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Essential school supplies for middle school students

If you are helping a middle-schooler prepare for the upcoming school year, you understand the challenges of assisting them as they shop for clothes, figure out their class schedule and prepare for more advanced courses. But don’t underestimate the importance of choosing the right school supplies to put in their backpack. Here are a few essentials you should pack in their backpack for a successful school year.

Packing a middle-schooler’s backpack

Some school supplies are universal across most grades, while others are especially useful for middle-school students. Many students are provided with a list of supplies they’ll need for the school year, which will guide you in selecting the essentials. Here are some categories to shop when choosing items for their backpacks. 

Laptops and tech accessories 

In today’s tech-driven world, most middle-schoolers need a laptop for classwork. Fortunately, affordable options that have useful features and are compact and easy to take to and from school are available. Most school backpacks have a compartment with protective padding that’s designed to carry a laptop. In addition, tech accessories such as a charger, portable battery pack and phone charger are also items middle-schoolers need in their packs. 

Writing tools 

Pencils, pens, markers and highlighters are essential for middle-school students. Those who take art classes may also need colored pencils. A pencil case will keep writing tools organized and easy to access. Many options have several compartments for separating different types of writing tools. Additionally, these small cases are easy to fit in a backpack. 

Notebooks and binders 

Standard notebooks and binders are items middle-schoolers will need to complete and protect assignments and projects. Both are available in several sizes and designs to match students’ coursework needs. Ideally, these essential school items will fit in the main compartment of a backpack along with school textbooks. Budget-friendly packs of multiple notebooks and binders are available and will save you a few dollars. 

Calculators and measuring instruments 

By middle school, most students are advancing in math and taking classes in geometry, algebra, biology and statistics. Tools for these classes include a scientific calculator and measuring instruments such as protractors, rulers, squares and compasses. While these instruments can be purchased separately, they are also available in sets. 

Personal items

Not all items middle-school students need for their backpacks are for classwork. A few personal items will also come in handy throughout the school day. Gel hand sanitizer and hand wipes are necessary for killing germs and keeping hands clean. Tissues in small packs are easy to place in a backpack. Instead of disposable water bottles, a reusable water bottle is an eco-friendly choice. Many backpacks even have side pockets that are designed especially to accommodate water bottles. 

Best items for a middle-schooler’s backpack

Best JanSport Big Student Backpack

JanSport Big Student Backpack

Before you buy backpack supplies, you’re middle-schooler will need a backpack with ample space for school gear. The Big Student has numerous roomy pockets plus a laptop compartment and water bottle pocket. It’s made of tough material that will hold up well to school life. Sold by Amazon and Kohl’s

Best Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop

Long battery life, a thin build and ample onboard storage make this laptop a good choice for middle-school students. The 15.6-inch size will fit the laptop compartment of most backpacks. Parents will also appreciate the budget-friendly price. Sold by Amazon

Best BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils

BIC Xtra-Smooth Mechanical Pencils

No sharpener is needed for these mechanical pencils that feature dark lead that moves smoothly across paper. Each pencil is topped with an eraser that does a good job removing mistakes. They are available in multipacks that will last throughout the school year. Sold by Amazon

Best Yoobi Pencil Case

Yoobi Pencil Case

Pencils, pens, markers and more — when writing tools are stored in a pencil case, they’ll be easy to find in a backpack. The two zippered compartments of this case will keep them organized too. Sold by Amazon

Best Mead 1-Subject Spiral Notebooks

Mead 1-Subject Spiral Notebooks

Every student needs classic spiral notebooks like those in this pack of six. Each one is made for a single subject and has 70 sheets of wide-ruled paper for taking notes and completing assignments. Sold by Amazon

Best Texas Instruments TI-84 Graphics Calculator

Texas Instruments TI-84 Graphics Calculator

Math gets more challenging in middle school, but a scientific calculator can help. The TI-84 is made by a top brand and offers the functions for solving equations in algebra, biology, statistics and more. It features a large, backlit screen that’s easy to read. Sold by Amazon

Best Kleenex Pocket Pack Facial Tissues

Kleenex Pocket Pack Facial Tissues

These small packets of tissues are just the right size for backpacks. They’ll come in handy when the cold season arrives. You’ll get 16 pocket packs, each containing 10 tissues. Sold by Amazon

Best Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Variety Pack

Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer Variety Pack

There’s no doubt that kids are exposed to germs at school, so keeping hand sanitizer readily available is a good plan. These 1-ounce bottles don’t take up much space in a backpack, but also have clips that can be attached to handles, straps or zippers. You’ll get eight bottles per purchase. Sold by Amazon

Best CamelBak Chute Mag Water Bottle

CamelBak Chute Mag Water Bottle

This reusable water bottle boasts a secure lid that will prevent liquid from leaking. It’s made of material that’s 50% recycled and free of BPA. You can choose from several sizes and colors. Sold by Amazon

Best Mr. Pen Geometry Set

Mr. Pen Geometry Set

Students in geometry class will need a variety of measurement instruments to make the grade. This comprehensive 15-piece set comes with the essentials, including protractors, compasses, a ruler and more. It’s an affordable choice that will save you a few dollars if you purchased each item separately. Sold by Amazon 

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Jennifer Manfrin writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money. 

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