Back to School Supply List

Susie McGee
crayons

A back to school supply list shouldn't empty your bank account, but sometimes that's what it feels like! If you have a child or children in school, you know what it's like to feel the crunch of paying for school supplies. Typically midway through the summer, stores begin to fill their shelves with all the latest school supplies, including everything from pencils to top-of-the-line backpacks. A back to school supply list can get expensive in a hurry, particularly if you have more than one child.

Back to School Supply List Items

What's on the agenda for this year's back to school supply list? In reality, you may have two or more lists, particularly if your child is in the upper grades and has several teachers. Even in elementary school, you may receive two lists: one that is the school-wide list for your child's grade and another list created by your child's teacher.

Common School Supply Items

The following is a list of common items that are usually included on a school supply list.

  • Pencils-Keep in mind that even a purchase as simple as a pencil may not be so simple. Some schools do not allow lead pencils, and others specify No. 2 pencils only.
  • Pens-Usually students have to use black or blue pens, and your list may specify no gel pens as well.
  • Erasers-In most cases, pencil erasers are gone long before the pencil is, so large erasers are the perfect answer.
  • Rulers-If your child will have a three-ring binder, purchase a ruler that has three holes so that it can be included in the binder.
  • Colored pencils-Be sure to purchase the set that includes primary colors, particularly for the lower grades.
  • Crayons-Preschool and early elementary school-aged kids may need the fat crayons as opposed to the smaller variety.
  • Washable markers-Some schools or grades require certain brands, but be certain the brand you buy is washable.
  • Scissors-This is usually on the school supply lists of elementary grades, and many schools require blunt-end scissors as well.
  • Glue sticks-Purchase these in packs of two or more so your child will have a steady supply of glue all year long.
  • Bottled glue-Bottled glue is usually a stronger adhesive than a glue stick and will work better for more heavy duty projects.
  • Highlighters-This is often on the list for middle and high school students.
  • Pencil sharpener-Although your child's classroom may have a pencil sharpener, it's best if he has one of his own so he doesn't have to get out of his desk and roam around the room.
  • Loose-leaf paper-You can purchase wide-rule or college rule depending upon the age of your child and the requirements of her teacher.
  • Notebooks-Some kids prefer one large notebook that has dividers in it for different classes. Others want individual notebooks for each class. Elementary grade students are usually instructed to bring specific notebooks to their classroom. Individual teachers may require certain sized and styled notebooks for their classes as well.
  • Pocket folders-These may or may not have brads on the inside to attach papers into the folder. Be sure you find out which type of folder your child needs before you buy.

Other Supplies

Other school supplies are often more specific to the class a child is taking, especially in the upper grades. For example, some teachers now require students to bring a flash drive to school. Inquire if your child can use the same flash drive for every class, then purchase one that is large enough to hold lots of information and pictures. Specific calculators may be required for upper level classes as well. In addition, some teachers include other items on a "wish list." This list traditionally includes items that teachers need on-hand throughout the year, such as:

  • Reams of computer paper
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissue
  • Graph paper
  • Paper clips
  • Dry erase markers

You may or may not need to purchase a new backpack and/or lunch box for your child, but if you do, be sure you buy one that complies with any specific guidelines that the school has issued.


Back-to-school shopping doesn't have to be difficult. Watch for local sales and shop tax-free sales weekends if they occur in your area to save a few bucks on your supply list. Finally, don't wait until the last weekend to shop when supplies are diminished and you are sure to have to wait in long lines.

Was this page useful?
Back to School Supply List