School Supply Lists:100 Pencils

| August 16, 2010 | Comments (6)

pencils100 pencils. That is the number my 5th grader’s school supply list dictates he bring into his classroom when school starts.  Is he supplying the whole class? Have they adopted a school in Haiti to which they are sending extra supplies? WTH?

I question my son about the need for so very many pencils. He tells me the number sounds right to him because he goes through a pencil a week (through loss or theft. Theft?). Um, Mr. Advanced Math Student, there are 52 weeks in a calendar year and about 36 or so during typical school year.


This year I am determined to use as many leftover school supplies as I can before purchasing new ones. Given that my boys have been attending elementary school for years, we have a huge glut of old, half-used supplies.

But few of my stock items match this year’s supply list. I used to regard The List as one might the very tablets on which the 10 Commandments were forged. One year I ran to three or four stores looking for the specific line of watercolors the art teacher asked the parents to supply.

Never again.

Now The List may indicate Crayola, but I’ll buy the RoseArt if it’s cheaper. Whatever damn glue stick comes packaged in the correct quantity is the one that winds up in my shopping cart. And I’m sure that my mega box of 300 tissues is just as good (it’s better, really) than two boxes of 100 tissues each. I just hope the teacher looks at the number of tissues rather than the number of boxes my child brings in.

Speaking of the right quantities. I have just enough 3×5 note cards for the 5th grader. Woot! But my 7th grader is supposed to have 4×6 note cards.  Does it really matter if they are 4×6 or 3×5? I convince myself that it just might, so now 4×6 cards on are my shopping list.

Did I say shopping list? My husband insists that I needn’t make any purchases due to the many supplies alrready around the  house. True, I’m bundling up gently used pencils instead of buying a new ones, I’m gathering  items, like pens, that have been scattered about the house and I’ve got the above-mentioned note cards, but I still need a few more things.

“Hogwash!” the husband says.

“No,” I counter. “I need to buy. See we have a perfectly good box of fine point markers, but the 5th grader needs broad stroke markers. And I have a decent old pack of 12 colored pencils, but they each need a packet of 24.” (Damn, I guess despite my small rebellions, I continue to regard The List as the word of God.)

“I’ll take care of the school supplies,” he volunteers.

I look at him quizzically.

He announces that he is going to pack up the supplies he thinks the boys need without regard to what their teacher think they need. He has no regard for The List.

I roll my eyes at him. “That’s crazy talk,” I tell him even as he convinces the 5th grader to fill an old pencil box with a rainbow full of markers from my overflowing craft bin rather than have me buy him a new box.

How do you handle this? Does a new school year dictate new…everything? Or do you try to be thrifty or green by re-using what you can? Do you follow the list down to its tiniest detail or do you fudge here and there?

And how many pencils should I send to school with my 5th grader?

This post was inspired by the mess in my kitchen as I attempt to ready the boys for school as well the women of the Yahoo Motherboard who are talking about about going back to school this month.

Category: School

About Kim Moldofsky: Kim Moldofsky is a Chicago-area Social Media Mom of tween boys. Blogging since 2005 at Hormone-colored Days and around the web, she has a reputation as an insightful blogger who supports the momblogger community. She connects brands and bloggers for conversations, events and product reviews at MomImpact. View author profile.

Comments (6)

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  1. Emily says:

    I never worry about the school supply list because in the spring I sign up for the pre-packaged school supply box, designed according to the teacher’s specification, which our school’s PTO puts together as a fundraiser. I’m surprised that more schools don’t do this. Yes, I’m sure that the pre-packaged box costs more than buying the items individually but I will gladly pay the premium to avoid having to do back-to-school shopping at the same time I support our wonderful PTO.

  2. Our PTO offers this as well. I was going to do it last Spring, but balked at the $70 per child price tag. When I factor in the time spent buying and sorting my own supplies, maybe it’s not such a bad deal (if business is going well here). Still, I spent about $70 filling out my supply list for BOTH boys and I have a hard time rationalizing paying twice that amount.

  3. I like the idea of just reusing what you have. It’s a big expense and it only gets worse as they get older. What about calculators? HAHAHAHAHA! Those are really expensive.

    Also, what are they going to do if you bring the wrong supplies, hmmm? Refuse to educate them? I say let hubby do his own deal this year and see how it goes. And then? When the teachers balk at the 12 markers instead of 24? Let him handle the fall out!!

  4. Shari says:

    We just had this conversation about our girls’ first grade supply list. We needed so much stuff that I’ll be sending it in bit by bit during the first week of school. We currently have full backpacks and two big, brown grocery bags packed with stuff. It’s crazy that all this stuff is needed the first week of school.

    I tried to recycle some stuff, but I also went ahead and ordered pencils with the girls’ names on them. I heard a lot of stories from other moms about kids coming home complaining about other kids “borrowing” their pencils. These moms felt like they were buying pencils for the entire class. I realize pencils aren’t a lot of money, but I’m not interested in supplying the class.

    I bought everything else on sale and stocked up for the mid-year replenishing.

  5. 2kop says:

    Buying school supplies used to be one of my favorite activities, but I’ve had it up to my eyebrows. Our list includes (for each of my 2 middle school boys):

    Post-It Notes (5 neon colors 73mmX73mm) $9.49
    Are you kidding me? I got through 13 years of public school and a four-year college degree at a Big 10 school without a single post-it note.

    Are pencil requirement is 72 per child, and three boxes of Kleenex each. Plus $244 in fees. Plus $25 per gym uniform. Ugh.

  6. Ugh is right! I sent him with about 50 number two pencils, some new, some gently used, but sharpened. We got dozens of “fun” pencils around the house, but I don’t know if they are number two and I know that matters for standardized tests. (Or is that a vast conspiracy?)

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