It’s the beginning of August, and that means back-to-school shopping is in full swing. Everywhere you look there’s an ad for school supplies, clothes, or dorm decor. You could go to crowded stores to do your back-to-school shopping—or you could just do it online and save yourself a lot of time and stress. Amazon just published a massive guide filled with everything students need for the school year, as picked by real parents, teachers, and students.
We dug through the incredibly long list of products to pick through the essentials and highly rated products that are actually worth purchasing for school. Whether you’re stocking up a classroom, checking off your school supplies list, or gifting a teacher, we guarantee you’ll probably need something here.
1. Spiral notebooks for, well, notes
Both note-taking and organization are essential for being prepared in class. This pack of six spiral notebooks from Mead comes in a variety of colors for each subject so students can separate everything easily.
Students can use the Echo Dot for some extra homework help by asking questions like “Alexa, how many feet are in a mile?” The Echo Dot Kids Edition caters to children with youth-friendly content, and it has parental controls enabled so there’s no accidental Amazon purchases. It even includes a full year of FreeTime Unlimited for free. This service offers hundreds of hours of fun and educational content
Highlighters are great for marking important notes, and using fun colors can help you stay motivated. This pack from Sharpie has a variety of colors for those of us who like organizing notes by color and has a “Smear Guard” to prevent ink from smearing, so you can actually read what you wrote after highlighting it.
Glue sticks are absolutely essential for every good childhood craft project. Whether you’re making a mask or gluing photos on posterboard, you want glue sticks that are non-toxic and acid-free—like these ones from Elmer’s. At under $10, this 30-count pack is big enough that you’ll never have to worry about running out of glue sticks the night before a project is due.
5. Hand sanitizer to protect your kids from all the germs
Let’s face it: Kids are full are germs and basically prone to getting sick. Toss a travel-sized hand sanitizer in their backpacks so they can clean their hands after being on the bus or while they’re out on field trips.
6. A flash drive to bring work from school to home
Unless your young student is lugging a laptop or tablet to school, they’re likely switching back and forth between school computers and your home desktop. To transport their precious files to and fro, they’re going to need a flash drive, and this 16GB drive from SanDisk has the perfect amount of storage space.
7. Truly wireless earbuds to jam out in between classes
Listening to music helps pass the time when you’re riding the bus or walking to class, and it can be even better when you don’t have to deal with pesky wires. Apple AirPods are the best true wireless earbuds we’ve ever tested because they sound better than their wired counterparts, easily connect to Apple products, and have good range and battery life. Although they’re not essential for school, we still think these are great picks.
If your kid doesn’t have an Apple device, we recommend the Jabra Elite 65t earbuds ($170 on Amazon), which cost about the same but work with both Android and Apple devices.
8. Folders to hold those loose papers
When I was in school, always made sure I stocked up on glossy Five Star school supplies. These pocket folders hold up to the Five Star name with assorted colors for every subject and four pockets that easily fit into a three-ring binder. Bonus: They’re water resistant to protect schoolwork from any spillage.
Binders are one of the easiest ways to organize schoolwork by subject and keeping all your notes and work in one place. Although these ones from AmazonBasics aren’t super exciting color-wise, they get the job done at a reasonable price. I personally prefer these larger binders, as they’re big enough to fit your papers, folders, and notebooks.
Label makers are honestly fun and put a personal touch on all your school supplies. You can print out the names of different subjects and make sure your kid’s names are on their things in case they lose them. This one from Brother is easy to use, stores up to 30 labels, and has a variety of fonts and styles for extra customization.
It’s always nice to have a stack of Post-It Notes handy. They’re great for jotting down quick thoughts, and having multiple colors can keep you organized. This cube is perfect for a desk at home, so students can take notes or leave themselves reminders about project due dates and upcoming tests.
If you’re not a fan of carrying notebooks around, you can just stock up on loose leaf paper to fill your binder. This pack from Mead is 3-hole punched, comes with 200 sheets, and is college-ruled for ample writing space.
No. 2 pencils might be necessary for test taking, but they’re super annoying to sharpen all the time. That’s why I prefer mechanical pencils, which always have a sharp point and can be refilled with additional pencil lead. These ones from BIC claim to be extra durable and are highly rated with almost 2,000 positive reviews.
Whewther running from class to class or coming out of an intense P.E. class, students get thirsty and multiple trips to the water fountain aren’t going to keep them fully hydrated. That’s why it’s essential to always have a water bottle in their backpack. CamelBak is a reliable brand and this chute-style water bottle holds up to one liter of water, so they won’t have to constantly refill it throughout the day.
Throughout the school year, there are plenty of projects that involve slapping a bunch of text and pictures onto posters. If you happen to be taking these photos on your phone, it’s way easier to print them off a portable photo printer than email the photos to yourself, start up a printer, and hope they’re the right size. Going to a local store to have them printed can be an even bigger hassle. The HP Sprocket is one of the best portable photo printer we’ve ever tested, and it lets you add fun borders and stickers to your photos before you print them.
Lugging a backpack filled with a laptop and textbooks can be taxing on your back, which is why it’s essential to get one that holds it all. This one from AmazonBasics a pouch to hold a 17-inch notebook computer and reviewers agree it’s decently durable for a budget price. It’s not our top choice for a backpack for laptops, as it’s not made with the most durable material and the abundance of storage spaces overwhelmed our testers. But it does have an average 4.2-star rating and more than 3,500 reviews, and for $30, it’s great for every budget.
It’s important to stock up on index cards for all those required class presentations and for making studying flashcards for tests. These ones from AmazonBasics are 3×5 inches, made of heavy commercial stock, and, most importantly, relatively inexpensive.