It’s a new school year, and that means new obstacles, sure, but also (and more importantly!) new adventures. In the blur of new faces, new teachers and a whole new schedule, there’s something confidence-boosting about having a backpack full of cool tools to help you tackle what’s ahead. And what kid doesn’t like new swag, right?
And so, with back-to-school season upon us, we’re reminded of the classic Boy Scout motto—’always be prepared.’ In this case, that means preparing our kids for their best, most fun-filled, learning-rich year yet.
That’s where Walmart comes in. The retailer has a wide and affordable selection of back-to-school essentials built to give kids the skills they need to be successful. (Hot tip: More and more teachers, in fact, are posting their class lists on Walmart’s Teacher’s Shelf—it’s worth checking out for your school.) Here’s what we’ll be stuffing in our children’s backpacks this year:
Texas Instruments TI-84 Plus Graphing Calculator ($88; walmart.com): Sure, the trusty graphing calculator looks pretty much the same as the one you used in school. But the internet age has made math more important, not less. That means graphing functions like sins, cosines, tangents and more are built into the architecture that drives most of our apps and programs, and even if your kid doesn’t seem like the future developer type, they’ll be well-served by a solid foundation in math, statistics and physics, no matter what they end up doing. Approved for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, IB and AP exams, this versatile calculator has your future high schooler covered.
Five Star Advance Notebook ($6.51-$7.97; walmart.com): We might not think of writing as a tech innovation in the same way the iPhone was, but in its day—and today, too, for that matter—the written alphabet was and is arguably even more revolutionary than anything Steve Jobs cooked up. (Fun fact: Plato, of ancient Greece, was famously suspicious of this new invention called ‘writing,’ fearing it would lead to a decline in memory. Tech haters always gonna hate.) These useful notebooks add some helpful features to supplement all your child’s note-taking needs, including a movable plastic divider that can be placed anywhere in the notebook to organize their work. Add in a wire cover to prevent coil snags, a writable label on the spine and a convenient pen loop on front cover to keep a pen or pencil handy, and you’ve got a new bonafide classic on your hands.
Paper Mate Mirado Pencil, 72 pk ($7.01; walmart.com): It doesn’t get any more essential than a pencil. Plus the classic No. 2 lead is ideal for standardized tests. And this 72-pack might, just maybe, get your absent-minded kiddo through the entire year. Actually, who are we kidding? You’ll probably want to stock up.
Bic Velocity Original Mechanical Pencil, 4 ct ($3.88; walmart.com): Is your kid more the mechanical pencil type? These write smoothly, erase cleanly, and create dark, crisp marks. The soft grip keeps writing comfortable, even over long note-taking sessions.
Paper Mate Profile Ballpoint Retractable Pen, set of 8 ($5.88; walmart.com): The final workhorse to the writing utensil trifecta, these ballpoint pens get the job done, and then some. The writing experience is fluid and clean, thanks to smear-resistant, quick-drying ink and a contoured soft grip. The clickable, retractable tip keeps the interior of pockets and bags unblemished. And there’s nothing like a clicky pen to help get your child through the driest parts of 2nd period Math, right?
Paper Mate Pink Pearl Erasers, 24 ct ($7.06; walmart.com): Classics are a classic for a reason. We’ve struggled through enough poorly performing pencil-top erasers to know your child deserves a dedicated eraser, especially for exams and tests. The smear-resistant, latex-free design ensures a clean finish so your child’s mistakes aren’t counted against them. If only the rest of life were so easy.
Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover ($6.99; walmart.com): It’s one of those laws of the universe: Kids will spill something on themselves at the most inconvenient time and there won’t be anything they can do about it, too — except, of course, if they’ve thrown one of these into their bag.
Sharpie Pocket Style Highlighters, 12 ct ($4.97; walmart.com): The highlighter is a crucial piece of school kit; its equally apropos in the math textbook as it is in the English class paperback. The bright, see-through colors make highlighted text easy to read and the versatile chisel tip skips across the page. The slim shape slips easily into backpacks, too. And the different hues open up whole worlds of organizational possibilities and color-coded schemes for the ultra-organized students that we hear exist somewhere out there in the general population.
Post-it Arrow Flags ($3.12; walmart.com): These are a serious gamechanger for any student on the hook for distilling the most important information from a text down to manageable snippets—especially for books you aren’t allowed to mark up. These little sticky paper flags stay put until your child decides to move them, directing them to key sections, quotes, or information. Nobody likes thumbing through pages and pages, hunting for that one key date you need to complete an essay. These flags help you find it fast instead.
Pepperidge Farm Goldfish Classic Mix Crackers, 29 oz. Variety Pack Box, 30-count Snack Packs ($9.98; walmart.com): Growing kids are hungry kids, and hungry kids are not famously school-focused. Keeping a snack pack or two on hand is one way to stave off hunger pains and keep the preadolescent mind attentive to the lecture at hand. And with a number of different flavors, these variety packs keep things fresh. And the portion-controlled size prevents overindulgence, too.
Acer Chromebook Spin 11 Convertible Laptop ($229; walmart.com): Tech can get a bad rap vis-à-vis kids these days. Every day, it seems, more ink is spilled decrying the distracting, supposedly stupefying effects our gadgets and gizmos have on children. But like any hot take, the whole genre of tech naysaying captures a partial truth, at best. Look around: Technology is unavoidably threaded into the warp and woof of adult life, powering our ability to get things done, opening up entire new industries and shaping the way we work and live. That’s why we’re big fans of giving kids an education that’s tech-forward, tech-positive and sufficiently open to the tools and platforms that are paving the way to the future of work, life and play. This Acer Chromebook checks all the boxes, and for an excellent price, too. It starts in seconds and stays fast throughout the day, thanks to 8+ hours of battery life and a 2.4GHZ Dual-Core Processor with 4GB of onboard DDR4 RAM.