Homeschool Supplies & How to Use Them

Updated: Sep 30, 2021

Are you wondering, "What are the essential supplies for homeschooling? What's absolutely necessary and what's optional?" How do I use my homeschooling supplies to create a fun, engaging experience for my child?

At Thoughtful Play, we believe you don't need fancy manipulatives or expensive homeschool supplies. For Kindergarten and early elementary ages, there are some basic supplies that are ideal to have and then some materials that will make your life easier, but are not required in order to have a fantastic homeschooling year! There's no need to spend hundreds of dollars on homeschool supplies. What's more important is to have well planned activities and games that build children's knowledge through a strategic sequencing of skills.

If you're looking for a kindergarten curriculum that does this for you, take a look at Thoughtful Play. It's a high quality curriculum that is designed with parents in mind - doing the heavy lifting for you so that you can focus on the plethora of tasks that parents have to tackle each day.

Read on for a complete list of the homeschool supplies that we recommend for early elementary, including what's essential and what's optional. This list is informed by the types of supplies we use within our Thoughtful Play Kindergarten Curriculum. After the homeschool supply list, you'll find examples of the ways we use some of the materials. We hope this provides inspiration for your homeschooling year and opportunities to gain familiarity with the Thoughtful Play homeschooling approach for kindergarten (ages 4-6).

Thoughtful Play's Recommended List for Homeschool Supplies



  • Pencils

  • Pencil sharpener

  • White paper

  • Construction paper

  • Painter’s tape

  • Scissors

  • Dry erase board or plastic sleeves

  • Dry erase markers

  • Stapler


  • Balloons

  • Bean bag (something soft to toss)

  • Craft sticks

  • Highlighters

  • Index cards/Card stock

  • Packing tape (clear is great for "laminating")

  • Paper cups

  • Paper plates

  • Plastic eggs

  • Plastic sandwich baggies

  • Poster board

  • Sentence strips

  • Sharpie markers

  • Shaving cream

  • Sidewalk chalk

  • Sticky labels

  • Wide-lined paper for kindergartners



  • Letter tiles or letters written on index cards

  • Alphabet Chart - feel free to make this (upper & lower case letters)


  • Beginner reader books



  • Coins (pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters)

  • Deck of cards

  • UNO cards

  • Dice

  • Measuring tape/ruler/yardstick

  • Number pathway - feel free to make this (numbers in a continuous list, left to right)

  • Hundreds grid - feel free to make this


  • Unifix Cubes

  • Counting chips/counting objects (e.g., bears)

  • Dominos

  • Pattern blocks

  • Calculator

  • Math Games (e.g., Chutes & Ladders, SKYJO card game, Sum Swamp, Math Room)



  • Paints (water colors and washable kid's paint)

  • Paint brushes of various sizes

  • Markers (fat and skinny washable)

  • Colored pencils

  • Crayons (a set for drawing and a set for pulling wrapper off for rubbings)

  • Collage supplies (magazines, old cards, stickers, fabric)

  • Pipe cleaners

  • Glue (both gluesticks and white glue)


  • Coffee filters

  • Poster board (large white and small colorful card stock)

  • Tissue paper

  • Art easel paper (roll)

  • Sketch pads

  • Googly eyes

  • Pom poms

  • Molding clay

  • Glitter

  • Oil pastels

  • Dot markers



  • Baking soda

  • Vinegar

  • Ice cubes

  • Food coloring

  • Flashlight

  • Aluminum foil

  • Plastic Wrap

  • Ramps - can be made from pieces of cardboard or wood

  • Nature objects (rocks, dirt, seeds)

  • Empty plastic bottles

  • Cardboard boxes

  • Empty toilet paper or paper towel rolls


  • Magnifying glass/microscope

  • Sieve

  • Outdoor thermometer



  • Globe

  • World map


  • Compass


  • Flour

  • Salt

  • Cream of tartar

*Here is a fabulous homemade playdough recipe


Activities and Games from the Thoughtful Play Kindergarten Curriculum


Here's how you can use the above mentioned supplies and create meaningful, engaging activities for your child. Print these and try them out! Use them over and over for lots of joyful learning!

