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Third- through fifth-grade: back-to-school supply list

Here's a basic list if you don't have one from your child's school yet.

By GreatSchools Staff

Before you shop for back-to-school supplies, it's best to get a list of what's required from your child's school or new teacher. If the school list isn't available yet, you can still take advantage of back-to-school sales by sticking to the basics that you know your child will need.

Basic Writing Supplies

No. 2 pencils (Parents should stick to the basics here, advises Nicola Salvatico, Pennsylvania's 2005 Teacher of the Year. "When they get fancy pencils, it becomes a 'that's mine' event.")

Colored pencils

Pencil sharpener (hand held with a top to collect shavings)

Large pink eraser ("These good old ones do the best erasing," says Salvatico "The fancy ones look good but don't erase well.")

Ballpoint pens

Box of crayons (16-pack for younger kids, more for older ones, says Salvatico. "Parents need to think how their child can organize and care for their supplies before buying them the mega box of things.")

Water-based markers

Spiral bound or composition notebooks

Loose-leaf notebook paper
Note: Teachers can be picky about paper. Schools usually supply specially ruled handwriting paper to help younger children with letter formation. Older children use wide-ruled paper.

Basic Organizational Supplies

3-ring binder

Pocket folders

Box for storing supplies


Index cards, ruled and unruled (for making flash cards)

A sturdy, supportive backpack
Note: Some schools do not permit rolling backpacks because of space considerations, so check with your school before considering this option.

Basic Craft Supplies

Drawing paper

Construction paper

A ruler with English and metric measurements

Glue sticks

4-oz. bottle of white glue

Scotch tape


Scissors (blunt end for younger kids, pointy for older ones)

Water color paints

Comments from readers

"this seems like a lot of stuff but very helpfil,thanks "
"its great on giving me ideas "
"thank u so much "
"it would be great if the school lists were printable. Thank you, "
"What school supplies will my daughter need when she goes to 5th grade? To me, this is the best site on school supplies you can contact me by email and I have also typed in my email above. I am always available, and i'll make sure to recommend you guys as the best school supplies site in America! More people will make sure of it. Anyway contact me and tell me I will be so happy when you contact me! Thanks and have a very very very nice day! =) "
"This article helps you a lot on what you need to know! "
"This is great. but i prefer zipper binders and earaseble pens and highliters. "
"i think they should have all the kids keep there own stuff and get them back at the end of the year.because at my school the kids bring in supllies and they take almost all of it so i think they should just let them keep there school supplies. "
"i think you should put less because some people dont have enough money "
"Make sure you do not buy fancy pencils or sharpeners it's a waste of money. "
"The most important school supply you can offer your kids would be free and straight from the heart....send them to school knowing they are loved no matter what happens and they are missed while away and you will have kids wanting to talk about their day and eager to be part of the world. Btw, each school & class requires different things for classes and in our town the individual schools, and classes, post their lists at the local Fred Meyers. We just go to the store and get everythign we need, of course not all supplies are purchased at Fred Meyers because the Dollar Store comes in real handy for us....:) Love your kids they will be grown up before you blink.....!! "
"awesome school! "
"Crayons for a fifth grader!!! Seriously? They are thick and harder to use than pencil crayons. You can't draw as well with them. And fifth graders at my school aren't allowed to use them for those very reasons. Fancy pencils are fine. Only kindergartens have mine events. By fifth grade we don't do that. No one did it in forth grade or third grade either. The fancy erasers are fine too. From years of experimenting with fancy erasers some fancy erasers are better than plain boring erasers. "
"I'm going into grade 5. I hate crayons so much. I hate colouring like a baby. And zipper binders are very helpful and they fit in my desk fine. I don't need index cards. I stopped making flash cards in first grade. Seriously. Thats for babies. Maybe you should study what is needed more. And fancy erasers work great. Seriously. "
"were r the school supplies 4 5th grade???!!! "
"you forgot backpack "
"This is such a found list! "
"usually most schools don't need that many things, and all schools are different, so i advise everyone that they should check their schools shopping list first. "
"how about tips on how third threw fifth grade are gonna be ."
"why do any grades in elementary school need stapler not even 3rd 4th or 5th the to young any way"
"Please remember during this bad economy, try to help families in need, churches and organizations with school supplies and clothes for less fortunate. A lot of parents are having hard time to get their kids ready for this new school year. Please be a blessing for a family in need"
"i think this list is great"
"thanks for a great service"
"why do 3rd graders need staplers and what kind!"
"Can you seperate for each grade level. Not all schools need that much stuff."
"what if you need these school supplies and cant find them?"
"This was very helpful to my parents and I. I've been looking all over the internet for a fifth grade shopping list. I thought I'd never find one! Then I clicked this link and found it!! I had to think for a minute because I thought that I had no choise, I thought I HAD to print it. But I thought for a minute and then I started just writing it all on a peice of paper! Now I just have to go to the store and I'll be ready for school!"
"This is so helpful to younger minds and there parents! This gets them on the right track! You should mention that 2 weeks after school starts it will be half off!"
"These children need to learn self respect and for see that putting them in school colors will give them the self respect. It is to expesive to buy clothes for more them one child, where buying them uniforms It is much cheaper and they look good in unigorms. Less clothes will be missing or stolen. Lets bring uniforms back to school."
"Thank you for some very helpful suggestions. You people are priceless."
"I was very happy to see that this site was available. My child has been attending the same school for five years and I was disappointed to see that they had no information available for supplies or a schedule of events. Nothing! I want to let you know I am grateful for having this site to help. Thank you! "
"I am Having a difficult time paying for my kids supplies, and my community center said that they ran short this year and can not help. My husband died in May, and I am riddled with expenses, and on disability. The sschool said they will waive my tuitions, but cant help with supplies. Do you have any ideas. I have one 10 year old going into 5th grade, and a 12 year old going into 7th. Regards, Krisit Doll"
"this is a great site for parents and teachers"
"This is a great site to keep parents up to date. Finding out important information online for our kids is great knowing its only a finger tip away."
"great job!"
"I teach 3rd grade and noticed that on your list of supplies you recommended hand-held pencil sharpeners. I do not allow my students to use these because they spend way too much time sharpening and re-sharpening during class. I also find the shavings all over the classroom. I bought 5 good electric sharpeners instead and the whole class can sharpen 2 pencils in less than 2 minutes. Thanks for your consideration."
"My kids school has supply lists available in the school office. For some reason they will not respond to the local stores that have requested them. All schools are different and need different items.This list is helpful and is a great starting point, My son's list is huge and has crazy requests on it. "
"School boxes are nice, but as a teacher I really do not like them. They are really noisy and can be a distraction. The pouches are much better. "
"Our school doesn't like school boxes - they ask that we buy pouches instead as they are more flexible and fit in crowded desks more easily."
"The back to school supply list was very helpful since my sons will be entered a new school system that I'm not familar with. Thanks for the tips."
"This is a really good site to look at whenI dont know what I need."