: All About Spelling Art: Artistic Pursuits
    History/ Social Studies: TBD Language Arts: First Language Lessons/ Writing With Ease

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What are your "must haves" for Homeschooling?