8 Nostalgic School Supplies from Back in the Day
Back to school supplies have come a long way over the years. For some students today, a few books, some new clothes and a laptop is all they’ll need to start the year. While elementary school kids often need similar core supplies to the ones we used in the 1970s and 1980s, some of these products are quite different from what they used to be. To celebrate pre-digital school supplies like the Trapper Keeper, tin lunchboxes and knee-high gym socks, here’s a list of 8 old-school back to school items!
The Trapper Keeper
Whether you had one to show-off, to hide your answers from classmates, or to actually organize your loose-leaf assignments, the infamous Trapper Keeper was definitely a must-have for back to school shopping. It barely fit in your “book bag”, it was difficult to carry, but still…you had to have one! From great scenery and fields of unicorns, puppies and kittens to Lisa Frank’s brand of colorful artwork, the designs were simply amazing. Check out the Trapper Keeper pictured below from eBay!
Casio Wrist Calculators
Before kids were obsessed with smartphones and tablets, the most “digital” you could get was pretty much through this handy wrist calculator. Even though most teachers didn’t approve of it, kids loved the original wrist calculator. Despite its nerdy factor, at one point the Casio wrist calculator was just as popular as the Swatch watch. Did you know that Casio has continued the original watch? Here‘s one for sale on eBay!
Before the days of fancy backpacks, most of kids’ school supplies would fit in a rectangular pencil case like the one pictured below. We called it a pencil case, but there we’d store pencils, a pink eraser, a wooden ruler, a calculator, a protractor, chapstick, candy or anything else we could fit into the quintessential zippered case. Just as kids today don’t believe the stories about walking miles to school carrying books, it’s hard for them to imagine school without huge key chain-decorated, overstuffed backpacks (on wheels). Take a look at this truly vintage yellow pencil case that we found – it even has a small pocket for lunch money!
Up-to-the-Knee Gym Socks
If you grew up in the 70s or the 80s, then chances are that you had your very own pair. They were striped, white and up all the way to your knees. Not only has the curriculum for Physical Education certainly changed over the years from the days of kick ball and rope climbing, but so has the attire. So while we were shopping for these incredibly high (and probably mandatory) gym socks as kids, little ones today are spared the embarrassment.
Manual Pencil Sharpeners
Now that we live in a world where everything is automatic, it’s fun to reminisce about the days when we did everything by hand. Sharpening our pencils was no exception. The process of winding and checking the pencil point and then rewinding and rechecking it over and over again was both annoying and rewarding at the same time. After all, it was all we knew. If we were heading back to school, making sure we had perfectly sharp pencils was part of the procedure. Remember the kind like this one in the photo?
Square Metal Lunchboxes
…Because lunchtime at the cafeteria was so important! Before classroom supplies, before books, before pencils and erasers, the most essential back to school item for kids was the tin lunchbox! It represented a way of expressing yourself through your favorite television and movie characters, your favorite colors and more. Like many objects from the 1970s and 1980s, looking back they were probably not the best idea for young kids, but boy did we love our square lunchboxes. Check out this list of 6 Awesome Lunchboxes from the 80s! Here’s a memorable Star Wars original lunchbox!
Glue in a Jar
Long before spray adhesives, glue stick, and non-toxic kid-friendly glue gels, we were dipping the brushes from Rubber Cement lids into jars of sticky yellow glue. For less-sticky projects, we had huge tubs of fun-smelling white paste. And of course…there was always a kid or two who enjoyed the taste. If you remember Rubber Cement, tell us below in the comments!
For many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s, the Mead Composition notebook was the notebook of all notebooks. It was often a back-to-school requirement and usually meant to be used as a journal or for creative writing of some sort. No matter what grade you were beginning from Kindergarten to twelfth, chances are that these marble composition notebooks had some significance in your childhood.
Who remembers these vintage Back to School items? Did you have a Trapper Keeper? Do you remember your favorite tin lunchbox?
Can you think of other school supplies that just don’t seem to exist anymore? Share below in the comments!