Homeschooling our kids had been in the back of our minds pretty much since they were born. Knowing you want to do something and actually executing it are two very different things. I had to ask myself some tough questions before we decided this life was for us. Ensuring this was a realistic routine for the curveballs of military life was the biggest fear I had to overcome.
Upon arriving at our new duty station, we made the leap. We decided to home school all of the kids for preschool and Kindergarten. Since we had just moved and the kids hadn’t been enrolled in their new schools yet, we didn’t have to go through the process of pulling them out in the middle of the year. It was the perfect time to get started!
I poured over SO MANY home school blogs. Reading blogs and Pinterest posts was essentially my full-time job. If I was going to home school, I was determined to do it right. I got the room set up, the curriculum ordered, and the supplies purchased. Then it was time. At the beginning of September, we jumped right in!
Since we got started, it has been a whirlwind. There has been lots of trial and error, something that my Type A personality hates to admit. I realized very quickly that I overestimated the amount of work we could fit into a day, which required rearranging the schedule a bit. After a couple months, I have already found a few things in our classroom that I can’t imagine teaching my kids without.
Every child is different and every home school situation unique so this list is just meant to be a jumping off point to get your creative juices flowing!
My Top 5 Home School Must Have’s
1. Sensory Bins
My sensory bins are one of my most favorite pieces in our room. At the kid’s previous preschool, they had one in both rooms. All the kids used them every single day. The boys had a new sensory bin activity or medium every morning. At drop off the boys would run straight to it! I knew in our room, it was a necessity. The boys love to play in it while their big sis is doing her work. It is always a huge hit in our home school classroom! Here is one good option and here is another option.
The sensory bin that I wanted was very specific. I wanted two different bins so I could prepare two bins on Sunday night for the upcoming week. Then switch off bins during the week to keep the kids on their toes. Lids were necessary for our bins, so we could close the bins when weren’t using them… or I needed to remove the distraction. I also wanted storage underneath to keep all of the sensory bin toys and tools that was easy to find and even easier to put away. I never found that perfect sensory bin, so my dreamy husband built it for me. He even painted it to match our room! I love it and if you are in need of a custom sensory bin…he’s your guy! Message me or check his page (The Husband Edition) in the near future.
2. Mirror Tiles
These were an unexpected necessity for me. I had read a few blog posts of people using mirrors for activities and crafts and I thought they sounded very creative. We were at Home Depot and they had 12 x12 plain edge mirror tiles in a 6-pack for $9.99! I threw them in my cart and that was that. Fast forward to mid September and the kids need to practice letter writing. Light bulb moment, let’s break out the mirror tiles and use shaving cream to practice writing! It was a huge hit, especially with the preschoolers. It held their attention and they practiced handwriting for a whole 15-minutes! These are definitely becoming a weekly activity in our classroom. Here is what I bought.
3. Dry Erase board/Chalk board
For Christmas or Birthdays last year, the kids got an easel from IKEA. They really haven’t used it much because before now they preferred paper. Plus, at our old house my husband installed a giant chalkboard on the wall so most of the time they used that. I had honestly forgotten about it until we unpacked it here in our new house. Let me tell you something, it works great in our home school classroom. It is a great activity to use for handwriting and math practice! This is another tool, we use almost daily in our classroom, to help the kids learn! This is the easel we have, but here is another great option.
4. Craft cart
I picked this beauty up at Michael’s for $30. There are other great options out there, but this one had wheels and sides to keep all the craft supplies from falling off. Also, it was the most budget friendly. I think this is essential to our home schoolroom. I keep our every day craft and school supplies on the cart. Things like scissors, glue, glue sticks, markers, crayons, scissors, pipe cleaners, tape, construction paper, cotton balls, etc. These are the things the kids love to get out and get creative with during down time. It’s handy because it’s on wheels, I just wheel it where I need it and then easily roll it away. Here is the one I use and here is another option.
5. A Home School Table
This is another big one for me. When we moved here, we bought a new to us beautiful wood farm table and the last thing I wanted was for the kids to get paint, marker, or glue on. Plus it is the table that we use for every meal, so I didn’t want to have to clean up every time we took a snack or meal break. So, one of the first things I looked for was a nice GROOVE-FREE table. I say groove-free, because I don’t know if you’re aware but so many tables on the market have these annoying groove lines on them. These grooves are a magnet for ick! They collect everything. They also cause a problem when you’re trying to practice handwriting and your paper is accidently on top of a groove. We checked second hand shops and thrift stores around the area and finally found a $35 at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. Then next door, we found three semi matching chairs. My husband painted everything to match and now it’s the perfect table for our space. I love it! And, the best part, I don’t care if it gets marked on, painted on, or scratched. This table is for the kids to be kids.
Bonus Must have!!!
6. A good printer
Now you don’t need this but, to me the convenience was totally worth the cost. Now a days, almost all home school curriculum is printable or has extra bonus printables that you can use.
There are lots of places that you can go to print curriculum and other school things off but the ease of being able to print it all at home is totally worth it to me. There are days where the kids are very interested in a totally random topic. I just jump on the internet find some free printables or resources and print them off for us to use that day. Alternatively, if they are struggling with a particular topic or skill, I can search and find extra practice for them and just print it off! We didn’t have a functional printer until we moved here since we didn’t want to spend the money. We patiently waited and found a really good deal during a Black Friday sale. So, if you plan ahead you can usually find a good deal. I didn’t include a link except to the one we have because which printer you select will be specific to your situation and computer. This is our printer.
Alright, that’s it! Those are some of my personal must have’s in our home school classroom! Like I said before, your must have’s might look a little different depending on your children and their ages. This is a good jumping off point for you to start the creative juices flowing! Remember, it doesn’t have to be meant for school use to use it for school!
What are your must have’s in your class rooms??