Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Back to School Supply Lists, 2011

Every year we receive The Lists, the ones for school supplies for the three Picket Fence Post kids that never cease to surprise me with their specificity and length. Even in a down economy -- or perhaps because of it -- I wonder how parents who might be out of work or short on cash right now can afford all these supplies, never mind the other unexpected costs (for field trips and the like) which spring up throughout the school year.

The Spouse and I spent one very long hour inside a local Staples over the weekend, trying not to scream or lose our patience as the kids ran around the store, clutching their lists (I finally found The Youngest Boy's fifth grade list stuffed inside his report card from June) and trying to slip some unnecessarily, overpriced goodies into the shopping cart, like an $11 3-ring binder when a $2 one would suffice. We spent over $100 to purchase supplies from their lists and we still have items left to buy, not including back to school clothing because the kids keep doing that growing thing.

What kind of supplies do suburban schools in the Greater Boston area ask parents to purchase for their children?

Here's the fifth grade list:
  • "1 soft, zipper pencil case (not the hard box)
  • 1 small, handheld pencil sharpener
  • 4 highlighters*
  • 4 pens (black or blue)*
  • 4 'jumbo' glue sticks*
  • 4 black and white composition notebooks (marble, 9 3/4 X 7 1/2) not recycled paper
  • blue pocket folder (plastic is strongly recommended as it will last the whole year)
  • purple pocket folder
  • green pocket folder
  • red pocket folder
  • orange pocket folder
  • yellow pocket folder
  • large size, soft, stretchy book cover for Social Studies textbook
  • 1 box of small binder clips
  • 2 boxes of #2 pencils*
  • 2 boxes of tissues*
  • 2 packs of 3 X 5 lined index cards
  • 1 roll of paper towels
  • Clorox Wipes
  • hand sanitizer
*These items will need to be replenished throughout the school year.

Also, please do not buy a 'trapper keeper.' Our experience has shown us that they do not facilitate good organization. An accordion style organizer works better."

And this is the one for seventh graders for which we had to buy double because we've got two students going into the seventh grade:
  • "One box of tissues per student (to be given to the homeroom teacher, so that every teacher has close to a year supply)
  • A 3-ring binder with paper for science and social studies
  • A 2-inch, 3-ring binder with paper for language arts and reading
  • A composition book or small spiral bound notebook for reading journals
  • A 7.5 X 10 inch hardcover composition notebook for science
  • A spiral notebook, many pencils, two dry erase markers and choice of a two-pocket folder, accordion file, or 3-ring binder for French or Spanish
  • A small, hand-sized notebook for Leaf Collection
  • A supply of loose leaf notebook paper
  • A two-pocket folder for the science classroom
  • Many blue or black pens, red correcting pens, and pencils, frequently replenished
  • A package of five notebook dividers for Language Arts binder
  • Highlighters
  • Note cards
  • 5-7 book covers (NOT BOOK SOCKS!! They can ruin the book)
  • 12 GB flash drive
Optional: A calculator for home use (a scientific calculator will be available in all math classrooms). Also, you will need an assignment book or planner. A [SCHOOL SPECIFIC] assignment book may be purchased for $5.00 when school reopens. If you choose not to purchase a [SCHOOL SPECIFIC] planner, please bring your own planner on the first day of school."

What about your kids' school supply lists, are they extensive, too much or just about right?


  1. NO more supply lists once high school begins. I don't miss them for a minute, the specificity drove me crazy--a "one-inch binder", not "1 1/2 or 2 or whatever Staples has" which would have suited me better. I have no problem with the tissue boxes and hand sanitizer stuff because i know schools are short on budgets and i don't want the teachers to have to pay, but why does it matter what kind of notebook a kid uses or how he/she organizes him/herself?

  2. I agree with the person before me. We visited our daughter and her family in Marblehead over Labor Day and she had to go through the same thing. What happens to the stuff after the poor little kid lugs it to school. Do they stay in their desk? How do they keep their desks clean? I thought teachers were given allotments for each child. Now I'm really glad our kids are out of school and college. And I'm wondering what's going on. Hmmmm?