Did you find yourself standing in an aisle of school supplies this week comparing pricier name brand options and generic brands? Often teachers publish school supply lists requesting specific brands. Should we cut corners and buy the generics or stick to the request.
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Why do teachers request brand specific school supplies?
In my experience as a K-3 teacher, not all school supplies are created equally. Sometimes generic items are just as good as the name brand, but other times they aren’t worth the money you saved.
Here are my recommendations and my warnings to help you spend your school supply money wisely.
Pencils: Buy Dixon Ticonderoga or a store brand.
Dixon pencils hold up very well. They sharpen easily and evenly. I’ve had luck with Staples brand pencils also. Don’t waste your money on fancy-looking pencils at the Dollar Store. I’ve bought some very cute seasonal pencils for student gifts only to find that they are incapable of sharpening because the lead is too brittle.
One of my pet peeves is when my students tap their pencils on their desks, not only because it’s distracting but also because it breaks the lead into tiny pieces inside the pencil. This doesn’t happen as easily with quality pencils.
I don’t know how many dried up glue sticks I threw away over the years. It’s a shame too, because you can rehydrate dried up glue sticks very easily! This video by Dreaming About Rubber Stamps shows how easy it is to restore an old glue stick with a little water.
Crayons: Absolutely only buy Crayola.
Really, I promise I’m not a brand snob. But other crayons just aren’t as good as Crayola. There may be some generic store brands that will do the job, but I know I can count on this one.
Many students in my school have brought in Rose Art crayons because the price is much cheaper than Crayola. Unfortunately, they are heavy on the wax and light on the pigment. My students’ precious artwork didn’t end up as brilliant and nice when we used Rose Art crayons.
Teachers love getting name brand school supplies.
They might not mind getting store brand pencils, glue, and crayons; but they know they can rely on the quality of the brands they love to use.
Save money on the school supplies on your list that are not brand specific. If no brand is specified, the teacher doesn’t care. If a particular brand is requested, it’s probably because the teacher has had trouble with other manufacturers.
We teachers appreciate parents who contribute to the classroom supplies. Most of us end up spending our own money on fun school stuff for our students anyway. To us, walking into the school aisle is like walking through the front gate of Disneyland.
If you want to make friends with your child’s teacher, bring as many of the requested items as possible when you first meet. It reminds me of the scene on “You’ve Got Mail” where Tom Hanks’ character brings a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils to express his love for Meg Ryan’s character. Now that’s definitely a good start to a beautiful relationship.