Even with all the modern technology available to students, many of the same "old-fashioned" school supplies that were on your back to school list, you'll find on your child's list too. It's kind of comforting to know that same things have remained the same. How many of these items do you remember?
Crayola Crayons - There's nothing like a classic. But even the classics get revamped now and again. This year, Crayola announced a brand new color, based on the discovery of the YInMn pigment and the world's newest shade of blue. Thus proving that everyone is new again.
Scented Mr. Sketch Markers. In case you're not familiar with them, these are fruity-scented markers that are fan-favorites of both kids and teachers. As students, if we were handed a different brand of markers, well, it was a huge letdown! The good news is, these delightful little '"blasts from the past" are still around and still loved by even the most high tech kids.
The Trapper Keeper. This handy-dandy organizer was the ultimate school binder. It has a place to organize all your things and came in a wide-variety of hot hues. These notebooks were the ultimate school organizer and were a real life-saver for many students. Equipped with a flap fastener, this do-it-all binder kept students papers, pens, pencils and all, safely tucked inside...even if the binder was dropped or thrown. In addition to being a first-class organizer, the Trapper Keeper has useful information printed on the folders; weight conversions, multiplication tables, and even a ruler. How sweet is that!
Funky writing utensils, erasers, and pencil toppers. Your writing utensils are an extension of your creative genius. Having the right pencil or pen could make you the envy of your entire class! No plain ol' Number 8 yellow pencils for you! Popular were the glittery pencils, pencils with cartoons on them or, if you were extra-special, you had your own monogrammed pencils. And what about those ingenious flexible pencils? They could be shaped into things like lips, a heart, or question marks. Those were the ultimate cool, back in the day. But lets not forget the pens. Pens came in a wide variety of ink colors; some even held multiple colors in the same pen, One click of the top an you could go from writing in blue to red; another click and the ink was green, or purple. These pens were writing miracles. Writing toppers and erasers were the hip way to personalize your pencil. They kept your pencil separate from the rest, You always knew which one was yours. We all know that the erasers on pencils don't last as long as the pencil does, and those Plain Jane pink eraser tops aren't for us. So thank goodness there was a wealth of interesting and fun erasers to help us clean up our mistakes. Some were scented, some came in cute shapes. There were even holiday-themed pencil toppers. If you were full of school spirit, and who wasn't, you might choose a pom-pom topper in your school's color. The worst, or best topper, were jingle bells, During the holidays, it became de rigueur to dangle a bell, or two, off your pencil...thus delighting, or annoying, everyone around you.
Next on the list of our retro back-to-school supplies, is the lunch box. Brown paper bags weren't cool enough for us. No, we had to have perfect hard-case lunch box with the matching thermos. If you were like me, you'd agonize for what seemed like hours over which lunch box to get; there were so many to choose from. Some had cartoon characters on them, while others had action heroes. The young girls would choose a box that had a picture on it of their pop star idol or group. My mom would eventually get fed up with my indecision and wind up saying, "Go ahead, Irwin and and pick one! It's only a lunch box, after all." Moms just didn't get it.
Pencil cases. Do you remember your favorite? Was it a hard-case or a soft pouch? Either way, the pencil case as an indispensable organizational tool. Can you imagine the massive amount of wasted time they saved? No more rummaging around backpacks and purses looking for your pens, pencils, erasers and, perhaps, the note you planned to slip to little Billy who sat three desks over. In addition to the usual things, pencil cases were the best place to stash your ruler, retractors, protractors, and compass. And just like the lunch box, they came in in every imaginable color and size. Manufacturers would come out each new school year with the latest and greatest, must-have pencil case, making the choice of which one to get, ever so difficult. For the kid of yesteryear, losing your pencil case was the same thing as losing your cell phone today. You were hopeless lost without it.
Paper Bag Book Covers. Textbooks were mostly hardback and had to be returned to the classroom at the end of the school year. This meant that students were expected to cover their books to protect them from further wear and tear. The best coverings for said text books was the plain ol' brown paper bag from the grocery store. Not only were they plentiful, but they were durable, as well. They also provided a nice canvass for the doodler. By the end of the first month of school, our book covers displayed a wide array of artistic skills, We had all kinds of doodles and scribbles, along with simple and elaborate penmanship styles as we proudly practiced writing the name of our latest crush.
Kids of today have it so much easier than we did, but I also think they are missing out on a lot of the fun. Back-to-school is an exciting time for everyone; teachers, students, and parents alike. Shopping for supplies is still an important ritual. Today, those school supplies often include tech gadgets ranging from laptops and iPads to charging banks and docking stations. But, believe it or not, many of the school supply lists of today still include the things we remember fondly from our own youth.
I'm happy to be taking my little brother Quigley shopping for his back-to-school things this year. I know it'll be fun watching him trying to decide what to get. And I'm sure it'll bring back lots of good memories for me, too.