Monday, August 25, 2014

Save $$ on Back-to-School Supplies at OfficeMax and Office Depot + 5 Organizational Tips for Homeschooling Families #InspireStudents #TeachersChangeLives #PMedia #ad

Disclosure: This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Office Depot, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #inspirestudents - Office Supplies, Furniture, Technology & More!
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What were you doing this past weekend?  My family and I were running around doing last minute school clothes and supply shopping for Savannah and my niece and nephew.  I still can't believe that Savannah will be starting preschool right after Labor Day, and that we will also be starting our homeschooling journey with Bella and Savannah.  Whether you are homeschooling your child(ren), or heading to the store to pick up items on their school issued back to school supply list, you will find that these must have items add up. Well, if you are teacher or know someone who is, then you probably know that many teachers' school budgets don't include a large expensive budget for classroom supplies for each new school year.

Many teachers have to get creative when it comes to reusing and recycling things for the incoming new classes, or have to ask parents to pick up supplies for their children, to help curb their own out-of-pocket expenses. And, the same is true when you homeschool, as families find that they drop down from a two-income household to 1, so that one parent can stay home and homeschool their children.  Because of limited funds, parents, too, have to be creative or shop with savings/deals in mind.

I have a few high school friends who are elementary and middle school teachers, and was shocked when we recently got together to catch up and they told me they spend around $1000 in out-of-pocket expenses for each school year, which is never reimbursed to them.  If they don't make these purchases, then it would be a struggle to teach the kids the curriculums they have set up, and to have enough supplies on hand for each student.

In past posts, I have shared how I am planning to homeschool the girls.  This is still the plan, but after talking with my husband, we thought it would be a good idea to enroll Savannah into a local preschool program that meets for 3 hours, Monday-Wed., to expose her to other children, and let her develop the necessary social skills that she would be limited to with homeschooling.

After attending a recent homeschooling conference and having met in person and online the past few months with other homeschooling families, I have learned that homeschooling is also a commitment, especially on the parents part, and that you need to be well organized if you plan to homeschool.  You have to document everything your child does, make sure you meet standards and curriculum requirements based on their grade levels, and even share a portfolio at the end of the year to demonstrate what your child has learned. Homeschooling is time consuming, but can be less stressful and fun if you and your child(ren) develop good time management and organizational skills from the start.

Planning to homeschool your child?  Here are some tips that were shared with me and that have helped those I have talked to that have chosen to homeschool.  I will definitely be using these tips as I journey into homeschooling for the first time with my girls this fall.

5 Tips to Stay Organized When Homeschooling

1.   Bookshelves will become your best friend -- Bookshelves are not just for books.  Instead, use bookshelves to organize lesson plans and books that go with each, as well as plastic storage bins containing arts and crafts supplies and more.  And, if you are homeschooling, bookshelves are great to keep each month's lessons and your child's work for their year-end portfolios organized.  If you have to reference something or look something up, you will not have to search high and low for a particular folder, as it will be front in center in a designated bookcase you can mark with wipe off labels.

Bookshelves are also great if you are limited on space, as you can put a few in your child's room or designated school space, while keeping everything neat and clean.

2.  Use hallway walls and windows as learning spaces -- Hang world maps, weekly schedules, calendars and more on hallway walls, on the inside and outside of closet doors, etc.  These extra spaces which can turn into an extended classroom or reference area by day, and then be taken down if needed.  

As for windows, why not pick up Expo Neon Window Markers and let kids practice their letters, numbers, math problems, creative drawing or brainstorming ideas for a school project on the glass.  Kid will love this unexpected writing surface, and you don't have to worry about it staying permanent, as it wipes off with a dry eraser or wet paper towel.  

I have been working on letter recognition, and having them trace letters and numbers on the window with the help of the Expo Neon Window Markers, which I picked up at OfficeMax on Saturday.  We had a talk prior to using how these markers are just for the windows and not walls, etc.  And, once the girls understood this, yesterday afternoon flew by, as they didn't want to leave the bay window, as they were having a blast doodling and practicing their letters. :-)

3.  Use Colored Metal Cups to store supplies like markers, pens, pencils, scissors, etc. --  When not being used, they can be stored away on a shelf, or pulled out and left on a desk during learning time.  Your child will not have to interrupt you to ask for a writing utensil, nor will you have to search for where you left the spare school supplies.  By having cups already filled with writing supplies, etc., it will make staying organized and keeping track of when you run low on school supplies that much easier.

Look at these cups we will filled with school supplies bought at OfficeMax on Saturday --

Not only will I be keeping some for the girls' desks in their new homeschool classroom, but I will also send some in to their teachers.

