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Binders, backpacks, folders, pencils, notebooks—school-supply shopping can be fun and exciting but the costs can also add up fast. Whether your child is heading back into the classroom in the fall or continuing remote learning, there are a lot of essentials they'll need (see above list for starters). To help you save money on this year's back-to-school haul, we've rounded up 15 of the best school supplies you can buy right now for less than $15, from colorful InkJoy gel pens to the best-selling notebooks on Amazon—including a few personal favorites I remember using from my own school days.
1. These popular mechanical pencils
One-click writing at your fingertips.
Think all pencils are created equal? Think again. These mechanical ones from Bic have nearly 9,000 positive reviews on Amazon because they write well and don't smudge easily. They're also easy to refill (so they can last all school year long) and have a little sparkle on the outside for added pizzazz.
I personally own and love these pencils and have used them ever since I was in class many years ago.
Get the Bic Xtra-Sparkle Mechanical Pencil (26-Pack) from Target for $4.29
2. These pens with almost 15,000 reviews
Credit: Paper Mate
Write the rainbow with these pretty pens.
I've said it before and I'll say it again—these are hands-down the best pens I have ever used and the only ones I will ever buy. They write very smoothly, don't smear easily or bleed through paper, and last longer than other pens I've tried.
As if that isn't reason enough to get a pack for yourself, the InkJoy gel pens (which have nearly 15,000 reviews on Amazon!) are available in a rainbow of pretty colors to make note-taking that much more fun.
Get the Paper Mate InkJoy Gel Pens (14-Count) from Amazon for $12.44
3. These colorful notebooks
Meet your spiral notebook stash.
Mead has long been a top name in the world of notebooks—so it's no surprise that this six-pack from the school-supply brand is one of the best-selling ones on Amazon.
In a variety of pretty pastel colors, the college-ruled spiral notebooks are great for any student who wants to use a different notebook for each subject (hello, color-coding!) and even have hole punches so they can hook right into any three-ring binder.
Get the Mead Spiral Notebook (6-Pack) from Amazon for $13.97
4. This adorable pencil case
Pencil cases don't have to be boring.
Proving that pencil cases definitely don't have to be boring, this monster pouch from Zipit has a near-perfect 4.8-star rating from thousands of reviewers. They love how fun and playful it is (yes, those are googly eyes and a zipper "mouth") as well as how roomy and spacious the interior is, i.e., it will fit all of those brand-new school supplies you just bought for your student.
Get the Zipit Monster Pencil Case from Amazon for $4.97
5. These highly-rated Sharpie highlighters
You really can't go wrong with Sharpies.
Leave it to famed marker maker Sharpie to offer the best highlighters you can buy, according to Amazon shoppers. More than 4,200 people rave that the ink of these chisel-tip liquid highlighters is very vibrant (more so than the average highlighter) and that it goes on smoothly and smear-free.
Bonus: Each highlighter also has a notch at the bottom so your student can clip it easily to their binder and not worry about losing it.
Get the Sharpie Liquid Highlighters (10-Pack) from Amazon for $8.78
6. These sturdy folders
You can never have too many folders.
Goodbye flimsy paper folders that rip on the first day of school, hello sturdy plastic ones that will keep all your student's important papers safe and sound.
These Five Star folders—which are aptly named, given the hundreds of five-star reviews they've received—have four pockets each along with hole punches so they can go right into a binder. People love that they're laminated, too, so they're water-resistant and can handle accidental spills (or rainy days) without being ruined.
Get the Five Star 4 Pocket Folders (6-Pack) from Amazon for $13.19
7. These mini Post-Its
Never lose your place again.
Highlighters are great—until your student is using a textbook that they aren't allowed to write in or wants to mark a page in their planner without dog-earring the paper. Enter Post-it flags.
Like those regular sticky notes but smaller, they're ideal for everything from highlighting important info to acting as temporary bookmarks. Fans like that they stick onto surfaces securely (no falling off!) and that they come in bright, easy-to-find colors.
