“Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed” is a fitting description for my soon-to-be kindergartner. She’s been enthusiastically picking out her backpack, new school clothes and supplies like there’s no tomorrow. Plus, we’ve been checking out nearly every first day of school picture book from our library (luckily, there’s no limit!). While I don’t fear my 5-year-old will have any separation issues, reading with her about what she can expect is my way of preparing her for the big day–and getting her into the groove for storytime. One of my favorite books so far is the just-released Rufus Goes to School, an adorable story about a precocious pig who’s determined to go to school, even if he is an animal. Prompted by the desire to read his favorite book, he acquires all the necessary gear–from backpack to blanket–to start his school year off right. Even when he is told time and time again, “No pigs in school!,” he refuses to give up and continues to arm himself with more and more supplies. Just when readers may have lost hope that Rufus will ever become a bona fide student, we are pleasantly delighted with the outcome. A heartwarming story about how drive and determination always win out, Rufus Goes to School teaches a lifelong lesson that proves this persistent pig had the right stuff all along.
In a Nutshell: Perfect for the kindergarten-bound child, this new book primes new students fresh out of the gate.
Today we picked up school supplies for my 9- and 5-year-olds. We have it easy this year, as our school works with a local retailer to fill orders by grade and have them boxed up and ready to go. It’s truly one-stop shopping, and there’s no hunting for that special 3-ring binder or illusive composition book with the correct number of ruled lines. It also means no fun extras that we always manage to accrue every year, like scented colored pencils or purple glue sticks. But that doesn’t mean we can’t pick and choose an item or two that can shake up the classroom routine and update our home repertoire. Enter the Crayola Wild Notes line of notebooks and journals, featuring black (gasp!) lined paper and a gold writing instrument. Talk about breaking the rules! My 9-year-old has been using the notebook to write letters to pen pals this summer. It’s also the perfect way to inspire creativity, whether it’s jotting down assignments, making to-do lists or just plain doodling. If you’re looking to jazz up your kid’s back-to-school supplies, consider adding an item or two from the Wild Notes collection; it’s got all the “write” stuff!
In a Nutshell: Head back to the classroom with notebooks and journals that are anything but ho-hum.
At Target, the school supplies are crowding out the summer gear. Coolers and beach bags are making way for binders and backpacks, whether we’re ready for them or not. Because the first day of school is the farthest thing from my kids’ minds, I know we’ll need some motivation once it’s time to prepare for September. And since your average tween doesn’t exactly get jazzed by a new lunchbox, we moms must find creative ways to get the kiddies psyched for school. Enter Happy Charmz, a fun way to spice up your pencil box. These sweet little charms find right over the top of a pencil eraser, adding a little pizzaz to penmanship. (Think of it as bling for your favorite writing instrument.) Available in different sets featuring themes like Sweet Treats and B. Silly (a girly cupcake wearing glasses?), Happy Charmz are playful…with a purpose. So, if you’re looking for a fun way to cap off the summer and start the school year off on a fun note, consider slipping a set into your favorite student’s backpack on the first day. And imagine the smiles she’ll be wearing from ear to ear as she heads off to class.
In a Nutshell: Japanese erasers are sooo five minutes ago. These pencil toppers are fun to collect–and may even make that math homework a bit easier to tackle.
My 5-year-old had her kindergarten screening yesterday, and walked out with the biggest smile on her face. “I can’t wait to learn!,” she told me later. It’s moments like these that make you want to stop time, and bottle that infectious enthusiasm. To help my daughter get off to great start, even before September comes, we’ve been playing lots of simple learning games–using magnetic letters to spell out fun words, talking about the bugs and birds who’ve been making a home in our backyard–and I’m watching how they fuel her imagination. Just as important as these creative teaching moments are the opportunities to reinforce what she already knows and keep it fun. Just in time for back-to-school comes Priddy Books’ Schoolies, a line of educational books that help kids understand the basics in an engaging format. From activity flash cards, to a 3D school house that lets readers play teacher, there are plenty of choices to put new students on the right track for their first day. We were given the chance to review Let’s Get Ready for School, a write-on, wipe-off book filled with plenty of educational activities, like tracing lower- and uppercase letters, counting and recognizing different shapes. It kept my daughter entertained on a recent sick day, and she loved that she could “erase” any mistakes with the swipe of a tissue. Sounds kindergarten-ready to me!
In a Nutshell: Perfect for the preschool graduate, this new line of educational books and games helps students get ready for their first day of big-kid school.
In today’s mail, the Old Navy back-to-school catalog arrived. It wasn’t the first one we received, and it isn’t even August yet. Seems hints of backpacks, lunchboxes and all things back-to-school are happening earlier and earlier this year. If you haven’t already gotten a jump yet on school supply shopping, allow us to whet your appetite with some items that are making a name for themselves–literally. Makaboo lets kids design and personalize their own lunchboxes, backpacks and other cool-for-school accessories. Simply select an item, and then choose from one of over 30 colors, a font for your name and favorite icon (take your pick of 100 different pictures!). You’re good to go! We think Makaboo will be a big hit this September, especially for kids with unusual first names, like my girls. Score one for individuality…even if there are already 4 girls named Olivia in class this year (sigh…)
In a Nutshell: In a sea of SpongeBob and peace sign backpacks and lunch bags, your kid’s will stand alone. Proudly.
