Ann Arbor School Supplies - Lists & Donation Drives

Ann Arbor School Supplies

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Are you looking for Ann Arbor School Supply Lists? We’ve got the details.

It’s mid-July which means Back to School ads and promotions have started and I see supplies in all the big box stores I visit. I am hearing about crazy supply lists from friends across the country. Every year, I hear new parents asking about the Ann Arbor School Supply Lists.

When my daughter was starting school I was right there with you, I was wondering when will we get the Ann Arbor Public School Supply list. And wondering if I would get it too late and have to pay full price for supplies.


Ann Arbor School Provided Supplies


As of the 2020-2021 school year, Ann Arbor Public Schools is a one-to-one tech district. Students will receive their own tech device – mostly chromebooks. Younger grades have received iPads in the past. For summer 2022, returning students kept their devices (at least at the high school level). I know my daughter has continued to make use of the Sora library this summer.

Expect distribution information from your school if you are new or your child’s grade level returned devices.

Basic Classroom Supplies

In my daughter’s experience basic supplies were provided in the classroom especially at elementary levels – pencils, paper, scissors, glue, etc. These were communal materials (at least pre-COVID). It also makes things easier for the teacher in some ways. One of her teachers provided color coordinated notebooks – and it was easy to say pull out your blue notebook for writing journals or your green notebook for math. (I am actually dropping off stacks of notebooks for this teacher today to use for this purpose).

Events from our Sponsors

Lit Jack O'lanerns at Hallowee'en at Greenfield Village. Three across the bottom with the middle one carved to say Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village. A traditional jack o'lantern with a face sits above this pumpkin. To the right is a pumpkin with an owl. THe image to the left the letters OINCE are visible below a honeycomb

Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village

Non-Member Tickets Go on Sale September 6!

Ann Arbor School Supply List

The good news is that there is NO required supply list* for Ann Arbor Public Schools elementary schools. They ask that you send your child with a backpack and a lunch box if they will be bringing lunch from home. Some teachers also will have a wish list for classroom supplies. (*I have heard that at some schools, particularly Lawton, the PTO sends out a requested list of supplies. Other schools are often happy to take donations.)

However, back to school sales are a great time to stock up on supplies for home – crayons, markers, paper, pencils/pens, etc.

Disclosure: Ann Arbor with Kids may receive a small commission if you make a purchase from the product links below.


A Backpack should be large enough to fit your child’s snow pants, hat, gloves, shoes, and lunch. With AAPS switching to a one to one tech district, backpacks should accommodate their tech device.

As a high school student, my daughter brought her chromebook home nightly (and used it most nights for homework). Younger elementary students brought theirs home rarely. However, they should still be prepared for the device to be sent home to potentially allow for virtual days – inclement weather, high COVID cases in the community or school, etc. Hopefully we won’t have many virtual days, but I would still rather a virtual day than going over the pre-allocated snow days and extending the year.

I have heard that some Middle Schools (particularly Scarlett) have backpack restrictions. Students are only allowed a string bag and not a traditional backpack. Across the board I would verify any larger backpack or one with wheels.

My daughter brought her snow pants to school daily in the winter in elementary school. Even when there is not snow on the ground, they kept her warm (& somewhat dry/clean when snow starts to melt). She also brought a change of shoes for wet or snowy days so that wet boots can be left outside of the classroom to help it stay dry and cleaner.

I definitely recommend buying a quality backpack that is built to last. I’ve heard of character backpacks not lasting a school year. On the other hand, my daughter has used her Lands End backpacks and lunch box for 3+ years each. Her second one pictured below would have gone for a 4th year, but Lands End ran their backpacks 50% so she got an upgrade. That third backpack is going into its fifth year – all of middle school sophomore and now junior year (I’m not counting her virtual freshman year when it didn’t get used).

Back to School - Lands End Backpack

There are a wide range of backpack sizes. My daughter started with the Lands End small for K-2. A folder was a tight fit, but we made it work. For 3-5 she had a medium Tech Pack (pictured). For middle/high school, she had an XL Tech Pack and a zipper binder. The XL Tech Pack held her Clarinet in middle school so it was one less thing to carry. The Tech Pack also has a padded laptop slot which is great for her Chromebook.

