There are two approaches to back-to-school shopping: buying whatever is cheapest or shopping for the cuteness factor. Here’s an argument for the latter: Many children, even young preschoolers who aren’t yet able to articulate their feelings very well, see their school supplies as an extension of themselves. That’s why they want to walk through those doors on the first day of class with a colorful backpack featuring their favorite animal or character, and why they begged you for a specific pencil case that cost five times more than a simple hard shell box. It may be hard to see the point in novelty pencils when a bulk pack of No. 2s seems much more practical, but cute school supplies can be so much more to a child than simply tools to help them complete their schoolwork.
Talismans, conversation starters, simply an object that sparks joy… cute school supplies were my saving grace as a painfully shy kid who felt anything but comfortable at the start of the school year. When I went to school and pulled out my frog-topped mechanical pencil and strawberry-scented bunny eraser at the start of class, I felt a little more confident than I would have if I didn’t. Countless friendships were started over an ice-breaking
I like your pencil or Can I smell your eraser? Before I knew it, my distinctive eraser would make its way around the table, and a likeminded classmate with a penchant for quirky school supplies would bust out something oddly shaped or silly smelling of their own. Then the teacher would have to tell us to keep it down.
Of course that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on an entire collection of ridiculously adorable back-to-school essentials to make your child feel comfortable — unless you want to. The point is, a pair of scissors can have some personality and a stapler can be anything but boring, and if an extra-cute school supply can make your child feel a little more confident and happy in the classroom, I say go for it.
1 A Backpack That Goes With Everything
If you’re not familiar with STATE and its business model, it’s one you’ll be proud to support. Each purchase of a STATE product (from backpacks to jewelry) allows the certified B-Corp company to make an even bigger social impact doing such things as offering free virtual tutoring sessions and dropping off backpacks stocked with essential classroom supplies to schools in underserved communities around the country. For the first time ever, they’re offering a collection of cool backpacks and lunchboxes at Target at a lower price point. This metallic pack with ample pockets will help little ones keep their gear organized.
2 A Pencil Sharpener For School
Your child will likely need to bring in their own pencil sharpener, so you might as well make it fun. These adorable smiling poop sharpeners come with two different sized blades that allow them to sharpen writing utensils of various sizes and come in four different colors to suit your child’s preference. Best of all, there is a vessel to catch the pencil shavings — surprisingly there are way too many options out there that don’t.
3 Really Cute Highlighters
Once your child hits a certain grade level, highlighters will make their school supply list. These adorable markers are bear-themed and scented in various fruity scents. They’re just shy of 3 inches long, so they’ll easily fit in your child’s pencil case or pocket.
4 Emoji Labels
If you’re being totally honest with yourself, you know that your child is bound to lose a school supply or 15 throughout the school year. Labeling everything will help your kid keep track of their own gear (especially if multiple kids in class have the exact same iterations of notebooks and such), and will make it easy for stranded supplies to get returned to its rightful owner. These cute labels from Minted feature a winking emoji and are available as squares or rectangles as well.
5 Finger Crayons
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the standard yellow and green box of crayons that have been everyone’s go-to for decades, but you can’t deny that these finger crayons from Kid Made Modern are simply silly and fun. Kids can even make a game of trying to see how many they can stack before the tower comes tumbling down and will probably try to color with one on each finger simultaneously purely for giggles, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that.
6 A Leak-Proof Bento Box
Whether you’re a bona fide
bento box artiste or like to keep things very simple, your kid’s going to need a container to bring in their school lunch. This particular bento box houses five compartments of various sizes for ample options. The silicone lining makes it leakproof, and before you ask, of course you can put it in the dishwasher. 7 Seriously Cool Sneakers
Back-to-school shopping isn’t just about supplies — the wardrobe is a priority for many people, too. These LeBron sneakers from the new Nike x Space Jam collaboration look good on and off the court and are good for young athletes, too. They’re designed for maximum comfort, support, and bounce.
8 A Personalized Backpack
Some families are all about personalizing
everything. If that’s your style, this adorable knapsack for little kids from Pottery Barn Kids rocks a beloved childhood motif: firetrucks. If you’re uncomfortable with your child’s name on full display, you can opt for something more subtle, like their monogram, or get the backpack and waive the personalization option. It’s the perfect piece for the child who’s always begging to drive by the local fire station. 9 An Electric Pencil Sharpener For Your Desk
For home, your child’s manual pencil sharpener just won’t do, especially if they’ve waited until the last minute to sharpen an entire box of colored pencils. This silly, hilariously-shaped desktop tool is actually an electric pencil sharpener, not a ginormous pencil. It plugs into a standard electrical outlet.
10 Scented Markers That Smell Good — And Bad
Your kid will get kick out of Crayola’s scented markers that are a mix of sweet and stinky smells. The sweet lineup includes refreshing options like green apple, strawberry, orange, and lemon, while the stinky scents include dirty potatoes, old rotten teeth, rotten fruit, smoke, and more unappealing smells. When it comes to kids, though, the grosser, the better.
11 A Really Good Eraser
Truly, the fun eraser options out there are endless. Unfortunately, many of these adorable options simply suck at the one thing they’re supposed to be good at: erasing. Jelly erasers might seem a bit unconventional, but they’re really effective, and these gradient erasers from Etsy seller My Kawaii Crate are just really nice to look at.
