Before going back to school, even if it’s just a virtual or online school, each student should be properly equipped to have a successful school year.
Equipping your kids with all the daily necessities for school can be a daunting task, sorting through endless options of stationery, bags, lunch boxes, pencil cases, and other school supplies. To make things easier, we’ve done the heavy lifting and scoured the web with our top picks on school supplies for 2021 for each age group from elementary to college.
Top School Bags - Elementary
Our absolute favourite is the Grillz backpack for younger kids. The uniquely designed backpack is more than good looks, it features a padded back and adjustable straps for a snug, comfortable fit.
At 12.4 x 5.7 x 16.9 inches (28 x 41.9 x 36.8cm), that leaves plenty of room for notebooks, binders, tablets, gadgets, clothes, lunch, snacks, and more, without being big enough to overload the little ones. From Just Zipit at a very affordable $19.99!
This Wildlings backpack measures 15 x 11 x 7 inches and is the perfect size for school supplies and snacks. It was built to withstand the toughest use and is made from durable 600-denier polyester fabric with a moisture-resistant nylon lining in the interior.
Two zippered compartments, interior utility pockets and a pencil holder make organization a breeze. There is a good selection of different eye-catching designs, and at $29.99 from Amazon, this backpack won’t break the bank.
This bright and cheery watercolour print was designed to be as sturdy as the other larger backpacks from L.L.Bean. Machine-washable, this pack is made of 100% waterproof polyester, with comfortable back and shoulder padding built to fit smaller backs and arms.
The main compartment is roomy enough for light books, a lunch box and snacks, and we love the added safety feature of the 3M Scotchlite Reflective Material on the front, making the backpack (and the kid!) highly visible to motorists at night. Retails at $29.95 from L.L.Bean.
Top School Bags - Middle and High School
The Under Armour Hustle 4.0 Backpack
The Under Armour Hustle 4.0 backpack is not only aesthetically pleasing for the older kids, it is built to last with two water-repellent front pockets and a large front shoe pocket at the bottom. The tough, abrasion-resistant bottom panel will stand up to the toughest use and the roomy interior comfortably fits a 15” MacBook or similarly-sized laptop.
The patented UA Storm technology delivers a highly water-resistant finish that keeps the interior dry in a wet weather situation, while the adjustable shoulder straps are made with a breathable fabric that wicks sweat and regulates body temperatures. Retails for $40.99 from Under Armour.
Black JanSport Backpack
This classic black JanSport backpack might be a little too boring for the little ones, but if your kid is past the phase of bright prints or cartoon characters and wants a more sophisticated look, this sturdy JanSport suede backpack is great.
The exterior is 600-denier polyester with a suede bottom reinforced with synthetic leather, measuring 17.5" x 13" x 10" (43 x 33 x 25 cm) and a bottle pocket. The interior has two main compartments with an additional sleeve for a 15” laptop and plenty of room to stash stuff. Retails on Amazon at $35.99.
Just Zipit Metro Backpack
This stylish Metro backpack holds a 15” laptop comfortably and has room for more books and other school supplies. The collapsible front area has a drawstring closure covered by a front flap and premium buckle. The main interior area is a multi-compartment organizer including a laptop sleeve and a phone pocket.
Machine washable, this backpack comes with padded shoulder straps and mesh back padding providing all-day comfort. Made with polyester and ripstop nylon that resists rips and tears, premium buckles are used to ensure the longevity of the pack. Available at Just ZIPIT at $34.99.
Top School Bags - College
Matein Travel Laptop Backpack
Sleek and stylish, Matein’s travel laptop backpack boasts thousands of rave reviews on Amazon. This pack holds a 15.6” laptop and has several different compartments for pens, pockets, keys, and books, making organization easy.
There is a built-in USB charger outside and a built-in USB charging cable inside, offering a convenient way to charge phones and other electronics while on the move.
The back has thick but soft multi-panel ventilated padding to give maximum support and has breathable and adjustable shoulder straps.
Made of water-resistant and durable polyester, the pack comes in a variety of colours to suit all tastes. Available on Amazon at $20.99.
