Starting school can be a stressful time no matter what age your child is or what grade he or she is entering. However, for a child going to school for the first time, the jitters may be even more intense, considering the completely new territory ahead. And that goes for mama too!
Since they can’t stay babies forever, attending school—be it pre K, kindergarten or first grade—is inevitable. While starting school may give you both butterflies in your tummies, equipping your new student with everything needed is often the best plan attack. And there’s a school supplies list just for that!
Best Places to Buy School Supplies
Shopping from a back to school supplies list doesn’t have to be complicated. Most items are available from one or two locations and many—if not all—can be purchased online without ever having to fight the back to school supplies shopping crowd.
Still not sure where to begin? Consider the following vendors for where to buy school supplies. Each offer inexpensive, colorful and fun options. All back to school supplies are available for purchase online, and many can be found at a retail location too.
- US School Supply (best for buying school items in bulk or larger quantities)
- eBay.com (items both used and new can be found often at lower rates than retail)
- Michaels (best for craft- and art-related supplies)
- Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft (best for craft- and art-related supplies)
- Oriental Trading (best for buying school items in bulk or larger quantities)
- Big Lots
Back to School Checklist
The school supplies list for pre K through first grade may vary a bit, but in general the items for each level are fairly similar. Check with your school for an exact school supplies list, but expect to be presented with a back to school checklist that resembles the following.
- Colored pencils
- Pencil sharpener (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Pencil grips (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Paper (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Folders (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Notebook (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Dry-erase markers (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Scissors (for kindergarten or first grade)
- Construction paper
- Pencil bag or box
- Lunch bag
- Water bottle
- Hand sanitizers
- Rest mat (for pre K and/or kindergarten)
School Supplies List by Product
Now that you’re armed with a checklist, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by tackling a shopping list that rivals the length of your holiday gift list. But you’ve got this. Consider us your helper elves, as we’ve scoured the stores to find must-have items on your school supplies list, all without busting your budget.
Be it at home or in the classroom, you can never have too many pencils—and these writing tools come with a pick-me-up too, featuring motivational messages like "Be Younique," "Shine Bright," "Love Being Me" and "Show Your True Colors." Just the right words to grow the confidence of your new student.
Oriental Trading Be You Pencils, $4.50 (24 count), Orientaltrading.com
Help your student add some color to their school day with this set of 24 colored pencils that are smooth to use and hold up well to the grip of little artists.
Crayola Colored Pencils, $6.99 (24 count), Joann.com
Mistakes happen! Which is why an eraser is an essential item on the school supplies list. Skip the classic pink and opt for this poppy pair of square erasers with an upbeat “Let’s try it again” message.
Yoobi Square Erasers, $1.99 (two count), Target.com
The rule for school: the bigger the better! Tiny sharpeners may seem the right size for tiny hands, but this slightly larger size is actually easier for them to grip. Plus, it’s got a built-in feature that prevents over-sharpening with settings that allow for tips from blunt to pointed. But wait, there’s more! It’s also compatible with those colored pencils that tiny tots prefer.
Bostitch Twist-n-Sharp Pencil Sharpener, $5.98, Amazon.com
When learning to write, gripping a pencil can be a tricky. Reduce the learning curve with these easily attachable ergonomic grips in metallic colors that work for righties or lefties.
The Pencil Grip Crossover Grip Ergonomic Writing Grip, $10.99 (six count), Amazon.com
Wide-ruled spacing is typically the preferred paper choice for students just starting to write. Pick this pack for sheets sure to last you through the school year and beyond.
TOPS Filler Paper Wide Ruled, $1.99 (175 sheets), Target.com
Second to new school clothes, picking out school folders is what allows a student to let his or her personality shine. Add these fun, colorful, patterned folders to your school supplies list.
Mead 2-Pocket Folders, $11.95 (six pack), Amazon.com
Who doesn’t love a good notebook. Start your kid’s school year off right with these single-subject Mead classics. Likely the first of many notebooks to fill your child’s backpack, this one features wide-ruled pages and a bold and bright cover.
