20 Buys That Bring Fun Back to School

Get your elementary-age kiddos (and yourself) ready to go back to school with these staples that make every day easier and a little more cheerful.

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August 06, 2018

Write This Down

A new school year is a blank slate. Start your kiddos off right with fresh pages to practice their handwriting, figure out math problems and jot down their inventive stories. Take their standard composition notebook to the next level with creative new covers from Mr. Boddington's Studio.

BUY IT: Anthropologie, $10

A World of Color

Bring on the rainbow with this set of 24 colored pencils — with an artistic bonus. The pencils are made with watercolor pigments so after your kids color a base layer, they can use a paintbrush and water to shade and blend their picture.

BUY IT: Terrain, $18

Put a Name On It

Lost and found is an unavoidable part of elementary-school life. Practically daily. Help kiddos keep track of all their school gear with these handy labels. Not only are they dishwasher-, microwave- and laundry- safe, they come in hundreds of different designs you can customize.

BUY IT: Minted, $20 and up

Welcome to the Zoo

The standard pink eraser may be on the school supply list, but that doesn't mean you can't send a little playfulness along to class. This set of six animal erasers get rid of any spelling errors and add a jungle of joy to your child's desk.

BUY IT: Urban Outfitters, $8

Pack It Up

Let your kiddo express their personal style with a playfully printed backpack. These durable, water-resistant packs have multiple handy pockets and come in tons of patterns from princesses to sharks. Plus, they can be personalized with your child's name or monogram.

BUY IT: Pottery Barn Kids, $39.50

Picture It

You're probably not ready to put a phone in your kid's hands but she still wants to capture memories with her friends. Enter (since the 1960s) the best of both worlds, pictures that print out instantly. These digital Polaroids have a millennial touch with delightful filters and, of course, a selfie mode. The prints also have an adhesive back so your kiddo can decorate her folders and notebooks with pictures of her favorite people and things.

BUY IT: Amazon, $89.99

Bucket List for Books

Not every back-to-school item has to actually go to the red-brick building. Whether your kid loves a challenge or to check things off a list, start their reading inspiration with this scratch-off poster. From classics to modern-day lit (think Anne of Green Gables to A Series of Unfortunate Events), as well as picture books, like Goodnight Moon and The Cat in the Hat, this interactive list of 100 books begins your child's journey to becoming a well-rounded reader.

BUY IT: Uncommon Goods, $15

Simple Storage Solution

Organization may not be a kid's strong suit, but we can give them a fighting chance with storage gear. This simple case is easy for kids to tuck inside their desk and keep all their essentials — crayons, pencils, scissors and glue sticks — neat, tidy and within reach.

BUY IT: Target, $.99

Gentle Reminders

Don't ever let your kids forget just how wonderful you think they are. These No. 2 pencils are imprinted with gold-foil lettering to remind them to be kind and silly and so much more.

BUY IT: ExpressPencilsLLC at Etsy, $6.95

Jurassic Reminders

For scribbling notes to friends and marking homework pages, this set of sticky notes and page markers break up the everydayness of school. Your dinosaur lover will get a kick out of sticking these soda-drinking, popcorn-eating T-Rexes throughout his folders and books.

BUY IT: ModCloth, $15

Know Your ABCs

Not your average alphabet book, this peek-through creation beautifully illustrates the most essential reading building block. Each page reinforces a letter, its shape and associated word in an utterly retro vibe that kids will love revisiting.

BUY IT: Crate & Barrel, $16.95

Keep It Sharp

Those No. 2s need to be in tip-top shape to keep up with your little one's busy mind and schedule. Have her stow away this tiny but mighty sharpener in her desk to handle the dreaded broken lead. It has three openings to fit any pencil or colored pencil need.

BUY IT: The Container Store, $2.99

Baby, It's Cold in There

No need to take up precious lunch space with ice packs. This freezeable lunch box has the cooling technology built into the walls, so you can make more room for granola bars, apples and maybe a few extra cookies. Just throw it in the freezer each night and it's ready to go in the morning.

BUY IT: PackIt, $19.99

Lunch Time Made Easy

Bento boxes become more popular every year and there's one designed for every need. This durable stainless-steel box is perfect for half a sandwich and two sides and easily fits into any lunchbox. LunchBots has multiple other configurations and larger sizes, and most importantly, they're dishwasher safe. Hallelujah.

BUY IT: LunchBots, $23.99

The Hot and Cold of It

Whether you're sending mac and cheese (yes, please!) or a yogurt parfait, an insulated food jar is a must. This stainless-steel option keeps food hot for five hours and cold for seven hours, so your kiddo can have his favorite meal away from home.

BUY IT: Thermos, $15.99

H2O Essential

You had us at leak- and spill- proof. While you may carefully place your kid's water bottle upright in her backpack or lunchbox, there is no guarantee that she will do the same. This stainless-steel bottle keeps water cold up to 28 hours and ensures that her backpack won't come home soaking wet.

BUY IT: Contigo, $22.99

Rain, Rain, Go Away

Never fear a last-minute rain shower with this lightweight rain jacket. The waterproof nylon fabric combines with breathable mesh to keep your kiddo dry and comfortable, and because it packs away into its own pocket, it's easy to store in their backpacks for rainy or cool days.

BUY IT: L.L.Bean, $39.95

Get Your Sneaks On

Chucks work for boys or girls, with shorts, pants or dresses — you can't beat a classic that goes with everything. Whether your kids want the traditional white or black, brilliant red or light pink, they can find high- or low-tops that give them the ultimate cool factor.

BUY IT: Saks Fifth Avenue, $35

Tutti Frutti

Add a cheery fruit to her schoolbag that'll make organization a cinch. Charming and whimsical, this pineapple-shaped pencil case is perfect for storing pencils, markers and crayons.

BUY IT: Yoobi, $6.99

A Rainbow of Hues

Fill their pencil box with this colorful set of 24 beeswax crayons. The triangle shape is designed for little hands to hold with ease and it keeps them from rolling away.

BUY IT: Magic Cabin, $12.98