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11 Old-School Classroom Items Everyone Forgets

When's the last time you saw an overhead projector? Take a trip down memory lane with these old-school school items.

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Metal lunchbox

Not everyone had a Beatles lunchbox growing up but most people had some sort of metal lunchbox they brought to school. That gave way to the brown paper bag for those who brought lunch from home. Toss a fun lunch box note in there too and you’re guaranteed to feed the belly and the heart!

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Emma Kumer/

Vintage chalk holder

If you were a music kid, you’ll remember seeing an old chalk holder, even if you haven’t thought about it for years. Teachers loved it when they had to write out music on the chalkboard. Just one of many things you won’t find in schools anymore.

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Compass and protractor

Boy, geometry was a pain when you had to draw a circle. Even though you had a compass and a protractor, that compass could get wild and tear up your paper in a hurry if you weren’t careful. A school supply you no longer have to waste your money on, fortunately!

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Emma Kumer/

Graphing calculator

At a certain point, graphing calculators became required items for math class. Mom and Dad didn’t like having to dole out the cash for the expensive item but you learned how to use mathematical formulas. Try shopping for school supplies like a teacher if you want to avoid breaking the bank.

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School library index cards

How did we ever get along before computers? Well, if you wanted to find a book in the library, you looked at index cards to find the Dewey Decimal number. These days it’s a little easier. Remember writing papers after researching a topic in an encyclopedia?

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Overhead projector

Who could forget the old overhead projector? Well, maybe you did because it’s been so long since you’ve seen one. They were the command center of a classroom and frustrating when you had smudges on transparency. With the rise of smartboards, projectors are largely a thing of the past (unless yours is one of the many schools grossly underfunded). After coronavirus, these school staples are a thing of the past too.

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Emma Kumer/

Trapper keeper

Trapper Keepers were all the rage for students to stay organized. These days almost every kid carries around an iPad. Check out these other things your kid will learn in school that you didn’t!

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Pull-down world map

It was always embarrassing when you accidentally let go of the pull-down map too quickly. The pull-down world map is now a relic in the modern classroom thanks to fancy computer projectors that let teachers just pull up a webpage.

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Library checkout card

Just like the old library index cards, you used to have to write your name down on a card either in the front or the back of a book when you checked it out from the library. You also used to have to write your name in your textbooks too. Here’s what school pictures looked like 75 years ago.

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Emma Kumer/


Kids used to carry around a thermos to school on those cold winter days. Parents filled them with hot cocoa or soup they could enjoy at lunch time. These days there are a lot more insulated coolers carried around that will keep food hot or cold.

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Paper cutter

When’s the last time you had to cut some paper? You likely used the old paper cutter for a number of things in school like art class or whenever you needed smaller graph paper. Now, take a look at what school looked like 100 years ago.

The Family Handyman
Originally Published on The Family Handyman