NEA Parents' Resources
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What Back-to-School Supplies Should I Be Getting?

According to eMarketer, 72 percent of parents of grade school-aged children intend to follow a school-provided back-to-school shopping list very closely.

Are you one of those parents? Whether you are or not, as the back-to-school jitters rise, it’s good to know what supplies you may be expected to get. Or what items you can buy in case your child’s school doesn’t supply a list.

Below are lists, broken out by grade, of supplies adapted from a real elementary school for the upcoming school year to prime you for what your child may need.

Kindergarten

For your child’s first year, the basics include some simple art supplies that will activate their imagination and get them more comfortable working in the classroom.

  • Glue sticks
  • Colored pencils, markers, crayons and felt-tip pens
  • A washable watercolor paint tray
  • Scotch tape
  • A seasonal change of clothes (in a plastic bag with your child’s name on it)
  • A large shirt (to be used as an art smock)
  • A pocket folder
  • A composition book
  • A binder
  • A reusable water bottle
  • A packet of sponges (not dish sponges with a rough side, but more like makeup sponges)

First Grade

Here students start to work with different subjects. And different subjects means different colored folders to keep them in.

  • Glue sticks
  • Colored pencils, markers and crayons
  • A few solid color two-pocket folders
  • A couple of composition books
  • A backpack
  • A box of pencils
  • A pencil box or pouch
  • A pair of scissors

Second Grade

You’ll notice a lot of materials are used year-over-year. If your child keeps items like folders, pencil cases and scissors in working shape, you can keep using the same ones.

  • Glue sticks
  • Colored pencils, markers and crayons
  • A few solid color two-pocket folders
  • A couple of composition books
  • A backpack
  • A box of pencils
  • Erasers
  • A pair of scissors
  • A notebook
  • An art journal

Third Grade

Here students start working with more complex ideas that require post-it notes and index cards for organizing and studying. They also start working with computers, which will require a USB flash drive to save their work.

  • Glue sticks
  • Colored pencils, markers and crayons
  • A box of pencils
  • Erasers
  • Several different colored composition books
  • Several solid color two-pocket folders, with 3-prong fasteners
  • A pair of scissors
  • Post-it notes
  • 3” x 5” index cards
  • Different colored highlighters
  • A pair of headphones
  • An 8GB USB flash drive

Fourth Grade

Your child’s education gets really serious with lined notebook paper and graph paper for math.

  • Colored pencils, markers and crayons
  • A box of pencils
  • Erasers
  • A pencil box or pouch
  • A pencil sharpener
  • Several different colored composition books
  • Several solid color two-pocket folders, with 3-prong fasteners
  • A ream of wide-ruled, loose leaf paper
  • A spiral-bound notebook of graph paper
  • A notebook
  • 3” x 5” index cards
  • A pair of headphones
  • A 16GB USB flash drive

Fifth Grade

By now, your child is well prepared for the rest of their academic career. An assignment planner keeps them on task and on schedule, which will be critical in middle school and beyond.

  • Colored pencils, markers and crayons
  • A box of pencils
  • Several solid color two-pocket folders, with 3-prong fasteners
  • A binder
  • A ream of wide-ruled, loose leaf paper
  • A couple spiral-bound notebooks
  • A pair of scissors
  • Several different colored composition books
  • Different colored highlighters
  • A planner for daily assignments
  • A 16GB USB flash drive

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