Like many other homeschooling moms, I can be a stickler about the quality of supplies that we keep on hand. A cheap pencil is not cheap if it splinters in the pencil sharpener or if no one will use it because it feels like plastic. Likewise, if the storebrand ink refill cartridge that I purchased isn't really full, then it isn't a savings to me. So, I have learned to be a bit of a stickler when I look at school supplies! Here are some of my favorites:
A few years ago, armed with a coupon to a craft store, I made my first purchase of Prismacolor pencils. What a difference between these and what I would have bought from the school supply shelves! The colors are vivid, you can easily sharpen them to a point, and if your student has a favorite color that gets used to the point of being a nub, you can buy individual replacements at arts and craft stores without having to buy an entire set. These pencils are great for students taking their first serious art class as well as those folks who like to mark in their Bibles as they study.
So for those of you who would like to try some Prismacolors but don't have access to a craft store with good coupons, here is a link to a Prismacolor Rebate. The store coupon discounts are steeper, so that may be a better deal for your family if you have access to one of those stores. If you end up buying a lot of Prismacolor, you can use both the store coupon and the rebate!
For writing pencils, I really like Ticonderoga pencils. When I first heard about them, I had a hard time finding them, but as my corner of the world has had more development there are office supply stores nearby that carry them. So, what's so great about a Ticonderoga? First of all, the barrells are made of wood! Much easier to sharpen than pencils that are made out of composite materials. The leads are sturdy and can be sharpened to a crisp point, which means the math is so much easier to grade! The writing does not smear and can be erased completely, which is a bit different than some inexpensive pencils on the market today. You really can't have too many Ticonderoga's! I don't have a coupon for this one, but check the sales fliers and see if you can find a good deal at a back-to-school sale!
When my son was in a first grade classroom, he came home one day and announced that he wanted a "white eraser, one of the plastic ones." My response was "What??" I had never heard of such a thing! A pink Pearl was my eraser of choice when those at the end of the pencil wore down. His teacher had said that the "white erasers" don't make as many crumbs. So, the next time we were at the store, we headed to the office supply section and found this little gem.
There are several brands of these white erasers available, and they all seem to work the same, as far as I can tell. While I wouldn't say that they have no crumbs, they have far fewer than the traditonal pink erasers or the eraser at the end of the pencils. They also erase extremely well, leaving little, if any, trace of the writing on the page. I highly recommend them!
Now, a good ink pen is hard to find. If you have other people living in your house, say, a wonderful husband and some kids, then you know that a good pen is hard to keep as well! This past spring, I set out to see if I could solve this problem. As the only female in the house, I have well learned that pink, lavender and purple are not the colors preferred by others in the family. So I decided to search out the most feminine looking ball point pen that I could find. Now, not knowing what these pens were going to look like, I was attracted to their color - definately girly. In fact, the ones that I found have nifty printed designs on them. I took them home, opened the package, and found a wonderful ball point pen waiting for me! What? You ask, in that shocked tone of voice - the first girly pen you found was actually a good pen?? Yes, I am pleased to say, the SRX Style Ball Point Pen with Comfort Grip is easy to hold and writes a smooth, black line! They are made by MEGA, the same company that makes Rose Art supplies and are available at stores nationwide. Happy writing!
Lastly, but very importantly, it was recently brought to my attention that I have been leaving something critical off of my back to school shopping list. When I learned about it, it seemed so obvious that I felt foolish. How was I to know I could work this ever popular item into my homeschool budget? Well, now that I know, there's no stopping me! Just think of all of the varieties that will be available during the school year - milk chocolate, peanut, almond and mint, not to mention the seasonal colors that will be available! Finally a school supply expense that satisfies my desire for chocolate and cruncy things!! But, shhh, we're not telling the health food guru's - we don't want to weaken their resolve. Check it out: