What your teacher wants you to know about school supplies

It’s getting to be that time again. School supply shopping. As a kid I LOVED to shop for school supplies. I started begging my Dad for new supplies in July! But as a parent I don’t see it quite the same way. The lists are long and I’m shopping for more than one child. As a teacher I’m trying to stock up on supplies in case we run out. Because money is tight its tempting to buy the off brand supplies. After all, they are all created equal right? According to teachers…that couldn’t be farther from the truth.  After surveying my teacher friends and co-workers here is a list of the top three supplies they feel warrant a name brand and three supplies that work great no matter the tag.

Name Brands 

Our school puts a side note on the school supply list that reads: “Please know that certain brands are requested as they have been found to be better quality and last much longer than other brands.” I believe the three brands I  listed below fall into that category.


This was the number one item on teachers lists. Of course they want ELMERS. No other glue stick measures up to ELMERS. It goes on easier, lasts longer and doesn’t dry out as fast. With other glue, you tend to use twice as much for the same project. Teachers definitely want their glue to last as long as possible. They want their students to be proud of their work and nothing is more disappointing then hard work falling apart. During the weeks leading up to school starting these beauties often go on sale and can be bought at a great price. Why is this important? Think of all the projects that have failed to make it to your fridge because they fell apart before they got there. Honestly though, nothing is more precious than kids who feel pride in their work, it motivates them to work hard and try their best.

2. Crayons/Markers and Colored Pencils 

What brand do we all think of when we think of art supplies? Of course Cayola! There really isn’t another brand of art supplies that measure up. Their crayons last twice as long as other brands and they give off a more vibrant color. There colored pencils sharpen better and last longer than other brands and their markers also give off a brighter color than other brands and again last longer. Not to mention when their crayons say they are a certain color like red…they really are red. On the plus side Crayola crayons almost always go on sale at a stock up price during the weeks leading up to school starting. Why is that important? You won’t be buying more supplies mid-year because they ran out and your children’s projects will be brighter and last longer than if they used and off brand.

3. Pencils

I know what your thinking…all pencils are wood with lead in them doesn’t than mean they are created equal? Although that might be true, they really are not created equal. Ticonderoga pencils by far are the most requested by teachers. They sharpen better and erase better but do come with with a pricer tag and hardly go on a stock up worthy sale. If they don’t fall into your budget second best would be Dixon #2. They are not as good as the Ticonderoga pencils but they do sharpen well most of the time and do have a long use life. Why is this important? Students write A LOT during the day. Nothing is more frustrating than watching half the pencil disappear into the pencil sharpener the first time it gets sharpened. It’s also time wasting to have to get up and sharpen pencils all the time throughout the day, and if a pencil dulls all the time your child’s work will be sloppy and hard to read.

Whatever is cheapest

1.  Notebooks

Paper is paper and in this case wherever it’s cheapest is where you should shop. Along with pencils, paper is in a tie for the supply most used in school. Teachers just need mass quantities of it, not specific brands. Save your money for something more important.

2. Erasers

A lot of lists will ask for pink pearl erasers. Honestly any eraser will do. A teacher hack I learned from a beloved co-worker of mine was to cut up those lovely easers into thirds or fourths to get more use out of them, which I do every year to help make them last longer. I don’t need a name brand for that. An eraser is an eraser is an eraser. Buy whats on sale and cheapest it will work just as good.

3. Highlighters 

I don’t know that I think they are all created equal but I do know for the purposes of school they all do the same job. Some teachers may be partial to certain colors (I love yellow!) but there is a time when all colors are needed so it’s important to by a variety of other colors unless otherwise stated. You can usually buy single highlighters at Walgreens for a great prices during the weeks leading up to school starting. If your child only needs one or two this might be a great place to get these.

There you have it. Good luck getting into the trenches and braving the department known as school supplies. It’s a jungle out there. =)

As a side note: teachers appreciate any supplies you bring in, name brand or otherwise. They understand the hardship supply shopping can bring, maybe more than anyone, because they are also shopping for those students who may never bring anything in, or for supplies that aren’t supplied by the school district but they feel their students can’t live without. Whatever you bring they will love you for it. They appreciate the love and support you show to them, however big or small.

One Reply to “What your teacher wants you to know about school supplies”

  1. I sooo agree.
    I can remember buying notebooks, paper, colors, markers, copy paper, construction paper and on and on and on.

    Let’s don’t forget the tissues for the hundreds of colds one see’s in a year.
    Yes — as a past teacher parent help with supply’s was greatly appreciated.

    Helping Parents Rock

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