Every year, back to school equals a sort of rebirth–a chance to redefine oneself with new clothes, new books and all that must-have back to school gear.
My first day of 7th grade was no exception. It was 1986, and I remember walking into my first day of junior high sporting a brand new backpack and Guess jeans (and a Guess jean jacket–my mom totally splurged!) while listening to Michael Jackson on my new Sony Walkman.
Every year my mom had good, practical reasons for new back to school gear. In 1986, I probably got a new backpack because my old one from the previous year had a hole in it.
But that year my mom also realized that back to school gear could provide something else for her insecure and brace-faced eleven-year-old daughter: much needed confidence.
And she was right.
It sounds silly, but with my hair perfectly poufed in my banana clip, Michael playing in my headphones and that long-wished-for jean jacket on my back, I felt an assurance that, yes, I could do this junior high thing. I was OK. I was going to make it.
I'm grateful that my mom understood that, especially that year (it was a tough one).
Now as an adult, I know that ultimately my confidence doesn't come in “stuff.”
But I also know that having the right gear can give anyone a much-needed inner boost that's essential to a great start.
As parents, we want to set our kids up for success with essential school gear that strengthens their learning; and school supplies that give them the confidence they need to face the challenges of a new school year.
And that's why I'm so excited to share these amazing 9 products with you!
These are innovative, fresh (and dare I say, cool?) back to school items that will give your kids the right tools and much needed confidence to start this school year off on the right foot!
There's everything from helpful electronic gadgets to fast healthy snacks to awesome ways to showcase your child's individual style here!
I can't wait to show them to you! Here we go!
1) Pack the Perfect Lunch with Whimsical and Well-Designed Bento Boxes from Bentology
When I was kid, a lunch box was literally that–a flimsy metal box with a cheesy cartoon character on the side (mine was Wonder Woman, thank you very much).
Wow, how times have changed! These lunch boxes from Bentology are not only incredibly functional but equally adorable and will be the envy of the playground!
Designed around the single-portion Bento container concept common in Japan, Bentology's insulated, durable lunch boxes encourage healthy eating and portion control. Kids can easily pack their own lunch and snack by simply filling up the different containers.
I love how there's no need for plastic bag waste because the containers can be simply washed and re-used the next day! And colorful patterned ice packs (that match the bags themselves!) keep everything cold and fresh. The Bento Box Kits even include a perfectly proportioned fork and knife that fit neatly inside the box, and a plastic bottle that can be conveniently stashed in the side pocket.
To top it off, Bentology's bento boxes, lunch boxes, ice packs and bento accessories contain NO phthalates, BPA, PVC or lead, and are made in the USA. Score!
Even if you homeschool and your kids are with you during lunch time, these Bentology lunch boxes are incredibly handy (field trips, anyone?).
2) Carry Everything in Fun and Functional Backpacks from speck
It all starts with the backpack, right? And these sturdy and brightly colored backpacks from speck offer both practical and fashionable school supply storage perfect for tech-savvy kids.
I love that every item has a place in these backpacks! The two main compartments offer plenty of open space for books and notepads, while the padded laptop sleeve and interior/exterior pockets throughout are designed specifically for kids who carry a lot of tech (and for parents who want their kids to protect all that tech).
Speck has a solid reputation as an award-winning electronic protective case manufacturer, and they bring that same passion for protection to these very sturdy backpacks that are designed to carry and protect most 15-inch laptops, a tablet, phone or digital music player, camera, and headphones.
Kids will love the different styles and colors speck offers (everything from standard black to fun shades like Peacock Blue and Gecko Green). And moms will love the 30-day unconditional money-back guarantee, a 3 year warranty and free shipping/returns on US orders!
3) Keep Kids Connected with the EasySync iPad Keyboard from Kanex
Speaking of tech, older kids will love this portable bluetooth keyboard from Kanex that allows them to type on their iPad, iPhone, laptop and other electronic devices all in one place! This is incredibly convenient for those times when kids need to work on multiple electronic devices at once.
Transitioning between devices is simple too. Kids just need to simply sync the new device to switch the keyboard over!
The travel keyboard has full-sized keys and also contains a magnetized cover that holds devices with up to a 9″ screen in place, making it perfect for taking notes quickly in class (no more excuses!).
Plus a built-in rechargeable battery lasts 2 months on a single charge, so kids can easily stay connected wherever their day takes them. Yes!
What kid wouldn't want to sport a cool keyboard like this?! (Your child may have to hide this from his other tech-savvy siblings… or his parents!)
4) Fuel Growing Bodies with Healthy Snacks from Crispy Green
A healthy lunch can make a huge impact on the quality of a child's day, right? I know if I give my kiddos junk food or other sugary snacks they will tend to be unfocused and emotional, and everyone will have a tougher day.
But let's face it–some healthy snacks aren't easy for kids to transport. That's why I love these freeze-dried fruit snacks from Crispy Green. Kids can easily grab a quick snack for recess or after school practice and you can know they're feeding their bodies with healthy nutrients!
I love that these tasty Crispy Green are literally 100% fruit (nothing else!) without any additives or preservatives. Crispy Fruit is available in Crispy Green–Apple, Mango, Asian Pear, Banana, Cantaloupe, Pineapple (my favorite!) and Tangerine–and are a fantastic way to get kids to eat healthy on the go.
