It’s time to take the stress out of back-to-school shopping. We asked three students (two in primary school and one in high school) to share their picks for the best stationery and essential school supplies that every kid needs in their backpack. Consider this your ultimate cheat sheet for when the first day of school rolls around.
The Perfect Early Primary School Backpack: Millie, Age 7
Like lots of little kids, Millie is all about bright rainbow colours and fun finishes when choosing school stuff. She’s opting for this Studymate Flat Pencil Case because “I love the glitter!”, and plans to fill it with loads of tools for drawing, writing and colouring, like Texta Coloured Markers and J.Burrows Chisel Highlighters.
With younger learners who are still developing their writing skills, it’s a good idea to purchase pencils that are easy to grip. Millie likes this Faber-Castell Junior Triangular Graphite Pencil and these Staedtler Triangular Coloured Pencils because “they are really easy to hold and write with.” Going into Year 2, Millie will soon start to use pens for her writing, which is an exciting milestone. She plans to use the multi-nibbed BIC Ballpoint Pens, as “there are four colours in one pen!”
In early primary school, students engage in plenty of hands-on craft-like learning activities, so items like scissors, glue and a ruler are essential. The Bostik Blu Stik is a winner with students and teachers alike, as Millie explains: “‘With the blue glue you can see where you have glued. Plus it’s easy to hold and put the lid on.”
Another one of Millie’s top picks? A cheery lunch bag, like this one by Studymate, which will keep her sandwich and snacks safe and cool. She’ll keep herself hydrated with this pink stainless steel drink bottle – “I love the colour!” Millie says, “and this bottle has a straw and a handle, and will keep my water cold.”
To carry around all of her gear, Millie likes this affordable J.Burrows backpack, which is great because it’s not too big for a little kid to carry. “I like the colour of it,” Millie says, “and I like all the flaps and space. There is even room for your reader bag.”
A good way to avoid favourite belongings getting lost or having to regularly replace basic school supplies is to make sure everything is labelled. For a touch of uniqueness – and convenience – personalised school labels might be just the thing.
Millie’s Must Have List to Inspire Other Early Primary Schoolers
- J.Burrows 15.6" Recycled Backpack Navy
- Studymate Chill Box Pool
- Studymate Flat Pencil Case Small Glitter Purple
- J.Burrows PC Wireless Headset
- Studymate Stainless Steel Drink Bottle 750mL Fuchsia
- Studymate 330x240 100gsm Mega Monster PP Cover Scrapbook 64pg
- Studymate 335x240 70gsm 24mm Dotted Thirds Project Book 64Pg
- Avery Kids Self-Laminating Name Labels 86x17mm Pastel 24 Pack
- Texta Smarttip Coloured Markers Assorted 20 Pack
- J.Burrows Chisel Highlighters Assorted 6 Pack
- Faber-Castell Junior Triangular Graphite Pencil HB
- Staedtler Triangular Coloured Pencils 12 Pack
- BIC 4 Colour Fine Retractable Ballpoint Pen
- BIC 4 Colour Medium Retractable Ballpoint Pen
- Staedtler Tradition Graphite Pencils HB 3 Pack
- Artline 200 Fineliner 0.4mm Black
- Artline 200 Fineliner Pen Bright Blue
- Maped Greenlogic Scissors 17cm
- Studymate Plastic Ruler 30cm Fluoro Green
- Maped Croc Croc 2 Hole Sharpener
- Faber-Castell PVC-free Eraser Large
- Bostik Blu Stik 35g
The Perfect Upper Primary School Backpack: Liam, Age 10
Here’s a quick tip: tweens have lots of opinions with regards to back-to-school shopping, so it pays to consult them on the school bag, drink bottle and pencil case you’re about to buy. Liam is starting Year 6 soon and says this black J.Burrows backpack is on his wish list – “I like the colour and I can put my drink bottle on the side.”
He’s also chosen a black pencil case to stash all of his school stationery essentials – a practical option as it won’t show wear and tear.
For writing in class, Liam likes Pilot BegreeN Rexgrip Ballpoint Pens and explains, “I like pens with no lids. I always lose the lids.” He’ll team these with lined A4 spiral notebooks or exercise books.
Other must-haves include a correction pen (“to fix all my spelling mistakes!”) and a box of pencils – “I need lots because I always lend out pencils and never get them back,” he says. For this age group Faber-Castell Connector Pens and Uni POSCA Paint Markers are highly sought after for doodling, designing and making art – “My friends and I love POSCAs, and artists use them,” Liam says, also revealing he has plans to customise his ruler with cool designs.
As primary school kids get older and start preparing for high school they may need some good quality headphones for Zoom calls and working online. Opt for a noise-cancelling pair and you can eradicate fighting and distractions during study sessions at home. Document wallets are also handy for keeping track of worksheets and newsletters.
