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What Supplies to Pack in a School Backpack

Updated on January 7, 2013

School Backpack


Back to School

It is Back to School time and you may be wondering what to send (and not send) in your child's backpack. You want to be practical, but don't want to overload him with a bunch of unnecessary items. Some items may not even be allowed. Use this as a guide and check with your child's teacher to see if there are additional items suggested or prohibited.

Quick List of Items to Pack in School Bookbag

  • hand sanitizer
  • tissue
  • small amount of change
  • water bottle
  • lunch box
  • pencils and pencil case
  • homework notepad
  • communication folder
  • book for free reading time
  • sunscreen
  • bug spray (if allowed)

What to Pack in a School Backpack

When your child starts school, you most likely will be required to purchase school supplies such as notebooks, glue, scissors, pencils, and tissue. These items will be collected and kept in a school storage area. Keep that in mind when you decide what type of supplies your child will need for his backpack. You will not want to weigh him down with a bunch of duplicate items. These are some things you may want to pack:

  • Hand sanitizer - A small bottle of hand sanitizer is a must in the backpack. You can find small bottles with all kind of special scents that kids love. There are even rubber cases that will hold the bottle and attach to the zipper of your child's backpack.
  • Tissue - Classrooms will have full size boxes of tissue, but a small travel-size pack of Kleenex in the backpack is a good idea.
  • Cash - A small amount of money ($2 or less) comes in handy for unexpected expenditures such as ice cream, vending machine, and small charity donations. Pick up a cute change purse or zipped case from a dollar store.
  • Water bottle - This is a much more environmentally friendly choice than plastic bottled water. Water bottles should be labelled with your child's name and should be cleaned and refilled daily.
  • Lunch box - Make sure all food you send, including those for snack-time, are zipped up in the lunchbox. That way, the food will not get squashed and no ants will appear. Use an ice pack to keep food fresh.
  • Pencils and pencil case - There are community pencils in the classroom, but kids like to have their own pencils, pens and erasers. A flat zip-up bag saves more space than a hard plastic box.
  • Small notebook or notepad - A mini composition notebook is perfect for writing down homework assignments.
  • Folder with pockets - Many teachers will provide a communication folder, but if not, you can purchase one to keep track of important papers.
  • Book - During school, there may be a chance for independent reading. Your child will want to pack a good book for pleasure reading.
  • Sunscreen - Pack a small tube and be sure you child knows how to apply sunscreen to his face without getting it in his eyes.
  • Bug spray - A pen-sized spray is good, but check with the school first! Some schools may not allow bug sprays with certain ingredients or at all for safety reasons.

Quick List of Items NOT to Pack in a Backpack

  • medicine
  • gum or candy
  • cell phone
  • electronic games
  • valuables
  • toys
  • blankets or other comfort items

What Not To Pack in a School Backpack

Almost as important as what to pack in a backpack, is what not to pack. There are certain things that are not allowed and others that are just not a good idea.

  • Medicine - Any type of prescription medication that needs to be taken at school will be handled by the school nurse. Don't even put a cough drop in your child's backpack unless the school allows that. Some schools require all OTC medication to be purchased by the family and held in the nurse's offfice. Other schools stock these items.
  • Gum or candy - Most schools do not allow gum and candy. Avoid loose food of any kind in the backpack to avoid a sticky mess and ants.
  • Cell phone - Many elementary schools do not allow cell phones at school unless they are stored in a certain area until school is dismissed. Some schools require a parental permission slip for cell phones. Check your school for their cell phone policy.
  • Electronic game - These are usually not allowed at school, and you would not want it to be lost or damaged.
  • Valuables - Even if your child has a locker to store his backpack, it is not a good idea to pack any kind of valuables, including larger amounts of cash.
  • Toys - Do not let your child weigh down his backpack with a bunch of toys. He will not need them at school, and there is no need to risk damage or loss of his favorite toys.
  • Blankets - Comfort items such as blankets and favorite stuffed animals should be left at home if possible.


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    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I am applauding your post, especially the things NOT to allow your child to take. As a director, you get quite a collection of toys and electronics throughout the year. They just do not go well in the learning environment. Voted way up!