**Note: In these example activities, you can see how we use paper cups, balloons, Sharpies, index cards, highlighter, dry erase board/chalkboard, and letter tiles.

Activity: Carnival Cups

Materials: 3 paper cups, small token

Prep Ahead: Choose three letters of the alphabet that your child needs more practice with. Write one letter on the bottom of each paper cup. Hide a token underneath one of the cups.

  1. Let's play Carnival Cups!

  2. Move the cups around while your child watches. Invite your child to choose which cup is hiding the token by saying the letter name and the letter sound of the correct cup.

  3. Take turns hiding the token for each other. However, you can only “reveal” the token by naming the letter and the letter sound.

Activity: Balloon Freeze

Materials: Balloon for each player, Sharpie

  1. Prep Ahead: Blow up a balloon for each child. Write 4-5 letters around the balloon.

  2. Today we will play Balloon Freeze! Try to keep the balloon up in the air. When I say freeze, hold the balloon and say the letter name and sound that is closest to you.

  3. Tap the balloon in the air, and after 5-10 seconds call out “Freeze!” Have your child read the letter closest to them and make the sound of the letter. Play again by saying “Unfreeze!”

Activity: Find the Family

Materials: 7 Index cards, highlighter, pencil/marker

  1. Prep Ahead: Write the following words on separate index cards using a highlighter. Scatter around the house. (BAD, MAD, SAD, HAD, PAD, DAD, TAD)

  2. A word family is lost! I need your help finding all the family members! Once you find a word, use a pencil or marker to trace over the letters so it doesn’t get lost again!

  3. Invite your child to hunt for the different words. Help them to read each word once it is found. Allow them to decide if they want to find all the words first, and then trace each letter, or stop after finding each word and trace over the letters right away.

  4. Once all letters are found, ask your child if they can tell what all these words have in common. What word family do they belong to? (-AD)

Activity: Question of the Day

Materials: Paper/dry erase board/chalkboard, writing utensil

  1. Prep Ahead: Write the following question on your dry erase board or paper: “Is the sun hot?” Write the words YES and NO on index cards and tape to a wall nearby for reference.

  2. Support your child in reading the question. Provide them plenty of time to sound out the letters in the words or read it for them.

  3. Have them write the word ‘YES’ or ‘NO’ underneath the question. Then, invite them to write their name next to their answer.

Activity: Go Fish

Materials: Index cards, Sharpie

  1. Prep Ahead: Write the uppercase and lowercase letters of the alphabet on index cards, or print and cut out the Letter Cards template for both upper and lowercase letters. Shuffle the cards together and deal 5 cards to each player. Place the remaining cards facedown.

  2. Today we will play Go Fish. Your goal is to find a match with the letters in your hand. However, you will need to match the uppercase letters with the lowercase letters!

  3. Ask another player if they have a match for your letter. If not, “Go Fish” and pull a card from the facedown pile. The player with the most matches, once all cards are used, wins! Always replace matched cards with new cards from the draw pile until all cards are used.

  4. Support your child by having the uppercase and lowercase letters chart nearby.

Activity: Making Words

Materials: Letter cards or Letter tiles

  1. Let’s head to the Letter Laboratory and make words with L-blends! These words all have a beginning sound that blends with the letter L.

  2. The letter ingredients we need today are A, D, F, G, L, M, P, T, U. Place the letter cards or tiles in front of you.

  3. First, place the letter F and the letter L together. What sound does that make? (/fl/)

  4. Now, add two letters to that sound to spell the word ‘FLAT.’ Help your child identify the letters ‘A’ and T. Great!

  5. Swap out the letter T and add a new letter to spell the word ‘FLAP.'

  6. Let’s put all those letters back. Now, take the letter P and the letter L. What sound does that make when you put them together? (/pl/)

  7. Add the letters U and M to find a word that means a sweet, round fruit. (PLUM) Great!

  8. Let’s put those letters back and now put together G and L. What sound do those letters make when we blend them together? (/gl/)

  9. Add the letters ‘A’ and D to find another word that means happy. (GLAD)

  10. Encourage your child to think of any other words to make that have an L-blend. (e.g., slug, plop, glob, slim, sled, glum).