When it’s time for lunch, Liam likes this Smash Nude Food Bento Bite Lunch Box – “It’s a nice colour and I like the separate sections so I can take lots of different food,” he says. He’ll keep his food fresh and cool with gel packs and an insulated cold box.
Liam’s Must Have List to Inspire Other Upper Primary Schoolers
- J.Burrows Backpack for 15.6" Laptop Black
- Studymate Chill Box Navy RPET
- Smash Nude Food Bento Bite Lunch Box Blue and Teal
- Smash Nude Food Gel Ice Small 3 Pack Navy/Teal
- Liht Lab Single Zip Wide Open Pencil Case Black
- JBL TUNE 660BTNC Noise-cancelling Headphones
- Studymate Double Wall Steel Drink Bottle 480mL Navy
- Studymate A4 70gsm 8mm PP Cover Spiral Notebook 120 Pg Clear
- Studymate A4 70gsm 8mm Ruled Exercise Book 96 Page Maths
- Keji A4 Document Wallets with Button Closure Assorted 12 Pack
- Pilot BegreeN Rexgrip Ballpoint Pens 1mm Black 4 Pack
- Liquid Paper Correction Pen 7mL
- Staedtler Tradition Graphite Pencils HB 12 Pack
- Faber-Castell Connector Pens 10 Pack
- Uni POSCA PC 7M Paint Markers Assorted 8 Pack
- Pilot BegreeN Spotliter Dual Highlighter Yellow/Pink 2 Pack
- Staedtler Noris Coloured Pencils 24 Pack
- Studymate Bamboo Ruler 30cm
- Faber-Castell Dust Free Eraser Black
- Studymate Neon Eraser Green
- Studymate 3 Hole Sharpener Green
- Maped Greenlogic Scissors 17cm
- Bostik Green Stik 35g
SEE ALSO: How to Save on Back to School Supplies
The Perfect Early High School Backpack: Jasmin, age 12
As she enters her second year of high school, Jasmin has got packing her school bag down to a fine art. “I like two pencil cases,” she explains, “One to hold all the stuff I need on a daily basis and one to hold my colouring pencils, so it doesn’t take up too much space.” She uses black gel pens for writing, like this Pentel Energel X BLN105 Gel Pen, and switches to a simple red ballpoint pen for marking or correcting her work. She also prefers a mechanical pencil over regular pencils as they’re ultra-fine and you don’t need to sharpen them, and, to save on space, Jasmin chooses compact school supplies where possible, like this Maped foldable ruler.
“At my school they ask for particular exercise books. For some subjects they like A4 books with 128 pages and for others they want different pages and sizes,” Jasmin says. Check if your school has a list of requirements when shopping for school stationery supplies – it could save you a lot of time and money.
When choosing a backpack, consider what they’ll need to carry each day. Jasmin likes this J.Burrows 15.6" Recycled Backpack because “it’s got a laptop sleeve, which makes it easier to pack your device, and it fits A4 size books too,” she shares, and this school bag is also roomy enough to fit an eco-friendly, leak resistant Studymate drink bottle.
She’ll also check her timetable the night before and only pack the books and accessories that she’ll actually need the next day – “During Art we usually draw and sketch, so I might want this pencil set. We also use a binder like this one for languages.”
Hot Tip: Jasmin swears by covering her text books with Studymate Non-Adhesive Book Cover. This keeps them pristine and protects them from juice box spills and squashed bananas in the bottom of your backpack.
Jasmin’s Must Have List to Inspire Other Early High Schoolers
- J.Burrows 15.6" Recycled Backpack Black
- Otto Twin Zip Pencil Case Small Buff
- Otto Tube Pencil Case Grey Weave
- Studymate Chill Box Navy RPET
- Keji Earphones with Inline Mic Black
- Studymate Double Wall Steel Drink Bottle 480mL Silver
- Otto Printed 25mm 2 D-Ring Binder Navy Spot
- Studymate A4 70gsm 8mm Ruled Recycled Exercise Book 128 Page
- Studymate A4 70gsm 8mm Ruled Exercise Book 64 Page
- Display Book A4 20 Pocket Fixed Light Weight Clear
- Faber-Castell Classic Coloured Pencils 24 Pack
- Pentel Energel X BLN105 Gel Pen 0.5mm Black
- Artline Smoove Ballpoint Pen Red
- Pentel Techniclick Mechanical Pencil 0.7mm Violet
- Faber-Castell Graphite Sketch Set 8 Piece
- Studymate Non-Adhesive Book Cover Roll 450mm x 2m Clear
- Stabilo Swing Cool Highlighters Assorted Pastel 4
- Pentel AIN Hi-Polymer Mechanical Pencil Lead Refills 0.7mm HB
- Studymate Retractable Correction Tape 5mm x 4m Pink
- Maped Foldable Ruler 30cm Assorted
- Bostik Glu Stik 35g
- Studymate Soft Grip Scissors 135mm Green
- Faber-Castell 1 Hole Pencil Sharpener Assorted
- Faber-Castell PVC-free Eraser 2 Pack