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Back-to-school top 5

Back-to-school top 5
10 min

The most important basic supplies for your pencil case

Children working on laptops in front of brightly lit screens– this is the image that has shaped our vision of pupils when it comes to remote learning since 2020. But no matter how and where the next school year will start – on site in the classroom or in homeschooling due to Corona: a good basic pencil case equipment is essential for first graders!

STAEDTLER explains which five must-haves are absolutely necessary and what is important when selecting the right tools for children on their path to learning to write.

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After kindergarten, children generally start compulsory schooling between the age of 5 and 7. While the start of school is celebrated in some countries, the first day of school is just another normal day in most parts of the world. But no matter whether it’s a traditional chock-full school cone as is customary in Germany or simply a neatly packed schoolbag - all children around the world are happy when they get their first set of pens, pencils & co. To prevent school children from becoming frustrated after a short time and from losing their desire to learn to write, parents should pay attention to a few things when buying school materials.

The Noris pencil from STAEDTLER - a classic with yellow-black-striped design - is the world’s most famous representative of the extensive Noris school range. This year, the Noris brand of the long-established company STAEDTLER is celebrating its 120th anniversary. It has stood for quality, reliability, and diversity for over a century and has always impressed with modern innovations in the school segment.

Image rights: STAEDTLER Mars GmbH & Co. KG

1. Pencil – the all-rounder

The pencil is THE pen for learning to write worldwide – whether Germany, Japan or South Africa. Even in China, in the land of characters and calligraphy, it is an indispensable helper for immersing oneself in the world of handwriting. The advantage of a pencil: small spelling mistakes can be corrected in no time with an eraser. The pencil is an all-rounder. It is suitable for writing, sketching and drawing, fits comfortably in the hand, can be used for a very long time, is ready to use at any time and enables different stroke thicknesses depending on the pressure and position. Whereas in Europe HB hardness degree is preferred for learning to write, in Asia pupils mainly use graphite pencils with a degree of 2B and softer.

A classic pencil is 175 millimetres long. Its shape is round, hexagonal or triangular. The hexagonal shape was invented so that the pencil no longer rolls away, falls off the table and thus breaks the lead. The ergonomic triangular shape ensures relaxed writing and drawing. Europeans attach great importance to ergonomics, so triangular pens are much more in demand here than in the rest of the world. Dots and dip cap at the end of the pencil add the finishing touch to the pencil. Beginners often use a jumbo version for their first writing exercises. The thicker shape of the learner’s pencil sits comfortably in children's hands and ensures a secure hold.

2. Coloured pencils – How children's thoughts were put into colour

Sunny yellow, sky blue, grass green - colours make life vibrant and accompany us from the very beginning. The coloured pencil in particular has become a loyal and creative companion and designer of childhood. In addition to the pencil, it is also the second indispensable writing instrument in a child's pencil case. The basic colours are a must, other required colour nuances are generally decided by the class teacher. When purchasing coloured pencils for a child's first basis school supplies, the following applies: Quality, not quantity. Even if good offers with a variety of colours entice you - a selection with the most important colours is sufficient for the start of school life. Parents should pay attention to quality. High-quality workmanship and reliability, ergonomic shape for a secure and fatigue-free hold and a good colour stroke should be the focus when selecting the right coloured pencils.

In 1834, Johann Sebastian Staedtler succeeded in making a decisive innovation through the further development of the red-chalk pencil: the coloured pencil as we know it today! Those who wanted to paint with dry materials 400 years ago could choose between charcoal, red chalk and pastel chalks, and they definitely shouldn't mind getting their hands dirty. This changed with the development of the wood-cased pencil from the 17th century onwards. At the beginning of the 18th century in Nuremberg, in addition to graphite, red chalk and pastel chalk were gradually incorporated into a wooden "casing". In Nuremberg, Johann Sebastian Staedtler managed to improve the red-chalk pencil by 1834 so that it could "sharpen pencils to the finest point", enable fine line thicknesses and stick better to paper. He developed a process for the production of differently coloured oil chalk cartridges. Founded in 1835, J.S. Staedtler finally specialised in the production of this new coloured pencil.

Colourful designs are easy to create with the Noris colour pencils. In 36 colours, they invite you to create radiant worlds. The Noris colour is available in both the classic hexagonal shape and the ergonomic triangular format - for a particularly relaxed drawing experience.

