It’s almost time to head back to school, which means it’s time to restock your school supplies! While back-to-school season can be an exciting clean slate, it also requires some organization to feel prepared. Teachers request all kinds of school supplies for their classrooms, and you’ll need many of the same supplies at home for homework and projects. It’s a lot to keep track of! Wondering how to organize school supplies to keep everything handy throughout the year? Here are our favorite school supply organization methods from top home bloggers. Read through the end to find a free printable to reference when your shopping is complete!
How to Organize School Supplies
An Art Supply Cart on Wheels
In my house, we have an art supply cart for all our school supplies. It holds everything my kids need to do their work at home and can be wheeled around to our different workspaces. I keep it stocked with all the necessities, and I try to rotate out supplies as they need to be replaced. Labeling each box helps everyone put things where they belong when it’s time to clean up.
An Over-the-Door Shoe Organizer
Here’s another school supply organizing idea that’s pretty genius. A Bowl Full of Lemons repurposed an over-the-door shoe rack to corral supplies. I love this approach because you can still close the closet door to hide everything from view. Every item gets its own slot, which can be tucked away when homework is done.
A Decorative Mason Jar
If you’d rather make your school supplies an intentional part of your décor, everything looks better in a Mason jar. You can use this trick for most of your supplies or just keep one Mason jar out with the most common daily items. Then, the rest can be put away in a different space.
A Homework Station Tray
Melissa over on Polka Dot Chair has a place for everything in this tray-turned-homework organization station. Since the tray is portable, this is another great option for anyone with multiple potential workspaces in the home.
Empty Frames with Clips to Display Artwork
As soon as you send your kids (and school supplies) off to school, your child will start coming back with papers and projects to hold onto. This combination of an empty frame with a clip gives you a temporary display to rotate through your favorite pieces. Think of it like a kids’ art gallery that looks more intentional than a magnet on the fridge or a pile on the counter.
File Boxes for Storing School Memories
When it’s time to take those same art projects back down, tuck the most important school papers into a file box like this one from Rebecca at Simple As That. Each child can have a designated tub (or a few) to cut down on stray paper clutter and keep everyone’s items organized.
Free Printable School Supply Labels
If your kids’ teachers want you to label all your school supplies, download our free printable school supply labels. This PDF download includes two different designs and multiple color variations to find the right fit for your kiddo. Just edit the PDF to include your child’s name, print them on adhesive paper, cut them out, and use them as needed!
Once you’ve figured out how to organize school supplies, it’s time to stock up on the items themselves. Want to save money in the process? Here are nine tips we recommend.
How to Save Money on School Supplies
Here are nine ways to shop and save on school supplies for your student so you can support those teachers this school year.
1. Shop early.
If you already have an idea of what supplies will be on your kids’ lists, try to shop all summer long. Reference the teacher’s list from last year (they typically don’t change much from year to year!) or check if your local supply store has your list on file.
Once you have your list, keep it on hand (or take a photo) while you’re out and about in case you come across a good deal. Whenever you head to the store, check out coupons and clearance items to look for the supplies on your list.
2. Shop around.
If you are shopping early, it’s best to check out all the possibilities. Give yourself enough time to check school displays at different shops to compare the deals. You can always mix and match your list, getting items wherever they happen to be cheapest.
3. Price match.
If you find a great deal online or at a different store, you can also take it to Walmart or any other retailer that price matches. This is a great way to streamline your shopping and get a great deal at the same time.
4. Shop in bulk.
Have more than one student? Take advantage of bulk pricing by buying larger packs of basic items like pencils and glue sticks. Then, just split them between your children once you get home. You’ll usually get the best per-unit price this way.
5. Shop late and stock up for next year, too.
If you don’t want to be part of the early crowd, you can also go to the other extreme and shop at the last minute. When school starts, retailers start clearing supplies to make room for fall merchandise.
While this tip is too risky for any ultra-specific items on your list, it’s great for anything your kids won’t need right away. You can also use this sale period to stock up on basic items that you’ll always want to have on hand.
Teachers also often ask for supplies as they are depleted through the year, so you can get extras to donate to the classroom throughout the year.
6. Buy better.
Backpacks and lunchboxes are also part of your back-to-school shopping list, and they tend to be the most expensive items on the list. The trick here is to invest in high-quality items, if possible, so they’ll last longer.
Skip the flashy character backpacks and trendy items. They may be cute and inexpensive, but they’re more likely to fall apart in the middle of the year. Your student’s tastes may also change—the trend they loved in September may not be relevant by January.
I recommend looking for washable items too. The fewer opportunities for these big-ticket items to get ruined mid-year, the better.
7. Shop online.
School supply shopping may feel like an in-person activity, but there are great sales online, too. Amazon Prime Day usually falls in July and often includes deals on school supplies. Online retailers are also great for buying supplies in bulk.
If your student needs to buy books or textbooks, online shopping is also a great route for those items.
8. Think outside the big box stores.
Most people will shop at the big box stores first, and the more affordable items tend to get picked over first. If you have to shop from a limited supply, you’re more likely to get stuck with the expensive options.
Think outside the box and check your local grocery stores, office supply stores, and even drug stores. In many cases, you’ll find a better selection of affordable items in smaller stores. (It sounds counterintuitive, but it’s true!)
9. Stay organized.
Finally, the best way to save money is to only buy the items on your list. If you forget you’ve already purchased something or you buy the wrong item, you’ll spend extra for no reason. To avoid that outcome, make a point to check items off your list once you’ve purchased them (or if you already have a home stash).
More Back to School Organization Tips
Thanks to these back-to-school shopping tips, you’ll be stocked up and organized in no time! This time of year can feel hectic, but with a plan in place, you’ll have everything you need ahead of schedule. Happy shopping, and enjoy the school year!
Editor’s Note: Originally published on August 28th, 2017, and was revised on April 30th, 2020 & July 17th, 2023 with more information.