You would be hard-pressed to visit a college campus and NOT see a Fjallraven backpack. The Raven 28 was designed specifically for college use, with a 15” laptop pocket, extra compartments for textbooks, snacks and anything else needed for campus life. Made with recycled polyester and organic cotton, this eco-friendly backpack appeals to the socially conscious college student.
The fleece-lined pocket on the inside has a zippered pocket for sunglasses or phones, while the main compartment has two spacious pockets for organization. At $100, it isn’t the cheapest, but it’ll sure make college life more interesting! Retails at REI.
Top Pencil Pouches - Elementary
We made the classic ZIPIT Monster pencil pouch just for young children. With an extra-simple design, our flagship one continuous zipper technology, this simple pouch has near-perfect ratings from countless reviewers. Young kids love the cuteness and brightly coloured, cheerful design of the monsters!
It comes in two sizes, the Classic Monster and the Monster Jumbo. The Classic holds 30 pencils while the Jumbo holds up to 60. Made up of sturdy polyester meant to take a beating, this pencil pouch comes with a lifetime warranty and retails at a very affordable $5.99 at Just ZIPIT.
Which kid doesn’t like Lego? These Lego-branded pencil cases look like one giant Lego brick!
Available in red, yellow, blue and green, this simple case has one large storage compartment and retails at $9.99 at Amazon.
Top Pencil Pouches - Middle and High School
Mr. Pen Fabric Pencil Pouch
For the older child, a set of 2 cases by Mr Pen keeps pens and pencils separate, with room for protractors, highlighters and other school supplies.
These pencil cases come in packs of 2 and have 3 rings to fit inside a binder or file. This case comes in 10 x 7.4 x 05 inches and has a clear window which makes checking out its contents easier.
Mr Pen was founded by teachers for their students as they observed the needs of their students daily. We like that these pencil cases were created to serve kids in high-risk communities and a portion of the proceeds are given back to these schools and community foundations. Available on Amazon at $4.85 for a set of 2 cases.
This waterproof pencil pouch is made with high-quality 100% Oxford cloth which is soft, yet durable. Simple yet stylish, thoughtful compartments for easy organization and a tough exterior make it a popular choice with active children.
3 multi-function compartments and a mesh pocket allows easy organizing of objectives and can be versatile in its use. The zipper is made of high-quality metal, doesn’t jam, and is easy to operate. Several colours are available on Amazon, prices start at $5.39.
Top Pencil Pouches - College
Easthill Linen Pouch
Cute enough to be a purse but practical with several pockets to help with organization, the Easthill Linen Pouch is elegant and chic with a large capacity of 50 pencils in a two-zipper compartment.
The mesh pocket in the inside front can be used to store notes, cards, tickets, money while the main compartment is big and roomy for all those pencils, pens and heck, even a stapler! The handheld band allows easy carrying and access
Made from 100% sturdy canvas, this pencil pouch has smooth and durable zippers which makes functionality a dream. We also like that it has a front window design that allows you to see its contents. The hand-held band makes for easy carrying and it is made from 100% sturdy canvas. Retailing at $5.99 to $6.99 at Amazon.
This set of 2 from ProCase gives you a good bang for your buck at $12.49 for 2 cases. The simple and elegant design is a favourite of the style-conscious college student with increasingly sophisticated tastes.
Don’t let its small size fool you, it can store up to 25 pencils each and is made with premium quality felt. Available at ProCase at $12.49.
Top Lunch Boxes - Elementary
Perfect for the younger kids, this bento lunch box has multiple independently-sealed compartments to keep smaller portions of fruit, food and snacks separate. Moulded silicone seals the lid and keeps the box completely leakproof. No worries packing liquid dips or sauces next to snacks!
Colourful, lightweight and easy to use with a hatch that can be opened by a toddler, Yumbox retails at Amazon at $29.99.
From OmieBox, this bento lunch box is insulated and comes with a removable leak-proof container especially to store liquids.
The rectangular compartments come with movable dividers that you can use to customize different sizes. The thermos insert keeps the food both hot and cold so kids can enjoy hot food and cool fruits throughout the day.
