21 Things All '90s Kids Experienced At School, From The Excitement Of The Computer Lab To The Fun Of Pencil Trolls
I'll be honest: I have no idea what grade school is like for kids these days. I haven't set foot inside an elementary, middle, or high school classroom since 2003, so the thought of there being iPads in them across the country is a completely foreign concept to me. My idea of what education is like below the university level is limited to a very specific set of parameters: That is, a bunch of things '90s kids experienced at school. But hey, at least I'm probably not the only one in this metaphorical boat, right? ...Right?
In all seriousness, though, I thought school was pretty rad in the '90s. A lot of that is because I spent the decade in elementary and middle school, which both tend to look more like play than work a lot of the time (and as we all know, playtime during the '90s was the best). But even moving beyond that, it was a pretty exciting decade to be a kid: Technology was just starting to get incorporated into the curriculum; school supplies were actually fun; Pluto was still a full-fledged planet; and so on and so forth. Am I looking back at it all through the brightly colored lens of nostalgia? Of course — but there's a reason my memories are so positive, and it's because I really dug school.
I'm willing to bet that most people who were in grade school during the '90s remember a lot of these quintessential experiences. And of course feel free to add your own!
1. The Wonders of Computer Lab Day
Nowadays, those tiny, clunky machines with screens that produced images only in various shades of green are laughably old fashioned — but in the early '90s? They were magical. Computer lab day meant spending actual school time playing video games. Bumble Games, Logo, good ol' Oregon Trail… ah, memories!
2. And Also of Library Day
Library day was the best. Heck, library day is still the best, even though I am definitely not a child at school in the '90s anymore.
3. The Joy of Seeing This Thing In Your Classroom
Because it meant movies. Educational movies, usually, but movies nonetheless.
4. The Myth. The Legend.
Did it actually work? Nobody knew. But the possibility that it might work was enough.
5. Learning Math with These Things
These! I don't know about you, but I had totally forgotten about them until I saw this picture. I don't think I ever knew their name when I was actually in school, but apparently they're called Base 10 Blocks. You can still get them today, too. Some things never change.
6. Parachute Day in Gym Class
I'm still not entirely sure how making a tent out of a parachute and sitting under it for 20 minutes was supposed to qualify as exercise, but maybe some things are better left unanswered.
7. Pizza Day!
When I was in elementary and middle school, pizza day was always Friday. So what if we were essentially eating the same frozen Ellio's pizza we could get at the grocery store? Pizza is pizza.
8. The Excitement When Your Scholastic Book Club Books Arrived
Did I mention that I like reading?
9. Painting Your Nails with White-Out
In retrospect, this was probably an extremely stupid thing to do.
10. Struggling to Stay Awake When the Overhead Projector Was in Use
Turning the lights out was a surefire way to put any kid to sleep, no matter how interesting or useful the lesson.
11. Field Trips to the Science Museum
Not quite the Magic School Bus, but the next best thing.
12. About Pluto…
Remember when it was one of the nine planets orbiting the sun in our Solar System? Me too. Now it's been downgraded to a dwarf planet, forever changing the landscape of the very first astronomy lesson most of us ever learned.
13. Two Words: Blue Books.
Although to be fair, most non-'90s kids remember these suckers, too. These days, there's an environmentally-friendly alternative called the Little Green Book made with recycled paper.
14. Topping All Your Pencils With Pencil Trolls…
Because pencil trolls were everything.
15. ...And Then The Horror Of Realizing You Needed To Erase Something
The struggle was definitely real, although to be fair, we had only ourselves to blame. Never underestimate the value of a pencil eraser that actually works — even if you'd rather have a troll up there instead.
16. But That's Why You Had One Of These In Your Pencil Box
Just in case.
17. That Pencil Box, By the Way, Looked Something Like This
Mine was blue and covered with dinosaurs. I also pretended it was a Transformer from time to time, but maybe that was just me.
18. Or This
Perhaps slightly less flashy than the aforementioned Transformer box, but ubiquitous and terribly useful.
Speaking of pencils...
19. Trying to Sharpen Your Pencil Quietly During the Middle of a Test
And failing, because these things made so much noise.
20. Rubber Cement Contact High
There's a reason this stuff got phased out in favor of non-toxic “school glue.”
21. Having Fun
I realize that I was extremely lucky in that I grew up in an area with an excellent public school system — something which I can credit with the fact that I really loved school. It was fun, and I thought it was fun all the way up through graduate school. I still dig learning new things now, too — so let's hear it for all the teachers who made school worthwhile for us, both in the '90s and throughout history. Hip, hip, hooray!
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