OT Tips for Choosing School Supplies

I know it is July, but before we know it the new school year will be upon us. With a new school year comes school supply shopping!  Some of you may be preparing now to return in August or may be looking to get your shopping done early.  If you don’t go back to school for a while, bookmark this blog for the future!   Many of the supplies that kids need for school include things like crayons, pencils, scissors and markers, which we often use to work on OT goals as well.  Depending on your child’s goals, you may be looking for some alternative versions of traditional supplies to support their skill development.  Over the years, I have started to compile a list of various supplies, options and general tips that can help choose the appropriate tool for a wide variety of students.  Check with your child’s OT as well to see what options might work best.  Here are some of my favorite tips!


Who knew there were so many scissor options?  Here are some things you may want to consider when purchasing scissors.

  • Traditional kid scissors often have two options – a blunt tip and a sharp tip.  The blunt tip tends to be better for younger students or students who are just learning to independently use scissors.
  • Blade length can be an important factor when choosing scissors.  Scissors that have shorter blades will be easier for kids to control.
  • Alternative scissors may be a good option depending on your child’s goals.  Springloaded scissors help with the open and close mechanism of cutting.  Loop scissors can be good for students who are learning to coordinate their fingers in the scissor holes.  


There are a lot of different things to consider when purchasing crayons. Crayons are a nice alternative to markers as they tend to give good feedback to the hand.  Here are some tips.

  • When purchasing traditional crayons, Crayola is the best!
  • Larger, thicker crayons can be a good option for students who have weak muscles.
  • My favorite tip when using crayons with young kids is just to break them!  Little hands benefit from little tools.  If the crayons are too large, it is hard for little kids to hold them properly.  You can purchase smaller crayons, such as the flip crayons from Learning Without Tears, but there is also an easier way. Simply break the crayon to make it a little more manageable for kids and to encourage that tripod grasp.  



Here are some tips and options for choosing markers.

  • Just like crayons, I think Crayola is the best when looking at traditional markers.
  • I love pip squeak markers!  They are an awesome option for little hands just learning to hold tools.  Same concept as the broken crayons! 
  • Dot markers are a great alternative for students who maybe are not writing or drawing independently.  They are larger and easier to grasp.  They make a lot of color without a lot of refined motor movements.  They can also be used to easily indicate responses on worksheets.


  • When looking at traditional pencils, Ticonderoga pencils are the best!
  • Golf pencils are the perfect size for little hands or those still working on proper pencil grip.  Consider having a few on hand for younger students.
  • Pencils can also provide an opportunity to add some sensory input to a child’s work space, such as a topper for chewing or a pencil grip.  

Hopefully these ideas and tips can help you choose great supplies this back to school season.  Happy school supply shopping!


This blog is for informational purposes only.  Please consult your OT for specific recommendations.


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