Too Cool for School in the 80’s

trapper keeperGoing to school in the 80’s was the BEST! Remember how cool you felt with a Trapper Keeper? You know those plastic folders with a photo, wraparound flap, and Velcro closure? Everyone either had one or wanted one to carry their school work in. Wait, was their even homework in the 80’s? Yes, homework existed, but probably not like today’s standards by any means. Here are the top ten cool things about school in the 80’s.

#1 The Industrial Size Pencil Sharpener

These were bolted to the teacher’s desk or somewhere in the classroom. You had to stand up, go over to the sharpener, and wait your turn to sharpen your pencil using the hand crank. It felt like it took forever to sharpen your pencil, but boy was that tip sharp.

#2 Slap Bracelets

Slap bracelets were metal spring bands that were covered by either cloth or plastic with a fun and colorful design on them. One slap (if you were talented) and BOOM your bracelet was on. If you couldn’t get it to slap on just right, it curled back up on itself. The joy of this bracelet was to slap the heck out of yourself and it was quite entertaining to smack your BFF with it too.  

#3 Sticker Albums

Sticker trading was a big deal! You either did it on the playground at recess or when the teacher wasn’t looking in class. Kids carried around photo albums filled with their most prized sticker collection. Albums were for carefully organizing your stickers and showing them off to your friends. Yes, it was a full-time hobby to trade your stickers. There were rainbows, unicorns, hearts, teddy bears and even puffy stickers with glitter on them. Scoring your favorite sticker was like money back then. You were so excited when you got just the right sticker to complement your collection.

#4 Plastic Charms

Colorful plastic jewelry charms never meant more to girls than in the 80’s. Each charm had a clip and a bell, dangling off a plastic chain. Charms were sometimes for trading but they usually had a special meaning so you didn’t often give them up.  Maybe you had a charm reminding you of a family trip you took, or a special charm given to you from your BFF?

#5 Scratch and Sniff Stickers

When the teacher walked around the room handing back homework assignments everyone held their breath hoping their homework would come back with that totally awesome smelly sticker. You just couldn’t wait to scratch the sticker and take a sniff. Some scents were better than others, that’s for sure. Remember Berry Good!, Hot Stuff!, or Ba-Nanzia. I can still smell it now!

#6 Chinese Jump Rope

On the playground, you could always find a couple of kids playing Chinese jump rope. The game was played by two holders who stood a few feet apart. Then a large elastic band went around their legs. The band made a sort of rounded rectangle shape, known as the jump rope. Kids would spend their whole lunch hour creating a series of jumps over the bands and also made up rhymes or songs to go with the routines. It was great fun and totally worth the elbow and knee scars.

#7 Scented Markers

Whoever said you can’t sniff markers certainly had never used scented markers before. Okay, you may have been told not to sniff markers but that was until they invented scented markers.  Yes, then it was okay to take a sniff because they smelled oh so good. Remember the scents of grape, orange, or green apple? Coloring a rainbow with scented markers was a highlight of the 80’s.

#8 Chalkboards

Bueller. Bueller. Bueller. This iconic scene in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off played out in front of a chalkboard. Ever get the shivers down your spine when the chalk squeaked across the board? Maybe you had to go up to the front of the class and solve a math problem only to walk away with chalk dust all over your outfit. If you got picked to clean the chalkboard and erasers it was either the best or the worst, depending on why you got picked. 

#9 Lip Lickers

In the 80’s, the best lip gloss came in a small rectangular tin container with a sliding lid. No one cared too much about double or triple dipping back in those days with dirty fingers. These tins were filled with deliciously flavored lip balms that made you want to smack your lips all day long. Once you slid open the lid, everyone around you could instantly smell flavors like bubble gum, strawberry, or cherry. It was a bummer in the summer if you left it in the car on accident and it melted.

#10 Parachute Day

The best day in gym class was parachute day. All your classmates would gather around and take an edge of the parachute. On the count of three, everyone would raise the parachute as high as they could go and then quickly run under it tucking the edges behind them with their fingers down to the floor. It created a balloon-like effect that kept kids entertained and is something we will never forget.


Ah, it was the little things about school in the 80’s that made us not take life so seriously. We had time for fun, games, hobbies, and friends. It was just great! Yeah, this just goes to show you we were too cool for school back then. I wonder what my co-works might think of me if I show up at the office tomorrow with my slap bracelets, scratch and sniff stickers, and scented markers? Let’s have a little fun and bring back the 80’s!

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