Even if you're not ready for your child's first day of school, you can ensure that she'll be ready with all the supplies she'll need to play, learn, and enjoy in class.
school supplies
Credit: Bryan McCay

Art Supplies

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.

Writing Supplies

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 either a paper or plastic holder to transport homework between school and home.

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.

Bags and Boxes

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

Backpack: Kids in pre-K may not need a backpack yet, but once your child starts kindergarten, 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 hold pencils, pens, and art supplies.

Lunch box or bag, with ice pack: Lunches and snacks are best contained in an insulated, reusable plastic box or nylon bag. Consider investing in an ice pack to keep certain foods and drinks (like fruits and water) 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 oz.


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 like new Duracell Optimum.

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 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 naptime 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.