When it comes to homeschooling we all know that not much of it qualifies as easy. Worth it? Totally. Easy? Pick another job, please. But, there are a few things that I use in my homeschooling to make it easier; they really lighten my load. Some even make me geeky happy, and I am not one to keep happiness to myself. Especially since some are gift-able and with Christmas coming up (husband hint!) I wanted to share. Handy tip: the headers are affiliate links so you can check them out for yourselves.

Brother HL-2270DW Compact Laser Printer with Wireless Networking and Duplex

This was my Christmas present last year (bought by ME since Matt was deployed at the time — don’t you love getting what you really want?) and I love, love, love this printer. First of all, it is tiny — so it takes up a very small space in the school area. It is also a duplexing laser printer. That means it will print a large number of pages on the front and the back pretty quickly — all without me lifting even a finger.

And the pièce de résistance? It’s wireless! I connected it easily to my network with the push of two buttons, and it has been going strong ever since. I sit on the couch (or the porch, or the kitchen table, or the upstairs desk) with my laptop and print, print, print. Makes me happy.

JAM Classic Bluetooth Wireless Speaker

This little gem is invaluable in oh so many ways. We use it during morning time to play our memory work songs. We use it to broadcast Latin pronunciations and audio books. I use it co-op to play songs in my class. I use it when I cook dinner or fold laundry to listen to audio lectures for professional development. I use it when I want to pray along to the Divine Office.

It comes in cool colors (mine is the green one) and is small enough to fit in my hand, but has a rich, robust sound and plenty of volume — much more than just my iPod alone. I can move it about and as long as I keep my device within 30 feet of the speaker, it works great. Connecting the Bluetooth was super-easy — all I had to do was turn the Bluetooth on in my settings and detect the speaker and away it went. The speaker recharges by plugging it into the computer and works for about five hours before needing another charge.

Double Sided Dry Erase Lapboard

Another tool we use every day is our laptop whiteboards. We have the kind that are blank on one side and have primary lines on the other. The side with the lines we use for practicing handwriting. The whiteboard is larger than paper and using the fat markers makes learning letters more of a large motor than small motor kind of thing. This is handy with young learners who want to write, but can’t quite handle a pencil and small lines.

The blank side of the whiteboards we use for Math-U-See practice. Mr. Demme says to “Build it. Say it. Write it.” The blank side is where we do just that. I also use the blank side and a whole slew of colored dry-erase markers to stick figure our way through the Bible with our Grapevine Bible curriculum. We have two of these boards, which allows me to draw one and display it for the kids to copy while I read the next scripture passage and draw the next picture. That cuts down on, “Hey! I’m not done” and allows us to move along.

Sterilite Small Flip Top Storage Box

Ok, I said some of these were gift-able, but I just can’t leave these out. I bought the entire case of twelve, and we use them everywhere. We use them to keep our cards organized for All About Reading and All About Spelling. We use them to hold pieces to our learning games. We use them to store flash cards. They are all over the place, and without them my life would be much messier. Maybe they won’t go on your Christmas list, but you won’t be sorry for putting them to work at your house.

iPod

My preference is the iPod Touch because of all of the flexibility for homeschooling, but that one really deserves its own post. If you just want audio capabilities the Nano will do just fine, and in this post I want to focus on the ability to play audio for learning. Having an iPod allows you to use iTunes to build multiple playlists for managing memory work audio and songs. I play mine at home on the wireless speaker listed above or in the vehicle by connecting to my van’s stereo system with an auxiliary cable. (If your vehicle doesn’t have an auxiliary port, you could simply take that wireless speaker with you!)

In addition to all of our memory work and songs, we also use the iPod to listen to classical music for composer studies, listening to stories, and enjoying audio books. Many library systems allow you to check out audio books right from your own computer and there are a number of free resources for classics or kids’ stories online. And that is just the beginning. I also listen to podcasts and lectures for my own professional development and the entire family can pray using rosary downloads.

What about you? Is there anything besides pencil, paper, and books that makes your homeschool life easier?

Linking this up with Five Favorites over at Moxie Wife. Go check out more favorites!

Pam Barnhill

Pam Barnhill

Pam is the author of The Your Morning Basket Guide and Plan Your Year: Homeschool Planning for Purpose and Peace. She also is the host of three popular  podcasts -- The Homeschool Snapshots Podcast, Your Morning Basket, and The Homeschool Solutions Show. She lives in the Deep South with her husband and three kids, where she is the go-to lady for great curriculum recommendations or a just a pep talk on a rough day.
Pam Barnhill
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