Back to School: Best School Supplies for Elementary Students

Regardless of whether you are attending a brick-and-mortar or an online school, back-to-school season is a great time to start fresh with simple ideas that make a big impact.  School supplies are a necessity, and we wanted to know what items are considered must-haves. So, we asked the experts—moms. Although you may be anticipating typical items like pens and paper, think again. This back-to-school supplies list will give your family simple solutions for time management and organization for the school year.

School supplies you need for a new school year (Grades K–5)

  1. Timer—Kimberly says she, “had a watch timer for each child’s desk. We would set it for an agreed upon time for the lesson/activity/etc., and when it went off, we would decide whether to continue with that subject or move on to the next and come back to it later.” Her family likes the timer method so much they also use it for park days, breaks, etc., so everyone knows when it is time to leave or go back to work.
  2. Reward Jar/Sticker Charts—Praise is key to getting kids to buy into the daily grind.  Giving small incentives during the day and cumulative ones really help. Kimberly’s family used stars for each lesson completed and Popsicle sticks in two jars to show how many more days of school are left.
  3. Play Box for School Time Only—Kimberly considers this to be an essential when there are multiple young children in the house. “Fill it with quiet activities that are age appropriate, and when you are working with one child, give the other student something to do from the box,” she says. “I only keep around ten different things in the box at a time, and rotate activities every week.”
  4. Get Silly Jar—Fill a jar with strips of paper, and on each strip, write down a one-minute movement activity like jumping jacks, sock war, dancing, or a stare contest.  Take little breaks between lessons, and make them fun!

School supplies you need for a new school year (any age)

  1. A Dry Erase Calendar—Kimberly, mom of two International Academy students, created her own calendar that is the size of a door mirror. Columns separate each day of the week, starting with Monday, and ten rows. Each family member has his or her own dry erase marker color.  “It is in a place that we all can easily see from our desks,” she says, adding that her “kids have gotten so used to it, they use it during the summer.”??????????
  2. Chore Chart—Similar to the calendar, days, weeks, and months are marked with pictures or words. This is a great way to make sure that everyone knows what is expected of them.  They also know what the rewards/consequences are.
  3. Backpack—Brick and mortar students are used to carrying a backpack on a daily basis, to and from each class, but it’s something online students can benefit from, too. Online education provides families with the opportunity to learn from many locations, and a backpack allows you to be ready to go with school supplies for all of those learning adventures.
  4. Milk Crates—A great organizer that can hold books that students will need to have with them in their work space. This is also a great opportunity to learn in different spaces in the home, and crates can easily be picked up and taken to a different work space. Try to keep only what they are currently using in the crate.
  5. Bulletin Board—Cork or magnetized dry erase boards are great supplies for practice/game schedule, motivational quotes, list of activities they want to do when they are done with school, and reminders.

So get those bulletin boards, make those calendars, and remember to keep it simple this year.

Have students in other grades? Make sure to check out the must-have school supplies for preschoolmiddle, and high school, too.

You can also give some inspiration to new families by telling us your K12 story, or leave a comment below with something you consider to be a must-have.

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This article was updated August 2015

Image – Steven Depolo / CC by 2.0

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