Back-to-school shopping season is finally here! To help save you time and money, I reached out to some experts for their thoughts on this year’s hottest back-to-school items. Before you head to the store or start shopping online, be sure to check out the list below. You’re sure to find something that you didn’t think to add!

Smencils

scented colored pencils

Image: Smencils.com

With scents like strawberry cupcake, cotton candy and watermelon, these colored pencils smell good enough to eat, and they look super cool too! Smencils are made from 100% recycled newspapers and they’re non-toxic, so they’re safe for both people and the environment.

Healthy Lunch/Snack Items

The benefits of learning and practicing healthy eating habits at a young age can last a lifetime. A lunch packed with whole grains, fresh vegetables and yogurt helps keep kids healthy and happy. “As part of the USDA federal school lunch program, authentic Chobani Greek Yogurt will now be available for nutrition professionals to put on school menus nationwide,” says Dana Metz, speaking on behalf of Chobani. “Flavors include strawberry, blueberry and vanilla – allowing children to have healthy and delicious options for their lunch tray.”

WriteRight Pencil Grip

For children just learning how to write or who just need a little extra help, check out the WriteRight Pencil Grip. It’s available in a variety of sizes for both right- and left-handed kids.

Kudzoo (Free Education Mobile App)

kudzoo logo

Image: KudzooApp.com

Rewarding kids for doing well in school can be helpful and exciting. It can also keep them motivated and inspired to succeed. “With Kudzoo, students can use their smartphone camera to scan their report card,” says Charlotte Hough, speaking on behalf of app co-founders Logan Cohen and Trevor Wilkins. “The unique and innovative app grants students access to deals, giveaways, scholarship opportunities, concert tickets and once-in-a-lifetime experiences based on student’s grades and achievements.”

STUDTEGERY

I’ll be the first to admit that studying doesn’t come easy to everyone. It was a real challenge to me. My brain would jump around and focus on everything but the topic I was supposed to be studying. It was a real chore and a lot of hard work. I hated staring at my textbook and writing notecards. Thankfully, the world of studying has come a long way. STUDTEGERY is a test preparation board game that combines studying with strategy. “With STUDTEGERY, parents can makes sure their children are studying by playing STUDTEGERY with them,” says creator Mike Reid. “It works with any subject, class and/or course as long as the student or teacher is able to make multiple choice test preparation questions from their class lectures, notes, homework and handouts.”

Batteries

A set of good batteries is worth a lot. A spokesperson for Energizer says Energizer EcoAdvanced is the perfect battery to power all of the back-to-school gadgets. “It’s Energizer’s longest-lasting alkaline battery and the world’s first AA battery made with recycled batteries.” You can pick up a 4-pack of Energizer EcoAdvanced batteries at most retailers for about $5.

SoYoung Backpacks

two young girls holding hands wearing So Young backpacks

Image: SoYoung.ca

SoYoung backpacks are fun, eco-friendly and come in a variety of different colors and designs. Their versatility and easy-to-clean material makes them great for kids of all ages. Got a toddler? SoYoung also makes toddler backpacks with matching lunchboxes for your little ones, too.

Fun Chalk Markers

Fun Chalk Markers are washable, eco-friendly, odor free and nontoxic. These markers are great for kids, teachers and parents because they can be used on a variety of surfaces including chalkboards, whiteboards, and glass windows and doors. You can use them to help organize storage bins and desks, or to write early morning reminder notes.

TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator

I graduated high school a long time ago, but I still have my TI-84, and I still use it. With colors like Positively Pink, Plum Pi and Radical Red, the TI-84 Plus CE Graphing Calculator is a whole lot cooler than my calculator. “A purchase in middle school will last students through high school, college and into career,” says Ellen Goldberg of Texas Instruments. “It also has six times more memory and a new rechargeable battery will keep the surprisingly sleek graphing calculator crunching numbers for at least a month on one charge.”

Mini Keyboard Vacuum Cleaner

Keyboard vacuum cleaning a keyboard

Image: Amazon.com

I’m no longer in school and I don’t have kids, but I seriously want a mini keyboard vacuum. I do a lot of multitasking at my desk at work, including eating. Usually, I just tip my keyboard upside down to loosen up all the food crumbs and dust that get lodged between the keys, but that leaves for quite a mess on the floor. A mini keyboard vacuum makes cleanup easy, and it plugs right into your computer’s USB port.

Rewards for Parents

Back-to-school shopping can be tough on any parent. Add in scheduling, forms and after-school activities and parents really have their hands full. How about a bottle of Mommy’s Time Out Wine or Dad’s Day Off for a well-earned break?

“More retailers than ever are in the back-to-school spectrum, so it won’t be difficult for mom and dad to find what they need wherever they shop, be it their favorite website for free shipping offers or their local drug store for last-minute deals on supplies,” said Prosper’s Principal Analyst Pam Goodfellow, in the National Retail Federation’s latest Back-to-School Spending Survey. Best of luck when heading out!

The first day of school is right around the corner. Help your kids prepare for their first week with this Back-to-School Survival Guide.

What’s a must-have on your back-to-school shopping list? Share in the comments!

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