Can You Identify These School Supplies From 1987?

By: Amanda Monell
Estimated Completion Time
5 min
Can You Identify These School Supplies From 1987?
Image: fcafotodigital/E+/Getty Images

About This Quiz

When you were a kid, there was a time you dreaded yet were secretly excited for at the same time: the first day of school. The weeks leading up to it you were dragged from your poolside or your friends' houses to go to department and office supply stores to get the best new clothes and supplies to rock in the new school year in style. You keep your supplies in their original wrappings until the night before the first day of school. After a night of restless tossing and turning, you put your new clothes on and get to class. As you rejoin your classmates, who are all as giddy as you are, you settle in and start your new year.


While today's kids may have gadgets to help with pretty much everything, back in the 1980s there were a lot of different implements that could confuse kids today. On top of this, these school supplies came in those bright and funky colors that could only scream 1980s.
So the question is, do you know what you could keep in your Trapper Keeper or are you drawing a blank? Grab your pencils, build yourself a folder fort and get yourself ready to take this quiz!
No. 2 pencil When it came to taking standardized tests, your teacher may have specified using one of these types of pencils. Which writing implement is it?
Kohl pencil
Mechanical pencil
No. 2 pencil
Ever wonder what the difference between a number two pencil and an unmarked pencil is? The numbers are a measurement of how hard the graphite is in each pencil. The lower the number, the softer the graphite.
Colored pencil

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Color Pencils Drawing If you were looking to color something that required blending and little mess, which of these implements would you use?
Colored pencils
When it comes to blending your colors, nothing beats a colored pencil. If you were to try to use a crayon, you run into the danger of hunks appearing on the surface and markers may end up absorbing the color they are meant to blend with.
Markers
Chalk
Crayons

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Protractor Which of these instruments looks like a D-shaped ruler?
Ruler
Yardstick
Protractor
Protractors are primarily used to measure angles. If you were an instructor needing to illustrate a certain angle, you could draw it freehand, but if you wanted it to look accurate you'd definitely want to invest in an enlarged wooden protractor.
Tape measure

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Retro Lunch Box Which of these items always came with a matching Thermos?
Plastic bag
Paper bag
Lunch bag
Lunchbox
Modeled after the lunchboxes that construction workers would bring to their sites, these lunch containers were first constructed out of metal for kids to bring to school. By the 1980s, lunchboxes were typically produced in plastic.

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Markers What coloring implement comes in both thick and thin varieties?
Markers
Even though Crayola was the main go-to for your thick marker needs, if you wanted a little extra fun in your colors, Mr. Sketch scented markers were where it was at. With 12 bold colors each with a unique scent, it made coloring a lot more fun.
Pens
Chalk
Crayons

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school box Keeping your desk neat was always an uphill battle. Which of these containers would you use to keep your supplies organized?
Lunchbox
Ziploc bag
Paper bag
School box
There were several styles of school boxes. If you wanted to spend very little on your school box, you'd rely on a simple cardboard box with a flap lid. However, some of the more complex models had compartments for your scissors or pencil sharpeners.

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Ruler When it comes to drawing graphs in math class, you'd need one of these items to draw a straight line. What are we thinking of?
Folder
Compass
Ruler
Even though there were tons of fun colored rulers in the 1980s, the best ones weren't made out of plastic (which could chip or break), but out of wood. If you wanted to get a precise line, you could even get one with a metal edge to keep things neat.
Tape measure

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highlighter Your teacher gives a hint of what is going to be on a test. What would you use to mark the text to remember?
Highlighter
Highlighters came in two different sizes: a thicker point for marking up more than the average amount of text and a pen size highlighter, which gave the student the ability to easily carry it around in a pencil bag.
Thick marker
Ballpoint pen
Pencil

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Eraser Oh no! You've made a mistake on your math homework. Which of these items would you use to correct it?
Kneaded eraser
Vinyl eraser
Gum eraser
Rubber eraser
When you're erasing with a rubber eraser, you want to make sure that it is rather new. If it is too old, the eraser may fall off of your pencil or, even worse, tear up your hard work.

