Parenting

16 things to buy for back to school now before they sell out

Make sure you nab these school supplies early.

15 things to buy for back to school now before they sell out Credit: Reviewed / PaperMate

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Like it or not, back-to-school season is approaching quickly. Although we’re not entirely sure what school will look like this upcoming fall, students will need school supplies whether they spend the school year remote or in the classroom. While specific items vary depending on grade and area, there are some essentials that every student needs—and these things are sure to sell out.

In the age of the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve seen everything from hand sanitizer to Nintendo Switches sell out online, and school supplies will likely be no different. This means it’s probably a good idea to get ahead of your back-to-school shopping now. Below you’ll find school supplies for students of all ages that we have a feeling will start selling out soon.

1. A whiteboard that works for your schedule

Mommy Marvel Dry Erase Monthly Calendar Set
Credit: Mommy Marvel

Stay organized this school year.

Whether you’re virtually learning or heading into the classroom, it’s important to keep track of all the due dates of your big assignments. That’s where this handy whiteboard calendar comes in. It’s dry erase, meaning you can constantly make changes to your schedule, and it comes with boards for both monthly and weekly planning, Plus, it includes markers and has over 3,000 positive reviews to back up its functionality.

Get the Mommy Marvel Dry Erase Monthly Calendar Set at Amazon for $14.99

2. A backpack to hold all your school gear

L.L.Bean Quad Pack
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

This sturdy pack is always a great choice.

Even if you’re not going into the classroom this year, a new backpack can make things feel a little more normal, as it gives students a place to store all their school supplies. When we tested backpacks, we found that the L. L. Bean Quad Pack was the best one for students because of the room for storage inside and its comfortable straps. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors to suit your personal style. For a more casual bag, we recommend the Fjallraven Kanken Laptop Backpack, which is very trendy and comes in a wide color assortment.

3. An affordable laptop that’s great for students

Asus Chromebook Flip
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

A good choice for most students.

With more virtual learning in the cards for the future, it might be time to think about upgrading your laptop for schoolwork. We recommend the Asus Chromebook Flip, which we named the best laptop for students. It doubles as a tablet (hence the flip) and performs school related tasks well, like surfing the web and checking email. If you want to avoid the back-to-school rush, it’s best to get one now.

Get the Asus Chromebook Flip at Best Buy for $569.99

4. The best tablet for students

Apple iPad
Credit: Reviewed / Betsey Goldwasser

The Apple iPad is our favorite tablet on the market.

Even if you have a laptop, a tablet is a great secondary device to have on hand, as it is a great digital note-taking device. For younger kids, we recommend the Amazon Fire 8 Kids Edition because it's sturdy, portable, and has great image and audio quality, as well as parental control. High school and college students will prefer the Apple iPad, as it’s the best tablet we’ve ever tested and has amazing features like a long battery life, gorgeous high-resolution display, and access to the largest library of apps, media, and more.

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5. A cooler to carry your lunch in

Coleman 9-can Soft Cooler
Credit: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar

A packed lunch brings a sense of normalcy.

For students heading into school, a lunch box is an essential item if you’ll be transporting food to and from home. We tested the most popular lunch coolers and are big fans of this one from Coleman. While testing, we found that it maintained temperatures below 40°F for more than six hours sans an ice pack, meaning it will keep lunch safe during the school day. Not going back to the classroom? Prepping lunch in advance and storing in a cooler can help create a sense of normalcy while learning at home.

Get the Coleman 9-can Soft Cooler at Amazon for $14.80

6. A planner to track all the assignments

Panda Planner
Credit: Panda Planner

Stay organized with this undated planner.

Back in elementary and middle school, I was always given a planner (adorned with a cute logo of our school mascot—a lion) where I would eagerly write down all my assignments. It felt good crossing each one off as they were completed. A planner is still essential for keeping students on track, especially during these hectic times. With over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, the Daily Panda Planner is an excellent choice. It comes not dated and has daily, weekly, and monthly sections designed to help with prioritization and reflection.

Get the Panda Planner Daily Planner on Amazon for $19.97

7. Colorful gel pens for note taking

Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens
Credit: Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens

The smoothest glide.

Gel pens not only glide across the page, making it easier to scribble down notes, but they’re also available in a ton of colors, which is good for marking off different sections and important details. With over 12,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, the c are clearly a fan favorite and reviewers say they dry quickly—a.k.a. no smudging.

Get the Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens at Amazon for $21.14

8. Highly rated mechanical pencils

BIC Xtra-Sparkle Mechanical Pencil
Credit: BIC

A fun pencil means a good test, right?

