The Ultimate School Supply Shopping List

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School starts again sooner than you might realize! Labor Day is a month away, and right after that, elementary, middle, and high schools around the country will start classes for the 2019-20 school year. Many universities will start classes then too, but other colleges are starting their fall semester only two weeks from now, so now’s the perfect time to stock up on school supplies.

School supply lists vary tremendously by your level of education. Although kindergartners might need colored pencils and markers, college students are pretty much certain to not need these. That’s why this ultimate school supply shopping list breaks items down by approximate education level, so whether you’re a parent of young kids or yourself a college student, you won’t miss anything by referencing this!


Most of what your kindergartner needs for this new school year will be art supplies for his or her young creative mind! Find a comprehensive, alphabetically ordered list of these and some other basic necessities below.

  1. Backpack (preferably kid-sized, not adult-sized!)
  2. Blunt-tipped or safety scissors
  3. Colored pencils
  4. Crayons
  5. Erasers (bigger ones may be better to reduce choking hazards)
  6. Glue sticks
  7. Lunchbox or reusable lunch bag
  8. No. 2 pencils
  9. Pencil box
  10. Pencil sharpener (handheld, non-electric)
  11. Plastic folders
  12. Tissues
  13. Washable markers
  14. Wide-ruled notebook

First through fifth grade

For most of your child’s remaining elementary school years, his or her supply list will look pretty much the same as the kindergarten list, but with the below additions to the kindergarten list. With these items, as the classroom becomes a bit more focused on introductory math, science, history, language, and more, your student will be prepared.

  1. Binder
  2. Book covers (may not be necessary for first and second grade)
  3. Calculator (nothing too fancy – that can wait until middle school!)
  4. Highlighters
  5. Index cards
  6. Looseleaf paper
  7. Pencil pouch (this can replace the pencil box in the kindergarten list)
  8. Pens (only blue or black)
  9. Ruler
  10. Subject dividers
  11. Three-hole puncher

Sixth through twelfth grade

Although this range covers both middle and high school, the supplies needed for these grades are pretty much the same. You might need to buy fancier calculators as math classes become more advanced, but otherwise, you’ll likely just need to restock the same items annually. Note that this list is not in addition to the ones above – it’s entirely standalone, but you can always reuse previously purchased supplies.

  1. Backpack
  2. Binders
  3. Book covers
  4. Calculators (graphing calculators for later years)
  5. Combination lock
  6. Correction fluid
  7. Erasers (block and pencil-cap)
  8. Graph paper
  9. Highlighters
  10. Index cards
  11. Looseleaf paper
  12. Lunchbox or reusable lunch bag
  13. Permanent markers
  14. Pencil pouch
  15. Pencil sharpener
  16. Pens (only blue or black)
  17. Plastic folders
  18. Protractor
  19. Sticky notes
  20. Subject dividers
  21. Three-hole punch


Surprisingly, the college school supply list looks pretty similar to the sixth through twelfth grade one. That’s because most of the new things you’ll need to buy for college aren’t educational items – they’re things like shower caddies, extra bedsheets, and desk organizers that you’ll need for your first-year dorm. Consider adding the following to the sixth through twelfth grade list as you head to college:

  1. Laptop, if your middle/high school one is nearing the end of its lifetime
  2. Printer, if your university doesn’t offer printing credits or only has printing located inconveniently far from your residence
  3. Printer ink cartridges, if applicable
  4. Printing paper, if applicable
  5. Stapler
  6. Tape

For non-academic college supplies, check this list.

Are there any supplies you think were left off this list? If so, holler in the comments!

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