The Ultimate Back to School Essentials Checklist

Find the best deals and get Cash Back when you shop for back-to-school supplies with Rakuten. Browse JanSport for lunch bags and backpacks, grab back-to-school essentials at Dollar Tree and score on best-selling school supplies at Staples and OfficeMax. Below is an essential shopping list for students this fall. Whatever is on your school-supplies checklist, you’ll be sure to save since Rakuten combines the convenience of comparing summer sales and the simplicity of online shopping.

Elementary School

For elementary school the emphasis is on art supplies. I’ve found that Crayola brand markers and crayons just tend to be better quality and teachers seem to prefer them. For younger kids, send extra clothes in case of accidents in a plastic bag. Teach your kids how to use hand sanitizer, as cold and flu season always wreaks havoc in the classroom. 


  • #2 Pencils
  • Pencil sharpener 
  • Erasers
  • Glue sticks
  • Tissues
  • Umbrella
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wide-ruled notebook paper
  • Backpack
  • Crayons
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Lunch box
  • Water bottle
  • Art smock or old shirt

Middle School

Middle schoolers struggle with organization. A pocket folder is a much simpler system than a binder for most paperwork. Teach your middle schooler how to use a calendar and monitor it daily. 


  • Backpack
  • Mini stapler
  • Multiple pocket accordion folder
  • Hole-punch
  • 3-ring binder
  • Subject dividers
  • College-ruled notebook paper
  • Water bottle
  • #2 Pencils
  • Ball-point pens
  • Highlighters
  • Ruler

High School

Many high schoolers come to school with personal electronics but end up misplacing them when it comes to charging during school. Solve that problem with a power bank. Some backpacks and bags also have a pocket specifically for creating a personal charging station. In addition to the middle school items, aim for these, too.


  • Messenger bag
  • ID Case
  • Earphones with case
  • Flash drive
  • Graphing calculator
  • Combo lock (separate one for PE Locker, if needed)
  • Correction fluid
  • Power bank for phone charging
  • Planner
  • Dry-erase markers


After years of grade school, you know all the classroom essentials — but now it’s time to shop for dorm life. You want your student to be as comfortable as possible while they stay up all night writing that last-minute paper, so check Bed Bath & Beyond for bedding and furniture. Another must-have is a laptop, and you can find some great student deals at Lenovo and Dell.


  • Lap desks
  • Shower caddy
  • Bathrobe
  • Shower shoes
  • Desk lamps
  • Mattress topper
  • Comforter set
  • Flash drive
  • Storage bins
  • Laundry hamper
  • Desk chair
  • Trash can

Shopping for school can get expensive, but it’s still necessary. Luckily, all the stores mentioned above partner with Rakuten, so you can treat yourself with some Cash Back!

From the latest tech to the hottest fashions and everything in between, the editors at The Smart Shopper are in the know and ready share their expertise. Check out our posts on shopping secrets and product trends for those who live for a little retail therapy.

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