School Supplies: Brand Name Or Least Expensive?

   By RoscoeRamblingsJen  Jul 30, 2012

Whether our kids care to admit it or not, back to school shopping season is here.  My oldest daughter is entering 2nd grade this fall, so this is my third time buying back to school supplies for her.  (When she was in preschool, there was a flat $35 registration fee that covered supplies.)  My youngest is still in preschool, so thankfully I’m only buying school supplies for one at this point. 

The past two years, the supply lists that I received were very brand specific – CRAYOLA crayons, ELMER'S glue, FISKARS scissors, TICONDEROGA pencils, etc.  This year’s list isn’t nearly as brand specific.  Yes, there are a few brand specific items – Crayola markers, Crayola paint set, BIC pens, but many items are not brand specific. 
After spending time volunteering in my daughter’s first grade classroom last year, I noticed that not all kids had Crayola crayons, Elmer’s glue, Fiskars scissors, or Ticonderoga pencils.  Many had Rose Art crayons, Target brand glue, or just plan ole #2 pencils.  Did the fact that some kids didn’t have Crayola crayons negatively affect their coloring?  I purchased Crayola crayons for my daughter, and they still needed to be replaced by Christmastime.  Does Target brand glue not hold as well as Elmer’s?  I’m not using these products on a daily basis in a classroom setting, so I can’t say. 
I will say that in years past, I bought the exact item that was listed on the supply list.  No deviations at all.  But as I said, I quickly noticed that not everyone else did.   I completely understand why parents buy the cheapest thing they can find.  Money is tight.  People may wait until the last minute to buy their school supplies, so they’re stuck buying what’s left on the shelves.  Not everyone has the time to shop around to see if/when/where Ticonderoga pencils will be on sale.  As a stay at home mom with a daughter who swims 90 minutes each day, I find myself with the extra time to shop around for the good deals while she’s in the pool.  Not everyone has that ability.
One example I noticed recently at Target was with washable paint sets.  The Crayola brand was $1.97 and the Rose Art brand was $.97.  Neither were on sale at that point in time.  I know it's just a dollar difference and that may not be a big deal to some, but if you're buying that particular paint sent for more than one child, it does start to add up.  If your child’s supply list called for a Crayola paint set (like my list does), which would you buy? 
I’m curious to hear what other schools do.  Does your school request brand specific supplies, or just ’24 crayons’?  If you’re a teacher, have you found that brand name matters?  Or are you just thankful when all 25 students actually show up with their supplies on Day 1?  

Make a Comment

AyeElOh by AyeElOh | Marfa, TX
Aug 04, 2015

I realize this is an older blog, but I'm going to chime in anyway. After spending over 100$ (2 in pre-k, 1 in kinder) on all the stupid name brand school supplies which were "required" according to the school's supplies list posted on their website (not to mention the scavenger hunt for certain brands), I divvy everything up & send them off to school only to have everything returned, as they'd decided that year to not have parents send supplies. When the next year rolled around, I played it smart & waited until the teachers handed me the list, (All of which had typos, & led to me buying about 15 more vinyl folders than I needed.) I bought whatever brand I thought was adequate, & nobody said a word to me. What are they gonna do, not let my kid come to school & lose funding? Until someone comes back and specifies, with a good reason, that they need crayola instead of rose art, I'm not buying it.

Mimmimama by Mimmimama | Levant, ME
Aug 02, 2012

I agree that crayola crayons are the best. I do try to be thrifty and save money on most things.

jchampagne by jchampagne | SOUTHSIDE, AL
Aug 01, 2012

I've taught for the past 12 years and I think it's ridiculous to request a certain brand. We never did that at ANY school where I've taught, but my son goes to a school in another county and they are very specific. I do agree that teacher's need help and we shouldn't complain about supplies our children will be using, but the brands they use should be at our discretion...after all...we are paying for it. Are Crayola Crayons the best? Yes. In my opinion they are...but if I can only afford an off brand or I choose to try an off brand...that's my decision to make. If my child's picture isn't as pretty as his friend's then that was my doing - ha! ;)

geesker by geesker | COMMERCE TWP, MI
Aug 01, 2012

you can NOT get crayons as good as Crayolas. Rose Art is very close, but other brands just don't hold up. And if you get it at the $ store..forget it, theydon't even write! Usually t he crayolas's are on sale for 25 cents around now

sewinter76 by sewinter76 | Farmington, IL
Aug 01, 2012

Some items matter more than others. I have used watercolors in generic and they are fine. I do believe it matter on somethings especially crayons. Cheap crayons are terrible!!

basilandcatnip by basilandcatnip | GARLAND, TX
Aug 01, 2012

Brand makes a difference on a few things, especially crayons.

jen123 by jen123 | kingston, NH
Jul 31, 2012

I have two daughters and there list is very specific like only clorox wipes, ziploc bags and tissues that have to be kleenex or puffs.Its very overwhelming so I do what I can with coupons and watching for sales.I also have a son in high school so every year I spend around $100 for what all the kids need combined.

savingsmania by savingsmania | N RIDGEVILLE, OH
Jul 31, 2012

Certain things I always buy brand name and look for sales. But others, like pencils and erasers, I get whatever is on sale.

mrsgreenthumb1414 by mrsgreenthumb1414 | WEIRTON, WV
Jul 31, 2012

They dont have us buy specific brands but i always get brand name supplies.

outlawoman by outlawoman | CRAWFORDVILLE, FL
Jul 30, 2012

Certain things i will buy generic,others ill buy name brand---i also stock up when the items go on clearance:)

noelrocs by noelrocs | LANCASTER, SC
Jul 30, 2012

Our schools are brand specific on certain items. I wait until that one week in August when everything (including leading brands) is on sale for around 25c and I stock up for the year! Not just for my 4yr old, but for me, too. It's a great time to get notebooks and pens etc. oh, and as someone with a lot of experience in visual arts, Crayola has been my favorite crayons from kindergarten to this day. They're less waxy and more pigmented. I get them at the Quarter sales, too :) great post!

mrssmith35 by mrssmith35 | POTTSTOWN, PA
Jul 30, 2012

My son's school requests brand specific on certain things like Crayola crayons they say...other brands do not hold up or color accurately and Elmer's school glue. I have been lucky in finding great deals for name brand school supplies, and they have been cheaper than their off brand counterparts. Having said that I helped out in my son's Kindergarten class last year and I saw lots of off brand supplies. I think you do what you can and don't stress out there are much more important things to worry about and if there is an issue I'm sure the teacher will let you know.

moonkitten by moonkitten | Conover, NC
Jul 30, 2012

Actually, I'm grateful I homeschool!

gabismom by gabismom | LANCASTER, NY
Jul 30, 2012

I would totally do a less familiar brand but now the teachers specify that they need the more expensive ones! I usually just stock up after school has started when everything is so stinking cheap!

gabismom by gabismom | LANCASTER, NY
Jul 30, 2012

I would totally do a less familiar brand but now the teachers specify that they need the more expensive ones! I usually just stock up after school has started when everything is so stinking cheap!