While pens are my preferred tool for writing, pencils are essential for school work, specifically tests and homework you find yourself erasing a bunch—like math. Reviewers are big fans of these No.2 sparkly ones from BIC, stating that the lead is sturdy and that they come with a quality eraser.

Get the BIC Xtra-Sparkle Mechanical Pencil, 24-Count at Amazon for $3.78

9. Sticky notes for more note taking

PostIt Notes
Credit: PostIt

Stick a note everywhere.

Sticky notes are great for jotting down quick reminders and flagging pages of textbooks. For everyday use, reviewers love the classic Post-It Notes, which have been dubbed "America's No. 1 favorite sticky note." People praise these sticky notes for sticking to almost anything, being the perfect size, and coming in a variety of bright colors.

Get the Post-it Notes at Amazon for $5

10. Spiral notebooks for every subject

Mead notebooks
Credit: Mead

A notebook for every subject

You can never have too many spiral notebooks, in my opinion. Back in my school days, I would color coordinate each folder, notebook, and binder to a specific subject, which is why this 6-pack of single subject notebooks from Mead is perfect. Not only are they affordable, but they come highly rated on Amazon.

Get the Mead Spiral Notebooks, 6-Pack at Amazon for $13.97

11. Noise-canceling headphones to zone into work

Noise-canceling Headphones
Credit: Reviewed

Zone into all your assignments.

Whether you’re watching your virtual class on Zoom or working on a major assignment, noise-canceling headphones are essential for blocking out the world around you and not disturbing others with your teacher’s lecture. The Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Wireless Kids Headphones are ideal for children as they’re volume limiting for developing eardrums. This is why they’re our favorite headphones for kids. Kids 13 and older might prefer the Sony WH-1000XM3s, which are the best noise-canceling headphones we’ve ever tested or our favorite pair of true wireless headphones, the coveted Apple AirPods.

12. A laptop tray that makes it easy to work from home

Laptop Stand
Credit: TaoTronics

The best way to get work done on the couch.

Back in high school, I was never a “desk sitter” at home. I preferred to complete my homework from the comfort of my bed (which I still prefer doing as an adult while working from home). Other bed and couch workers out there might prefer a laptop desk to make working easier and prevent your heated laptop from burning your legs. This one from TaoTronics has more than 2,000 reviews and a 4.7-star rating, with reviewers praising its tilting feature and that it can easily be folded for storage.

Get the TaoTronics Lap Desk at Amazon for $59.99

13. A thick, durable binder

Case-it Mighty Zip Tab 3-Inch Zipper Binder
Credit: Case-it

A binder that will survive the entire year.

A padded binder is always a better option compared to those plastic ones that always break on you halfway through the school year. That won’t be a problem with the Case-it Mighty Zip Binder. It has a ton of storage, five section tabs for multiple subjects, and sturdy rings and a firm backing. Plus, there’s even pockets for pens, calculators, and other miscellaneous school items.

Get the Case-it Mighty Zip Tab 3-Inch Zipper Binder at Amazon for $18.84

14. Four-pocket folders to hold miscellaneous papers

Folders
Credit: Five Star

Keep your papers in check.

Assignments, tests, handouts—you get a lot of random papers in school. To avoid misplacing things, tuck your papers into these Five Star 4 Pocket Folders, which have more than 700 reviews on Amazon. Reviewers love how durable they are (enough to last the school year) and that the four pockets allow them to organize important pages up front.

Get the Five Star 4 Pocket Folders, 6-Pack at Amazon for $11.44

15. Glue sticks for various craft projects

Glue Sticks
Credit: Elmer's

Don't worry. These glue sticks are washable.

For younger kids especially, glue sticks will be very important during the upcoming school year. Whether they’re working on a project for class or passing the time with an arts and crafts project at home, you should always be sure to have these on hand. Elmer’s glue sticks are a long-time favorite for being washable, and this 30-pack will ensure you don’t run out of glue sticks when one dries out.

Get the Elmer's All Purpose School Glue Sticks, 30-Pack at Amazon for $10.99

16. Wide-ruled paper for note-taking

Wide Ruled Paper
Credit: Mead

For those of us with larger handwriting.

Like spiral notebooks, having some wide-ruled notebook paper on hand for note-taking and other assignments is always important—especially for those of us who like organizing these sheets in a 3-ring binder. Compared to college-ruled notebook paper, the larger gaps between lines makes it easier for those of us with larger handwriting to take down notes. Reviewers on Amazon like this pack from Mead, which has more than 1,000 positive reviews stating that it's thin enough to not take up too much space in a binder, yet quality enough that it doesn't tear.

Get the Mead Loose Leaf Paper, Wide Ruled, 200 Sheets at Amazon for $2.50

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