Get the Post-it Flags from Amazon for $10.35
8. This planner to keep track of everything
Perfect for even the busiest of schedules.
English papers, Zoom class, algebra homework... There's always a lot to keep track of during the school year, between classes, assignments, and extracurriculars. That's where a good planner like this one comes in handy.
Nearly 5,000 reviewers enjoy that it has both monthly and weekly spreads (for long-term and short-term planning) and that there's more than enough room for students to write out all of their to-do lists and activities.
Get the BooQool 2020-2021 Planner from Amazon for $10.98
9. This dry-erase board for remote learning
Credit: U Tempo
Great for classroom and home use.
A lot of teachers use white boards during Zoom classes for students to write and display their answers, so yours may need one if they're continuing virtual learning in the fall.
This handheld board has more than 6,000 glowing reviews because it's lightweight and erases easily without staining. It's also magnetic, so your child can use it as a fridge sign to thank you for the delicious homemade lunch you served them (if only).
Get the U Brands Contempo Magnetic Dry Erase Board from Amazon for $7.49
10. These must-have Crayola colored pencils
For the young artist.
If colored pencils are on your child's school supply list this year, nearly 9,000 shoppers recommend you buy this pack from Crayola. The colors are bold and vibrant while the pencils themselves are good quality and won't break easily.
Even better? They come pre-sharpened so they're ready to go right out of the box.
Get the Crayola Colored Pencils (50-Pack) from Amazon for $10.99
11. These oversized binder dividers
Divide and conquer the day.
Inside every good binder is an even better set of dividers. These sturdy, tear-resistant ones are highly-rated on Amazon, thanks to their extra-large size (they extend beyond your student's papers so they're easy to flip through) and the fact that they have pockets on each side (perfect for storing extra assignments).
You can also customize them with a variety of free templates provided by Avery online, which is a big plus.
Get the Avery Big Tab Insertable Plastic Dividers (5-Pack) from Amazon for $5.60
12. These kid-friendly scissors
Sharp scissors and little hands aren't exactly the best match. That's why so many parents love these scissors for kids, which have over 2,000 reviews.
Happy customers say that the blunt blade is less risky for young students yet still slices through paper, and the gel-padded grip is comfortable to maneuver for both right- and left-handed kids.
Get the Westcott 5” Hard Handle Kids Blunt Scissors from Amazon for $5.69
13. This travel-size hand sanitizer
If your student is returning to an in-person classroom this fall, hand sanitizer is a must-have to toss in their backpack to keep them safe and healthy while they're out and about.
This popular unscented one from Walmart meets the CDC's recommendation of containing at least 60 percent alcohol and is unscented so your student won't have to deal with any gross odors. Plus, it contains aloe to soothe and moisturize skin while it sanitizes, too.
Get the Earth to Skin Hand Sanitizer Gel (6-Pack) from Walmart for $6.99
14. These long-lasting glue sticks
Glue that actually sticks? Yes, please.
Trying to find a good glue stick can be a, er, sticky situation. Some either dry up fast while others leave streaky residue. Not so, in either case, with Elmer's Disappearing Purple glue sticks.
More than 6,500 people have given them a thumbs-up because the purple glue helps students see exactly what they're gluing, yet it goes on smoothly and mess-free and dries clear. And at 30 sticks for $7? You can't beat that.
Get the Elmer's Disappearing Purple School Glue (30-Pack) from Amazon for $6.99
15. These crowd-favorite erasers
Credit: Pink Pearl
Erase with ease.
No list of the best school supplies would be complete without the timeless Pink Pearl eraser. According to 1,000-plus reviewers, the jumbo pink erasers are comfortable to hold and erase smoothly and cleanly without smudging.
The iconic shape (with a flat front and pointed corners) also makes it easy to erase even the smallest marks or details without erasing everything.
Get the Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers (12-Pack) from Amazon for $4.99
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Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.