It’s an inevitable fact of parenthood: your kids need stuff for the back to school season. But wouldn’t it be amazing if said stuff made your life easier and better? Rest easy. We’ve rounded up the best gear and supplies that will get the kids’ school year off on the right foot – and make moms and dads happy, too.
12 back to school items that will make *your* life easier
Kindergarteners (ages 4-5)THE ULTIMATE BACK TO SCHOOL COMBO PACK FROM MABEL’S LABELS
Let your littlest ones go to town creating personalized designs on Mabel’s Label’s interactive website, then let them help you label all their gear when the loot arrives by post. They get customized name stickers, you get everything labelled: let’s call it a win-win.
Mabel’s Labels Ultimate Back to School Combo Pack, $42 at Mabel’s LabelsMabel’s Labels
Kindergarteners (ages 4-5)FULL CIRCLE REUSABLE CACTUS PARTY SANDWICH BAGS
Your kindergartener will love the cute cactus pattern on these dishwasher-safe, reusable sandwich bags, and you’ll save yourself the ongoing cost of the usual disposable plastic options. Use ‘em to teach your kids about Earth-friendly choices and being kind to the planet.
Full Circle Reusable Cactus Party sandwich bags, $10.91 for two at The Container StoreThe Container Store
Primary Kids (ages 6-7)SMARTPLANET COLLAPSIBLE ECO MEAL KIT
We love this lunchbox for its clever design featuring three internal compartments and a collapsible structure made from food grade silicone and biodegradable eco-plastic. Best of all? It compresses down to one third of its size for easy post-lunch carrying and storage, meaning less chance of box breakage and in-backpack spills.
Smartplanet Collapsible Eco Meal Kit, $12.99 at SolutionsSolutions
Primary Kids (ages 6-7)KHAN ACADEMY KIDS APP
You may already know of Khan Academy’s stellar online math lessons and free academic courses, but their new Kids app for young learners is pretty great, too. The content is customizable to your child’s developmental stage and includes digital books, videos, games and lessons on everything from counting to basic logic – and it’s totally free.
Khan Academy Kids app, downloadable for free at khanacademy.org/kidskhanacademy
Junior grades (ages 8-10)POTTERY BARN KIDS METAL LAZY SUSAN DESK ACCESSORY
“Mom, where’s my pencil sharpener?” Banish the question forever (fingers crossed) by gifting your young homework-finisher this cute lazy susan, which comes in four colours and has plenty of space for all their need-it-this-minute supplies.
Pottery Barn Kids metal lazy Susan desk accessory, $38 at Pottery Barn KidsPottery Barn Kids
Junior grades (ages 8-10)GLOBBY GRIP TOY
When times are tough, invite your kiddo to get a grip – a grip, that is, on this delightfully grimacing, deceptively tough Globby from US-based toymaker Schylling. Because the start of the school year brings lots of bumps, and you never know when your frustrated kid (or, ahem, you) might need a little stress relief.
Globby, $8.99 at Mastermind ToysMastermind Toys
Middle schoolers (ages 11-13)NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC WEIRD BUT TRUE CANADA
So many questions, so little time. Get their brains back into gear after a long, lazy summer with this highly engaging, kind of wacky, facts, stats and trivia book about the Great White North. (Seriously, who knew that Canada was the first country to build a UFO landing pad?)
National Geographic Weird but True Canada, $7.64 at AmazonAmazon
Middle schoolers (ages 11-13)ASUS RUGGED CHROMEBOOK, 11.6” DISPLAY
This small-sized Chromebook packs a punch with access to Google’s suite of cloud-connected apps and services, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, but it’s the rubber-wrapped protective guards, spill-resistant keyboard (!) and excellent price that will have parents cheering.
Asus Rugged Chromebook, $199.99 at Best Buy CanadaBest Buy Canada
Middle schoolers (ages 11-13)DOUGHNUT MACAROON BO-HE BACKPACK
Cool and not at all kiddie, Doughnut’s cult fave Macaroon backpack gets style-savvy students out of the backpack brand rut and keeps their stuff safe and dry inside its water repellent shell. Bonus: tons of interior pockets and a laptop compartment ensure that your big kid stays organized, too.
Doughnut Macaroon Bo-He backpack, $129.77 at Nordstrom
HIGH SCHOOLERS (14-17)BlackBerry KEY2
Old school meets new school with the latest BlackBerry smartphone. The actual physical keyboard, ideal for typing up notes, also activates shortcuts to apps and onscreen functions. With a two day battery life, state of the art security and a cool camera function that lets you zoom into the blackboard double quick, this is one smartphone that might actually belong in the classroom.
BlackBerry KEY2, Prices vary accordant to plan at Bell.ca BlackBerry
High schoolers (14-17)FITBIT VERSA SMARTWATCH
Great for jocks, outdoorsy types, couch potatoes and the parents who love them, the FitBit Versa has 15+ exercise modes, a heart rate tracker and a personalized coaching program – and it can hold 300+ songs without a phone and link to their favourite Android apps and notifications. Four-day battery life? Sold.
Special Edition FitBit Versa Smartwatch, $299.95 at Chapters IndigoChapters Indigo
High schoolers (14-17)GOOGLE MINI
What high school kid (heck, parent) doesn’t want their own personal assistant? Google’s voice-activated speaker provides real-time answers on everything from sports scores to weather, but harried parents will appreciate how the Mini helps kids stay organized with its built-in schedule reminders.
Google Mini in Charcoal, $45 at Best BuyBest Buy