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16 things to buy for back to school before they sell out

5. A cooler to carry your lunch in

A packed lunch brings a sense of normalcy. (Photo: Reviewed / Jackson Ruckar) For students heading into school, a lunch box is an essential item if you’ll be transporting food to and from home. We tested the most popular lunch coolers and are big fans of this one from Coleman . While testing, we found that it maintained temperatures below 40°F for more than six hours sans an ice pack, meaning it will keep lunch safe during the school day. Not going back to the classroom? Prepping lunch in advance and storing in a cooler can help create a sense of normalcy while learning at home. 6. A planner to track all the assignments

Stay organized with this undated planner. (Photo: Panda Planner) Back in elementary and middle school, I was always given a planner (adorned with a cute logo of our school mascot—a lion) where I would eagerly write down all my assignments. It felt good crossing each one off as they were completed. A planner is still essential for keeping students on track, especially during these hectic times. With over 5,000 reviews on Amazon, the Daily Panda Planner is an excellent choice. It comes not dated and has daily, weekly, and monthly sections designed to help with prioritization and reflection. 7. Colorful gel pens for note-taking

The smoothest glide. (Photo: Paper Mate) Gel pens not only glide across the page, making it easier to scribble down notes, but they’re also available in a ton of colors, which is good for marking off different sections and important details. With over 12,000 reviews and a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, they are clearly a fan favorite and reviewers say they dry quickly—a.k.a. no smudging. 8. Highly rated mechanical pencils

A fun pencil means a good test, right? (Photo: BIC) While pens are my preferred tool for writing, pencils are essential for schoolwork, specifically tests and homework you find yourself erasing a bunch—like math. Reviewers are big fans of these No.2 sparkly ones from BIC , stating that the lead is sturdy and that they come with a quality eraser. 9. Sticky notes for more note-taking

Stick a note everywhere. (Photo: PostIt) Sticky notes are great for jotting down quick reminders and flagging pages of textbooks. For everyday use, reviewers love the classic Post-It Notes , which have been dubbed "America's No. 1 favorite sticky note." People praise these sticky notes for sticking to almost anything, being the perfect size, and coming in a variety of bright colors. 10. Spiral notebooks for every subject

A notebook for every subject. (Photo: Mead) You can never have too many spiral notebooks, in my opinion. Back in my school days, I would color coordinate each folder, notebook, and binder to a specific subject, which is why this 6-pack of single subject notebooks from Mead is perfect. Not only are they affordable, but they come highly rated on Amazon. 11. Noise-canceling headphones to zone into work

Zone into all your assignments. (Photo: Reviewed) Whether you’re watching your virtual class on Zoom or working on a major assignment, noise-canceling headphones are essential for blocking out the world around you and not disturbing others with your teacher’s lecture. The Puro Sound Labs PuroQuiet Wireless Kids Headphones are ideal for children as they’re volume limiting for developing eardrums. This is why they’re our favorite headphones for kids . Kids 13 and older might prefer the Sony WH-1000XM3s, which are the best noise-canceling headphones we’ve ever tested or our favorite pair of true wireless headphones , the coveted Apple AirPods.