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Wite out correction fluid Oops! You made a mistake while writing in ink on your term paper. What would you use to correct this?
Wite-Out
In the late '80s, several pen brands released a pen with an eraser on the lid. In theory, these erasers should have worked, but at times the eraser was too soft or it didn't remove the ink fully, leaving streaks of ink on the page. Wite-Out was usually easier.
Rubber eraser
Vinyl eraser
Gum eraser

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pencil bag If you wanted to keep your supplies in order while going from class to class, what would you use?
Pencil bag
If you wanted to go to a study group back in the day, you'd want to make sure you had a pencil bag that was stocked for taking notes. If you were super cool, you'd have a pencil bag with a three hole punch to store in your Trapper Keeper.
School box
Ziploc bag
Paper bag

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composition book Which notebook is known for its black and white (or colorful) speckled cover?
Writing tablet
Three subject notebook
Composition book
Some teachers may insist on the use of composition books over notebooks for a couple of reasons. The first is that they're sturdier than a typical notebook and the second is that the pages aren't removable, so notes last longer.
Wireless notebook

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Shears You're in art class and are looking to cut some paper. Which of these implements would you use?
Scissors
While in grade school, there were two different types of scissors being offered: one for left handed students and one for right handed students. Students were able to easily differentiate between scissor types, because the left handed scissors were painted green.
X-acto knife
Box cutter
Razor blade

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report cover What would you use to protect your report from damage?
Report cover
Report covers came in two different designs: one that was very similar to a folder with brads to stick loose leaf paper through and one with a transparent plastic cover that would slip into a hollow sleeve of plastic.
Notebook
Three ring binder
Folder

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poster board After working on a science project for months, you realized you need something to display your findings on. Which of these items would you use?
Flashcards
Note card
Poster board
When it comes to getting your presentations together, you wanted to use a nice sturdy piece of poster board. Available in various colors, you could make a creative design that was appealing to your teachers, especially if you used bubble letters.
Loose leaf paper

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sketch book If you're an art student, you would want to use one of these to hone your new craft. What are we thinking of?
Notebook
Composition book
Writing tablet
Sketchbook
Sketchbooks are great for art students to use for many different reasons. The durable cover protects the work, the paper is thicker so it prevents bleeding and some sketchbooks come with perforated pages.

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red pen Your teacher has decided to let you grade your classmates' homework. Which color pen is recommended for this activity?
Blue
Red
While the use of any color aside from the standard blue or black is preferred when teachers or peers grade papers, red is the most prevalent of colors. They make recording a grade easy because of the brightness of the color.
Black
Green

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paper bag Back in the day, you'd use one of these to carry your lunch or protect your books. What tool is this?
Canvas bag
Paper bag
If you are looking to give your hard copy books an individualized look, take a tip from the kids of the '80s. With a pair of scissors, a roll of tape and a paper bag, you can create a blank cover where your doodles can give your books a unique style.
Ziploc bag
Plastic bag

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glue Grade school kids often use too much of this school supply to get construction paper sheets to adhere to each other. What are we thinking of?
Paper clips
Staples
Tape
Glue
Teachers will often instruct their students to use only a little dot of glue to make their art projects shine. The problem? The size of a little dot is relative, so even though a student may think their dot is small, teachers don't agree.

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magnetic mrror Which of these school supplies would you use to check your makeup in a locker?
Bathroom mirror
Magnetic mirror
Even though makeup organizers sometimes have mirrors, they weren't very big. Most locker mirrors were about 5" x 7", giving the user a bigger reflection of their faces, which made applying makeup a breeze.
Makeup organizer
Compact

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backpack What type of bag would you carry using shoulder straps?
Canvas bag
Tote bag
Backpack
Backpacks are still used today, however, some backpacks have wheels similar to roller luggage. This was because doctors found that kids were having back and shoulder problems from the weight of the books in the bag.
Messenger bag

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thermos What lunchtime supply keeps liquids hot or cold?
Thermos
In every lunchbox, Thermoses attempted to keep everything the right temperature. This was a good idea in theory, however, it was difficult to achieve and kids were stuck eating cold soup or drinking warm milk.
Tupperware
Ice pack
Ziploc bags

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loose leaf paper What kind of paper came in college and wide ruled varieties?
Graph paper
Loose leaf paper
If you wanted to find a way to cheat your teachers when it came to length of an essay, an easy trick would be to swap your paper types. Wide ruled loose leaf paper gave more space between lines, making it easier to fill the minimum page requirements.
Construction paper
Tissue paper

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single subject notebook If a composition book isn't around for your note taking, you may want to use one of these for your notes. What are we thinking of?
Steno pad
Single subject notebook
If you are easily confused by which notebook is for which subject, you could do a few things. The first option is to write the subject on the cover, or you can also choose a specific colored notebook for each subject.
Trapper Keeper
Sketchbook

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combination lock What would you use to keep the items in your locker safe?
Chain lock
Mortise lock
Combination lock
Even though many of the main lockers in a school were combination locks, when students attended gym class a separate combination lock was used. This not only helped keep items and gym clothes in, but assigned each student a locker.
Padlock

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smock In elementary school you needed to protect your clothing from paint or other messy materials. What would you use to cover yourself?
Apron
Towel
Smock
If you ever had to provide a smock for your child on short notice, you could always use an adult's button up shirt in a pinch. When they're young, you can have them wear the shirt backwards with rolled up sleeves, protecting them from head to toe.
Coveralls

