Are you just starting out with home preschool, homeschooling, or supplementing what your kids learn at school? Here are our favorite supplies for all the learning we do at home! This post contains affiliate links.
Color printer. For years, I had a Canon Pixma, which did a fine job but had occasional challenges. (These seemed to increase exponentially as my children grew to the height of the printer and played with its buttons and trays….) After replacing my Pixma only to see it die a little over a year later, my husband decided I needed something top of the line. Enter my wireless HP Laser Jet Pro 400 color printer. It’s fabulous, and I love it! (Update: The wireless function stopped working, so now we plug it in. If we’d purchase again we’d buy without the wireless function. Still a great printer overall, although we’ve had a few bugs here and there.)
Printer ink. Most of my printables will be just fine in black and white, but if you can swing it, color will really add to their appeal. My husband’s best advice is to shop around on ebay. We’ve had success buying refurbished ink cartridges, which are a big money saver.
Long-arm stapler. If you print any of my little books, you really need one of these. They are cheap (mine was under $15) and make assembling the books a snap. Plus, the books are so beautiful when they’re stapled nicely on the fold. 🙂
Paper cutter. I use my Fiskars 12 inch cutter almost every time I put together a printable. It cuts a few pieces of cardstock at a time and easily cuts through laminated paper. I am happy with my cutter, but if you want to spend more money, I’m sure there are nicer ones out there. I got mine with a 40% off coupon at Michaels. I’ve had it quite a few years, so I’m guessing they have a different model now.
Laminator. You knew this was coming, right? I say it all the time. I really love this little machine. I think the price is reasonable and totally worth it. The only downside is you cannot laminate materials larger than standard paper size. If you want to laminate a poster board, you’ll need to go to an office supply store.
And here’s a little tip: when you print a page of cards or something else you’ll need to cut apart, you don’t need to cut it apart before you laminate. Just laminate the whole page and do your cutting afterward (otherwise you’ll be cutting twice!). I don’t have any problems with the edges peeling.
Laminating sheets. I remember getting these for 15 cents each, but as I type this they’re selling for 22 cents a sheet. I guess it adds up, but when you go to the trouble to print something in color on cardstock, it’s nice to make it last the extra mile. (But don’t laminate my little books… this laminate is extremely sturdy and not meant for turning pages!)
Velcro dots. These are the ones I use for putting together my beginning sound mats and read ‘n stick mats. Be sure to get the clear ones. They are a little pricy, but they make the activities more fun; storage is easier, too, when everything stays together.
Vinyl mat. I bought mine at Jo-Ann Fabrics and paid for it by the yard. It’s great for putting on the floor for containing sensory play; you could also use a shower curtain.
Plastic bins. I buy these from Walmart and use them for containing messy play and storing my many manipulatives and supplies. We also organize our toys in them. I can’ t seem to find what I use online, but you can our big one in this post. We use that one for containing big sensory play. Check out our smaller ones here. We use these for storage and small sensory play.
Plastic 12 x 12 storage. These large, flat containers are perfect for containing art supplies or themed learning activities. You can easily put something in here and come back to it later. I love that they stack, too. Each of my kids has their learning activities (games, books, math facts, etc.) stored in these.
Hole punch. This link is not the exact one we use, but it looks like a good one. I use this to put my read ‘n stick mats together in a binder. I love that they still accept holes after they’ve been laminated!
Power magnets. These are a little pricy because they don’t come with super saver shipping, but they’re so versatile. We really like putting printables on magnetic baking trays and using these magnets to mark the answers. I haven’t tried them myself, but these colorful fridge magnets are cheaper.
Markers. My kids have always preferred markers to crayons, so we go through a lot of them. As a classroom teacher I developed a deep dislike for cheap art supplies (Roseart, ugh!), so we only buy Crayola. That said, the Crayola Super Tips seem to wear out pretty quickly.
Washable paint. We don’t use acrylic paint unless absolutely necessary, because as far as I know it doesn’t come washable. Even if we’re trying to be as careful as possible, the edge of a sleeve (or the front of my shirt) always makes contact with some paint. We’ve never had an issue with washable paint coming out of clothes.
Construction paper. We’ve bought giant sets of colored construction paper at Sam’s Club, but it’s an easy thing to buy online.
Glue. We buy this at Walmart, but I can see it’s actually a better buy on Amazon.
