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Binders, backpacks, folders, pencils, notebooks – shopping for school supplies can be fun and exciting, but the costs can also add up quickly. Whether your child returns to class in the fall or continues remote learning, they’ll need plenty of essentials (see the list above for starters). To help you save money on back to school this year, we’ve rounded up 15 of the best school supplies you can buy right now for under $15, from colorful InkJoy gel pens to best-selling notebooks on Amazon. — including some personal favorites that I remember using during my own school years.
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1. These popular mechanical pencils
Think all pencils are created equal? Think again. These tuners from Bic have nearly 9,000 positive reviews on Amazon because they write well and don’t smudge easily. They’re also easy to fill (so they can last the whole school year) and have a little sparkle on the outside for extra pizzazz.
I personally own and love these pencils and have been using them since I was in class many years ago.
Get the Bic Xtra-Sparkle Mechanical Pencil (26-Pack) from Target for $4.29
2. These pens with nearly 15,000 reviews
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: these are by far the best pens I’ve ever used and the only ones I’ll ever buy. They write very easily, don’t easily smudge or bleed through paper, and last longer than other pens I’ve tried.
As if that wasn’t reason enough to get yourself a pack, InkJoy gel pens (which have nearly 15,000 reviews on Amazon!) come in a rainbow of pretty colors to make note taking even more fun.
Get the Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens (14 Count) from Amazon for $12.44
3. These colorful notebooks
Mead has long been a top name in the world of notebooks. It’s no surprise, then, that this six-pack from the school supply brand is one of the best-selling items on Amazon.
In a variety of pretty pastel colors, the college-lined spiral notebooks are perfect for any student who wants to use a different notebook for each subject (hello, color-coded!) and even have perforations so they can hang straight in three-ring binder.
Get the Mead Spiral Notebook (6-Pack) from Amazon for $13.97
4. This adorable pencil case
Proving that pencil cases definitely don’t have to be boring, this monster pouch from Zipit has a near-perfect 4.8-star rating from thousands of reviewers. They love how fun and playful it is (yes, it’s googly eyes and a zippered “mouth”) as well as the roomy and spacious interior, i.e. it will suit all those new school supplies you just bought for your student.
Get the Zipit Monster Pencil Case from Amazon for $4.97
5. These much-loved Sharpie highlighters
According to Amazon shoppers, let famed marker maker Sharpie deliver the best highlighters money can buy. Over 4,200 people love that the ink in these chisel-tip liquid highlighters is super vibrant (more than the average highlighter) and glides on smoothly and smudge-free.
Bonus: Each highlighter also has a notch at the bottom so your student can easily clip it to their binder without fear of losing it.
Get Sharpie Liquid Highlighters (10-Pack) from Amazon for $8.78
6. These solid shirts
Goodbye flimsy paper folders that tear on the first day of school, hello sturdy plastic folders that will keep all of your students’ important papers safe.
These Five Star folders – aptly named given the hundreds of five star reviews they’ve received – each have four pockets as well as hole punches so they can go straight into a binder. People also like that they’re laminated, so they’re water resistant and can handle accidental spills (or rainy days) without being damaged.
Get the Five Star 4-Pocket File Folders (6-Pack) from Amazon for $13.19
7. These mini post-its
Highlighters are great, until your student is using a textbook they’re not allowed to write in or wants to mark a page in their diary without scratching the paper. Enter Post-it flags.
Like those regular sticky notes but smaller, they’re great for everything from highlighting important information to serving as temporary bookmarks. Fans love that they stick securely to surfaces (no shedding!) and come in bright, easy-to-find colors.
Get Post-it Flags from Amazon for $10.35
8. This planner to keep track of everything
English tests, Zoom lessons, algebra homework… There’s always a lot to keep track of during the school year, between lessons, homework and extracurricular activities. This is where a good planner like this comes in handy.
Nearly 5,000 reviewers love that it has monthly and weekly spreads (for long and short-term planning) and that there is more than enough room for students to write down all their to-do lists and activities.
Get the BooQool Planner 2020-2021 from Amazon for $10.98
9. This dry-erase board for distance learning
Many teachers use whiteboards during Zoom classes for students to write and post their responses, so yours may need one if they continue virtual learning in the fall.
This portable board has over 6,000 rave reviews because it’s lightweight and erases easily without staining. It’s also magnetic, so your child can use it as a fridge sign to thank you for the delicious homemade lunch you served them (if only).
Get the U Brands Contempo Magnetic Dry Erase Board from Amazon for $7.49
10. These must-have Crayola colored pencils
If crayons are on your child’s school supply list this year, nearly 9,000 shoppers recommend you get this pack from Crayola. The colors are bold and vibrant while the pencils themselves are of good quality and don’t break easily.
Even better? They are pre-sharpened so they are ready to go out of the box.
Get Crayola Colored Pencils (50-Pack) from Amazon for $10.99
11. These oversized dividers
Inside every good binder is an even better set of dividers. These sturdy, tear-resistant papers are highly rated on Amazon, thanks to their extra-large size (they extend beyond your student’s papers so they’re easy to flip through) and the fact that they have pockets on each side (perfect for storing extra assignments).
You can also customize them with a variety of free templates provided by Avery online, which is a big plus.
Get the Avery Big Tab Insertable Plastic Dividers (5-Pack) from Amazon for $5.60
12. These kid-friendly scissors
Sharp scissors and small hands aren’t exactly the best. That’s why so many parents love these children’s scissors, which have received over 2,000 reviews.
Satisfied customers say the dull blade is less risky for young students while slicing through paper, and the gel-padded handle is comfortable to maneuver for both right- and left-handed children.
Get the Westcott 5″ Hard Handle Kids Blunt Scissors from Amazon for $5.69
13. This travel-sized hand sanitizer
If your student is returning to an in-person classroom this fall, hand sanitizer is a must to throw in their backpack to keep them safe and healthy while on the go.
This popular unscented from Walmart meets the CDC’s recommendation of containing at least 60% alcohol and is unscented so your student doesn’t have to deal with gross odors. Plus, it contains aloe to soothe and hydrate the skin while cleansing it.
Get Earth to Skin Hand Sanitizer Gel (6-Pack) from Walmart for $6.99
14. These long-lasting glue sticks
Trying to find a good glue stick can be a tricky situation. Some dry quickly while others leave streaky residue. That’s not the case, either way, with Elmer’s Disappearing Purple Glue Sticks.
Over 6,500 people have given them a thumbs up because the purple glue helps students see exactly what they’re sticking, yet it goes on smooth and mess-free. and dries clear. How about 30 sticks for $7? You can’t beat that.
Get Elmer’s Disappearing Purple School Glue (30 Pack) from Amazon for $6.99
15. These crowd-favorite erasers
No list of the best school supplies would be complete without the timeless Pink Pearl eraser. According to over 1,000 reviews, Jumbo Pink Erasers are comfortable to hold and erase smoothly and cleanly without smudging.
The iconic shape (with a flat front and pointed corners) also makes it easy to erase even the smallest marks or details without erasing the whole thing.
Get the Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers (12-Pack) from Amazon for $4.99
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published, but may change over time.