Must-Have Homeschool Supplies List

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There are so many different doodahs and gadgets out in the world, it’s hard to know what you really need. I’ve narrowed this homeschool supplies list to include our time-tested favorites for home learning.

green composition book with a box of crayons and pencils

Are you ready to tackle the school year? Ready to do distance learning or full-blown homeschool or some combination thereof?

Do you have what it takes?

I don’t mean stamina, patience, and a nightly glass of wine. Though, those items do help. I’m talking about school supplies. 

Does your school supply cabinet overflow? Are you at a loss at what to buy? Do you wish there was a magic checklist that loaded you up with what you need to teach your kids at home?

It’s gonna be okay. Trust me. I’ve been teaching my kids at home for 18 years now. #igotyou

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t really need a ton of gadgets and doodahs to supply your homeschool. This homeschool supplies list that I’m sharing today is pretty simple, not terribly expensive, and won through much blood, sweat, and tears.

Also an innumerable number of junky electric pencil sharpeners.

student planner with yellow pencils

Homeschool Supplies List

The following are items that we use almost on a regular basis to encourage learning at home and to help the mother stay calm and with-it.

Pro tip: Both those qualities are important for a mom teaching kids at home.

Student Planners

Just like their parents, our kids need a way to track their assignments and manage their responsibilities. Teach them to do this as soon as they can write and you will have done yourself a huge favor.

For the past couple years, my kids have been using the Print & Go Student Planner

This printable planner (your purchase allows you license to print one for each kid in the family) provides ample space for daily to-do lists, weekly checklists, and weekly schedules. There are also goal setting pages and space to create a paper vision board.

Planners work particularly well for the student with online classes (like mine) for whom the assignments are doled out by a teacher outside the home.

If you’re writing the assignments, then I recommend the following:

Homeschool Assignment Binders | Life as MOM

Homeschool Assignment Binders

By far and away, when I was teaching all my kids classes, our homeschool assignment binders were the best things to keep me/us/them on track this year. I don’t think we could have weathered weeks of chaos when I had poor health very well when I was messaging doctors, waiting on hold with insurance companies, or getting blood tests.

The fact that I had every assignment written down for every kid for the whole year saved my bacon. The older kids know exactly what to do next while I know where to pick up the pieces with the littles ones.

Once my health crisis had passed, it was a great tool for keeping us on track.

black covered planner with pens stickers and post-its

Post-it Notes

Post-it Notes work incredibly well for us as a communication tool and the occasional bookmark. Once I go over the day’s assignments in a child’s binder or planner, I write down on a 3-inch Post-it the things that he is missing or what he needs to do tomorrow. They are an easy at-a-glance communication tool.

We also use them in all shapes and sizes to mark pages in textbooks, novels, and assignment pages.

What did we do before sticky notes?!

Basic Office Supplies

What are office supplies doing on a school supplies list? A lot of what we use is the same as you’d use in your office, so look for sales all year round, not just back-to-school.

  • Lots of pencils – I used to swear by Ticonderoga but last year they failed us major big time. We’ve now moved to mechanical pencils.
  • White erasers because they don’t smear as well as those end of the pencil ones, out of duress.
  • Clipboards for on-the-go writing
  • Expandable folders for storing school records
  • Wite-Out for when someone messes up in ink
  • More rulers than one could ever use in a lifetime
  • Pens for mom and older kids
  • copious amounts of copy paper and ruled paper

metal pencil sharpener attached to table

Old School Pencil Sharpener

I don’t know how many electric pencil sharpeners that we’ve burned through over the years. I lost count at three. Or was it four?

Five years ago, we ordered the old school kind that you attach to a wall or table. This baby is still going strong.

Art Supplies

After years of stocking stuff that the kids never used, I learned that less is more. Don’t go too crazy with the art supplies!

These are super helpful

  • markers
  • crayons – sorted and reused from last year
  • Sketch books for each child
  • old magazines for collages
  • colored construction paper
  • stickers for embellishing planners

both playing with math manipulative

Math Manipulatives

We’ve been using most of the same set of math manipulatives for 14 years. Not only do they make math more fun, but the kids have always liked to play with them, just because, thus the repurchase of the teddy bear counters. We no longer have a full set of linking cubes and someone stole all the tan pattern blocks for nefarious purposes (I’m sure).

But, we’ll just squeak by through 2nd and 3rd grades with what we have. Two years after I bought a new balance, we found the missing piece to the old one. I’m sure that in five years linking cubes and tan parallelograms will start seeping out of the walls.

stack of children's chapter books

Library Card

I have saved so much money using the library for our school books!

I do buy some books, like the regularly used curriculum books and books required for high school courses where specific editions are needed.

However, most of our pleasure reading, history supplements, and read alouds have come from the library.

The flip side of this arrangement is that the library is not entirely free. Thank you, good tax payers.

Additionally, we pay a fair amount of money in fines every year. $81.04 in one year alone. Ahem. I’m sure we got our $81.04-worth, but still.

I’ve now programmed into my phone library due dates. Oy.

However, digital library books automatically disappear when your checkout time is expired. As our local library’s OverDrive collection expands, my library fines will diminish. Hallelujah. Speaking of which….

pink kindle on stack of school books


In order to make digital check-outs easy, the kids each have their own Kindle for homeschool. I love it that everyone can read the same book at the same time!

We used Kindle Unlimited for a time, but have since put that on hold. It didn’t pencil out for us. However, if you read more than $10-worth per month or have more than $10-worth of library fines, it may be worth if for you!

Since I bought history and literature books for my teens this year, I bought some books on Kindle because they were cheaper or because I knew we’d both need to read it at the same time.

I love the easy portability and big storage. Watch for sales at Christmas or on Prime Day! I bought each kid a Fire 7 for $33 each several years ago. They are the bare bones model with special offers and work great for our purposes.


This is the homeschool supplies list that I draw from each year. These items have proved their worth over the years.

What makes your homeschool supplies list?

This post was originally published on August 30, 2015. It has been updated for content, clarity, and COVID.

pinnable image for homeschool supplies list

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  1. “I’m sure that in five years linking cubes and tan parallelograms will start seeping out of the walls.”

    Thanks for the laugh! So, so true.

  2. We’ve pretty much moved to mechanical pencils exclusively around here. So I stock up on those in the summer.

    Can’t live without post it flags and Excel. I do all my planning and assignment sheets in excel.

    I let the kids each pick out a new folder each year. We keep the week’s work in it. They can choose whatever they want even if it’s not on sale or one of the cheap ones. It’s an inexpensive way to let them express themselves and let’s face it, back to homeschool doesn’t have a lot of excitement going for it

      1. My youngest is 12 so we’re not talking about little kids. The boys like a sharp point and don’t like using the pencil sharpener so they haven’t abused the mechanical pencils

  3. Our school supply list is pretty similar. Pencil sharpeners (and sharpening pencils) drive me crazy! We’ve tried the mechanical pencils, but they don’t work well for my kids. We’ve worn out several battery operated ones, and are always using the little handheld ones until they wear out. We had one that was “old-school” style. We have worn that one out, too (but we did get it used, so maybe it is just time for an update.)
    I agree with the Kindle books. I try to use those where I can, and audiobooks for some of our read-alouds. It’s easier to carry them around, and we have to be portable for school.

  4. I meant to add that the other thing I’ve done with our school supplies is color code where possible. With only 3 children, that’s not too hard. It makes organizing and keeping track of supplies easier. And it cuts down on decisions when buying them. I can get overwhelmed with too many choices. Now I know to stick to the basics, and buy my 3 colors.