Back to School Shopping: Mom's Essentials and the Kids' Essentials (Target Inner Circle)


Note:  I”m a member of the Target Inner Circle and Target generously provided some gift cards so that the kids and I could go back to school shopping.  All opinions expressed below are my own, of course.

Last Friday I mentioned that we had already started school here and it was time for me to face the music and (insert ominous movie soundtrack here) go back to school shopping.  

Actually I shouldn”t complain about it because I really do love back to school and all the new-pencil-fresh-sheets-of-paper joy that comes with it.  It is a time of year full of possibilities.  Hopefully that feeling is contagious and spreads to my kiddos, too.

When a friend heard we were back to school shopping she was taken aback, “why are you back to school shopping?  Don”t you still homeschool?”  Yes, homeschoolers use pencils and gluesticks, too. Oh, boy, do we ever!

Also, this year my kids are involved in more clubs and activities than ever, so we added some “on the go” gear like lunchboxes and backpacks to our shopping list along with our annual restocking of the school supply cubbies.


Within five minutes of walking through the doors, Jillian found a backpack she loves and Amelia fell asleep.  YES!

Last weekend I organized my store fliers, my coupons, and my lists and then the Fleck Six braved the crowds and spent Saturday afternoon joining the legions of other families clutching paper checklists and we went shopping for crayons, markers, and other back to school goodies.

Also?  I want to pause a moment here and give a big shout out of thanks to Cherie Lowe, The Queen of Free, and a fellow Indiana mama, who saw an instagram photo of Jillian with her new backpack and reminded me to use the coupon.  She”s got a great Back to School Budgeting Basics post here. Actually, big thanks to everyone who hung out on Instagram with me last weekend and shared back-to-school shopping tips and stories.  Solidarity, mamas and papas! Ha ha!

It became pretty clear pretty quickly that this mom”s list of essentials for back to school was a little bit different than the kids” list of essentials. Guess whose shopping basket is whose in our cart. (Hint:  mine”s the one with the socks and underwear).


My back to school shopping list looked like this (aka what my kids call “the boring stuff”  ha ha!):

  • number 2 pencils
  • socks
  • underwear
  • undershirts
  • white school glue
  • rulers
  • filler paper
  • post it notes
  • dry erase markers
  • white board/family command center
  • highlighters
  • baggies and other lunch box packing supplies

The kids” shopping list:

  • crayons
  • markers in every color (to which mama added the requirement “washable”)
  • neon Sharpie markers (Jillian saw these in the ad and put them at the top of her “must have” list)
  • craft tape, stickers (for personalizing notebooks and pencils)
  • jumbo purple glue sticks
  • a “cool” backpack for Jillian


And, of course, since it happens every time I walk into a Target, some other things jumped into our cart as we shopped, too.


  • a globe (Lucy and Max spotted this on the shelf at the same time and asked me for it.)
  • duck tape in character prints and fun colors (like the stickers and tapes, my kids use these to personalize their things)
  • staplers (the kids found mini ones that use regular size staples “perfect for making my books,  mama”)
  • Angry Birds pencils (I think these may actually be magic pencils as Max hasn”t complained about having to do math once since we purchased them)
  • Angry Birds notebooks
  • dry erase alphabet cards (from the Dollar Spot – I really wish I”d grabbed more of these as all three of my younger kids think they are fun)
  • a zipper monster coin purse (“I need this for my backpack, mom”)
  • a new outfit for each kid (Loaded with neon and sparkles, making my tween girl very happy!)


Mom”s Most Essential Back-to-School Item

Coffee. Lots of coffee. Just kidding.

The thing I”ve been most happy that we purchased, my back-to-school essential for 2013, is a large white board and the  colored dry erase markers and post-it notes that compliment the existing color coding system I use for my family.

This is Fleck Family Command Central during the school year (or that is my plan, at any rate).


We hung the white board up in a central location on the closet door in our kitchen and every day I write out what the kids, my husband, and I need to know and remember about how schedules for the day.  This has already been a huge help with the various clubs and activities the kids are in and the children are getting into the habit of checking it each morning to see what schoolwork they have to do.

There”s something about new school supplies that always makes me feel so hopeful about finally getting it together and being organized during the school year. So far, so good! This could be my year!

The Kids” Back-to-School Essentials

My craft loving kiddos are always thrilled with new crayons and markers, of course, and I”m pretty sure Max will tell you that Angry Birds pencils are a back-to-school essential.

Jillian would add that, aside from new clothes for the school year, her most essential thing for back-to-school 2013 is she picked out that has . 

She”s ready for back to back club meetings and field trips and looks super cute (which is very important when you are eleven).

backtoschoolREADYOur cubbies are full and we are ready for a new year!

And after all of the back-to-school shopping was finished (okay, mostly finished – there are always a few more things on the list) my family and I went to one of our favorite local spots to have dinner together and eat sugar cream pie.  Back-to-school shopping followed by pie?  I think we may have started a new family tradition.

How is your back-to-school shopping going? What do you and your kids consider the back-to-school essentials this year?

About Kara

Kara Fleck is the editor of Simple Kids. She is a small town mama, writer, knitter, bookworm, and hooligan. Kara lives in Indiana with her husband Christopher and their four children Jillian, Max, Lucy, and Amelia. You can find more of her writing at

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  1. I am so very excited to do our Back to School shopping – and your post sparked it in me. We finally have a Target nearby! (They are new to Canada.). You are so right: there is a hopefulness that comes with the start of a new school year. I feel it and the kids sure do, too. Thanks for getting me jazzed about it!
    Robin from Frugal Family Times´s latest post: Minecraft Birthday Party: Printables, Crafts and Games!

  2. A family command center? LOVE IT! Now to convince my husband that I NEED one!
    Jessica´s latest post: Weekend Reads #1

  3. I love the family center! Every year I buy a calendar called “mom planner” it’s great! It has a section for each child and mom :) With all the appointments, and school functions it helps me A LOT! They also sell a purse size “mom planner”. I keep one on the fridge and one in my purse. They are kind of expensive, but well worth the money to me… I haven’t used a regular calendar in many years… Tell Jillan that Aunt Des loves her new bag…. and she has a 7 year old cousin who LOVES neon also…


  1. […] Have a fantastic Friday, my friends!  I hope you and your kids had a terrific week and that a relaxing and fun weekend lies ahead for you.  Check back tomorrow for a fun giveaway from my friends at Target (hint:  it has something to do with my favorite back-to-school essential). […]

  2. […] week I reported on our family’s back-to-school shopping trip.  You might recall there was a noticeable difference between what mom considers an essential for […]

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