As a brand-new homeschool mom two years ago, I have to say I geeked out a little over my first “me” purchase: a laminator. Nerd alert, right? But seriously, it’s one small gadget that I’ve used over and over and has been a huge help in my homeschooling.
So, when Kristen asked if I’d share some of my favorite techie gadgets — beyond the obvious laptop and tablet — that make homeschooling easier, I geeked out a little more. These are the devices that have saved my homeschool day more than once, or they’re on my “really, really want” list right now.
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I use my Amazon Basics laminator, which I got for less than $25, ALL THE TIME. I laminate flash cards, chore charts, and handwriting pages that my kids can use dry erase markers on. We laminate activity cards for my preschooler and recipes for my older kids who are learning to cook. I promise: if you buy this, you’ll find a reason to use it.
I have an old printer that sucks, and I never realized how frustrating it would be to run out of ink or paper during homeschool. When I need to make copies of their tests, and the printer doesn’t work—Ugh! So I’ve finally splurged on this Canon Megatank printer that will print 6,000 B&W pages and 7,700 color ones before it runs out of ink. That should be enough to last me a couple weeks, at least (haha). Bonus: this one also functions as a copier and fax machine, so you can send in all their paperwork to stay legal.
Updated to add: After posting this review, Epson generously sent me one of their EcoTank printers and I have to say, I love it. It has made my life so much easier. I’ve had it about three weeks, and I’ve printed at least 4 pieces of curriculum for my kids with it (because shipping is so slow right now, and I’m buying PDFs instead). I’m still in shock at how much ink is left even after all this printing—and being able to see the levels on the front of the machine is a huge help. Thanks, Epson!
I tend to buy a lot of PDF curriculum rather than printed books so that I can reuse them for each of my kids, but getting my local printshop to spiral bind them can get pricey. Pro tip: I often get The Homeschool Printing Company to do my printing and binding for me (they’re so affordable!), but now that I’ve got my super-fancy printer on the way (see above) I may invest in a comb binding machine to DIY my own workbooks at home. It’s about to get really real over here, y’all.
Can we talk about how happy label makers make me? Everything in its place, and a place for everything, right? I love this little Phomemo Bluetooth label maker because it’s adorable, and also because there are so many different types of labels it can print…from tiny labels to loop around your extra charging cables to stickers that identify which school supplies are in which bins — so your kids can find them on their own instead of asking you a million times.
Do not forget to get a heavy-duty classroom style electric pencil sharpener. You will need it.
It may not seem like a typical homeschool supply, but we use our Amazon Echo all the time. For a homeschool room, I’d recommend this 3rd Gen Echo Dot. The LED display can show the time, the outdoor temperature, or even be used as a timer — brilliant when you tell your kids to read a book or practice their multiplication tables for 30 minutes. Go! You can also play classical music during quiet work time, listen to a podcast, or ask Alexa your kids’ hard questions that you don’t know the answers to.
I keep running next door to borrow my neighbor’s paper cutter, and she’s probably getting annoyed by it. When it’s rainy outside, I know I am. If you’re the type of homeschooler who loves printable materials, uses lots of self-printed flashcards, or does unit studies where you’ll be creating new packets every few weeks, investing in a decent paper cutter makes a lot of sense.
If you don’t have a lot of room in your home for tons of textbooks and want to go mostly digital, getting your kids a Kindle is a good idea. This model is waterproof (hello, kids) and has 2x the storage of a basic Kindle. You can access books from your library without having to leave home, listen to Audible books, or download new books from Amazon without having to wait for shipping, and your kids will be more focused on reading the book than, say, browsing YouTube on their iPad.
And finally, may I suggest a really good coffeemaker so you can start your mornings off well. If this is your first time homeschooling you’re probably a bit excited and a bit overwhelmed, so just know that we’re here cheering you on and pouring that second cup of coffee with you.