Glue sticks. These are a little expensive individually, so it’s good to buy in bulk. Just make sure you’ll use them in a few months. We had some dry out once before we had a chance to open them.
Tacky glue. This is for those tougher gluing projects that school glue and glue sticks can’t handle.
Food coloring. For coloring play dough and other sensory fun.
Sharpies. I’m often labeling things with these, and the kids are pleased when I let them use them to add detail to their art projects. I prefer black, but you can get them in multi-colors. Warning: these are permanent.
Sidewalk chalk. We have little chalkboards in our playroom, but sidewalk chalk gets the most use on our long driveway. You definitely don’t need Crayola and can often find it at the Dollar Store.
Dice. We bought this giant set of 100 dice, but the first set we got was actually smaller dice with blue and red dots. I didn’t like them at all, and we were able to straighten it out over the phone. I love our set of 100 dice for playing math games … but just be careful ordering through this link. You may have to do it twice! I couldn’t find a better set to recommend.
Glass gems. We bought ours at Michaels. and we just love them. They’re great for sticking into play dough, using as playing pieces on homemade games, and as markers for covering spots in Bingo. The clear ones are especially fun and make a fun filler for sensory bins.
Buttons. If you ever see a mix and match jar of buttons at a yard sale, buy it! They’re not cheap, but they are so much fun to play and create with.
Spray bottles. These are great for playing with outside and even doing some inside sensory play. I’ve included an online link, but we bought ours for about a dollar a piece at Walmart. I do have to be very strict about the kids bringing me back all the parts!
Googly eyes. They aren’t the cheapest art supply ever, but we use them to embellish at least half our art projects. Everything is always more fun with a googly eye! The ones with peel and stick backs are nice but a lot more expensive. Tacky glue can always do the job. I recommend getting a back of various sizes.
Stickers. We buy these on sale at Michaels and often get them for free in the mail or as gifts. I don’t think you can have too many!
Brass fasteners. I use these to assemble my word family houses. I’ve found it easier to buy them online than to scour the stores!
Metal rings. I punch holes in some of my manipulatives (like my counting bear pattern strips) and store them with metal rings. Love how it keeps them together! They can be hard to find in stores, so get ’em online to save yourself a headache.
Butcher paper. I just recently bought my first roll, and I’m so excited by the possibilities!
Clipping clothespins. They must not make these like they used to, because the ones I got at Walmart are junk, and I couldn’t find ones highly rated on Amazon. We use them to clip our wet snow clothes to the drying rack by the front door. But if you’re just using them to hang up art projects or to clip the answers on my clip cards, they should do just fine.
Clear contact paper. You can make so many fun crafts with clear contact paper. Sometimes I also use it to cover new paperback books so they don’t get damaged. I advise buying the Con-Tact brand only. I’ve been very disappointed in other companies.
Painter’s tape. This is great for putting projects and activities on the wall, taping paper to the table, and much more. Sometimes this goes on sale for a good price at home improvement stores.
Cotton balls. We use these for various projects, and they’re also fun to paint with. Pick them up at Walmart, Target, or the drug store.
Pom poms. Fun for crafting.
Tissue paper. We get this out fairly often for projects.
Coffee filters. Definitely something to have in the back of your craft cupboard. They come in handy a lot
Sponges. Paint or print with them.
Shaving cream. This is something I recently bought for some messy sensory play. I’m always finding activities for it, but never had it on hand. You can play with it, do crafts with it (marbled painting), write spelling words in it… Get a cheap generic version at the store.
Glue gun. We have a mini high temperature glue gun, which is fine for my purposes. I use this for some of our crafts and activities. I used it a lot when we made a skeleton out of milk jugs. You’ll need to keep some mini glue sticks on hand.
Color tiles. This is just a really handy manipulative. You can always trust Learning resources.
Pattern blocks. Another great manipulative! On my Facebook page I often share links to free pattern block printables. You’l love having your own set of blocks.
On our wish list!
Differentiated instruction cubes. These are blocks with clear pocket sides. You can slip cards in them and roll the dice to do all kinds of learning. I’ve seen This Reading Mama use them in so many ways that I’ve put them on our wish list!
Base 10 blocks. I loved these as a teacher, and I think they’re a great manipulative for visualizing place value.
Cuisenaire rods. I never did get these when I was in the classroom, but I drooled over them!
Fraction tiles. Awesome for visualizing equivalent fractions.
Geoboard. Inexpensive and fun for learning about shapes.
What are your essentails for learning at home?