Lunch Box

A lunch box/bag and ice pack is also helpful if your child will be bringing lunch from home. As a matched set, my daughter’s lunchbox attaches to the outside of the backpack and doesn’t take up space inside the bag. Be sure to look for discount codes before you order. Also, I found Lands End customer service very helpful in telling me what color the monogram thread was in the picture. My daughter ordered a teal backpack and we weren’t sure which monogram color (yellow or chartreuse) was used in the sample (for privacy I blurred part of the monogram).

If your backpack/lunch box do not connect directly, a friend recommended a carabiner clip. While they can start the year with the lunchbox in their backpack, by the time winter rolls around with snow pants there won’t be as much room.

Water Bottles

Water bottles were always encouraged in my daughter’s classes, but starting with the post-COVID return in spring 2021, they have been recommended district wide. Water fountains were not available, but there were plenty of bottle filling stations. I am not sure what the status of water fountains will be in 2022-2023. My daughter also keeps a collapsible cup in her backpack in case she forgets her water bottle one day.


Extra Suggested Supplies

The first time we had a teacher suggest supplies was in 3rd grade. Regular pencils are provided in the classroom. At back to school night, her teacher mentioned that some kids prefer the mechanical pencils and can bring their own. My daughter has been using mechanical pencils that she brings from home since then (even in high school she dislikes pen). She likes the Pentel Twist Erase.


While the school supplies needed supplies, in our experience this did not include folders for transporting papers home – school work, newsletters, paperwork. It would all get shoved in her backpack with her snow pants and other gear. Children are certainly welcome to supply their own folders for transporting papers home. Personally, my daughter was happier shoving it in her backpack than taking the time to put it in a folder. But, other children may prefer their papers to be neater.

The Best Ever School Supply

Ann Arbor Back to School - Deskmate

Her 5th grade teacher recommended a “Deskmate” which is a storage clipboard. They had a few extra that previous students had left behind if you didn’t provide one and your child wanted to use one. These things are wonderful! I wish my daughter had one the entire time in school. They are perfect for doing homework on the go – writing surface, storing the homework, storing the pencils, etc. And as a bonus, they don’t bend in the backpack like a paper folder. (You will need a larger backpack to accommodate this. My daughter’s Medium TechPack from Lands End barely fit the deskmate.)

Where can you find this awesome product in 2021? I wish I knew. Hers was from Learning Express which closed in the last few years. They had ones that are decorated (or can be decorated). My daughter’s (with her name digitally removed) is above.

I never thought to look at Learning Express until I saw her friends with them. She started the year with a plain gray one that I ordered from Amazon. The suggestion arrived the last day that Free Prime Shipping would get it to us for the first day of school. Before placing the order, we checked two office supply stores locally and did not find what we wanted – theirs were metal, side opening, etc. 


Zipper Binders

Zipper Binders were very popular with the middle school crowd at my daughter’s school. The binders have a handle and a shoulder strap for easy carrying. These can hold all of their class materials instead of different notebooks/folders for each class. This version from Case-It is very similar to my daughter’s. We bought hers at Meijer so that we could look at the features of each one and the exterior pattern to find the best fit for her.

They remind me of the Trapper Keepers we had when I was in middle school – except larger and with carrying straps. I am glad to see the kids switching to the binder. In college, I used a binder system for notes and it was so nice to have both notes and handouts from a class in one spot instead of a separate folder and notebook.

My daughter did still carry her backpack in addition to the binder. The backpack had her music folder, clarinet, change of shoes for winter, and other items that didn’t fit well in the binder.


AAPS has not announced their masking policy for the 2022-2023 school year. With smaller groups and more outdoor time, masks are optional at low and medium exposure levels in the county for AAPS Summer Programming.

We will be stocking up on masks as my daughter will likely wear one until the county is able to sustain low exposure numbers.


