Back to School Supplies:
First Grade Essentials

Your first grader isn't the only one who is unsure of how to handle the first day of school. Parents may be equally confused when browsing store aisles for back to school supplies.

Back to School Backpack

Here is the problem with trying to buy school materials. In the weeks before school starts, there are back to school sales everywhere--only you don't know yet what to buy for your child, because you haven't got your school's materials list in the mail yet!

Then, when you get the list in the mail, perhaps on the first day of school, and go back to the store, all the sales have ended. Or the good stuff is gone. So let's be smart about this.

Following is a typical list of things that your first grader will need in school. Some of these may or may not appear on your child's classroom list of back to school supplies, but if they don't, rest assured your child will need them anyway. Don't forget that you will need a basic set of school supplies for homework. So buy these essentials; later, it's easy to go back for one or two specialty items your child's teacher may ask for. You'll already have the big stuff.

Essential Back to School Supplies for First Grade

  • Backpack: Look for a small to mid-sized backpack with sturdy straps. Don't get the first cheapy pack you find, even if it has beloved Dora or Spongebob. A poorly made pack will fall apart, or feel uncomfortable to wear when full. Spend a bit more for good straps and sturdy fabric, and get a size that holds just a bit more than the essentials.
  • Lunch Bag and Thermos: Insulated lunch bags are more popular these days than the tin boxes of yesteryear, and insulated bottles have replaced the thermos. Make sure the bottle fits inside the lunch bag while still leaving room for your child's lunch.
  • Pencils: Get plenty.
  • Erasers: The big pink ones last longer than the pencil top erasers.
  • Pencil Sharpener: Write your child's name on it with a permanent marker. Find a brand that works well. Then buy lots of backups.
  • Spiral Notebook: Get one with wide spaced lines.
  • Crayons
  • Glue Sticks: Buy just a few at a time and replace them as needed. If you keep them too long, they dry out.
  • Safety Scissors: Blunt tip is good for this age.
  • Pocket Folders: For organizing papers and homework.
  • White Paper: Printer paper is inexpensive.
  • Pencil Box: Teach kids to store their small supplies in this box so they don't get lost in the bottom of the backpack.

This is not a comprehensive list of back to school supplies, but it will be a good start. So load up that brand-new backpack with deals from back to school specials; there is nothing like shiny new school supplies to get a kid ready for a new school year!


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“Education is not preparation for life. Education is life itself. ”
~John Dewey