We’re only a few weeks away from the kids going back to school, and I wanted to share with you today some of our must-haves during the school year. From backpacks and water bottles to lunch boxes, folders, headphones, traditional supplies, and more… this list is full of our go-to products, and many of them are currently on sale (see notes below!).

Collage of products with a heading "Back to School Shopping Guide".

When I was a kid, my favorite back-to-school activity was picking out a new Trapper Keeper for the school year 😍 Sadly, those aren’t on my kids’ school’s supply list!

Our kids head back to school in a few weeks, so I spent some time in July making sure we had everything they needed and thought it might be helpful to share with you the things that we use most often. I separated them into categories below for easy browsing; if you want recommendations for anything or have questions, please let me know!

A couple of quick notes before the big rundown…

⭐️ I make a tremendous amount of use out of my label maker during the school year. Highly recommend having one for allllll of the labeling needs!

⭐️ I package up all of my kids’ required supplies in these ziploc big bags for easy transport at the beginning of the year.

⭐️ If you have a college-bound kiddo, they can take advantage of Prime Student (currently a 6-month free trial).


I am a huge, huge fan of L.L.Bean backpacks; they are extremely durable and last. I had one all through high school and college, and I currently have the comfort carry portable locker, which is the largest backpack they make. Using it for trips and going back and forth to the hospital with electronics, books, snacks, etc. has been wonderful.

Here’s what the kids use:

L.L.Bean Explorer Backpack – Dominic started using this last year, and it is such a great size. When Joseph’s very old racing team backpack broke at the end of last year, I got him one of these, too. I think it’ll continue to work well until perhaps middle school when he may need more space in middle school.

L.L.Bean Junior Original Book Pack – Isabelle got this two years ago when she began preschool (in the flower pattern!) and it has been great. This year in kindergarten she will be transporting a tablet, folders, a lunch (some days), and snack, so we’ll see how it work for her or if she’ll need to upgrade to a larger sized backpack.

Lunches and Snacks

Now let’s talk lunches and snacks! Joseph loves buying lunches at school and rarely packs… Dominic prefers to pack most days, and I assume that Isabelle will fall somewhere in the middle. All three of them have to bring a morning snack because they eat lunch so late.

Here are the things we use that work well for us!

Lunchboxes: All of the kids have the Rover lunchbox from PlanetBox (at the time of this posting, they are currently running a 60% off sale), with the accompanying carry bag. I love that it has five compartments, which makes including a variety of things for lunch super easy.

PackIt Freezable Snack Bags: All of the kids have one of these, they were great last year for snacks that need to stay cold like string cheese, yogurt, produce, etc. The whole bag goes in the freezer then you just pull it out in the morning and pack; it stays cold for a VERY long time. I have also used it for transporting medicine that had to stay cold and for beverages for myself! They also got a lot of use this summer when we were out and about. LOVE these!

Water bottles: We have gone through many different types! The kids used Thermos Funtainers for a long time, and I would still recommend them for preschool/younger kids, but as they’ve gotten older, they are a little too small for them. They use the Yeti Rambler Jr regularly, and I’m also trying the Owala Kids Flip.

Classic School Supplies

Shopping for school supplies from three separate lists and trying to cross-reference what everyone needs and what I can buy in bulk and split between them is no small feat!

My first step is to go through what was brought home at the end of last school year and see what we can reuse (I’m not buying another pair of scissors!), then fill in the gaps. Here is what we purchased this year (some of these I got during Prime when they were on a deal, and some of them have sales going now for back to school):

Coloring/Writing/Art Supplies

Crayola Twistable Crayons – These are the crayons requested in kindergarten through 2nd grade; before Joseph started kindergarten I had never heard of them! Genius because teachers don’t have to deal with broken crayons.

Traditional Crayola Crayons – Apparently 3rd grade graduates to regular crayons 😅

Twistable Colored Pencils – Another product I never knew existed until I had kids in school!

Broadline Markers – Classic colors!

Crayola Washable Watercolors – We get a lot of use out of these at home, too… the kids love painting on a rainy day and especially during the winter.

Glue Sticks – Bought these in bulk, for sure!

Scissors – I didn’t buy new ones, but these are the same ones we’ve had for a few years.

Dry Erase Markers (12-pack) – One of the things I bought in bulk to split between the kids.

Dry Erase Board – This one was specifically required for 1st grade.

Ticonderoga Pencils – The best!!

Highlighters – Things get serious in 3rd grade 😅

Notebooks/Folders/Paper Supplies

Plastic Folders – I bought this pack last year and we are still using them! In addition, Joseph also required an accordion folder this year.

One Subject Notebook – A great item to buy in bulk if you have more than one kid that needs them!

Composition Books – Joseph needs these traditional composition books (over 50% off right now), while Dominic and Isabelle use primary journals.

Wide-Ruled Loose Paper – It had been a long time since I’d heard the term “loose leaf paper”!

Post-It Notes – This excites me, ha!

Tech Supplies

Kids Headphones – Lower grades require over-the-ear headphones to plug into the tablets, while Joseph now needs earbuds (he’ll inherit an old set of mine). These are currently over 60% off.

Tablet Stylus – I like that these have tips that are more like pencils vs. a rounder, rubbery end that some of them have.

Charging Block – I don’t own this, but I just ordered it. With three kids needing to charge school tablets every night, I think it’ll be handy!

⭐️ 3-Month Audible Trial – If you think your kids (or you!) may benefit from or enjoy audiobooks, today is the last day to sign up to get three free months of Audible.

What are some of your must-haves for back-to-school season? Please share them in the comments below!