It’s that time of year again! Back to school shopping is in full force. Here’s a list of school supplies we use in our homeschool to help you get started.
Last year was our first year homeschooling, and the lack of a school supply list really threw me off while back to school shopping. I’m so used to being handed a list that I kind of didn’t know what to do! Do I still go on the hunt for that stupid yellow folder with brads and pockets?
So, I did what any sane homeschooling mom would do. I turned to Pinterest in search of a school supply list.
By comparing the lists I found online and the list for our local public school, I was pretty proud of my haul, and I was certainly prepared.
Over prepared, if I’m totally honest.
I spent a lot of money on things we didn’t end up using last year, so this year, I’ll be a lot more frugal.
Need a list of basics to help you get started? Here’s my back to school shopping list for our homeschool.
School Supply Shopping Tips
I want to preface this post by saying we’re all different. What I need in my homeschool could be totally different than what you need. It’s important to evaluate your own needs when putting together your list.
For example, the curriculum we use is literature based. We read a lot of books, talk about them, write about them, and do projects based on them. Most of our work is done on paper and requires things like pencils, art supplies, notebooks, and glue sticks. But, if you are using an online curriculum, you’ll most likely need less of that. On the other hand, you will need a computer, which is something that is considered a bonus in our house.
So, before you start shopping, ask yourself these questions:
- Do you plan to do a lot of nature study?
- Are crafts going to be a big part of your day?
- Is your curriculum online or on paper?
- Do you need to print of a lot of worksheets every week?
- Does your state require you to turn in grades or work done?
Homeschool Supply List Ideas
Now that you have a basic idea of how your homeschool will run this year, you can start building a list. I’m no expert, but after a year of homeschooling both kids, I feel like I have a good grasp on what we actually needed and what we ended up wasting money on.
I’ll split this up by category so you know what you can disregard and what might be helpful in your own homeschool.
Our favorite supplies for nature study:
One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we get to incorporate nature study into our weekly lessons. We spend a lot of time outdoors exploring, and I’d venture to say it’s my 5 year old’s favorite lesson.
We put together little nature packs to make nature study easier. Ours include:
- reusable water bottle
- sketch pad
- colored pencils
- magnifying glass
- binoculars: we really like these for the kids
- these bags (for collecting treasures on our walks)
- local field guides (I get mine at the register at the grocery store)
- dry erase markers
Our favorite art and craft supplies:
We don’t have an actual art curriculum, so we just kind of wing it. If you have a formal curriculum, you probably already have a supply list. Here, I’ll share some of our most-used supplies. We have this book, which has some pretty cool art lessons in it, but I also scour Pinterest for ideas and tutorials regularly. If you aren’t sure how to incorporate art into your homeschool, I found this post really helpful.
I want to point out that it’s easy to stick with cheap supplies since they’re for kids, but we get try to get good supplies because they just produce much better results.
- Mixed Media Pad (I’d love to keep an assortment of papers on hand for different media, but this is a great “one size fits all” option for our homeschool)
- Oil Pastels: these are similar to crayons in a way, but way more vibrant and versatile
- Colored Pencils: trust me, they’re not all the same. Really good quality colored pencils are worth the extra money.
- Canvas Panels
- Paint brush assortment
- Watercolor Set: We like to hit up the paint section of Hobby Lobby or Michael’s when they have a sale and stock up then.
- Acrylic Paints
- Air dry clay (we tend to stick with white and then paint our creations)
- A drawing set (art pencils just offer better results than basic writing pencils)
- Black Sharpies: we like to use these in our art, especially the fine tipped ones for outlining!
Of course, you’ll also need some basic supplies for any homeschool. Last year, this is where I overdid it, and I ended up with a lot of extra. The good news is, this year we don’t have to buy much! If you’re coming from a traditional school setting (or comparing your list to a local school), remember that they have you buy extra. In a group setting of 20 kids, things go missing a lot easier than they will in your home.
Our school supply list looks like this:
- 1-2 packs of Ticonderoga pencils, depending on how many kids will be using them
- 1-2 packs of Crayola crayons
- 1 pair of age-appropriate scissors
- a good pencil sharpener
- rulers for each kid (I like the wood ones because they’re really sturdy)
- Notebook paper, spiral notebooks, or composition books (this year I’ll be getting wide ruled for my kindergartener and regular for my 5th grader)
- 1-2 packs of colored pencils/map pencils
- a map of the US and the world (we like these scrunch maps)
- Folders with pockets
- File folders (if you plan to make lap books)
- 1 pack of construction paper
- Get a huge pack of glue sticks. I tend to go through these the fastest!
- 1-2 bottles of Elmer’s glue
- Printer paper
- Post-it Notes
- 3 hole punch
- Stapler & Staples
- Pink erasers
Our favorite organizational supplies:
Some of the supplies I use for keeping our year organized are:
- Individual pencil boxes
- Storage bins: Check out this post for some ideas.
- A planner or bullet journal
- Paper Trays
- A craft cart (optional, but it’s on my wish list for being able to move our supplies from room to room)
Finally Done Back to School Shopping
Last year, the idea of back to school shopping really stressed me out, because it was totally up to me to choose what to buy. I love school supplies and shopping, so I knew I could easily overspend if I wasn’t careful.
I chose to use the local school supply list, plus a few blog posts I’d found from other homeschoolers, as a guide. Unfortunately, that caused me to overbuy by a lot.
This year, we’re sticking to what we know we’ll use. Hopefully, this list helps you decide what you need to buy as well. Like I said, everyone’s needs will be different (which is why this is so hard!), but once you evaluate how you plan to run your homeschool, you’ll have a much better idea of what you’ll need.
Be sure to go through the questions at the beginning of this post, and use them to write your own list as well!
Find more thoughts on homeschooling and motherhood:
- Why I Don’t Understand Modern Mom Culture
- 5 Things Not to Say to a New Homeschool Mom
- From Public School to Homeschool: Our Reasons Behind the Switch
- How I Use a Bullet Journal for Homeschool Planning