4. Create mobile classrooms throughout the house -- Have stereo system in the family room?  Why not create small music class nook with a container of musical instruments, song books, etc, that you can slide under the coffee table or couch, or put in the tv stand or other storage space.  Kids will love moving from room to room to learn, and you will not have to clutter your classroom with another music space if you have one set up elsewhere in the house.  Look at the different areas in your house and see what you have in each, and how you can create a lesson plan or activity around what is included in each.  Then, with the use of nearby hall closet space, roll-around tiered storage bins, etc. you can re-purpose your spaces. 

5. Keep everyone organized with a chalkboard wall sticker.  Most families find themselves gathering in the kitchen for a meal or before they run out to school or for an errand.  Why not add a peel off chalkboard sticker to keep track of the day's list of activities for everyone in the house, so everyone is in the know.  From sports practice and games to after school clubs and meetings, chalkboard areas are great for keeping everyone informed of places you all need to be or things that have to get done.  Or, if you are homeschooling, chalkboard wall stickers would be perfect to list out the goals of lessons planned for the day.  Kids love checking off each accomplishments, and it is a great way to keep track of what was done and what is still outstanding.  You can even turn this space into a chore area for kids to teach them about responsibility, and have a spot where you can switch up their tasks without worrying about loose papers or oversized calendars that take up way too much space.


While I am still working on last minute setup of our new homeschooling classroom, I can say that I am finally done with picking up supplies for both our homeschooling classroom, and the preschool necessities for Savannah's first day, as well as my everything needed on my niece and nephew's back to school supply list, thanks to a trip to OfficeMax this past Saturday.  

When it comes to picking up supplies for back to school, I only have to shop one store, as OfficeMax carries everything, and more, while also offering amazing deals and savings.  

I love being able to leave the store with everything checked off on my kids' back-to-school supply lists, while also having money left in my pocket.  :-)  

I love not having to run around to different stores price checking or in search of certain brands, as OfficeMax carries all the top brands like Newell Rubbermaid and their popular lines - PaperMate, Expo Neon Window Markers, Sharpie, Uni-Ball and even Mr. Sketch.

After hearing how my friends buy supplies for their students, as many can't afford them, I took advantage of some great savings and deals this past weekend while shopping at OfficeMax and was able to buy enough supplies for both my niece and nephew's classes, which have 16 students in each.  When we got home and started to go through our goody bag of supplies, I loved seeing the kids get excited about returning back to school so that they could hand out these containers full of highlighters, pens, markers, etc. to the class, so that everyone has what they need for a brand new school year.  They are learning the valuable lesson of giving and helping others, without expecting anything in return, while also staying organized with these cute metal storage cups, which will fit nicely on each child's desk.  I even made up a few cups for the girls' desks, and my teacher desk, in our new homeschooling room, which will hopefully be done the end of this week.  Stay tuned for before and after photos! :-)

So, if you are homeschooling your children or they are returning to public or private school in the coming days/weeks, don't go crazy driving all over creation to get last minute school supply items for their first day of school.  Instead, head to your local OfficeMax or Office Depot, and take advantage of their great back to school pricing and savings.  Who knows, maybe you will find yourself inclined to pick up extra supplies to send in with your child, to help offset the expenses their teachers will be incurring with out of pocket school supply purchases.  

Your child's teachers will be forever grateful for your donation, as will be the kids who will receive these much needed school supplies, who otherwise couldn't afford them. Office Depot and OfficeMax stores are also great one-stop shopping stores for homeschooling parents like myself looking to set up a in-house classroom or buy supplies and organization supplies to make homeschooling easier and fun.


From now until August 30th, OfficeMax and Office Depot stores are offering the following deals/savings (*While Supplies Last) that you don't want to miss out on --- 

  • Select PaperMate Flair 4pk’s are only $4 a pack
  • Sharpie 12CT Asst Fine & Ultra Fine Asst: packs are only $6 each 
  • Sharpie Dozen Box Black Fine & Ultra Fine are only $6 a box
  • Save $5 Off your purchase of $20 or more on Select Newell Rubbermaid Brands (PaperMate, Expo Neon Window Markers, Sharpie, Uni-Ball, & Mr. Sketch)

And, if you aren't already, make sure you sign up for the Office Depot Rewards loyalty program, which will get you 10% back in rewards points on ink, toner, paper and copy/print/ship services, 200 points for recycling ink and toner cartridges and an additional 5% back in reward points when you reach Choice Member status, just to name a few. And, for every 1000 points you earn, you will receive a $10 rewards certificate to use on anything you want. Not bad! :-) 

Don't forget to follow Office Depot on their social media channels to stay up-to-date on special in-store offers and promotions and more...


  1. I didn't realize how much a teacher spends each year and do try to send extra things when I can with my kids. I know they especially use a lot of tissues and items like that so watching for sales and buying and sending with my kids I do like to do.

  2. Great tips and great offers thank you for sharing. I love the idea of using the windows like that so creative. I love back to school shopping I love all the great deals on supplies. I usually end up getting a lot supplies for myself like this year I really need new pens and a calculator.