Quiz: Can You Identify These School Supplies From 1987?
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Can You Identify These School Supplies From 1987?
By: Amanda Monell
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!
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Anyone who's anyone had these notebook systems to hold their assignments and homework. What are we thinking of?

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.

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Oh no! You've made a mistake on your math homework. Which of these items would you use to correct it?

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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If you wanted to draw a perfect circle for geometry class, you would want to use one of these. What are we thinking of?

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.

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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?

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.

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Out of the coloring implements below, which one is made out of wax?

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.

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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?

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.

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Eep! You're running late from gym class to your next period. What would you use to keep your beauty items organized?

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.

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What school supply did Esprit make?

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.

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Back in the day, you'd use one of these to carry your lunch or protect your books. What tool is this?

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.

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What coloring implement comes in both thick and thin varieties?

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.

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Which of these items always came with a matching Thermos?

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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If you were in an art class, what kind of eraser would you use to remove a fine line?

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.

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What kind of paper came in college and wide ruled varieties?

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.

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Sick of getting caught on your notebook wires? You may want to use one of these. What are we thinking of?

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.

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You have one teacher instructing you on multiple subjects. Which kind of notebook would work best for you?

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.

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Which notebook is known for its black and white (or colorful) speckled cover?

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.

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You're getting ready to make a presentation to your class. What item would you use to keep your conversation points in order?

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.

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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?

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.

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When it came to taking standardized tests, your teacher may have specified using one of these types of pencils. Which writing implement is it?

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.

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Your teacher has decided to let you grade your classmates' homework. Which color pen is recommended for this activity?

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.

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What would you use to protect your report from damage?

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.

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If you were looking to color something that required blending and little mess, which of these implements would you use?

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.

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Which of these instruments looks like a D-shaped ruler?

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.

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Keeping your desk neat was always an uphill battle. Which of these containers would you use to keep your supplies organized?

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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If you wanted to keep your supplies in order while going from class to class, what would you use?

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.

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In elementary school you needed to protect your clothing from paint or other messy materials. What would you use to cover yourself?

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.

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Oops! You made a mistake while writing in ink on your term paper. What would you use to correct this?

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.

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What type of bag would you carry using shoulder straps?

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.

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Your teacher gives a hint of what is going to be on a test. What would you use to mark the text to remember?

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.

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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?

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.

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If you're an art student, you would want to use one of these to hone your new craft. What are we thinking of?

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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You're in art class and are looking to cut some paper. Which of these implements would you use?

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.

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What would you use to keep the items in your locker safe?

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.

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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?

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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Which of these school supplies would you use to check your makeup in a locker?

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.

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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?

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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What lunchtime supply keeps liquids hot or cold?

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.

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You're taking a test in grade school. Which of these items would you use to block others from seeing your answer?

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.

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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?

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.

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