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Classroom objects that ‘90s kids remember all too well

Back-to-school lists are starting to pop up on refrigerators all over the nation as summer begins to wind down and the fall quarter approaches. The list seemingly gets longer and longer every year, and items on the list have certainly changed through the decades.

Today, it’s common to see several computer screens, chargers, electronic tablets and styluses in the classroom.

Of course, there was a time when computers were totally foreign in a classroom. In the 1990s, that slowly began to change, as a single computer (vs the dozens that are in class today) became more and more common.

The introduction to new tech in the classroom wasn’t the only aspect that set the ‘90s school scene apart from other decades. Though the ‘90s aren’t as old as the ‘60s, classroom items that belonged to the decade are certainly old enough to bring on the nostalgia.

With a new school year lurking right around the corner, we’re taking you right back into a typical 1990s classroom with these 11 items.


Trapper Keepers everywhere

The sweet sound of Velcro. Trapper Keepers were one of the most coveted school supply items in the 1990s, some 10 years after they were released nationwide. Bright, vibrant colors teamed up with practicality for students of all ages. It was no simple folder that would send your algebra test flying across the room. The folders, literally, trapped papers with vertical flaps to keep them in. The Trappers could easily be switched out from class to class from the Keeper, a larger three-ring binder that folded up and shut with Velcro. Opening the Trapper Keeper and hearing the sound of Velcro ripping, for whatever reason, was oddly satisfying.


Pencil sharpeners

Image Credit: eBay

These things made so much noise and wouldn’t actually sharpen your pencil unless you got up from your seat at least twice. Pencil sharpeners might be hanging near the door frames of countless classrooms around the United States, but with the takeover of mechanical pencils, electronic tablets, smartphones and laptops, these tools have seen better days.


Overhead projector

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Before there were remote-controlled ceiling projectors and HDMI cords, these projectors simply got the job done. All you needed was a light bulb and a wall to display graphs, charts or pages from a book. The items of study were on a dry-erasable transparency sheet. Any marking a teacher made on the sheet would be projected on the screen (or wall), enlarging it for the entire class to see! It was the best feeling when you got to demonstrate how to solve a math problem in front of the entire class. That is, if you got the problem right and managed not to blind yourself from the reflection bulb in the process!


TV cart

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You knew what type of day it was going to be when this behemoth of technology rolled in. Often reserved from the library, the TV cart usually came equipped with a VCR for movie day. Whether it was the end of the year and a classic movie was on, or an actual education-related program, you were sitting in school and watching TV and it didn’t get better than that. Students today simply don’t understand the joy of seeing the tiny screen flash on, rewinding the tape and hearing the scratchy audio from the TV speakers. Just another ‘90s classroom staple made obsolete by projectors and smart TVs.


Old Apple Computers

In the ‘90s, personal computers were certainly on the rise and Apple was ahead of the game in the classroom. Depending on what year you were in high school in the ‘90s, there could be only one of these per classroom or a whole row of them! They allowed students to take a break from the traditional paper and pencil, learning in an often new, interactive way. Now, we have to force kids to put down the electronics, even in school!


Scented Markers

Is it weird that there was a company that encouraged marker-sniffing? It wasn’t a surprise to walk into any given ‘90s middle school classroom and be overwhelmed with the smell of these markers. Not only did they have an intense amount of ink for vivid drawings, the scents were potent. Be honest, you can smell your favorite marker just by looking at this picture. That’s how strong these scents were!


Pencil toppers

No matter what type of pencil you used in the ‘90s, it was commonplace to have a pencil topper! These expressive decorations symbolized what you liked and served as a cool way to make a friend or see what others were interested in, by simply looking at their pencil! There was a wide range of options to choose from, but Troll doll pencil toppers were a big hit. What topped your pencil in the ‘90s?


Pencil training grips

Image Credit: Amazon

There’s no telling if these things actually helped students learn how to hold a pencil properly or not, but they looked cool and if you could get a color that matched your pencil topper, even better! Even if your handwriting at a younger age was decent, it was an amusing way to make school a little more fun. Did you need the training grips, or have you always had that immaculate hand writing?


Pencil Boxes

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Unlike the Trapper Keeper, there was simply no way to keep things organized in these plastic pencil boxes. They were used for much more than pencils though. Erasers, the fruity-smelling markers, pencil sharpeners (and all the shavings) and literally anything else that could fit went into these boxes. It was great when they remained closed, but every ‘90s kid remembers the box flying open and the wide range of utensils falling on the floor. What color did you have?


Parachute in gym class

Image credit: AP Images

Stepping out of the classroom and into the gym. Anyone who went to elementary school or middle school in the ‘90s remembers parachute day. If you were holding the edges, you were making as many waves as possible. There were a number of games ‘90s kids remember, such as creating a huge mushroom cloud, or playing cat and mouse while the rest of your classmates shake the parachute uncontrollably! Another classic was popcorn! You put a bunch of bouncy balls in the center of the parachute and start shaking. What’s your favorite memory of parachute day?


Floor Scooters

Image Credit: Amazon

Keeping it in the gymnasium, there is simply no forgetting what rolling a wheel from one of these scooters over your finger felt like, with your entire body weight pressing down. These toys weren’t exclusively ‘90s, but every kid who attended school in the decade has either very fond or very unenthusiastic memories. What was your favorite game to play when rolling on these?

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