Back to School Guide: What You Need to Know About Markers

The back to school sales are underway and you can hear the kids grumbling from three aisles away. With less than a month before most kids head back to school, there’s plenty of time to get the necessities but if you’re smart you won’t wait until the last minute or you’ll be left with the stuff that no one else wanted or be forced to pay full price for the things that weren’t part of the big sale.

When it comes to markers there are a lot of choices to make. Erasable? Thick tip? Washable? Permanent ink? How many colors? Brand? It’s enough to make your head spin. The best thing to do is to know exactly what your child needs. If the school sends out a list of things that they will need check to see if there is a specific brand that they request kids have. If they don’t make a recommendation then there are a lot of different options available to you.

Will your child be taking an art class? If so, consider getting two types of markers. One that they can use for only the art class and one set for use in other class and homework assignments that require them. Investing in a strong plastic case will keep the markers from getting damaged or cracked.

Selecting a brand! You might not thing that there’s much difference when it comes to markers but there are. Tones, point tips, ink life, quality of the barrel and protective packaging are all things to consider. My usual first choice is Crayola however there are others that are comparable. When back-to-school sales are not an option for purchasing I will go with another brand.

How safe are they? It’s not enough to get a marker that is washable, you also have to look for the “non-toxic” symbol on the package. The ACMI tests products to ensure that they are certified non-toxic and safe for kids of all ages to use. Markers for younger kids should have vented caps in case they are accidentally swallowed.

Some of the more expensive brands are Prismacolor and Crayola, the cheaper ones like RoseArt are good for younger kids but older ones will shrug them off and insist on a “name brand” product. Wal-Mart and Target have the best prices right now but those sales aren’t going to last forever. Office supply stores like Staples have been putting a lot of the basic necessities on sale so be sure to check the Sunday newspaper for their advert.

Crayola Color Wave Markers
Fine Line or Regular
Set of 8 – Average Price: $3.00

Prismacolor Color Marker Set
Fine, Medium, Bold, Chisel Tip
Set of 12 – Average Selling Price: $11.00

OfficeMax Color Markers
Fine, Broad, Extra Fine
Set of 12 – Average Selling Price: $4.00

Shachihata Poster Markers
Medium, Bold, Extra Thick
Average Selling Price: $2.00 each

Markers generally have a long shelf life but after about 18 months you run the risk of them being dried out or on the verge of drying out. Unlike crayons and colored pencils, markers will eventually need to be pitched when the ink supply starts to run low. If you stock up on a couple of packs while they are on sale you’ll never have to run out a half hour before the stores close when your child informs you that they need new markers for the next day of school.

You can also use the back to school sales to stock up on markers and other art items for other times of the year. They are great things to put in gift baskets for kids that like to draw or color and if you participate in yearly toy drives like Toys For Tots, you can throw a few packages of markers into their collection bins for kids that might otherwise not get anything for the holidays.

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