Noris colour coloured pencils are made of WOPEX material. Unlike traditional pencils and coloured pencils, WOPEX pencils are not created by bonding slates of wood together in several stages. WOPEX pencils are produced in a mould. Its special manufacturing process ensures that the tip of the Noris colour lead is particularly break-resistant and thus provides hours of colouring fun.

Image rights: STAEDTLER Mars GmbH & Co. KG
Practical, not just for school beginners: the double-hole tub sharpener from STAEDTLER in mini format, especially for pencil cases! It is suitable for standard pencils as well as pencils and coloured pencils in jumbo format up to 10.2 mm in diameter. The different point angles of the two holes mean that pencils can be shaped very sharply and coloured pencil leads can be shaped broadly – for very accurate or soft lines. Thanks to the hinged pointed hole cover, the school bench and pencil case always remain clean.

Image rights: STAEDTLER Mars GmbH & Co. KG

3. Sharpener – handy, convenient & clean

Sharpeners come in all shapes and colours. They are made of plastic or metal and are available for both slim, classic pencil formats as well as thicker jumbo versions. What many people do not know: There are certain differences when it comes to pencil and coloured pencil sharpening! Pencils are characterised by particularly hard and robust lead. They can therefore be sharpened very thinly without breaking the lead. In contrast, coloured pencils are made of a softer lead. They should be sharpened a little shorter and more bluntly so that it does not break off when you draw. Is the lead constantly breaking off during tipping? In most cases, this is not due to the pencil, but to an old and blunt sharpener. As a rule of thumb: The sharpener should be replaced after 12 completely sharpened down pencils.

Sharpening tubs are no longer only available in a large format, but also handy and small and suitable for the pencil case. They offer a convincing advantage: The container ensures a fast and clean result. This is a huge advantage for primary school pupils. They don't have to stand up and go to the waste bin to sharpen their pencil but can sharpen their pencils directly at their desk. An integrated lid also reliably prevents waste from escaping and soiling the schoolbag. STAEDTLER tub sharpeners are also available as double-hole sharpeners for all standard-sized and jumbo pen formats.

4. Erasers – Learning from mistakes

No pencil case without an eraser: Writing in the wrong direction would not be easy to correct, incorrect calculation results could not be easily erased and when you draw, you couldn't simply conjure up a beautiful flower from the crooked tree. Erasers make it easy to change and rewrite stories. Here, it is worth paying attention to quality. Poor eraser results, smudged lines, and lots of eraser crumbs on the paper disrupt the learning process and quickly cause irritation.

Nowadays, standard erasers are hardly made of natural rubber. Rubber is not resistant to ageing and hardens over time. The situation is different with STAEDTLER erasers, which are made of synthetic materials. Their abrasion is also coarser than that of rubber products and therefore hardly stick to the paper. This makes it easier to remove eraser residue.

Little mishaps disappear quickly with the Noris eraser. It is phthalate- and latex-free and impresses with its high quality and excellent eraser results. Thanks to its low degree of crumbling and its sliding sleeve, with the iconic yellow and black anniversary design, it is clean and comfortable to use. For intensive use in primary schools, its low wear and tear and thus high durability are also a particular advantage.

Image rights: STAEDTLER Mars GmbH & Co. KG
The STAEDTLER plastic ruler in transparent design is ideal for schoolchildren’s pencil cases. The special feature of this sturdy writing and drawing aid: Due to the special, counter-rotating scale placement on both sides of the ruler, it is suitable for both left-handed and right-handed users. With a length of 15 centimetres, it fits easily into any standard pencil case.

Image rights: STAEDTLER Mars GmbH & Co. KG

5. Ruler – For small line artists

Draw lines, underline, strike through, draw or measure – the ruler is a convenient helper. Rulers are available in many variants and in different materials: Plexiglas, aluminium, wood or plastic, colourfully printed or transparent, as a straight ruler or set square. Simple, straight rulers are required for school starters. These are often available in lengths of 15 or 30 centimetres, with the shorter version fitting into the pencil case. Plastic versions protect the loops in the pencil case.

And what is so handy about the hole that most rulers have nowadays? In the past, a ruler was already part of the standard basic school supplies of every primary school pupil. As slate boards used to be used for writing at school, the students needed a cloth to clean their boards. This hung on a ribbon that was pulled through the hole on the ruler to attach it to it.

A large selection of school products and further information on the Noris anniversary can be found on the STAEDTLER website at

Accompanying press images are available for download here:

STAEDTLER press images

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