Must-Have Back to School Supplies + Free Printables


At Knoxville Moms we are chock-full of strong opinions, and these opinions carry over to our school supplies preferences as well. I polled our contributors, particularly our contributors who are also teachers, to learn what they love as they head back to school.

Must-Have Back to School SuppliesCheck out some of our favorites below, starting with the basics: 

No matter what age your kids are, they will need what we refer to as the clean classroom stuff. This includes Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer, and tissues. Whether your kiddo is three and starting preschool or an 18-year-old senior, you want these things in their classroom. Send them in! Grab the number on the list and maybe grab a couple of extras, too. There is no such thing as too much hand sanitizer or disinfecting wipes in a classroom, especially when flu season rolls in.

Glue Sticks 

We all know glue is important for school. We love Elmer’s disappearing purple glue sticks. They are easy for kids to use, the purple helps kids see where they are spreading the glue, and it dries clear allowing their work to look great in the end. Elmer’s sticks, so stick with it.

Paper Mate Handwriting Pens and Pencils

Paper Mate pens and pencils are great for early writers, and are listed at a good price point. The triangular and thicker barrel helps guide finger placement and control, making the process more enjoyable and fun for kids who are learning to write.


Ticonderoga pencils are superior. They sharpen much more easily than other brands and they last longer. They also have better erasers. Our resident kindergarten teacher Autumn, is endorsing these pencils and we agree that they are the best.

Expo Markers

Remember how we used to take chalk in for our teachers? Dry erase markers are what chalk was in the ’80s and ’90s. Help your teacher out by bringing in some Expo markers. Go for the quality Expo brand, or at least pick out the chisel tip of whichever brand you use. Have you tried to write without the chisel tip? It’s like using a big ol’ paintbrush to put words on a board. It’s not fun.

Crayola Crayons

Crayola crayons are more pigmented and stronger. Other brands have fillers in the wax, leave a waxy residue, and break easily.

Sharpie Highlighters

Earlier this summer, while pre-back to school shopping, I was in need of highlighters. I bought an off-brand and used them for two days before I could not stand how light they were. I need some boldness in a highlighter, high maintenance as I am. So I went back to the store and noticed the Sharpie highlighters. There were a bunch in the package for a good price point, so I decided to give them a try. I’m sold. I never knew I could be so picky.


A must-have for any back to school list. I think you know where KM moms land on this one: #teamcrayola. 

A note from our teacher friends: Please stick to the list given by your child’s teacher as there are specific reasons your teacher asked for specific items. It makes their job more difficult when you go rogue and stray from the class supply list. Teachers also ask that you stick to name brands when specified (see reasons listed above). Please know that teachers are not trying to make you spend more money on the name brand, but rather feel your child will do their best in the classroom with these supplies.

A Little Something Extra 

Back to school gifts give me hives. I love the idea of showing our teachers we are excited for the year ahead with them, but the thought of what to do makes me slightly panic. If you share my feelings, or even if you don’t, check out these cute printables that our friend, Raven, made for us.

Thank You Teacher Printable

Pair this printable with a box of highlighters! {Download this printable here.}

Teacher Thank You Printable Pair this with a set of dry erase markers and your teacher will have an extra set of markers on hand while knowing how excited you are for the year ahead. {Download this printable here.}

Happy back to school! 

What are your must-have school supplies? Share with us in the comments! 

Note: We do not get endorsements for promoting the brands listed above. They are simply our contributors’ personal favorites.


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