Other Suggested Supplies

If you see a tri-fold presentation board on sale, I definitely recommend purchasing one. You’ll need it eventually for science fair and other projects. We reused the same board for all of elementary school by stapling colored cardstock and paper printouts. It lasted through multiple presentations most years. It finally needed replacing her last year of middle school. We upgraded to a foam board with a black background – no more cutting cardstock! I am expecting it to last through high school – (success so far, she hasn’t used it in virtual 9th or in person 10th). We have this board from Elmers (don’t buy it from Amazon, I paid considerably less at Meijer)

School Supplies for Teachers

My daughter’s elementary school started a bulletin board with teacher wish list items one year for Teacher Appreciation Week. It was such a hit with parents, that it is now a permanent fixture. We also get an occasional message from the office that they are in need of items.

Some of the commonly requested items are dry erase markers, printer paper (white and color), and tissues. Personally, I frequently contributed pencil cap erasers at my daughter’s request including as her 100s day project in first grade. She had a classmate who had a tendency to snap the erasers off pencils so few classroom pencils had erasers.

Last summer, I stocked up on supplies like notebooks to donate to her school. But with virtual school, AAPS did not take them. I am hoping they will want donations for 2021-2022 to get them out of my closet (I probably bought 80 notebooks at $0.10/notebook)

Events from our Sponsors

Lit Jack O'lanerns at Hallowee'en at Greenfield Village. Three across the bottom with the middle one carved to say Hallowe'en at Greenfield Village. A traditional jack o'lantern with a face sits above this pumpkin. To the right is a pumpkin with an owl. THe image to the left the letters OINCE are visible below a honeycomb

Hallowe’en in Greenfield Village

Non-Member Tickets Go on Sale September 6!

School Supplies for Home Use

While there is no need to buy supplies to send to school, you will likely need some supplies at home, particularly in the upper grades. Back to School sales are a great time to stock up on school supplies to use at home. I always buy my crayons and glue sticks for the year at back to school sales. Now that my daughter is getting older (Tenth Grade), I will also be buying mechanical pencils, pens, notebooks, and other basic school supplies.

My daughter and I actually had an argument about loose leaf paper a few summers ago. I mentioned that I should get some for this year. Her argument was that she still had some and we should wait until it was needed. I showed her the price difference between list price and Back to School sale price, so she understood why we buy at back to school sales. (Although since Chromebooks, she does her homework electronically and doesn’t use loose leaf paper).


Donate to School Supply Drives – 2022/2023

Ozone House/Education Project

The Education Project is a partnership between Ozone House and Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) to ensure students experiencing homelessness and temporary living situations enroll, attend, and succeed in school. They are holding a school supply drive.

Donations can be dropped off at WISD or Ozone House. They are looking for pocket folders, protractors, scientific and graphing calculators, backpacks (especially with laptop pockets), pens, pencils, post-it notes, and more. Check their blog post for more details.

United Way Stuff the Bus

Stop by either Ann Arbor area Target to donate to the Washtenaw United Way Stuff the Bus initiative. They will have a bus parked in the lot at both the Ann Arbor-Saline and Carpenter Targets for drop-offs from 8:30a-3p.

Backpacks are the #1 most requested item. But they also need binders, scissors, calculators, pencil sharpeners, glue sticks, pens & pencils, and more. They also take items for teachers like tissues and disinfecting wipes.

Saline Summerfest

Saline Schools and Saline Area Social Services coordinate a Stuff the Bus event as part of Saline Summerfest. Various businesses will be collecting materials starting July 18. On August 12, a bus will drive through various neigborhoods who have each been assigned a particular school supply. Be sure to check their website for participating businesses and the supply list.

West Willow Farmers Market

West Willow Farmers Market is collecting for Operation Backpack. School supplies can be dropped off at 2057 Tyler Rd, Ypsilanti 48198

School Supplies Lists, other items school related are welcomed!

Posted by West Willow Farmers Market on Monday, July 18, 2022


Other School Drives

Some supply drives are not announced until later. If we hear about them, we will add them to the list.

Get Assistance with School Supplies


The district provides Chromebooks (iPads to younger ages). Students will benefit from having internet at home to use their devices for homework, reading, and more. If you qualify for certain federal programs, you may also qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

School Supplies

Students experiencing homelessness or temporary living situations should connect with Ozone House and the Education Project.

Ypsilanti Community Schools will be holding an event a Family and Community Empowerment Conference/Back to School Bash on August 20 and will be handing out school supplies.

If we hear of more resources for handing out school supplies we will add them. The social worker at your child’s school will also be a resource for finding school supplies.

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