Back to School Student Supply Box

12:37 PM


If you are anything like me, you are wanting to get life back to #normal. You probably want to get your classroom set-up and have your excited kids arrive. While I know there are a few areas around me that are bringing kids into their classrooms, this is an exception to the general rule. Either way, let me just say, you've got this.

To the teachers who are wearing masks and air high-fiving their kids, just keep swimming. You are the constant for these kids in this crazy time.

To the teachers who are meeting with kids via digital/hybrid, I take my hat off to you. Be confident. Know that you are supported. It will get easier.

To the teachers/mommas who have turned into home-educators ... This is a season. Embrace the time and challenges. What doesn't kill you WILL make you stronger. 

Let's dive in.

When school starts each year, a supply list is sent out. I've written a few of those in my day. They are mostly necessary for your child. Please, if it's on the list, just get it. This year is going to be hard on everyone, so let's help carry each other's burdens. 

As a homeschooled kid from k-12, private university graduate, and public school teacher, I've seen the trifecta of education. I am homeschooling my son officially this year. For elementary classrooms, here are my top 10 supplies that are needed for home and/or the classroom.

Top Ten Supplies

1. Ticonderoga Pencils
Yes, I am aware that these are "boring." Yes, I know that you won't find them in jazzed-up designs. Yes, I know they are more expensive. 


Have you ever used a pencil from the Target Dollar Spot? How about those adorable Mickey Mouse designed pencils from dollar tree? 

Let me paint the picture. They are from satan. No, really. They are cute until you use it and the eraser doesn't work, or more often the graphite breaks. I know, I know ... pencils break. But these little suckers seem to MOCK the owner by pretending to sharpen only to break again once used on paper. Oh, and don't get me started on plastic-coating that seems to jam even NASA-grade pencil sharpeners. Just. Don't.

2. Glue Sticks
What about bottles of glue? You mean the liquid that is supposed to be gently squeezed from its space with precision by a child who can barely tie their own shoes? Do you hate your child's teacher? 

There is a little chant told to children when using a glue bottle: "Dot, dot, not a lot."
However, when I child translates that, they seem to hear "Squeeze, squeeze, make a sea!"

Glue sticks will get the job done in most elementary classrooms. Just make sure you send a LOT. Once again, fine-motor skills are still forming and it isn't unheard of for a glue stick to be emptied in a week. Or lost. Or eaten (just keepin' it real.) 

3. Crayons
Brand matters

Crayola is the only way to go. There. I said it. It is NOT worth the $1.00 savings if you buy an off-brand of crayons. Half of them do not color well, which will frustrate your kid. The other half will stain anything it touches... 

4. Scissors
This isn't as tricky as the crayon debate, but it is important to follow the guidelines of your teacher. Please do NOT send adult scissors with your kids to school. These are not safe or easy for use. If you can, I do recommend the Fiskers brand. However, #DollarTree does sell self-opening scissors that will help your child if they need fine-motor support. They also sell 2-packs of scissors, which is what I bought when students needed supplies in my own classroom.

5. Dry-Erase Markers
Repeat after me, "I will only buy EXPO dry-erase markers." 

I know they are more expensive. Trust me, I know. As a teacher, I replaced hundreds of these for my students when their parents wouldn't do it for them. Why? 
  • They do not stain good boards if erased after use.
  • They come in lots of fun colors.
  • They do not destroy good boards.
Yes, off-brand markers stain. It takes FOREVER to clean it off, even with the marker spray. Usually, I would have to use an EXPO marker on top of the stain to erase the stains from my board. 

Think about these markers in the same way that I compared Crayola and Cra Z Art.

6. Composition Notebook
If your teacher asks for these, send them. THIS DOES NOT MEAN SPIRAL BOUND NOTEBOOKS. 

Yes, I know (once again) that they are "boring." Life is full of disappointments. Move on. 

Why do teachers ask for them? Here is what I have told parents:
  • These fit better into book boxes
  • They are sturdier
  • The pages do NOT fall out easily
  • The spirals do not become dangerous as the year continues
  • Some spiral notebooks are not appropriate in design (curse words, sexual images, etc.)
  • No one feels "odd" or "left-out" because they are uniform
  • They keep their covers longer
  • They can be cut in half to accommodate different uses
There really is a "method to our madness" as teachers. We don't ask because was are trying to make things difficult, we are actually trying to make it easier on everyone.

7. Eraser
Yep. It's true. A simple little piece of rubber is pivotal in the classroom. When kids are beginning their academic careers, they don't seem to want to make mistakes. When an error occurs, they want to remove it quickly. Eraser. 

Did you know that the quantity of eraser to the quantity of graphite is not equal? Especially when a child is a chewer... or they try to sharpen said eraser top in NASA-grade sharpener. Having this extra eraser is perfect. 

******Parent/Teacher Hack******
When you buy an eraser, cut it in half. Keep one at home for when your kid needs a "new one." No, they won't finish the rubber in the year, but they will most likely destroy the first half by Thanksgiving. 

8. Hand-Held Pencil Sharpener
Why? Isn't there a sharpener in the classroom? Well, usually, yes. However, after a week or so, the sharpener becomes to the classroom what a water-cooler is to an office. It's where stories are swapped and jokes are made. The problem is that it becomes the place for distraction. Teachers try to limit the use for various reasons - sharpening those horrible, plastic-coated, pencils, sharpening erasers, and breaking their NASA-grade pencil sharpeners which the teacher would have to pay to replace.

Get a good sharpener. If it is less than a dollar, buy a dozen because you will be replacing them frequently. 

9. Highlighters/Markers/Pens*
Before you buy these, *check with your teacher*. Some teachers like to have these in class for projects and paper publishing. It gives a great new medium to keep kids engaged. HOWEVER, if it is NOT ON THE LIST, do not send it to school. 

10. Pencil Box
This is a hard one for me. I hate the idea of spending $$$ on a box that will probably not survive the year. However, if you don't spend much $, the box will be destroyed within a month. Here are what I found to work best when buying a box for students:
  • Must have a flip-top lid that stays closed.
  • Must be able to fit all supplies (See above) within the box with the lid closed.
  • Must be durable - although, if you buy one from Dollar Tree, I would recommend buy 2 for when the first one breaks.
  • Must be small enough to fit into desk or book box.

So there you have it. These are the basic items needed for your kid's academic supplies. Did I miss anything? What would you add?

Drop a line below letting me know!

Until next time!

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