Got a summer reading list? If your teen hasn’t cracked open this year’s selection, it’s time to get crackin’ (only 6 more weeks ’til Labor Day). But if the sun and surf are competing for her attention and making it difficult to hunker down with her Kindle, Nook or hardcover, it’s time to offer a little inspiration. Out of Print Clothing features an entire line of book-themed T-shirts, tote bags and journals for kids and adults alike. Whether your grade schooler has just finished “Charlotte’s Web” or your high schooler has plowed through “The Great Gatsby,” there’s an item that’s just perfect for her. Among our favorites are the literary covered journals that invite aspire young writers to keep at their craft, and the bags that are ideal for toting around those massive tomes. (Yeah, we think you’ve earned your bragging rights if you’ve polished off “Moby Dick.”) So, celebrate summer with a brainy beach bag or head to class this fall in a shirt that proudly proclaims your lofty achievement. No matter the season, reading is always in style.
In a Nutshell: Some whale of a tale that was! Share your love of reading with the rest of the world with this fab collection of literary classic accessories.
I always get a little bummed right around the summer midway point; when I was a kid, my grandmother used to say, “After July 4th, summer’s over.” To this August-born babe, I was horrified by her statement and to this day, I still relish those dog days of lemonade drinking, firefly catching and all the little joys that make the season what it is. Imagine then those bittersweet feelings I experienced this week when the Lands’ End back-to-school catalog landed in our mailbox. It got me to thinking that it’s time to replace last year’s backpack with something a little more, shall we say, “lively.” After all, when you’re a rising third grader, anything remotely babyish just won’t do. So when we got a load of new 3D backpacks from Raskullz, we knew we could make a statement. Inspired by the 3D bike helmets from the same company, these backpacks pack a personality that’s unforgettable. Whether it’s Cutie Cat, Buggins, Radgon or Shark Attax, each pack boasts three-dimensional features that practically pop out at you. Our favorite is Buggins whose antennae and legs look so lifelike, this bag could carry itself to school. And judging from the amount of homework that’s expected for third grade, that may just come in handy.
In a Nutshell: It’ll be back to the books before we know it. Make sure your kid has the right bag to manage his heavy load, without messing with his cool factor.
At a time when SpongeBob is making waves for influencing poor attention spans in preschoolers, I feel the need to dust off some of my childhood classics, crawl back under the covers and remember a time when no one griped that Cookie Monster was responsible for making us eat too many chocolate chips. One of my favorite friends was Babar, the elegant elephant whose only flaw was making me want to learn French before I could master the English language. Nevertheless, the antics of papa elephant, Celeste and their adorable family was my first taste of sophistication and one that I can appreciate even more today as I read to my children. Picking up from where the story lines leave off are newly released twin DVDs. Babar: The Classic Series is made up of two themed titles, each with 4 episodes. Best Friends Forever demonstrate the importance of working as a team and being understanding, while School Days teaches the timeless lessons of patience and being truthful. Just as the new school year kicks off, these releases serve as gentle reminders that while it isn’t always easy being a kid, it helps to have a friend in your corner. Isn’t that true for us all?
In a Nutshell: As the kiddies head back to school and outside influences inevitably creep into their lives, keep them grounded (for as long as you can) with life lessons from a trusted childhood friend.
Later this week is back-to-school night at my daughter’s elementary school, and I think I’m nearly as excited to meet her teacher as she was. After listening to my daughter’s daily descriptions over the last few days, I’ve begun to form my own positive impression…and can only hope this mental picture lives up to my expectations. Putting a face to a name is always nice, especially when it’s the person who’s educating your child for the next 180 days. No matter whether you look forward to a school open house, or you find yourself painfully reliving those days spent at wobbly desks and smelly gym classes, it pays to develop a good rapport with your child’s teacher in the long run. Aiming to open up the lines of communication between teacher and parent comes a new paperback that deserves a spot on your nightstand. Way to Go, written by educator Mary Beth Gaertner, is an insightful look at what makes a good school-based relationship. With over 30 years of experience in the classroom and the main office, the author is clearly an authority on helping to fine-tune your dealings with your child’s teacher. She shares snippets of letters from both teachers and parents to demonstrate effective (and ineffective) dialogue–an eye-opening device cleverly disguised as a teaching tool in and of itself–and also puts herself in the shoes of the parent by offering teachers advice on “listening without defense.” I was pleasantly surprised to see a familiar tactic, “Tell the Teacher More” Day, which my daughter’s own teacher had already implemented. A very good sign indeed.
In a Nutshell: A lesson well-taught, Way to Go is worth a read-through, whether you are attending your 1st or 14th back-to-school night. Parent/teacher conferences everywhere are bound to go a bit more smoothly with the help of this book.
Both my girls have already discovered the art of expressing themselves, and it’s not just through their artwork. My 7-year-old loves to don a pair of sparkly sunglasses or anything bearing a peace sign, while the 3-year-old has figured out that she exudes coolness if she sports Snoopy attire (don’t worry, tomorrow it’ll be Hello Kitty or some other character of the moment). Maybe that’s why graphic T-shirts are all the rage these days, showing up everywhere from runways to kids’ clothing catalogs. The latest line to catch our eye is from Chi Chi Baby, featuring 11 distinct prints for sizes 2T-5T. With bold prints that proclaim hip lingo like “wild child” and “rock star,” both boys and girls will gravitate to these stylish shirts, just in time for back to school. And the word on the street is that Chi Chi’s collection is getting such rave reviews, we may soon see T’s available in larger sizes. Little fashionistas everywhere can only hope…
In a Nutshell: Class Picture Day is just around the corner and your little diva is ready for her close-up in these ever-cool T’s.