School Supplies Buying Guide

Back to school. So many emotions. So much to do. Without the right supplies, learning can be a challenge.  Luckily, shopping online during this hectic time may be more convenient than going to stores--no waiting in lines, no empty shelves, and more time to have fun with your kids before they head back to the daily grind.  If you don't like crowds and want discounts, another option besides shopping online is doing some school supplies shopping in the "off-season," either in the beginning of summer or in the middle of the school year.  In August and September, large office supply stores are not the only option for school supplies; try comparing prices at other stores, such as Walmart. If your child's school provides a checklist of recommended products, be sure to stick with that, but most large office supply stores have some checklists for classes and/or grades at local schools. Below is a roundup of some common back-to-school goods. Some supplies won't be needed til they're a few years into schooling (like graphing calculators and protractors) and others will be less important as the years go on (like construction paper and glue sticks).  Caveat: schools are a breeding ground for germs so don't forget to give your child a pack of tissues and some hand sanitizer. ----

Writing Utensils

It's not just No. 2 pencils anymore. The days of blackboards and placing an apple on the teacher's desk are fading into a vague memory. Kids now have a growing list of writing supplies: ballpoint pens, felt-tipped markers, pencils, highlighters, and mechanical pencils. Make sure your little one is well-stocked. Here are some common writing utensils needed in the modern classroom. 

Paper Goods

These days, being prepared for class demands far more than a folder full of loose leaf. You'll need some other essentials to facilitate the learning process and keep along the way. The standard spiral notebooks and marble notebooks are still necessary, but they are no longer simply red, blue, or black. Most companies offer stylish and colorful notebooks now, although beware: style comes at a price. The colorful notebooks are often double the price of the traditional black and white ones! Some products you may overlook but will most certainly need: * A book for jotting down homework assignments. * Graph paper for math class. * Index cards and a holder for them (grab the largest pack you can find if your child is taking any foreign language classes or learning vocab words!).

Organization Helpers

Teaching a child the importance of organization is no easy feat, but these products are excellent to help younger ones pick up the habit. * Textbook covers are usually required to prevent any damage to the covers. However, book covers are no longer folded paper bags from the grocery store; now they come in almost any color and pattern imaginable. * If your child has a locker, don't forget to stock up on locker shelves and other organizational equipment to him or her find that pesky science book in time for fourth period! Make sure you know the size of the locker before buying shelves. Some lockers are tall and skinny, while others are short and more square-shaped. Photo pockets are good for neat personalizing.


'''Quick Tip''': Invest in a quality classic item just once (a Swingline stapler, a Texas Instruments calculator, a Jansport backpack, etc.) and spend your money on supplies that need a yearly update--notebooks, writing tools, and planners.

Arts & Crafts Supplies

Whether it's art class or a special project that begs for an artistic touch, these products are important to have on hand, if you don't already. An art box will make it easier for storing and carrying supplies. Want some more ideas on art and crafts? Check out our Arts and Crafts Guide. ----

At-Home Must-Haves

A special project, a tough paper, the science fair--who knows when your kid will be thrown a curve ball? Be prepared for those late-night cram sessions and projects. ----

Electronics and Software

Technology is not just for adults anymore! Keep your kid up-to-date and educated on the latest technology. It's quickly evolving, and important to keep up with.

Backpacks and Totes

You've got the goods. Next up: How will your little one get them all there? Try these products below. Make sure the backpack is comfortable to wear and is the right size for the course load your child will have. Check out for information on safe backpack loads for children.

Related Guides