Back-to-School 2020: Best Clothes, Shoes, and Gear for Elementary & Middle School

In a month or two, most kids across the United States will be heading back-to-school. The format may be uncertain due to COVID-19, but learning will go on. This year, we've pulled together a list of clothing, shoes, accessories, and backpacks as usual. As a bonus this year, we are also including great educational resources and school supplies that will work for on-campus settings, virtual learning, and/or homeschooling.

CLOTHES, SHOES, AND ACCESSORIES

ASICS

Before school starts each year, I always inventory if each of my children have a sturdy pair of tennis shoes. Our school has P.E. for grades K-8 so all students in that age range are required to wear closed-toe, athletic shoes to school.

We have often found success with the ASICS brand for comfort, support, and durability. Plus, you can find a number of their styles on Amazon - which makes shopping an easy task to check off my list.

  • FOLLOW ASICS on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BUY kids running shoes at ASICS.
  • NOTE: ASICS is having a sale right now - for up to 50% off - which means you can purchase some shoes for $25-$35.

French Toast

If your kids attend a school where uniforms are required (we do and we love it!), you probably are familiar with French Toast.

French Toast offers preppy and interesting basics at affordable prices. From now until July 26, you'll receive 50% off SITEWIDE - plus a free mask with every purchase.

Meadow Jacket by Eddie Bauer

Although it's still hot outside, autumn and winter will be here before we know it. Stock up on sweaters, jackets, and cold weather accessories at Eddie Bauer.

The Meadow Jacket (pictured above) offers huge style appeal, while being ultra-functional with four flap pockets, a hoodie, a drawstring waist, and a zip front. Because it is solid-colored, this lightweight coat will work as outerwear for many school uniform requirements. Plus, she'll be able to wear it for hiking, camping, and outdoor adventuring! Available in sizes 4-14.

3-Layer Fringe Boots by Minnetonka

Comfortable, stylish boots that make a statement? Minnetonka has you covered!

Pictured above are the gorgeous 3-layer moccasin fringe boots, carefully crafted from a soft cow suede. Available in five different colors in sizes 7 to 4, these boots are a perfect winter time school shoe for your elementary or middle school daughter.

P.S. If you love the matching "mommy & me" look, note that there are coordinating styles for women!

Double Fringe Side Zip Boot by Minnetonka

Another of our top boot picks for Back-To-School 2020 is the Girl's Moccasin Double Fringe Side Zip Boot by Minnetonka! The just-over-the-ankle bootie length is perfectly casual, while also being super cool. We especially love that these boots come in SEVEN different colors, including this vibrant shade of turquise.

SCHOOL SUPPLIES

Arcobis Personal Dry Erase Boards

Back-to-School 2020: Best Clothes, Shoes, and Gear for Elementary & Middle School 14

Because of new COVID-related policies and procedures, many schools have added personal dry erase boards to their school supply lists for the 2020-21 school year.

The two pictured sets above are from Arcobis - the one on the left is 10x10; the one on the right is 12x8. Both sets offer a clean writing surface along with the ability to hang, stand, or lay flat. The boards are magnetic and double-sided and come with two markers and an eraser for your convenience.

EnvyPak Page Protectors

Save yourself time, money, and printer ink this school year by using page protectors! We use them frequently for poetry, recitations, history cards, timelines, syllabi, and anything that needs to be referred to again and again throughout the year.

You can find EnvyPak's page protectors on Amazon and they are extra fun because you can color-coordinate inside of your binder with bold or pastel colors.

Erin Condren Notebooks/Planners

If you have a young to-do list maker and setter of goals, consider surprising your child with a notebook/planner from Erin Condren. The designs are beautiful and the format is simple - a space for journaling and a space for corresponding lists with boxes to check off completed tasks.

HOMESCHOOL & REMOTE SCHOOL ROOM DECOR

Cavallini Posters

Cavallini posters are popping up in homeschool classrooms across the country because of their beautiful vintage appeal. You don't have to settle for brightly colored wall charts that don't match with your design aesthetic. Instead, create a school room that is distinctive and gorgeous in a perfectly nerdy way.

As you will see in the above pictures, we selected two Cavallini posters for display in our homeschool space - L'Anatomie and the Periodic Table of Elements. Hooray for science!

Note that you can purchase these posters with or without a corresponding hanger kit. You can certainly frame the posters or stick them directly to your walls with putty, but we prefer the look of the hanging poster with wooden dowels.

Teacher Created Resources

For homeschool decor & organization supplies, turn to Teacher Created Resources. The California-based company was started by a classroom teacher and offers bulletin board sets, classroom decor, and learning tools at affordable prices.

We think the "Home Sweet Classroom" theme is particularly relevant for 2020. The woodsy, farmhouse-style design is subtle and lovely, drawing in kids and adults alike.

