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Back-to-school shopping cheat sheet: What they really want

Say goodbye to summer vacation and hello to homework. Sounds like a bummer, right? Here are a few fun extras to make the transition easier.
/ Source: TODAY

Time to say goodbye to summer vacation and hello to homework, school supplies and back-to-school shopping. With the crucial start date fast approaching and most of the necessities crossed off the list, what are the items your kids really want?

From backpacks with capes to fancy locker decorations, here is your master list with a few suggestions straight from the mouth of babes.

Grades K-2:

These grade school rookies are very fun to shop for — and still pretty low key. Bring home a bag full of markers, crayons and pencil boxes and you'll easily help your kids feel ready for school. Of course, if you ask most kindergartners what they want, you’ll hear something along the lines of my own little one. “I just want the kids to be nice, and to make some new friends,” said Cullen Deloach, rising kindergartner.

Back-to-school shopping
Pottery Barn Kids
  • Crayola crayons and markers ... Minion style!
  • Disney-themed notebooks will never go out of style and for this age group, the "Frozen" characters are still worth lots of excitement. Maybe it'll strike up a conversation with a new friend!
  • Colored glue sticks: A great spin on classic glue sticks, your kids will be beyond excited for the surprise.
  • Anything involving a cape is kind of a no-brainer, so when Pottery Barn Kids decided to combine the cape and book bag into one, it immediately hit the top of the back-to-school list.

Grades 2-5:

Kids in this age group can be quite, well, vocal. Get ready for lots of opinions and a detailed account of what all their friends have or will have. To keep them feeling trendy and confident, look for colorful styles and personalized items.

Back-to-school shopping
  • Getting a backpack ready for the first day is always exciting, and this crew will love a monogrammed version made just for them.
  • LeBron or KD sneakers? If your kids are into sports, then there's no doubt you’re already beginning to hear about the latest sneakers out that they truly "need" for back to school. Does your child love the latest release from LeBron, or will it be the Kevin Durant shoes that win out? Either way, fun and colorful shoes will help build your child’s excitement for the first day.

Grades 6-8:

Middle schoolers are a fast-paced group. Their style is ever-changing, moving at lightning speed as their preferences switch faster than the trends themselves. They walk a fine line between still loving movies like "Frozen" and wanting to make their own short movies on a tablet. As their personal style reigns supreme, they covet logo tops, skinny jeans and all things tech-friendly.

Back-to-school shopping
  • Skinny jeans are certainly a wardrobe staple among adult women, but when it comes to middle school students, they are a way of life. If you’re interested in finding a great pair that won’t break the bank (who isn’t?), try websites like, where you can simply type in "junior skinny jeans" and get a ton of great choices right at your fingertips.
  • It all comes down to the tablet. While they're likely to want one for social reasons, you'll love the apps that keep them organized and how they learn to research those English papers and science projects.

Grades 9-12:

High school is an exciting time of discovery, and kids today have learned to leverage all forms of self-expression. From decorating lockers with duct tape and chandeliers (yes, chandeliers!), to personalizing just about everything, high school is all about finding their personal style.

Back-to-school shopping
  • From rugs and chandeliers to lamps, makeup holders and even string lights, lockers have become mini bedrooms for today's teens. But if a fully decorated locker doesn’t top your priority list, there are cost-effective solutions that will allow your teen to put his or her personal stamp on their space. From patterned duct tape to insertable shelves, the options are endless! Simply hit up your local art supply store and get creative.
  • Help your high schooler leave their “signature” with personalized monogram stickers. Whether it’s for their locker or their notebook, this must-have ranks high among teens. Give your kid lots of options by going to sites like, where they can get custom fonts and initials ordered without breaking the bank.
  • Just as the K-2 group gets a kick out of fun school supplies, high school students love perusing the scrapbooking section for patterned pens and colorful notebooks. Peyton Warren, a soon-to-be junior, said, “I get so into my school supplies that I’m that annoying person digging in the Target bins for the cutest color binders and prettiest pens.”

College life:

The priority list for college students is a mixed bag. For freshman, so much of the shopping list comes down to decorating the dorm room while seniors may feel less invested. As a college senior, Iyanna Draper said, “I wear leggings or sweatpants everyday. I buy nothing special for school. Real life is approaching.” But if your kid is still in the beginning stages, here are just a few items to get them started.

Back-to-school shopping
  • Dorm decorations: Firefly string lights, comfortable bedding and decorative pillows top the list for college-aged students prepping for life away from home.
  • Fitbits: This cool gadget tracks everything from what they’re eating to even how they’re sleeping and will help keep them on a healthy schedule. Of course, it wouldn’t be cool unless the results can be shared with everyone ... and share they do. From competing with one another to cheering each other on, the Fitbit is a college age go-to.

For more style tips and picks, follow Lauren Deloach at