The rubber seals are removable for easy cleaning, and this box retails at $35.49 on Amazon.
Top Lunch Box - Middle and High School
The Rubbermaid Brilliance
The Rubbermaid Brilliance is a food storage container for larger portions. Leak-proof, this is crafted of durable BPA-free plastic and is dishwasher and microwave-safe.
Functional and simple for the older children, daily use of this lunch box cuts down on single-use plastics and keeps food fresh and safe! Retails at Bed Bath & Beyond at $15.99.
Top Lunch Box - College
The Ms. Bento
A day out on campus requires more than a small portion and snacks. The Ms. Bento comes with 3 separate food bowls that fit into the thermos, stored in a tote bag.
The vacuum-insulated stainless steel thermos keeps food warm or cold for hours, and the microwaveable bowls have a non-stick coating, washes out easily and comes with a forked spoon, or “spork”. Ms Bento is made by vacuum bottle specialist Zojirushi and retails at $36.99 from Amazon.
Top School Supplies for 2021
Aside from bags, pencil cases and lunch boxes, what other school supplies are a “nice to have”? We’d love to give you a rundown of our favourite stationery choices for all ages and share some amazing ideas to make school even more fun!
Released a few years ago, Amazon’s Kindle Kids Edition gives the ability to scroll through hundreds of books, connecting kids with digital titles they want to read without ads, blue light and apps on a tablet or smartphone, perfect for the enthusiastic reader.
The dedicated device makes reading fun for kids, while the page numbers at the bottom of the screen helps you keep track of their overall reading progress.
Kids can earn badges when they hit milestones which can be a helpful encouragement for the less voracious readers.
Best of all, this kid-friendly version of the hugely popular Kindle is that it comes with a 1-year subscription to Amazon Kids+ (FreeTime Unlimited), giving access to over 2,500 kid-friendly titles.
Not a big reader? This device can also be paired with Audible, and access thousands of audiobooks to listen to stories. The Kindle Kids Edition features bright colours and patterns and retails at $109.99 from Amazon.
The Happiness Planner
Everyone needs pencils! These inspirational pencils from The Happiness Planner cost $16 for a set of 10 pencils that feature short reminders to keep your kid on the right track and give encouragement with each use.
Slowly but surely, younger kids make the transition from writing solely on pencils to learning to write with pens.
The Bic Kids Learner Pen
The Bic Kids Learner Pen was designed by French teachers to help children position their little fingers correctly, using the yellow mark on the pen as a guide. Ruth Stephens, a child occupational therapist who works with children that have handwriting difficulties swears by this product. Available at Amazon at $24.82 for a pack of 12.
Approximately 17% of all people are left-handers! If you have a lefty, you’d know the worst thing about writing is getting ink smudges all over the side of your hand, book or writing papers if the ink doesn’t dry quickly enough.
Visio Left Handed Pen
Made by France-based Maped, the Visio Left-Handed Pen has a curved barrel to provide unrestricted vision, a triangular grip with indentations to fit the finger and thumb placed in positions that are lefty-friendly. Best of all? The ink is quick-drying!
This high-quality Colored Pencil Set from Studio Series comes with its own sharpener and eraser. The colours are crisp and mix well, shading is easy and the soft cores don’t break easily. A set of 30 coloured pencils costs a very reasonable $14.99.
Castle Art Supplies 72 Premium Colored Coloring Pencils
Aspiring young (or older!) artists will love this 72-pencil set of Castle Art Supplies. Shading and gradients are a breeze with the consistency and strength of the pencils’ core. Each pencil is named, numbered and colour-coded for reference and instant recognition which makes for easy organization.
This impressive range of coloured pencils come in a lightweight metal box and retails at $40 from Amazon.
Everyone makes mistakes! A set of two Bic Wite-Out correction tape will fix just that. The tear-resistant tape can quickly erase the error and dries quickly, allowing writing almost immediately over it. The integrated twist cap guards against tearing and prevents the tape from drying out or getting tangled.
Costs $7.98 for a pack of six from Walmart.
