Public School Supplies

Updated June 15, 2016 |
Public School Supplies
Find out which supplies you might need for attending public school.
Another school year, another adventure! Just as the first day of school is the cause for much excitement, so is all the required shopping that goes with starting off a new school year. With all the unknowns that a new school year can bring, it's nice to start planning early on what you will need to bring with you to school.
 
What you will need for your new school year depends on where you go and what grade you are in. For example, some schools require kids to donate communal pencils or boxes of tissues at the beginning of the year. Other schools require students to only bring in personal supplies that they will use themselves. Sometimes this includes art supplies. The best thing to do is to check with your school.
 
In the meantime, we have put together a sample list of school supplies that children attending public school will probably need to purchase. Often, local office supply stores will have on hand the supply lists for local public schools.
 
Elementary Public School Supplies
 
At the elementary school level, sometimes supplies can end up being communal, with the idea that many kids will stay in their one classroom for most of the day. Supplies can include:
  • Art supplies: glue stick, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, markers, water color paints, play-doh (for the lower levels), sketch pads.
  • Pencil, Pencil Sharpener, Eraser.
  • Notebooks (spiral and/or composition). Teachers often ask that students bring in composition notebooks so that they cannot rip pages out without it being noticeable.
  • Loose Leaf Paper.
  • Graph Paper may be required for math subjects.
  • Folders to contain classroom handouts.
  • 3 Ring Binders to contain loose leaf paper.
  • Personal Dictionary may be required for the higher levels.
  • Plastic school box to hold the student's supplies at school.
  • Copy Paper. It is possible that copy paper may be used as a communal asset at the computer lab.
  • Index cards to help make flash cards for studying or note cards while writing reports.
  • Miscellaneous school supplies: tissues, scotch tape, zip lock bags, "magic rub" erasers, wet wipes, etc.
Public High School Supplies  
 
By the time you've reached high school, you should have a good idea of what supplies you need to bring to school. Here is a list of common public high school supplies:
  • Pencils, Pencil Sharpener, Erasers or Mechanical Pencils and lead and eraser refills.
  • Highlighters to help students study.
  • Pens (include red to help yourself with revisions).
  • Calculator - check with your math class on what you need.
  • Personal Dictionary.
  • Ruler, Protractor, Compass depending on what math courses you are taking this year.
  • Notebooks (spiral or composition). Composition style notebooks are often used with classes that have lab work (chemistry, biology, or physics, for example).
  • Graph Paper for math work.
  • Loose Leaf Paper.
  • 3 Ring Binders and Folders to manage paperwork.
  • Index cards to make flashcards to help with studying or to use when making notes for report building.
  • Computer memory - could be either floppy disks or flash RAM to store your work. Check to see how the school wants you to store your data. If the school has a computer lab, they may require you to "donate" a ream of copy paper as well.
  • Art supplies may be necessary if you are attending art classes. Likewise, any other specialty classes may require additional supplies or you may need to pay an extra supply fee to use what the school supplies.
What Else You Might Need  
 
Besides supplies that you will use in the classroom, many times students will need the following supplies:
  • Backpack or other way to carry your books and supplies. Find out from older students what kids in your school use.
  • Locker accessories (locks for lockers that do not supply their own locks, mirror, extra hooks, extra stackable shelves, etc.). Magnetic accessories work well with most lockers as you do not have to worry about attaching the accessories to the locker walls.
  • Book covers to protect the books. This can be a matter of personal preference or budget. Paper grocery bags have worked just fine for years but you can also find cloth book covers available.
  • Physical Education (PE) or gym gear; there is probably a PE gear list from your school. Most schools have regulations on what kids can wear during PE. You may even have to buy the gym clothes directly from your school or only from authorized suppliers.
  • Weekly Planner or calendar to record homework assignments and important dates.
  • Emergency supplies. Depending on your school's emergency plan, students may be required to bring in an emergency supply kit. Items can include a flashlight, change of clothes, blanket or towel, and non perishable food items and water.
Tips When Buying Public School Supplies  
 
Here are some general tips to help you when purchasing your public school supplies:
  • How to find out with certainty? Check with the school website to see if they have prepared a school supply list. If you cannot find anything on line, call the school office to find out when they will publish a school supply list. Some schools wait to distribute their lists on the first day of school.
  • Don't get the supply list too soon; schools often update them during the summer. Likewise, don't refer to old supply lists (perhaps from older kids in the family) in case the supply lists have been updated.
  • Keep receipts in case you need to return or exchange anything.
  • Do not get caught up in the hoopla that your child must have a laptop to do their school work. Computers are often available at school and public libraries. While a computer is great for word processing and running other academic programs, only get one if it fits your budget.
Online Sources for Public School Supplies  
 
Here are our favorite online sources:
  • Staples has their own online lists to help you get ready for school. These lists are available at Staples' Services' Back to School Lists.
  • Office Depot makes it easy for you to shop for your public school supplies online with their product category, School Supplies.
  • Office Max offers a neat "115% Low Price Guarantee" explained further on their Customer Service site. Basically if you find a lower price at another office super store, OfficeMax will refund you 115% of the difference (up to $55).
 

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