All Crispy Fruit flavors are available in a convenient “Grab & Go” 6-pack – six single-serving bags or individual, single-serving bags that provide approximately one serving of fruit and 55 calories or less per bag. Crispy Fruit is available online and in select US retailers (go here to get a free coupon too!)
And if you're stumped on other nutritious-yet-delicious food ideas for your kids, check out PowerYourLunchbox.com! Crispy Green is part of this campaign to help parents discover healthy lunch options for their kids, and the PowerYourLunchbox.com site is packed with lunchbox menu ideas and recipes even the pickiest eaters will love!
5) Encourage Your Daughter's Fun, Vibrant Spirit with LittleMissMatched
My nine-year-old daughter has a bright and cheerful spirit, and I love helping her express her unique fashion sense through fun girls clothing! (Do you have a tween daughter like that too?)
LittleMissMatched offers so many must-have zany-yet-adorable clothes and accessories that are perfect for girls who love to express their individuality!
My daughter will be proudly sporting many of their adorable t-shirts and highly-popular mismatched socks (see the photo) this fall for back to school. In fact, so many little girls complimented her on her LittleMissMatched socks when she wore them for the first time a few days ago to theater practice!
And as a mom on a budget, I appreciate that LittleMissMatched's clothes are affordable too, especially when the sales hit (psst… I just grabbed some back to school clothes and accessories that were BOGO or up to 70% off–yowsa!!).
Let's help our daughters start the year off right by encouraging them to wear cheerful clothes that bring out that joyful and unique girl spirit!
6) Get (Adorable!) Custom-Styled Girls Clothes Delivered to Your Door with kidpik
What if you could hire a New York designer to pick out your daughter's back to school clothes for you (guaranteed to be outfits that you know she'll love)?
And then, what if you could have those clothes sent straight to your home (no more dragging your whole brood from store to store at the mall)?
Yep… in a nutshell, that's what kidpik is like.
Kidpik combines the luxury of personal styling with the convenience of home delivery. Clothes are designed exclusively for girls and tailored to your budget (around $75-85 a box). Each box contains around 7 high-quality items–tops, bottoms, dresses, layering pieces, shoes, and accessories–designed to create multiple mix and match outfits!
The coolest part? Each kidpik box is designed to your daughter's design style! Talk about a confidence booster!
Whether she's Girly Glam, Classic Chic, Modest, Sporty (or somewhere in between), kidpik's interactive online style quiz identifies your daughter's unique style and allows kidpik to hand-pick her custom box contents.
Don't like the box contents? Simply return what you don't like and keep the rest. Kidpik offers free shipping, free returns, no membership fees and no monthly commitments. Seriously, it's that easy.
In the end, your daughter gets an amazing set of gorgeous clothes and accessories (that make her feel great!) delivered to your door. And, moms, we get to cross off one more thing on our to-do list. Win-win!
7) Step Out in Unique Style with Custom Shoes from SoulKix
Kids love to express their individuality in all kinds of ways… and with SoulKix, kids can share about their passions through their own custom shoes!
Each of SoulKix's slip-on canvas shoes are custom made and come in both kids and adult sizes.
If your son enjoys skateboarding, how about a black and white photo on his shoes of him doing an awesome in-air trick?
Or if your daughter is crazy about a certain sports team (perhaps even a team she plays on!), SoulKix can put the team logo or mascot on her shoes!
Best of all, for every pair of shoes sold, SoulKix donates a pair to Soles4Souls, a non-profit organization that has donated more that 26 million shoes to those in need worldwide.
What a fun way for kids to show their unique, individual style for back to school (and make a difference)!
8) Make a Mark with Custom Notebooks, Stationary and Labels from Minted.com
For kids, there's just something special about having a journal (I remember treasuring mine as a young girl!). It's a safe place for them to express their thoughts and share their fears.
And if you ask any journal-lover, the journal cover's style expresses so much about that journal's contents. How awesome would it be for kids to have a custom journal with their name or picture on the front (I would have loved that as a kid!)?
Minted.com lets kids design their journal cover, choose the interior pages (everything from lined pages to monthly planners) and customize the journal with other features such as grommets or spiral binding. These journals truly are a work of art–even before your child writes a single word on the pages!
What a fun way for your child to practice their penmanship or to learn about how to handwrite a formal letter! And for many tweens and teens, writing (especially by hand) can be a very therapeutic way to sort out all those changing emotions.
9) Keep Your Kids' Wiggles at Bay with Fiddle Toys from Educents
If you have a child with special needs (such as Autism or ADD/ADHD) you understand that he has unique challenges that require innovative strategies to keep him focused and successful in school.
My 13-year-old is one of these kids, and we're continually on the hunt (especially during back to school time) for any tools that will help him control his wiggles and stay engaged in his school assignments.
We've found that “fiddle toys” from Educents such as the Twiddle Fidget, the Ultimate Fidget Rings, and the Fidgipod above are incredibly helpful when he needs to express some of that pent-up energy while working on school! These are small objects that a child can manipulate with his hands that provide much needed stimuli to help keep distracted kids focused.
Other tools such as a Sensory Seat Pad (the circular red object in the photo) offer a passive way for kids to continually get that stimulation they need to stay focused.
These tools are simple ways for kids with sensory needs to start the school year off right! When kids are focused and doing well, their confidence soars!
Which products are your favorite? Which would help your kids start this school year off on the right foot? Let us know in the comments!
FTC Disclosure: I received products from several brands mentioned in this post and was compensated for my time. However, all opinions stated here are 100 percent mine, and I was not required to post a positive review.
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