Back to school shopping makes me giddy.  The sight of a fresh, unopened box crayons and brightly colored notebooks,  still crisp and clean, bring excitement to those long hot days at the end of summer.

Now that you’ve made the decision of what your 2020/2021 school year will look like (at the moment), you may be wondering if you even need to go back to school shopping.  The answer is YES and stock up now because many of these items are super cheap during back to school sales.

There are two things I know about crayons and markers.  One, not all brands are created equal. Two, no one likes to use the half dried out marker or the broken crayon.  During back to school sales, you can find Crayola Markers for 99 cents or less and Crayola crayons for 50 cents or less.  If you wait until October those prices jump to over $2.  Stock up on a few packs of each now.  Throw out those half used ones from last school year and start over. Fresh supplies set the mood for the new school year.
In January, when the holidays blues have set in and the cold winter nights dampens everyone’s spirits, bring out a new pack of crayons or markers and get everyone excited to color again.  Crayons and markers also make great stocking-stuffers, shoe-box gifts, and great presents for a last minute birthday invite.

When notebooks are less than a dollar, I always stock up.  During the year they are great to pull out if you are going on a long car ride, waiting for a doctor appointment, you have bored kids, you need a grocery list, or just to practice writing.  Younger children want to act like their older siblings and giving them their own inexpensive notebook will make them feel very grown-up.   Most notebooks only get filled halfway before they get tattered or lost.  I don’t mind tossing a used one when I a new one cost 25-69 cents.

The Target Dollar Spot is my favorite place for back to school fun.  They always have teacher & classroom supplies that work great for around the house and in our homeschooling classroom.

These dry erase boards are perfect for letter writing practice and working out math problems.  For those struggling to write, a dry erase board & marker are perfect tools.  Mistakes are easily erased and the marker glides smoothly across the board.

I love these index card holders.  (I also pick up a few packs of index cards when they are on sale. ) These holders are perfect for holding crayons, flash cards, board game pieces, first aid supplies for your car or purse, jewelry or medication when you travel, and any little trinket your child insists they need to save.  Plastic pencil cases also work great, (especially for camping supplies).   Right now, Josiah is very into making his own Go-Fish games.  I’m pretty sure we’ve gone through an entire pack of index cards already this month, and he has swiped at least 2 of my card holders.  He is happy, occupied for hours, and I spent less than $2.

Over the years I’ve picked up various versions of blank books, and these science and journal notebooks.  For younger elementary students these are great for sparking the imagination, writing practice and learning note taking skills.  If your child loves to play school, these make great props.

When shopping the back to school sales, think ahead.  You may not need a backpack now, but what happens if school resumes in person after the New Year?  What about if you want to take snacks on a family hike or pack a small bag for a weekend at Grandma’s?  Have you considered donating a backpack to a foster child organization?

Thinking ahead might save you some panic at Christmas time.  Thinking of redecorating a teen’s room as Christmas present?  Now is the time to pick up and save for later, all that dorm furniture and organization supplies.
Make your own art kit for your aspiring Picasso and be sure to include construction paper, new crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors, & glue.
Even back to school sales on clothing and shoes might make life easier when your child hits that growth spurt in February.

School is going to look different this year and no one can predict what we are going to need in the next few months.  Maybe you are struggling with the loss of your back to school traditions, or frustrated at the thought of your kitchen table becoming a classroom again.  A new notebook and a pack of crayons are not going to solve your problems, but it might just make your day a little brighter.