Back To School Shopping List for Kids, Tweens, & Teens

Summer break is flying by and I already have back to school prep on my mind. Many of the schools in our area have a year-round schedule, so all of the local stores have been fully stocked with back to school gear for weeks now. There’s just something about fresh pencils and notebooks that spark joy in my life. Honesty moment: even though I’m (obviously) not in school anymore, I can’t help but pick up a new set of pens for myself every time I take the kids back to school shopping. Please tell me I’m not the only one who does this. 

In addition to the required list of notebooks and folders from teachers, we’ve made a list of our favorite back to school finds for kids, tweens, and teens. And, while you’re out shopping, be sure to pick up a few extra things, if you can, to donate to the teacher’s classroom such as disinfectant wipes, white board markers, tissues, felt tip pens, sticky notes, or store gift cards

And a special note to all middle school parents out there, for the sake of all the teachers, please throw in a travel sized bottle of deodorant for your kid to reapply after gym class. 

Back To School Favorites 

Lunch Time  

  • Kids – we love the cute patterns options and the easy to wipe down surface on these lunchboxes. 
  • Tweens – you can’t go wrong with a sports bag theme for the middle school lunch box. 
  • Teens – more mature lunch box options for the older kids: 
  • Bentoboxes – these boxes make packing lunches a breeze. My kids used these all throughout elementary school and they are still in excellent condition. Plus, I love that you aren’t generating waste from plastic bags. Tip: Just be sure the size dimensions fit in your lunchbox. 
  • Ice packs – these ice packs hold up better than the soft sided variety and stay cold longer. The slim design makes it fit easily in any lunch box. 
  • Thermos – great for packing soups, pastas, chicken nuggets, or leftovers. 

Water bottles 

  • Kids – we have never had problems with these leaking. I especially like that the straw/mouth part stays covered when not in use to help keep it clean when being tossed around inside of bags or dropped on the ground. 
  • Tweens – these bottles come in a variety of sizes and colors. It also comes with two types of lids, and would be perfect for covering in fun stickers.  
  • Teens – these popular bottles are pricey, but let’s try to hope that the older kids will be able to go a whole school year without losing it. They come in a variety of larger sizes which is great for a long day of school plus clubs or sports. Bonus points if you get one in your school colors! 
  • Don’t forget your bottle brush cleaning set


  • Kids – we got these bookbags when the kids were going into kindergarten and they lasted all the way through the end of elementary school. They are machine washable, held up extremely well, and comfortable. 
  • Tweens & Teens – this Adidas bookbag is very roomy for all the supplies and gear that an older kid requires, and also has a space for a Chromebook. We also will forever love the classic Jansport bags with their lifetime warranty. The North Face bookbags are a bit pricey, but are a popular choice seen around high schools. 

Supply Basics 

  • Pencils – the teacher favorite. We love that these come pre-sharpened. 
  • Highlighters – the see through tip on these make it easy to see what you are highlighting. 
  • Colored pencils – these twistable ones are our favorites since they don’t require any sharpening  
  • Crayons – we love this set of multicultural skin-toned colors. 
  • Glue sticks – this 30 pack is on a great sale right now. Send your extras in for the teacher to keep in her supply closet. 

Pencil Cases

  • Kids – these cases for younger kids come in a variety of adorable patterns with a carrying handle for little hands. 
  • Tweens – this pouch has pencil storage on one side and a large area on the other side for everything else like earbuds, erasers, etc. 
  • Teens – this case holds pens/pencils plus has room for a graphing calculator. 


  • Kids – headphones tend to work better than earbuds for the little ones. This basic pair will get the job done without breaking the bank. 
  • Tweens & Teens – in our experience, you will need a wired set of earbuds to work with school equipment. We recommend a small storage case like this to keep these safe and tangle-free. 


  • Period pouch – great for all girls to keep a stash of personal products for easy access when needed. Hot tip: if you have a tween girl, go ahead and make her a kit to keep in her book bag just in case she needs it! 
  • Back to school sign – this adorable sign is double sided for the first and last days of school. Don’t forget your colorful chalk markers to fill in the details. 
  • Trapper Keeper – did you know these were back?! A great way to keep all of your classes organized in one place. 
  • Agenda – this planner has daily and monthly calendars. It also has space for goal setting, vision boards, and comes with stickers. A great tool for anyone to keep themselves organized. 
  • Calculator – once you reach middle or high school, your child will soon be needing a graphic calculator. This TI-84 Plus is on sale for $50 off right now! 

Do you enjoy back to school shopping? What items am I missing from my list? Tell me in the comments. 


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