Rolling Cart & Organizer by Honey-Can-Do

If you are homeschooling or remote school learning, you will be pleased to make the acquaintance of the 12-Drawer Rolling Storage Craft Cart and Organizer by Honey-Can-Do. Allow me to lay out the details for you. First, it's on wheels, which is incredibly useful! You can roll this cart from room-to-room for easy access. Second, the pull-out drawers are roomy and thoughtfully designed. The top eight drawers fit 8 1/2 x 11 papers (graph paper, printer paper, college rule paper, etc), while the bottom four are even roomier (perfect for storing clipboards, flash cards, or entire curriculums). Third, the top of the cart is flat - which means that you have additional "tabletop" space for your homeschool classroom. Finally, it's actually quite pretty with a shiny chrome finish and frosted white pull-out drawers. A lovely addition to any room!

P.S. Honey-Can-Do is headquartered in Berkley, IL and looks like a super fun place to work! If you office there, you have access to ice cream socials, a fitness room for lunchtime use, even a slide to take you to your next downstairs meeting!

Glass Dry Erase Board & Accessories by U Brands

U Brands is another California-based company that offers stylish school/office accessories for your homeschool space or remote classroom.

The Glass + Gold Desktop Dry Erase Easel pictured in many of the above photos is both beautiful and functional. I used it just yesterday to work on Latin verb endings with our 3rd grader!

Best of all, U Brands products are available at many retailers - including Target!

CURRICULUM & LEARNING TOOLS

IXL

If you type "educational app" in google or in an app store, there will be hundreds of options to choose from - some are entertaining and well-done, others are poorly constructed with little educational value.

I've searched and researched many different apps over the years...and I have returned to IXL the past two summers. While IXL may not be quite as "fun" as video-game style apps (there are no characters to beat or maps to master), the app has been brilliantly designed for continual progress and mastery of content. In other words, I feel like my 8-year-old and 11-year-old are actually learning and remembering important math, grammar, vocabulary, and science concepts. It's easy to tailor the lessons directly to your child's current level and you can skip around to various grades based on your child's aptitudes in each subject.

iProven Infrared Non-Contact Thermometer

If your kids are heading back to the classroom or participating in extracurricular activities this fall, there is a good chance that you may be asked to consistently provide daily temperatures. Make that task a breeze for both you and your child with a touchless thermometer. No need to poke or prod! Simply aim the wand toward your child's forehead (1 to 2 inches away - no need to touch the skin!) and you'll receive a clear, accurate reading within 1-2 seconds.

Think Tank Scholar Flash Cards

If math fact mastery is your goal, I have discovered that drilling is the best way to conquer the basics of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Games are fun (and highly recommended!), workbooks can help, and apps are excellent also - but nothing can quite replace daily flash cards.

Think Tank's sets are intelligently designed in both format and beauty. The cards are sturdy, glossy, and well-made. One side features the problem; the other side has the problem with the answer (also shown visually). Best of all, the cards come in a durable, color-coded box. No rubber bands or cases needed! Inside the box, there are dividers to indicate cards that have been mastered and cards that need review. The sets also come with ideas for games and activities to spice things up.

BOOKS

If I Built A School

Chris Van Dusen's newest picture book will enchant any child as they prepare to go back to school this fall.

Open the pages and meet Jack, a young boy who imagines what school would be like if he were in charge...and the results are enough to make any student ooh and aah. A Puppy welcoming committee? Classrooms with open roofs? Hover desks and hologram guests? A trampoline basketball court? Jack's school has all of this and more!

If you love this book as much as we do, you will also enjoy If I Built A Car and If I Built A House - both by Van Dusen, a talented author, illustrator, and master of rhymes.

  • FOLLOW Chris Van Dusen on Facebook.
  • BUY "If I Built A School."

MASKS

Unfortunately, masks are currently recommended or required in many school, extracurricular, and athletic settings around the country. We tried four different brands and have provided notes about each below. If you have specific questions, feel free to send me an email.

32 Degrees

Sold in a five-pack at Costco, the children's masks by 32 Degrees are soft, stretchable, and breathable. The ear loops are among the most comfortable we have tried, gentle and smooth without tugging. Of all four brands we tried, these form-fitting masks would likely be our top pick for student athletes due to their cool, thin material and superior breathability. (My kids especially like the grey, mint, and cloud designs - the other two in the pack are a bit too "neon/bright" for their tastes).

Honest Company

The children's masks by Honest Company have easy adjustable elastic around the ears and pretty designs. There is also a bendable metal nosepiece to help fit the mask to your face. The material is soft, warm, and thick (a great winter mask!) – not ideal for warmer climates or sports.

Mamask

Mamask masks feature adjustable elastic ear loops, adjustable nose pieces, and adorable patterns. Each mask comes with a pocket and optional added filters for extra protection. Also: there is a PUPPY design!

Onzie

Made by an activewear/fitness company in California, Onzie’s Mindful Masks are soft and stretchable due to the fact that they are made from upcycled activewear materials. Plus, 99% of the sewing, cutting and dyeing happens in Los Angeles in the USA!


What are your favorite products for back-to-school 2020?

Where will you be purchasing clothes, shoes, and gear for your elementary and middle school students?

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