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    Not Just For Kids

    Back to School Supplies

    Itís that time of year to stock up on school supplies! Get your kids involved in the planning process. Then go to the store as a family and let your children choose their own supplies from the wide variety of styles and themes that are available. This way they can express their individuality, and they will be more likely to enjoy using those items that they had a say in picking out. Although they won't be using every item on the first day of school, try to start your children off well-equipped.

    Essential school supplies will vary depending on the type of curriculum and grade level. Many teachers will send home a list of classroom necessities. In general, however, if you have school-age children itís a good idea to always have the following basic supplies on hand: dictionary, thesaurus, stapler, pencil sharpener, erasers, white-out correction fluid, stapler, scissors, paperclips, clear adhesive tape, masking tape, computer, printer, ink cartridges, paper.

    Preschool to elementary students will need: pencils, crayons, pencil and crayon sharpener, eraser, washable markers, safety scissors, white glue, glue stick, colored construction paper, drawing paper, notebooks, pocket folders, lined penmanship paper, math manipulatives, chalk, lunch tote, and magazines with colorful pictures to cut out for collages.

    Middle to High School will need: pens, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, fine-line markers, highlighters, ruler, scientific calculator, package of No. 2 pencils, graph paper, three-ring binders, spiral notebooks (one for each subject), lined loose-leaf paper, pocket folders, assignment book/appointment calendar, composition notebooks, journal, wristwatch, bookbag or backpack.

    According to the National Retail Federation, the average family will spend $527.08 on school clothes and supplies this year, which is $83 over last year's average of $443.77, making back-to-school time the second-biggest shopping season after Christmas. The popularity of computer-related items and other electronic goods is one reason for the rise in spending. In past years, a calculator was the extent of technology needed for school. These days, computers, laptops, PDAs, MP3 players and cellphones are on many studentsí must-have lists.

    You might think your pre-teen child has outgrown the crayons, markers, and other art and craft supplies, but older children still do research projects, science fair entries, book reports, skits and plays that require visual presentations. You donít want to find out that your supply closet is empty the night before a project is due, so keep some tag board, construction paper, glue, and colored markers in there, too.

    Even those homeschoolers who are taught all year round will appreciate having a brand new set of school supplies when moving up to the next grade, so stock up now while the stores have everything on sale. The following is a list of basic homeschool supplies that our family found useful:

    Teacher Plan Book
    Student Assignment Book
    Pencils
    Pens
    Erasers
    Ruler
    Yardstick
    Crayons
    Colored Markers
    Colored Pencils
    Pencil Sharpener
    Correction Fluid
    Scissors
    Glue/Paste
    Masking Tape
    Clear Tape
    Paper Clips
    Stapler and Staples
    Rubber Bands
    File Folders
    Storage Boxes/Filing Cabinet for materials & records
    Chalkboard or Markerboard
    Chalk or Dry Erase Markers
    Chalkboard Eraser or Washcloth
    Bulletin Board & Pins/Magnetic Board & Magnets
    Desk/Table, a chair and lamp
    World Map
    Globe
    U.S.A. Map
    State Map
    U.S. Flag
    Dictionary
    Thesaurus
    Calendar
    Clock
    Timer/Bell
    Thermometer
    Compass
    3 x 5 Index Cards
    3-Ring Binder (1 per child)
    8 1/2 x 11" Notebook Paper
    Tabbed Dividers
    Gummed Hole Reinforcements
    Hole Punch
    Cassette Player
    Blank Cassette Tapes
    Piano/Keyboard
    Song Book
    Sketchbook/Journal
    Thick Black Marker
    Colored Highlighter Pens
    Art and Craft Supplies (paint, yarn, fabric scraps, paper towel rolls, etc.)
    Magazines and Catalogs (for cutting out pictures)
    Butcher Paper/Newsprint
    Construction Paper
    Cardboard
    Poster Board
    Balls of different sizes
    Popsicle Sticks
    Small objects (for counting)
    Empty Food Boxes, etc. (for play store)
    Flashcards
    Hundred Chart
    Timeline
    Stickers/Rubber Stamps
    Graph Paper
    Tracing Paper
    Magnifying Glass
    Microscope
    Calculator
    Computer
    Encyclopedia
    Library Card
    Backpack for each child (for schoolwork-on-the-go and outdoor field trips)

    Smart Shopping

    Are looking for ways to save money on back to school shopping? First, the most important thing is to make a list and stick to it, thus avoiding impulse purchases of things you donít really need. Buy in bulk if you can, and only buy items that are on sale. Donít feel that you have to buy everything new this year if some of last yearís items are still in good condition. Sell or trade used books for new books that you may need. Consider having kids help pay for certain items that they want. Give older kids a prepaid debit card with a set amount of money. They can be a great way to teach them how to budget and spend wisely when shopping for their own clothes and supplies.

    Back-to-School-in-a-Box

    Give your favorite student a personalized school kit in a reusable plastic storage box. Items to include (some are optional depending on the student's age): 1 pen, 2 pencils, a pencil eraser, portable pencil sharpener, 10 crayons, 3 different-colored highlighters, 1 black marker, safety scissors, a mini stapler, paperclips, mini phone/address book, memo pad, reinforcement rings, glue stick, ruler, small calculator, pocket dictionary, book mark, pocket tissue pack, package of antibacterial wipes, energy bar, a film canister with spare change, and a note of encouragement.

    Make a Personalized Pencil Case

    You will need: a potato chip canister with lid (Pringles brand), supplies to decorate it (colored construction paper, fancy wrapping paper, fabric scraps, Contact paper, stickers, paint, buttons, beads, etc.), and glue. Instructions: Wash out the can using soap and water; dry completely. Decorate the outside of the canister. You are only limited by the supplies you have and your own imagination. Be creative! (If desired, have an adult punch a hole on each side of the top of the can. Poke the ends of a ribbon or string through the holes; knot it on the inside to create a handle.)

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