Essential Back-to-School Supplies for Pre-K, Kindergarten, and First Grade

Set your kids up for success with these back-to-school supplies. Perfect for preschoolers, kindergarteners, and those in first grade.

back to school supplies including pencils and markers
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It's the most wonderful time of the year! Back-to-school season is almost here and, if you're the parent of a young child, you're probably stocking up on back-to-school supplies. After all, our little love bugs need a lot. But from crayons and colored pencils to markers, scissors, and a smock, what do our children actually need?

Below are the most frequently requested school supplies for pre-K, kindergarten, and first grade.

Art Supplies for Kids

These early school years are filled with lots of crafting and hands-on learning. If you don't already have a set of supplies, consider picking up some so the coloring, cutting, and creating won't have to stop when your child comes home.

Crayons: A box of triangular or jumbo crayons can be easier for small hands to hold, but many teachers may prefer a set of 8, 16, or 24 crayons in standard colors.

Markers: A 10-pack of standard markers provides plenty of color options, and washable ones allow for easier clean-up.

Colored pencils: Instead of or in addition to crayons, some teachers may request colored pencils for fun rainbow writing, tracing, or coloring.

Scissors: Younger grades may require that students use a pair of blunt or rounded-tip scissors for safety. Most are designed for the right-handed, so if your child is a lefty, pick up a designated left-handed pair.

Smock: A smock or oversize T-shirt will help keep your child's clothes clean during messy arts and crafts.

Glue: Glue sticks are easier for pre-K kids to hold and control; liquid glue may be allowed for kindergarten and first grade.

Dry erase markers: In kindergarten and first grade, the teacher may request that students bring additional dry erase markers to supplement what the school provides.

General School Supplies for Kids

For ABCs, spelling words, and imagining stories, here's what your child will need to be prepared.

Composition book or notebook: A composition book or notebook may be required for writing practice. Some teachers may require ones with wide-ruled pages to provide more room for young writers.

Pencils: A few jumbo pencils can be easier for small hands to hold, so check with the teacher to see if they are allowed. If not, stick with the traditional No. 2 wooden pencils.

Pencil grips: Soft, rubbery, prism-shaped guides slip onto a traditional pencil to help early writers get a better grip and develop the correct finger position.

Erasers: Both stand-alone erasers and eraser caps (that pop onto the top of the pencil) are useful for removing mistakes on paper.

Paper: Teachers will specify whether to buy white, construction, or lined writing paper for class projects and assignments.

Folders: Keep loose sheets (like student artwork or classwork) together in a paper or plastic folder.

Pencil sharpener: A small, portable pencil sharpener can be handy for keeping writing utensils sharp so letters remain clear on paper. For home, consider an electric one (used with adult supervision) for added convenience.

Organizational Supplies for Kids

Keep your new student organized with the right bags and boxes to store, carry, and transport their supplies to (and from) school.

Backpack: Kids in pre-K may not need a backpack—at least not yet—but once your child starts kindergarten, you'll want to invest in one for carrying items like a lunch box, water bottle, show-and-tell objects, and homework. Choose a pint-size backpack to fit your child's frame. For kids at this age, a rolling backpack can be too cumbersome and isn't necessary.

Supply box: A plastic pencil box or bag is useful for holding pencils, pens, and art supplies.

Lunch box: Lunches and snacks are best contained in an insulated, reusable plastic box or nylon bag. You may also want to invest in an ice pack to keep foods and drinks fresh.

Water bottle: A spill-proof water bottle can be filled at home to keep kids hydrated throughout the day—and away from school water fountains, which can be germy. Look for bottles made from a BPA-free material and that hold at least 12 ounces.

Miscellaneous

Don't forget these items that teachers may request to keep the classroom clean, prevent the spread of illness, and use for special activities.

Batteries: Some classroom supplies—like calculators—require AA or AAA batteries, and teachers might ask you to provide them as a backup. We suggest picking up a pack of long-lasting batteries, just in case.

Tissue box: Donate tissue boxes (if teachers request them) to keep up with the demand and help deal with colds at school.

Hand sanitizer or antibacterial wipes: Sanitary liquids and wipes can help keep desks clean and prevent the spread of germs that cause colds and the flu.

Rest mat: A soft blanket, towel, or carpet sample might be needed if your child is in a full-day pre-K, where quiet time or nap time is scheduled for afternoons.

Change of clothes: In case of bathroom accidents, water play, or other messy activities, pre-K classes often request a full set of clothes to be kept at school.

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