12 This Panda Tape Dispenser
This playful panda tape dispenser is too bulky to bring to school on a daily basis, but it’s the perfect desk mate for your kid to keep at their workspace at home. Instead of hanging from a tree, the panda looks like it’s hanging from a branch of tape. And if your child prefers a different animal, there are plenty to choose from: dog, cat, horse, shark, tiger, and polar bear.
13 Bold Tape
Sure, you can stock up on rolls of the standard transparent or translucent tape, but these days you can find adhesives in practically every color, pattern, and texture. Have a little fun and splurge on a roll with an eye-catching design or grab a fleet of patterned tapes to use on school projects, label supplies, wrap a classmate’s birthday present, and more.
14 A Glow-In-The Dark Pencil Case
This Star Wars pencil case from Pottery Barn Kids features Grogu, aka The Child, aka Baby Yoda, the most adorable character from the George Lucas universe. It will corral your kid’s writing utensils, and it glows in the dark. What kid won’t get a kick out of that? You have the option to personalize it for an additional $12.
15 Kitty Stickies
Whether it’s on your child’s school supply list or not, you can’t deny the practicality and usefulness of sticky notes. These adorable cat-shaped stickies from Muji are made from trees that were intentionally planted for the purpose of producing paper products (in an effort to cut down on excessive deforestation).
16 Sparkly Hair Clips
The accessories brand Lily Frilly is the brainchild of 6-year-old Lily Adeleye, who runs it with her mom. This rainbow hair clip set is just one of the many sparkly products offered by the brand. If these glittery barrettes have earned the stamp of approval of a fashion-obsessed kid, it’s likely your kid will like them, too.
17 Skin Tone Crayons
Even if you haven’t
talked to your child about race yet, it’s very likely they’ve already noticed. Stocking your household with crayons in various skin tones can help you as a parent navigate important conversations about skin tones. And they’ll feel relieved knowing that whatever beautiful shade the color of their skin is, there are crayons that come in a similar enough shade. 18 A Lucky Pencil Case
Calico cats are a symbol of luck, and what child can’t use some of that when they’re in school? There’s no kid out there who hasn’t at some point wished for some higher being to be on their side to navigate some kind of sticky academic or social situation. This adorable pencil case featuring an adorable calico kitty just might become their special talisman.
19 Color-Changing Umbrella
This adorable umbrella not only comes in a cool space-themed pattern, but it changes color when it gets wet. There is also a fairy tale theme and deep sea theme option available. Instead of cloudy days getting your kid down, they’ll actually wish for rain with these.
20 Cute Water Bottle That Everyone Else Won’t Have
This reusable water bottle is made of steel and will keep your child’s beverages well insulated throughout the school day and beyond, keeping liquids hot for up to 12 hours or cold for up to 24 hours. The 350-mL option (just shy of 1.5 cups or 12 fluid ounces) isn’t too heavy to weigh your child’s knapsack down and can easily be refilled throughout the day. Depending on your child’s preference, you can send them to school with one of two lids, a closed steel lid or sport option. Both come with the water bottle.
21 Animal Pencils
Pencils come in every color and pattern imaginable and your little one will go wild for this set of animal pencils that feature some of the most well-known safari animals: zebra, lion, tiger, and elephant. It’s also very likely they won’t get their unique writing utensils mixed up with their classmates’ pencils with these.
22 A Little Shoe Bling
These clip-on shoelace charms will make your kid’s standard kicks stand out. Inspired by actual high-end costume jewelry, the company Super Smalls embraces the spirit of dress-up and make-believe, offering quality, eye-catching baubles for children at a reasonable price point.
23 Buzz-Worthy Scissors
Your bumblebee will need kid-friendly scissors come the school year, so why not get them a pair of bee scissors to help zip through all their projects. These have earned a whopping 4.5 stars on Amazon (and nearly 3,000 reviews), so you don’t have to be skeptical about whether or not they’ll get the job done.
24 A Fun Notebook
Your child may be completing a lot of their assignments on a computer or tablet these days, but a notebook will always be needed. While there’s nothing wrong with the classic composition book or spiral-bound ruled pages, something that’s a little more special can give your child something to smile about during the school day. This banana-print notebook is fun, compact, and lined — a must for kids who can’t be trusted to write in a straight line on their own.
25 Hand Sanitizer With Holder
proper hand-washing is still the most effective way to protect yourself and others from spreading germs, hand sanitizer can work in a pinch. This mini tube of sanitizer comes in a snuggly Baby Yoda holder that can be attached to their backpack, lunchbox, or belt loop. 26 A Mini Stapler
For those who are asked to return to school with a stapler they can keep in their pencil case or at their desk, look no further than this really sweet panda stapler that features an adorable smiling bear. Your child will be itching to use it throughout the year, hopefully inspiring them to keep their assignments that much more organized.
27 A Foldable Scooter
Whether your child scoots to school on their own or alongside Mom or Dad, the latest version of Micro’s popular scooter folds up for convenient storing (in a locker, cubby, or elsewhere), and has light-up wheels, making them easier to spot especially once the sun starts to set.
28 An Easy-To-Spot Helmet
Kids who get to school via skateboard, scooter, bike, or the like, definitely need to be cruising in a helmet. The great thing about Thousand’s sparkle helmet is that it’s quite reflective, on top of being stylish. Parents who ride with their kids on their own set of wheels will want to check out the cool options for adults, too.
This back-to-school season, consider getting your child a few cute school supplies that they love. They may not help your child ace any tests, but they can make your kid a little more excited about going to school — and that’s nothing to scoff at.