Mead Wide-Ruled Spiral Notebook, $0.59 (70 pages), Target.com
Art projects, worksheets and busy creative time will be all the more bright with this classic pack of Crayola boxed crayons in every color of the rainbow and then some.
Crayola Boxed Crayons, $2 (24 count), Michaels.com
Markers can get messy fast in the hands of mini creative geniuses. So when it’s time to unleash your child’s inner artist, these tried and true Crayola washable markers are always the way to go.
Crayola Markers Washable Markers, $5.79 (12 count), Target.com
You might think dry-erase markers are for the meeting room, but they’re regularly used in the classroom too, where whiteboards have replaced old-school chalkboards. Your back to school supplies list may include dry-erase markers for use by the teachers, by the students or by both. Whoever is holding them, choose this low-odor marker to keep the classroom air clear.
Expo Low Odor Dry-Erase Markers, $7.53 (eight count), Amazon.com
Sharpen your child’s cutting skills by putting these kid-ready safety scissors into their small hands. This two-pack offers a pint-sized pair that’s perfect for any cutting task.
Fiskars Schoolworks Kids Pointed Scissors, $2.49 (two pack), Joann.com
Easy to cut, fold and turn into miniature works of art, this pack of colorful construction paper is sure to lead to a school year’s worth of gorgeous refrigerator art.
Crayola Construction Paper, $3.99 (96 sheets), Crayola, Michaels.com
Sticky stuff and children don’t always make for a good combination—at least not a clean one. But glue is needed for crafts and school projects of all kinds, which is why this washable classic is a strong bet.
Elmer's Washable School Glue, $2 (4 oz.), Michaels.com
One of dad’s oversized shirts can make for a DIY smock, but for something that fits a bit better and still protects your child’s clothes, send him to school with a washable art smock sized just right for your little artist.
KinderMat Art Smock, $6.95, Target.com
This pencil case fashioned as a silly monster is sure to scare off anyone from making off with your new student’s pencils, markers and other small school supplies.
ZIPIT Beast Box Hard Shell Pencil/Storage Box, $9.99, Amazon.com
Insulated, easy-to-clean and super-cute, Skip Hop’s classic lunch bag—which comes in a variety of inspired animal designs, like this friendly raccoon—is a must-have for any new student.
Skip Hop Zoo Lunchie Insulated Raccoon Lunch Bag, Target.com
Talk about monster madness! This classic black backpack gets a wild pop of color with it’s bright and friendly monster design, and offers plenty of room for books, notebooks and other school supplies. If monsters aren’t your kid’s thing, there are 16 other designs to add to your school supplies list.
Olive Kids Monsters Pack ‘n Snack Backpack, $27.99, Amazon.com
Perfectly sized for little hands, this spill-proof BPA-free CamelBak water bottle comes in 24 fun designs, so there’s sure to be one that will please, whether it’s paired with lunch or used for small sips throughout the day.
CamelBak eddy Kids .4L Water Bottle, $13, Amazon.com
Your back to school supplies list may require boxes of tissue for use in the classroom, but don’t forget to pack a smaller size for your student to stash in her backpack for handy on the go grabbing.
Kleenex Facial Tissues On-The-Go Pack, $2.28 (eight pack), Walmart.com
Back-to-school means lots of germs—whether it’s holding hands during a game or a sneezing neighbor in the classroom. Help ward off colds, flus and other school bugs by attaching this hand sanitizer to your child’s bag for quick cleanups when a handwashing break isn’t possible.
Purell Advanced Refreshing Gel Hand Sanitizer with Jelly Wrap Carriers, $3.77 (three count), Walmart.com
Especially in pre-K and possibly kindergarten, naps and break time may still be part of your student’s daily activities. Provide a cozy spot to curl up with a rest mat—designed in easy-to-clean vinyl—that folds up for simple storage. And mom can rest easy too: these mats are Greengaurd certified to be easier on your little one skin and the environment.
ECR4Kids 4-Fold Value Rest Mat, $15, Amazon.com