Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A Few of my Favorite Things

It’s almost back to school time here in VA. That means awesome sales on stuff we use all the time. Every year about this time, I get asked frequently what some of my favorites and must haves are for our homeschool preschool classroom. After years and years working in early childhood education I have found some standout products that we just love. And while everyone likes to save a few dollars, quality matters and will save you more in the long run. I have included direct links to products where I can. Just a note, they are NOT affiliate links. I do not receive and incentives or credit for sharing. 

Messy Trays by Lakeshore Learning

These are at the top of my must have list. We use them for EVERYTHING! Painting, cutting, play dough, tie dye, car trip lap tray, LEGO building, the list just goes on and on. I also stack them alternating directions for a quick drying station.

Nylon Bristle paint brushes by LakeshoreLearning

These things take a beating and then some! They wash out cleanly every time, no matter how long I forget to rinse them out. The bristles don’t fall out like natural brushes, and paint smoothly using a variety of mediums. They come in two sizes, we have both. I like the smaller ones for watercolor painting. 

My First Washable Markers by Crayola

Another top of the list must have in our house. These markers have a rounded tip which makes them perfect for toddlers and rough preschoolers alike. The rounded tips are very durable, as most young kids love to bang their markers down breaking pointed tips. I really wish they were available in more colors than just the classic 8 count pack.

Washable Paint

I have two favorites in this category- Crayola and Lakeshore. I go back and forth between what’s on sale or I have a coupon for. Crayola has smaller bottles of more colors available. Keep in mind, not all ‘washable’ paint is the same. Both Crayola and Lakeshore washable paints truly are washable. They wash cleanly off hands, out of clothes, and my shower walls. I use regular washable paint for finger painting no need for anything fancy.  

Construction Paper

Don’t get that “heavy weight” stuff from your local big box store, order from a reputable company like Lakeshore Learning or Discount School Supply. It is thicker, doesn’t fade as easily, and much much cheaper. Your craft projects and finger paintings will thank you. It is also available on Amazon, but it is slightly more expensive. 


Learning to cut is HARD! Even the littlest kids can succeed with these spring loaded scissors by Fiskars. They can be used with either hand in any direction. They are spring loaded and only open so far to help ease frustration. The package say 3+ years, but we started around 20-24mo introducing cutting. 

As they become more successful you can move up to these combo scissors that can flip between spring loaded and regular. The two toned handle helps teach proper hand placement. We do tons of free cutting. I keep all the scraps from projects in a bin and the kids love to just go nuts. Cutting skills are a great fine motor exercise and build hand writing skills, just don’t tell my 4yo that!

These pencils are seriously awesome. Even my tiny tots can hold them and write successfully. They are chunky, durable, and just right for little hands. Even when used roughly the lead tips do not break easily. Everyone loves a pretty sparkly fancy pencil, but the continuous breaking lead is frustrating for the child and me.

Sensory Table – Step2 Naturally Playful Sand Table

While not marketed as a sensory table, that’s what we use it for. It is a perfect height for small kids, big enough for several to play at once, and cleans up easily. I’ve put it in the shower stall for shaving cream and Jello play; outside with corn, oatmeal, or ice; inside we’ve filled it with pom poms, Easter grass and little eggs and used it as a free cutting center.

I’m sure this list will continue to grow as I think of more things to add. Please feel free to leave a comment with any questions or a product that you love!