Crayola’s Take Note Erasable Highlighters
Highlighting the wrong section is frustrating and confusing! Crayola’s Take Note Erasable Highlighters fixes that. Each highlighter has a versatile chisel tip to create thick lines when highlighting and thinner lines when underlining, as well as a clear ink tip on the end for erasing the highlights. A set of 6 highlighters in different colours costs $5.99 from Crayola.
Mr. Pen is a values-driven company set up by school teachers to provide kids from at-risk communities affordable school supplies, after learning first-hand through their students about their needs and observing the daily struggles of both teachers and students from the lack of school supplies.
This 15-piece geometry set from Mr. Pen will prepare any kid for math class. The set features a compass, divider, pencils, a pencil sharpener, mechanical pencil and lead, eraser, rulers and a protractor with a swing arm.
Contigo Kids Water Bottle
Hydration is key, and a water bottle (or many!) should be on the school supply list of every parent. This AUTOSEAL Trekker Kids bottle by Contigo has a unique design, with curves that make it easy to grip for little hands. The bottle has a one-touch auto seal lid that automatically reseals between sips to minimize leaks and spills.
This 14oz bottle is dishwasher safe, 100% BPA, phthalate and PVC-free, making it super safe for the kids. Available at $11.99 from Walmart.
Nalgene Water Bottle
You can never beat a classic. The original Nalgene wide mouth bottle has been a crowd favourite for over 30 years. This Nalgene water bottle is completely leakproof, made of virtually indestructible BPA-free Tritan, easy to clean and dishwasher safe on the top rack.
It is suitable for both warm and cold liquids, and a wide mouth allows for easy cleaning or adding ice cubes. Free of BPA, BPS and phthalates, the bottle holds 32oz (about a litre) and is virtually indestructible. The loop on the lid can be clipped to bags for easy attachment. Available in a variety of colours and at $7.67 from Amazon.
Tops/Oxford Spiral Notebook Set
For the older kids that take heaps of notes, the selection of a quality notebook is essential. You’d want several notebooks to get you through the year, and this Tops/Oxford spiral notebook set does just that.
Coming in a pack of six, the various colours allow you to organize your notes according to subjects. Each book has 70 sheets of paper and comes with 3 holes to fit a standard binder, allowing you to carry multiple books in a single binder.
At $8.99 from Amazon, this is hugely economical if you go through multiple notebooks each year.
The Rocketbook Everlast
A notebook with no paper? The Rocketbook Everlast provides a traditional pen and paper experience but by going digital, makes it completely reusable.
Write with the Pilot FriXion pen included and your words stick to this notebook’s pages like regular paper. When you run out of space in the 36-sheets provided, upload your handwritten notes to any cloud service like Google Drive, Dropbox, OneNote, Slack, iCloud or email using the free Rocketbook app that is included. Wipe pages down with a damp cloth and voila, empty pages!
This environmentally-friendly notebook can be used endlessly for years and will cut down on the paper used. Save those trees!
Available at Walmart at $23.88.
The Rocketbook Color has the same amazing reusability as the Everlast, made specifically for colouring. Draw to your heart’s content with Crayola’s Dry Erase markers without the guilt of consuming too much paper.
Instantly share drawings and send it to friends and family and save the artwork forever by syncing it to any cloud service. Never run out of paper again!
Available at $42.19 at Walmart.
Note-taking or journaling will never be more fun for younger children. Dazzling sequins that adorn the front and back covers can change colours with a swipe of your hand. Introduce kids to journaling with the glitzy, flashy colours of this 160-page notebook that will make writing fun.
Available here at $8.95, with a variety of bright colours and patterns to choose from.
Old Navy Masks
Like it or not, masks are now part of our daily lives. If schools were to reopen and return to some semblance of normalcy, you can bet that masks will be a part of that.
This pack of 5 reusable masks have soft triple layers, is breathable and easy for your child to wear. Unlike single-use masks, have an ample supply of these on hand to continuously chuck them in the wash and you can be assured of a constant supply of clean masks.
The multiple colour options and cheerful designs encourage kids to use them, staying safe. Available at Old Navy at $1.97 - $3 per pack.
So Happy shopping for your school supplies today!
And don't forget to checkout the Just Zipit store on your way out!