In these example activities, you can see how we use paper plates, Unifix cubes, Dominos, a deck of cards/UNO cards, dice, pennies, and index cards.

Activity: Making Towers

Materials: 10 paper plates, 45 Unifix cubes/LEGOs

  1. Prep Ahead: Write the numbers 0 to 9 on the 10 paper plates. Gather exactly 45 Unifix cubes.

  2. Today the challenge is to make different size towers using all 45 Unifix cubes and each tower needs to have a different number of “levels.”

  3. First, we need to put the plates in order from 0 to 9, then we can build towers on each plate!

  4. Hand your child the plates. Once the plates are in order, hand them the 45 Unifix cubes and work together to create towers with the correct number of levels (e.g., the plate with “5” should have 5 cubes together as a 5-cube tower).

  5. Extend to 12 towers.

  6. Save the “Numbered Paper Plates (0 to 9)” to use again.

Activity: Domino Line-Up

Materials: Number cards (1 to 9), Dominos

  1. Prep Ahead: Gather dominoes that have a total of 9 dots or fewer (both sides). Include a few distractors that have more than 9. Place all of these dominos facedown. Lay out the number cards 1 to 9 (index cards with numbers written with a Sharpie). Extend by using dominos and number cards up to 12.

  2. Let’s play Domino Line-Up! This is a game of speed! The goal is to find dominos to match with each number card 1 to 9. It’s okay to count, but it may take longer to do so. Try to visualize how many dots there are. This helps you complete the task more quickly.

  3. Set a timer for 2 minutes. Place a domino on each number card when you find them. Ready? Go!

Activity: Add Two & Do a Move

Materials: Deck of cards/UNO cards

  1. Prep Ahead: Use cards numbered 2 to 8 only. Shuffle and place them facedown in a pile.

  2. Today, we are going to add two more and do some fun movements! When we add 2, we're just counting-on 2 more from a number. Hold up your fingers to show 1, and then 2 fingers.

  3. Take turns drawing a card from the pile, count-on two more from that number and that’s how many moves you do! Select a move and call it out (e.g., jumping jacks, kicks, punches, twirls, hops, dance moves).

  4. Here’s an example: I draw a 7 from the pile. I count-on 8-9 and call out “sit-ups,” so we do 9 sit-ups!

  5. Extend by including cards up to 10 and add on three or four to each number.

Activity: Wishing Well

Materials: 100 pennies, large bowl, slotted spoon, water, towel

  1. Prep Ahead: Fill a large bowl with water and put a towel underneath. Put 100 pennies at the bottom of the “wishing well.” Have a slotted spoon nearby for scooping pennies.

  2. Let’s go to the wishing well! Our job is to take the pennies out of the wishing well and count them.

  3. Can you scoop out all of the pennies? Give your child time to scoop out the pennies.

  4. Math Talk: What’s the best way to count the pennies? Do we have to count them one by one, or can we group them together and count them by 5’s or 10’s?

  5. Support your child in counting different ways - by 1’s, by 5’s, by 10’s. See which way is the quickest.

Activity: Fishing for 10

Materials: UNO game, dice

Prep Ahead: Remove specialty cards from the UNO cards. Shuffle the remaining cards and spread cards facedown in a “pond.”

  1. Let’s Fish for 10! The goal is to make matches that are number pairs with a sum of 10.

  2. Take turns tossing a dice to determine how many cards you can select from the pile. Look at the cards and match up any number pairs that make 10. Place them beside you as “matches” and hold onto any cards that are unmatched.

  3. The winner is the player with the most matches once all the cards are used up!

Activity: Number Bonds 11 to 15

Materials: 5 index cards or paper, Sharpie, or dry erase board and dry erase marker

  1. Prep Ahead: On 5 separate index cards draw an upside-down V and put each number 11 to 15 at the top. Write 10 on the bottom left and an empty box on the bottom right.

  2. Today, we’re going to create number bonds to represent numbers 11 to 15! (Number bonds show ways we can put numbers together or separate them.)

  3. Start by handing your child the number bond with 11. What number is missing?

  4. Math Talk: How did you know how many ones to write?

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