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Our kids are still young, going into 1st and 3rd grade at a public school where everything is provided for them (besides a backpack) so I felt like I had zero authority on what “school supplies” or “back to school” stuff kids really love, need, or use. So I asked my three best friends with older pairs of kids and two of my sisters (9 kids amongst those two), and it didn’t stop there – they asked their kids. So this is a real crowdsourced post coming from not just moms, but directly from the kids. We wanted to feature useful, practical stuff, of course, but also what makes kids really excited to go back to school. What are the things that they’ll look forward to using or showing off? When I was in junior high I would have sold my brother’s left sausage pinky for a pair of authentic Keds (the blue sharpie on the back of the Payless white shoe was fooling no one), but what is it now? This isn’t a fashion post though – yet 🙂 Although I’m guessing it’s literally what we wore in the ’90s 🙂 Today is more supplies, necessities, tech, and decor. Let’s go!
Actual School Supplies
1. Pencil Case: These come strangely well reviewed. Kinda makes me want to try one 🙂
2. The Best Pencils: From my friend Megan (and the entire internet) “You just can’t have too many pencils at home and at school. Presharpened is key. These ones are the best and the erasers actually work”.
1. Gingham Notebooks: I mean this is a CUTE notebook and I’m sure Birdie would squeal if she saw it.
2. G2 pens: Two solid recommendations for these boring-looking pens because of how well they flow. I’m listening.
3. Double Ended Highlighter: There are a lot of highlighters on the market these days (including the three below), and I’m a big highlighter person myself so we found more that we loved for you.
1. Mini Highlighter Set: Mini, adorable, looks like you can attach them to a highlighter keychain?
2. Yoobi Highlighters: Also mini but more variety and better if your kid isn’t into cute animals on their highlighters.
3. Flower Highlighter: So cute, a great message for a daily reminder, and you have all your colors in one place.
1. Elliot would LOVE this stacking crayon set (and for $4 I feel like its a sweet little gift)
2. Highlighters: Pastel? I have not tried these but I love the idea of them.
3. Le Pen: Hands down my favorite pen to look at, hold, and write with. It’s not a “fast flower” per se but teens like how they look/feel, too.
Last year we bought monogrammed from Pottery Barn for both of them and plan on using the same ones. I do appreciate how PB has many different sizes. Birdie has and loves this one (#1) and Charlie loves this one (#2) (both on clearance, by the way)
1. Backpack for Laptop: It looks cool, just utilitarian enough, fits a laptop, and comes in A TON of color options – our friend’s daughter has the pink version.
2. Classic Backpack: Who doesn’t love a good ole JanSport backpack? Big enough for big binders and laptops
Sports Backpacks (That Can Fit A Ball/Cleats)
For sporty kids, getting a backpack that fits their ball is helpful. They can keep track of all their stuff when they go to practice.
1. Nike Elite Pro Basketball Backpack: This fits a basketball and looks super cool.
2. Wunderlust Backpack: A little pricey but does a ton. Has a padded pocket for a large laptop, interior pockets for sweaty clothes, side pockets for water and other accessories, and adjustable straps for a yoga mat. Overall a backpack that will be useful for a long time.
3. Athletico National Soccer Bag: So awesome that their cleats fit in the bottom. This is probably normal but new to me and I’m into it.
Food And Drink Containers
1. Hydroflask Water Bottles: I think this year we’ll splurge on these. We have the grownup ones and they are our favorite.
2. Stanley IceFlow: SO MANY people recommended these. I think they just influenced me into getting one myself.
1. Hydro Flask Lunch Box: A splurge that will last years and years. Two moms recommended it to me.
2. 4 Pack Bento Lunch Box: We have one similar to this – awesome for separating fruits/veggies in lunches.
3. Thermos Food Jar: Soup lunches here we come 🙂
The Fun Stuff – Locker Decorations!
Oh man, would I love to go back in time and decorate my locker again. I would do temporary wallpaper (contact paper), tons of photos of my friends and then a ton of paper or silk flowers and butterflies (below). Also, all the stickers are great for water bottles and gets them excited to mark their own. Besides clothes, I think that the stickers are what is going to get our kids excited this year.
1. Glam Locker Kit: All magnetic and all cute! Just a fun way to keep their locker organized.
2. Checker Peel and Stick Wallpaper: Trendy but classic so I think it’s a great option (especially if you throw some stickers on it:))
3. Locker Oval Mirror: Yes. A mirror is never not helpful for a last-minute face check. Also, this one is pretty stylish if you ask me.
1. Magnetic Rainbow Cork Board: This would absolutely make me smile every time I opened my locker.
2. Hanging Locker Organizer: This is seriously cool and every locker should come with one. To think I could have been so organized back then.
3. Flower-Shaped Cork Board: These crack me up (hey 90s!) but they are also very cute on VERY on-trend.
1. Vinyl Transparent Reusable Flower Stickers: I love these realistic-looking flower stickers that you can reuse. So fun!
2. Peel and Stick Butterflies: I would bet a lot of money that if Birdie had a locker these would be first in.
3. Flower Vinyl Stickers: This pack comes with 200 stickers! Your kid could cover everything they own in these which in my opinion, the more flowers the better:)
1. Fun Stickers: Ha so this is a thing I didn’t know about but OF COURSE it gets them excited. Vinyl stickers (that don’t get ruin things I presume) to decorate lunch boxes, water bottles, and lockers.
2. Motivational Vinyl Stickers: My dad’s motivational posters throughout our ENTIRE HOUSE surely left a mark on my adult love for good versions of these. You can never start too young.
1. RocketBook: Seems high tech but everyone is talking about it. Digital notetaking. Less wasteful, super easy, and automatically uploads and stores. Also comes in a bunch of colors and is only $20.
2. Laptop Case: I can’t imagine having a laptop as a teen, but if I did I would surely need a case to protect it.
1. Gizmo: We are wondering if this is the year we get these. We are waiting till the very very last second to get a phone (hopefully 8th grade) but many of my like-minded mom friends have Gizmos for their kids. A great alternative to phones that provide texting and calling to a handful of restricted numbers, GPS, and that’s it. No social media. No games. Just location and some communication. Not sure we need it yet but I’m into it.
2. Sports Watch: Before you have kids you don’t understand why families have clocks everywhere. This is why. We might try the watch this year to give them more responsibility in a fun more grown up techy kind of way (y’all opt away from the watches with games, they are garbage and just suck time, trust me).
3. Apple Watch as a Phone Alternative: For older kids, Apple now has a feature where you pay for a phone service through the watch, but no iPhone. So they can call/text from their own number with their friends without getting a phone. Seems like a lot of junior high kids and even high school are opting for this (and by opting, I mean parents are opting).
1. Portable photo printer (For High School): These can be splurgy but I think it’s a great gift for a tween or teen to be able to print out photos for locker or binders from their phone is pretty darn fun. Two of my mom friends said their teen girls loved these.
2. Portable Power Bank: For the teens who, ahem, forget to charge overnight? Not sure they can even use their phone at school but I was told it’s a good thing to have so we included it here.
Sound off in the comments with recommendations PLEASE. I feel like you can do online research til you want to cry, but really other moms (and kids) give the best advice.
SIX WEEKS LEFT 🙂 (Oregon starts late so we can enjoy a long and well deserved summer :))
Opening Images Credits: Design by Pricilla Frost and Emily Henderson | Styled by Emily Henderson | Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: A Teen Bedroom Reveal! + 7 Budget-Friendly Ideas Gen-Z Loves