Our three girls will be heading back to school next week (grades: 1st, 4th, and 6th). We're sad to give up the leisurely pace of summer, but we're also ready for a bit of routine and the promise of cooler fall weather.
I'd like to share several of our "favorite" brands and products for back-to-school as well as some new "finds" for this coming school year.
Feel free to chime in at the end with any questions or comments!
Lands' End is always my go-to brand for polos. They're soft. They're versatile. They hold their color and shape after lots & lots of washes. In short, they are the best we've found. Note that we do prefer the interlock polos over the mesh polos. Lands' End also recently introduced a new "performance" athletic material for polos, but I opted to stick with the more affordable and already-well-loved interlock polos.
We've also had success with Lands' End skorts, shorts, and cardigans.
Our oldest daughter has outgrown children's brands, but I found some excellent school uniform options for my two younger daughters at OshKosh B'Gosh (aka Carter's - as far as I can tell the two brands are one in the same?). You'll find school uniform shorts, polo dresses, and cardigan sweaters for sizes 4-14.
Because there are no lockers at our daughters' school, all three of them use rolling backpacks instead of over-the-shoulder styles. So much gentler on small shoulders and much easier to transport from class to class!
The two older girls have been using their ZUCA bags for the past several years and we love them. These boxy rolling bags are roomy and well-made - plus they double as a seat! Although they are pricey when you initially buy them, you can keep the frame year after year and then swap out the insert when it wears out and/or your child is interested in a new theme.
The only design flaw in this bag is the mesh pockets on the side. They tend to tear if you carry a water bottle or notebook in that pocket (which seems like the obvious use). I hope ZUCA replaces the mesh for a cloth pocket or a stronger net material in the future.
I've written about Foxpaws for the past few years and want to make sure they don't slip by your attention this year. This mom-and-pop company makes high-quality children's shoes in such preppy, beautiful styles. If you're looking for Mary Janes that are comfortable for school and play, try Foxpaws.
Out of Print offers some very fun literary-inspired designs for t-shirts, tote bags, pencil pouches, sweatshirts, and book pins. Our almost-12-year-old daughter especially gravitated to the black tees and totes with this quote by Hermoine Granger, "When in doubt, go to the library." Sounds like a solid plan.
Once you see Ideal Bookshelf's darling book pins, you'll want to collect them all! Photographs can't really do them justice.
Think of your favorite classic book...and illustrator Jane Mount will likely have drawn up the cover. New pins are added throughout the year so check back if you can't find what you are looking for - or tweet the company to suggest a title!
If you're looking for more generic intellectual pins like a coffee cup, pencil, or typewriter, Out of Print (highlighted above) has several excellent options.
I mostly don't bother with other pens now that I have several sets by Stabilo. The 88 fine points and bold colors are exactly my style - especially for bullet journaling (which I've been doing for several years now). My kids also enjoy using them for list-making, note-taking, and doodling.
If your kids are always asking to paint for school projects or for afternoon play, you might consider the Watercolor Set by Kid Made Modern. It comes with a full watercolor tray, plus a pad of thick paper that won't leak or seep. KMM also offers a very pretty and functional paintbrush library (comes with 24 brushes!) in case you're in need of a new stash.
I try to include little notes in my kids' lunchboxes on most days. Sometimes I make my own (out of index cards or bits of pieces or 4x6 photographs), but it's also very handy to have a stash of pre-made ones available. Mr. Boddington's Studio to the rescue!
If you're homeschooling or have children who do lots of projects + book reports for schools, you've got to check out the super fun TOOB sets by Safari Ltd. No matter what you're studying, there's probably a set for it - Ancient Egypt, Medieval Times, the Life Cycle of a Butterfly, Anatomy, and much, much more. These definitely fall in the collectible category.
Also - keep Safari Ltd on your mind for birthdays! Look at little Wilbur pig's irresistible face, for example. My younger kids love animal figurines and this kind of thing would be a shoe-in for a birthday present.
For the Charlotte Mason and Wild & Free homeschool set, take a peek at the newly released Backpack Explorer journal by Storey Publishing. I would say this is the perfect nature sidekick for ages 7-9, but younger and older students might appreciate it also.
If you're looking for a sweet (literally!) and thematic 1st day of school gift for teachers or classmates, take a look at these Buttercream Frosted Apple Cut-Out Cookies by Cheryl's Cookies. They arrive individually wrapped and carefully delivered in sets of 12, 24, 26, or more.
What are your favorite products for the back-to-school season? Have you discovered any fun finds for this year?
SEE MY 2017 BACK-TO-SCHOOL GUIDE FOR MORE IDEAS!
* We received some of the above items for review and others we bought ourselves. As always, if you have any specific questions about the products (sizing, durability, etc), I'm happy to answer them!