Our kids just finished their first day of virtual learning and I know a lot of you are starting soon as well. Where I live we typically start school mid-August, but I know quite a few of your lucky ones don’t start until September! The last time I did homeschooling/distance learning was when I just had a 1st and 2nd grader. Now with a kindergartner, 3rd, 5th, and 6th grader… it’s a whole different ballgame and a whole lot more work! The key to not losing my mind today was to make sure that I was well prepared, so I wanted to share my Homeschool Supply Cart Setup with you. I want to do whatever I can to help other parents who are completely new to this whole homeschool/distance learning thing, because it can be so overwhelming if you’ve never done anything like it before.
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Before we start, let me be clear that “pinterest perfect” isn’t the goal here. A space where you can keep everything supply-oriented for school is the goal. Whether that’s a cart like I have, a big basket you can scoot around, an open bag with dividers, or even a cardboard box covered with some cute paper and stickers, you just need something functional. I’m going to let you know where I got everything I used, but please use what you have or stay within your budget!
The two keys are that it should be able to be moved around to where your kids are working (kids tend to float to the comfiest spot after a few weeks) and it needs to have extra space after you’ve filled it with all your supplies. Because you’ll always find something else that you need to add, and you don’t want to run out of space.
This isn’t a space for school books, workbooks, or electronics. Our schoolbooks and workbooks are on a bookshelf in our dining room, the printer on a shelf in the living room, and the laptops wherever I can find an available outlet. I highly recommend making sure that all of your supplies and books are in the same room/ space that your kids are learning in.
Homeschool Supply Cart Setup
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For the cart I used the Lexington 3 Tier Rolling Cart from Michael’s (affiliate link). These are on sale for $30 at least once a month, which is the cheapest price I’ve found on rolling carts. They’re easy to assemble, and come in a ton of cute colors. I have a toned down rose gold one for my office, but picked up this fun teal one for the school supplies.
I used my Cricut to cut out a “Supplies” label out of white vinyl. You can easily just print out a label, use letter stickers, or leave it plain. By the way, I know you’re curious, this font is called LemonChicken and it’s awesome. I picked up a basket at Target that matched the cart and was wide enough to hold folders and binders, and tucked that in the top section.
A couple of folders for each kid were put in to start, though we’re not sure if folders or binders will work best in the long run. Keep in mind that it’s important to be flexible, and that what you try at the start of the year may not work. Teachers constantly change their methods and organization to work best for their students, and so should you!
See these awesome pencil cups? I get these at Target in the office supply section for $5. You can totally make your own out of recycled cans or containers for older kids, or even let them make their own. However, I needed something that would hold up to a just turned 5 year old boy potentially turning it into a rocket ship. I picked up two of these and filled them with colored pencils, markers, crayons, pencils, dry erase markers, highlighters, glue, and tape. I set those in the top section as well.
Note: See how I only used the basic colors for the crayons and colored pencils? I did this for a reason. They have a whole other pencil and pen holder for fun coloring, but in their curriculum they often need to color things in primary colors or label and color maps. I did not want to have to hunt for a red colored pencil or a green crayon in 500 other coloring supplies when we needed one for a lesson. This way we have the basic colors at hand and ready to go at class time.
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In the space between the pencil cups I added a battery operated pencil sharpened I got off Amazon, and its worked pretty well with both regular and colored pencils. I also added in a handful of small sticker sheets. Smiley faces, stars, etc. I use these on my kindergarteners papers, and also for marking things like where his pointer finger should go on the computer mouse, and the space and return keys on the keyboard! If little ones know where to put their fingers, it makes learning how to use a computer so much easier.
That’s it for the initial top level of our homeschool supply cart. I decided to use the middle level to hold my math manipulatives and geography supplies. The bottom of a gift box was perfect to hold the ones snap cubes and tens rods. I left them in their bags for now since we probably won’t start using them for a few weeks into school.
Then I added in a world and state map, a globe, some 3-D shapes, sight words cards, and a three hole punch (don’t worry, it’s kid safe). There’s also room for things like a ruler, compass, protractor, calculators, etc as we progress through the year.
Here’s one of my magical sanity savers that I’ve used since my kids were little, even when they were in brick and mortar schools. A paper binder! It sounds weird, but it works! So, I just take a standard binder and label the spine with letter stickers. Fill it with wide ruled writing paper, grid paper (for math!) and add some plain printer paper in the pockets for school drawings. When the kids need paper for homework, or when their binders run low, I never need to dig through my office to find paper. This usually sits on their shelf with the coloring books, but now it’s going in the top section of the supply cart.
If you’ve ever been a teacher, know a teacher, or spent any time in the Target dollar spot in August, you’ve seen these! These are dry erase pockets, and they are magic if you have kids in the pre-K through 2nd grade age range. You can put anything you can print out in these, from letter writing to math practice sheets! I love using these instead of scratch paper during math classes to work out problems too.
On the bottom shelf I tucked a basket full of some of the art supplies sent with their curriculum. Things like tempera paints, brushes, oil pastels, and modeling clay. See the other half of the bottom shelf? Empty. Yes, empty. That way you have space for any supplies you find that you need later on!
Remember, your supply cart needs to work for you. So don’t hesitate to change things around or try something new. Just remember to corral smaller things in boxes inside the cart so everything stays organized instead of becoming a jumbled mess. It’s also a good idea to pick one day a week to neaten up the cart and refresh any supplies you’re low on.
Here’s my finished homeschool supply cart! And no, it did NOT look like this by the end of the first day of virtual learning! However, it did make the first day of teaching all my kids at home so much more manageable, and I never once had to hunt for a dry erase marker. That’s a major win in my book.
I hope this helps you put together your own Homeschool Supply Cart, and helps you to have a successful school year!