nostalgic plaid lunch box with vintage books

How to Buy School Supplies for Your Homeschool

It seems like summer is hardly half over before the Back-to-School sales start. When I was growing up we would get a shopping list of school supplies from our school. The list for each grade level was slightly different.

In the early years we needed

  • a tablet or two of lined manuscript paper…
  • a few Number Two pencils (I’m not sure what other Number pencils were/are readily available, but the list was very specific that we needed the Number Twos!)…
  • a box of 24 crayons (oh, how I wanted that glorious box of 64!)…
  • a pair of children’s scissors…
  • a bottle of paste (remember paste? Glue sticks are WAY better!)…
  • a package of manila paper…
  • a package of construction paper…

That might have been all.

In higher grades

  • the crayons were replaced with colored pencils…
  • the paste was replaced with Elmer’s glue…
  • we got to have spiral notebooks and loose-leaf notebook paper instead of the manuscript paper…
  • plus a 3-ring binder…
  • and pens in addition to pencils…

Nowadays, of course, you can pick up the school supplies list for your specific grade and school right at the store.

Since I homeschooled my kids I didn’t pay any attention to the lists and just bought what I thought we needed. However, as a homeschool advisor I was sometimes asked if I could provide a back-to-supplies list. My suggestion was to pick up a list for your child’s grade wherever you would shop for school supplies and use that as a guide.

A couple years ago, I got to wondering what those even lists looked like. I don’t remember that I ever picked up one when my kids were younger. The next time I was in Wal-Mart I grabbed 3 or 4 from different schools and grade levels, just because I was curious.

All the basics were there, but they also required some items I had never thought of as school supplies: hand sanitizer, tissues, ear buds, classroom snacks, even white socks for wiping off the marker board! Some teachers required certain brands of some items. The lists were quite extensive. I didn’t take the time to total up the cost but I expect it would not be cheap if you had several children.

I do love back-to-school sales.

Those 50-cent boxes of crayons! And the 25-cent spiral notebooks! August is definitely the time to stock up.

My approach has been to keep a “craft cupboard” stocked with a variety of supplies, for any projects that might come up throughout the year. Usually my children would come up with an idea, and then pull out what they needed for their project.

I also get extra spiral notebooks and plenty of pencils for creative journaling.

The public school supplies lists are great for reference. You’ll find items on there you don’t need… and as you browse the aisles you’ll probably notice other things that you would love to incorporate into your homeschool. It really is up to you!

Inspire Bible


  • Dee

    What does a family with more than one child do when a computer is on the list? And the computer itself has a list of capability requirements! And, oh! This is for third grade! Sigh! Maybe they took pencils off the list huh? Yeah, right! Now THAT’s going to help a lot to compensate for the cost of the computer! Sigh! Oh for the good ole days!!! 🙂

  • Kathryn

    I have a craft cupboard too Karla. It is so great as I have built it up over the years – my kids find all kinds of goodies to work with in there.

  • Kristen

    Yeah…the lists are crazy. And I always found it so frustrating as a high school teacher when kids would already have everything purchased for my class and it didn’t really work. I required a three-ring-binder and paper (besides something to write with) b/c we had a lot of supplements to the textbook and needed to keep them in order. I let my honors kids bring in things like tissues, extra supplies, etc for extra credit. I hated that my budget of $75 for the year meant I couldn’t provide my students with tissues or other necessary things.

  • Hope

    I was always homeschooled, so I never got a supply list, but we always enjoyed shopping the sales in August. I missed the excitement of getting lists like the other kids, so last year I made our own list for my son, with all the things we needed. Great post!

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