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folder You're taking a test in grade school. Which of these items would you use to block others from seeing your answer?
Steno pad
Single subject notebook
Folder
While most people used folders to keep their work organized and neat, one of the alternative uses was to put them up and create a fort blocking anyone from seeing your answers. Of course, teachers would often ask students to take their forts down.
Book

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Stackable point pencils If you were in the middle of a test and couldn't use the pencil sharpener, these pencils could come in handy. Which pencil is it?
No. 2 pencil
Colored pencil
Stackable point pencils
In theory, stackable point pencils were a great idea. You didn't disrupt the class to sharpen your pencil, each point is super sharp and it's disposable. But, if you lost one of the points, you had to toss the whole pencil.
Kohl pencil

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compass If you wanted to draw a perfect circle for geometry class, you would want to use one of these. What are we thinking of?
Ruler
Compass
Using a compass took a certain skillset. First, you had to press the needle into the paper, then rest the pencil down enough to create a nice fluid line. If the pencil wasn't sharp enough, you may have to trace over the line repeatedly.
Protractor
Tape measure

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index note cards You're getting ready to make a presentation to your class. What item would you use to keep your conversation points in order?
Flashcards
Note cards
There were three different sizes of note cards: 3" x 5", 4" x 6" and 5" x 8". This may have been because of varying handwriting sizes or to make a presentation easier to read. On top of this, there were different colored note cards as well.
Single subject notebook
Posterboard

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Multicolored pen A common issue that students had was that their pencil bags couldn't hold all of its contents. What would they use to condense space?
Highlighter
Scissors
Multicolored pen
The multicolored pens are still used today and come with four different shades that are commonly used: blue, black, red and green. However, during the '80s some of these pens had up to 16 colors.
Mechanical pencils

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Trapper Keeper Anyone who's anyone had these notebook systems to hold their assignments and homework. What are we thinking of?
Trapper Keeper
Sure, you could have used a three ring binder to do what a Trapper Keeper was designed to do, but it wouldn't be as fun: many of the Trapper Keepers's covers were splashed with fun and bold '80s designs.
Caboodle
Chandler's Assignment Notebook
Three ring binder

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Notebook You have one teacher instructing you on multiple subjects. Which kind of notebook would work best for you?
Composition book
Wireless notebook
Three subject notebook
Three subject notebooks came in all shapes and sizes, but your best bet for a durable notebook was a Mead Five Star notebook. These notebooks have a polyurethane cover along with perforated pages as well as dividers with folders.
Writing tablet

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Blank pages of a lined notebook Sick of getting caught on your notebook wires? You may want to use one of these. What are we thinking of?
Wireless notebook
Wireless notebooks were a blessing and a curse to students. On the plus side, there were no wires to get caught on clothing. On the negative side, tearing pages out of the notebook was a little more difficult than a traditional notebook.
Composition book
Three subject notebook
Writing tablet

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locker organizer Eep! You're running late from gym class to your next period. What would you use to keep your beauty items organized?
Purse
Locker organizer
Locker organizers are a dream come true for the fashionistas and chronically late student. In addition to keeping beauty supplies, they were often magnetic and had a mirror so you can keep your flawless look all day.
Cosmetic bag
Backpack

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Esprit What school supply did Esprit make?
Backpack
School bag
If you wanted to be in the cool crowd, you'd use one of these massive colored canvas bags to store your books and other items. If you wanted to be super cool, you'd opt out of the traditional colors for the black one with rainbow colored letters.
Messenger bag
Satchel

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Kneaded eraser If you were in an art class, what kind of eraser would you use to remove a fine line?
Gum eraser
Vinyl eraser
Kneaded eraser
While traditional rubber erasers could do the job of a kneaded eraser, kneaded erasers have a couple of benefits: they don't create debris to wipe away and they can be used over and over because of the technique used to remove mistakes.
Rubber eraser

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cheese cloth In private schools, many students would eat at their desks instead of a cafeteria. What would teachers request that students bring to keep their desks clean?
Placemat
Sheets
Paper towels
Oilcloth
In order to get an oilcloth, parents would have to take their children to a fabric store. They came in a wide array of colors and even though it may not have been fashionable, they were durable, making spills easy to clean up.

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Crayons Out of the coloring implements below, which one is made out of wax?
Markers
Crayons
Schools only required that students bring in either a box of 16 or 24 colors, but we all know that Crayola ruled the roost back then. If you brought a box of 48 crayons to school you were cool, but if you had 64 crayons in your box you were awesome.
Colored pencils
Chalk

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