Having been a student and a teacher for most of my life, you could say that I’ve had extensive experience with school supplies. If my years have taught me anything, it’s that function and durability are crucial factors when choosing the best supplies for Back to School.

Facial Tissues | School Supplies

  • BEST OVERALL: Kleenex Ultra Soft from most retailers for approximately $7.00/4-pack
  • BEST VALUE: Up&Up Ultra Soft Facial Tissue from Target $4.99/4-pack

School Supplies Pro Tip: Both of these options rank high in both performance and softness with near perfect absorbency.


  • BEST OVERALL: Ticonderoga Pre-Sharpened Pencils from most retailers for approximately $3.49/12-pack
  • BEST VALUE: USA Gold Pre-Sharpened Pencils from most retailers for approximately $3.99/12-pack

Pro Tip: You cannot go wrong with either of these options. For the sanity of your child’s teacher and if you can swing it, opt for pre-sharpened. The best thing about Ticonderoga and USA Gold are that they sharpen easily. Cheaper pencils wrapped in plastic just don’t sharpen nearly as well and the lead usually ends up breaking off in the pencil sharpener so that you’re spending more time sharpening the pencil than actually using it.

Pens | School Supplies

  • BEST OVERALL: BIC Round Stic Xtra Life Ballpoint Pen from most retailers for approximately $5.99/60-pack

Pro-Tip: These pens are truly the best because they write well AND are sooooo cheap. When in doubt, get these for classroom use. They come in black, blue, and red ink colors.

Crayons, Colored Pencils, and Markers

  • BEST OVERALL: Crayola Silly Scents from most retailers for approximately $3.49/12-pack
  • BEST VALUE: Crayola Ultra Clean Washable from most retailers for approximately $3.49/12-pack

Pro-Tip: You’re going to want to buy the RoseArt crayons or Jot crayons from the dollar store because they’re cheap, but I’m going to have to slap them out of your hand. Don’t do it. Neither of these options hold up to the quality of Crayola.

Glue Sticks

  • BEST OVERALL: Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue from most retailers for approximately $4.93/4-pack
  • BEST VALUE: Amazon Basics Purple Washable School Glue Sticks from Amazon $14.49/60-pack

Pro Tip: Elmer’s is currently touting their scented glue sticks. I caution you against buying them because, honestly, they will most likely be eaten by your young child. Trust me.


  • BEST STARTER SCISSORS: Melissa & Doug Child-Safe Scissor Set from Melissa & Doug $3.29/2-pack
  • BEST FOR OLDER KIDS: Crayola Pointed-Tip Scissors from Crayola $1.99/1-pack

Pro-Tip: If your child is a lefty, consider Fiskars Softgrip Left-Handed Kids Scissors from Amazon $7.76/1-pack

Playdough (for the Kindergarteners and Firsties)

  • BEST OVERALL: Play-Doh from Walmart $0.50/can

Pro Tip: Play-Doh truly is the best brand. Most dollar store playdoughs have a weird smell and are already dry when you get them home. Stick with the best, and go with Play-Doh. Walmart has them for the best value.

Pencil Bag and/or Box

  • BEST BAG: BAZIC 3-Ring Pencil Pouch with Mesh Window from Amazon $6.99/4-pack
  • BEST BOX: Find-It Metal Supply Box from Amazon $14.99/box

Pro Tip: For a pencil bag, steer clear of plastic pencil bags with plastic zippers. They don’t hold much and the zippers are notorious for breaking, usually within a week or so. Similarly, plastic pencil boxes don’t have near enough room for daily use and break quite easily. Although you’ll save money buying them initially, you’ll end up spending more in the long run on replacements.


  • BEST EARBUDS: Joysico Sport Headphones Wired Over Ear In-ear Earbuds from Amazon $16.99
  • BEST HEADPHONES: JLab JBuddies Studio Blue-Tooth Over-Ear Kids Headphones from Amazon $29.99

Pro Tip: Although it is tempting to purchase the cheap dollar store earbuds for school supplies, they are more trouble than they’re worth. They tangle easily and end up covered in ear gunk. (Insert vomit emoji here.) Additionally, I have found that kids usually prefer over-the-ear headphones to earbuds because of comfort and ease of use…and so do their teachers!

Water Bottle School Supplies

  • BEST OVERALL: Insulated Kids Water Bottle by Takeya from Amazon $24.99
  • BEST VALUE: Nalgene Kids OTF Bottle from Amazon $10.38

Pro-Tip: For best functionality, go with insulated stainless steel instead of plastic. Also, I would recommend putting some thought into the water bottle’s top. Consider a flip-top for sanitary purposes and a locking lid to avoid leaks and spills.


  • BEST OVERALL: Pottery Barn Kids Mackenzie Backpack from Pottery Barn $79.50
  • BEST VALUE: JanSport SuperBreak Plus Backpack from JanSport $45.00

Pro-Tip: Step away from the cheap plastic backpacks with Disney and Marvel faces on them in the Walmart and Target aisles, and rush online to Pottery Barn or JanSport for functional backpacks in a variety of colors and patterns for this school supplies season.

Optional School Supplies

  • BEST Hand Sanitizer: Germ-X
  • BEST Dry Erase Markers: EXPO
  • BEST Highlighters: Sharpie Tank-Style Chisel-Tip
  • BEST Sticky Notes: Post-Its
  • BEST Binder: Wilson Jones 3-Ring (D-Ring)
  • BEST Quart and Gallon Freezer Bags: Texas Tough Zipper

Remember that school supplies are used on a daily basis. For this reason, it’s best to choose items based on their durableness and performance. So take a moment and consider this when shopping for school supplies this season!


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