The 20 best back to school things you can buy at Target
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Back in the day, Target was always my first stop for back-to-school shopping. While office supply stores might have a wider selection of supplies, there was always something about the back-to-school section at Target that made me particularly excited for the upcoming school year.
Though school in the fall might look a little different this year due to COVID-19, and many classes might still be virtual, it’s still a good idea to grab some new school supplies. Plus, you can shop for it all online at Target or opt for curbside pickup, if you’re trying to limit your time spent in stores.
From basic school supplies to the top tech gadgets, here are the 20 best back-to-school things you can buy at Target right now.
1. Notebooks that won’t tear
Spiral notebooks are essential for scribbling down notes, so I would get one for every subject—that way you can color coordinate. Reviewers like these Five Star single subject notebooks because they actually hold up for the entire year without any cover tears. But if you prefer more of a journaling notebook, this marble notebook is quite popular.
- Get the Five Star 1 Subject College Ruled Spiral Notebook for $2.79
- Get the DesignWorks Ink Lined Journal Marble with Gold Foil for $4.99
2. Folders for every subject
Students end up with a ton of loose papers—tests, assignments, announcements, and more. To keep everything in place, get some two-pocket folders. Bonus points if you match them with your notebooks and binders. Target shoppers like these simple ones from Up&Up, which have earned more than 200 reviews for being inexpensive yet high quality.
3. A thick, durable binder
A padded binder is always a better option compared to those plastic ones, especially if you have the bad habit of dropping them or aggressively stuffing them into lockers. But the Case-it Mighty Zip Binder has a ton of storage, five section tabs for multiple subjects, and sturdy rings and a firm backing. Plus, there are even pockets for pens, calculators, and other miscellaneous school items.
4. Filler paper for your binders
This college ruled paper from Five Star claims to be double the strength of typical loose paper, and reviewers agree. They say they haven’t had a tear or rip happen (unless it was intentional), which is especially important when you’re stuffing them into binders. Plus, the thin college-ruled lines are great for those of us trying to get as many notes on the page as possible.
5. A pencil pouch to store all your supplies
One of my favorite school supplies to pick out each year was a pencil case. Picking out a stylish case to house all my pens, pencils, erasers, and more will always be a highlight. Shoppers are a fan of this one from Five Star because it comes with two zipper pockets and it can clip into a binder, so you won’t lose it.
6. Highly-rated pencils reviewers love
While pens are my preferred tool for writing, pencils are essential for homework like math, where you’ll want to erase a number or two. Reviewers are big fans of these mechanical No.2 sparkly ones from BIC, stating that the lead is sturdy and that they come with a quality eraser. But if you prefer a pack that you’ll need to sharpen, this classic pack from Ticonderoga has been dubbed “the world’s best pencil.”
- Get the BIC #2 Xtra Sparkle Mechanical Pencils for $1.59
- Get the Ticonderoga 12pk #2 Wooden Pencils for $2.19
7. Pens that actually write smoothly
Not all pens are created equal. Some don't write smoothly while others’ ink will smudge as soon as it hits the page. These gel pens from Paper Mate are super popular because they glide right on the page, are comfortable to hold, and won’t leave a single smudge. Plus, note-taking becomes easier with multiple colors to choose from.
8. Highlighters for expert note-taking
Aside from permanent markers, Sharpie makes some incredible highlighters that you can buy at Target. This assorted pack is great for highlighting notes, as the highlighters don’t smear or smudge on the page, according to reviewers.
9. White out to cover accidents
Making mistakes with pens is the worst, and while you can erase your mistakes, you can still white them out. Reviewers are fans of this one from BIC and rave about the fact that it’s fast drying, so you can quickly write over your correction. Plus, the sponge tip makes it easy to control the flow of the product.
10. Erasers for the little mistakes
I have a confession: I hate the erasers that come on pencils. They’re always too dry, leave debris on papers, and run out way too quickly. Be sure to have these Pentel erasers handy, which have garnered more than 100 reviews. People love them because they don’t tear the paper and remove virtually all signs of pencil.
11. A cheap, but effective ruler
Whether you’re drawing lines or measuring for math class, a ruler is a great thing to add to your cart. Reviewers like this simple wooden one because it’s inexpensive, durable, and has a good metal edge.
12. Glue sticks for every art project
Arts and crafts and various school projects always require glue sticks. Pick up a 6-pack of Elmer’s popular glue sticks, which apply purple but dry white, so you know exactly where you are gluing. They’re also popular for being washable, which is essential with younger, messy kids.
13. A planner to track all the assignments
If I don’t write anything down, I can’t remember it. That’s why a highly-rated planner is essential for school, so you actually remember assignments and not walk in empty handed when they’re due. Target has a ton of planners with various prints and patterns to choose from like this rainbow planner and one adorned with a cheeky phrase.
- Get the Fun in the Sun 2020-21 Academic Planner for $7.99
- Get the Libby VanderPloeg 2020-21 Academic Planner for $12.99
14. One of our favorite backpacks
While Target doesn't carry the best backpack we’ve ever tested, that would be the L.L.Bean Quad Pack, it does have one of our favorites from JanSport. This backpack is classic for a reason, and is good for carrying large bulky items and a few books. Reviewers love it for its comfortable straps and say it's great for younger kids. Plus, even if you’re not going into the classroom this year, a new backpack can make things feel a little more normal with a place for students to store all their school supplies.
15. The best water bottle we’ve ever tested
Whether classrooms are virtual or not in the fall, students still need to stay hydrated throughout the day. A water bottle makes drinking eight glasses a day more manageable. Brita makes the best water bottle we’ve ever tested because it's insulated (keeping water ice cold throughout the day), holds 20 ounces of water, and has a filter, which is great if you're refilling your bottle with questionable fountain water.
16. One of our favorite lunch boxes
For students heading into school, a lunch box is an essential item if you’ll be transporting food. To make sure your food is properly insulated, get one of our favorite lunch boxes: the PackIt Freezable Classic Lunch Box. Stored in the freezer overnight, it’s essentially a giant ice pack that keeps food exceptionally cold, which is why it topped our cold food-safe temperature test.
17. The top-tested tablets for students
A tablet is a great secondary device to have on hand in addition to a laptop, as it is a great digital note-taking device and is extremely portable. 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.
18. A great laptop for students
With more virtual learning in the cards for the future, it might be time to think about upgrading your laptop for schoolwork. After testing a ton of laptops, we found that the Acer Aspire 5 was a great choice for students. It’s a powerful Windows computer for its price, meaning it can perform multiple school related tasks at once, which is great for those of us who like to have at least 10 tabs open at once. If you want to avoid the back-to-school rush, it’s best to get one now.
19. Incredible noise canceling headphones
Whether you’re watching your virtual class on Zoom or working on a major assignment, noise-canceling headphones are essential for zoning in or not disturbing those around you with your teacher’s lecture. The Sony WH-1000XM3s are the best noise-canceling headphones we’ve ever tested for their incredible sound and active noise-canceling abilities, and will get the job done. Students also might want to opt for our favorite pair of true wireless headphones, the coveted Apple AirPods.
20. Back-to-school clothing for kids
The fall semester isn’t quite right without a new first day of school outfit—even if you’re still learning at home. Target has a great selection of kids clothing, from fresh kicks to graphic tees to uniform essentials. Plus, you’ll find deals on these items leading up to the beginning of school, which is more of a reason to browse the selection.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.