13 Back-to-School Supplies No 90s Kid Did Without

Maybe your parents needed to bribe you a bit into getting excited to go back to school. Or maybe you knew that you could get some new fun stuff because “Mom, it’s educational!” was a great excuse for a mini-shopping spree! Either way, if you were a kid in the 90s, this stuff was your jam. 

Colourful Pencil Grips 

Ostensibly to help little kids learn to hold pencils properly, these ended up being more about decorating pencils in fun colours. Even a kid stuck with the standard yellow #2 pencil could stick a colourful pencil grip on there. It’s not a Rainbow Brite or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle pencil, but it’ll do. 

Pencil Toppers

Same deal as the grips, except that the right pencil topper turned your pencil into a magic wand. Or you could fling them at each other when the teacher’s back was turned. Plus some pencil toppers were really just Troll dolls, which is the closest you can get to turning stationary into toys. 

Fabric Book Covers

Why settle for a normal textbook cover when you could make yours look different with the right fabric book cover? Or, if you were a thrifty kid, you could always use the right combination of wrapping paper, scotch tape, and careful folding. 

A Tricked-Out Backpack 

Little kids got fun themed backpacks with Alf or Lion King on them while teenagers enjoyed decorating new backpacks with patches, pins, and sharpie art. 

Mr Sketch Scented Markers

Why did every fourth grader end up with different coloured nostrils by lunchtime? We blame you, scented markers. Mr. Sketch was everyone’s first perfume scent. 

Gel Pens

Look, having 75 different colours of pens available helped us learn better, okay? 

A Trapper Keeper 

Either you remember which Trapper Keeper you had or you remember which one you wanted but weren’t allowed to have because your parents had a thing against the Power Rangers.  

A Clear Slip-Front Binder

Of course, if you were too cool for a Trapper Keeper, you had a binder with a clear slip front, perfect for magazine cut-outs, pictures, concert tickets, and all the other teen ephemera you needed to make sure everyone knew how cool and different you were. 

Lisa Frank Stationary Set

Which didn’t get used more: your Lisa Frank pens, because they were only for really special writing, or your Lisa Frank erasers, for fear of misshaping those cute bears, rainbows, and butterflies? 

A Pager

Before cell phones, your parents’ only hope of keeping tabs on you was to buy you a pager in your preferred colour and hope you had some change for a payphone. 

Bendy Pencils 

Who wouldn’t want a pencil you could bend into a loop?


Some parents who were early adopters to mixing tech with education, then you might have got a Palm Pilot or an Apple Newton. 

Scratch & Sniff Stickers 

The best teachers put scratch and sniff stickers on homework. It’s a fact. A gold star and a strawberry whiff was always a highlight at lunch break.