Maybe your kid can’t wait to go back to school to hang out with friends and meet their new teachers (ha!). Or maybe your kid is dreading waving goodbye to the long, lazy days of summer and returning to homework and cafeteria food. Whatever the case, our pick of random-but-useful school products will get them excited for the new year ahead (seriously—just check out the smartwatch and the cat desk vacuum). From Kindergarten to College, here are 18 supplies, gadgets and learning tools to set them up for success.
18 Random-but-Useful Back to School Products We're Adding to Cart This Month
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Sure, you could schlep around three different stores to find all the school supplies your kid needs or you could have all the essentials delivered straight to your door. This clever box contains all the basics, including a plastic pencil box, markers, crayons, colored pencils, glue sticks, pencils, pencil top erasers, a rubber eraser, a pencil sharpener, a pair of blunt tip scissors, a ruler, a spiral notebook, a composition book and pocket folders. Easy peasy.
Preschool was all fun and games but it gets real in Kindergarten. Meaning your kid will start to learn life skills like reading, writing and math. Help your child grasp basic number concepts like addition and subtraction with these colorful linking cubes (they’re basically the real life equivalent of hit Netflix show Numberblocks.)
Learning how to hold a pencil properly is another skill you can expect your child to learn in Kindergarten and for some kids, the struggle is real. These grips boast over 6,000 five-star reviews and parents are raving about how it helped their Kindergarteners figure out the right grip. They come in a set of 10 (because your child will lose them), work for both right- and left-handed children and include ten cute paperclips to boot.
For the kid with first day jitters, these sweet bracelets (one for you, one for them) will remind them that you’re thinking of them even when you’re apart. Available in multiple colors and comes with a cute poem you can read to them before you slip their bracelet on.
Elementary School Supplies
You’re so not ready for your kid to have their own phone but they’re itching for a cool piece of tech. This watch is a great beginner’s gadget that comes with a step counter, alarm, timer, games, video camera, voice recorder and calculator, plus 11 different strap choices to make it their own. It also has both analog and digital time displays to help your kid learn how to tell time.
Forget messy Wite-Out, cool kids use these ink pens that glide smoothly onto paper and erase even better, thanks to some sort of sorcery that we don’t quite understand. All we know is that you can erase your writing again and again without pulling or tearing up the page. Because, hey, mistakes happen.
Bigger kids mean more stuff. Keep track of all their supplies, lunchboxes, clothes (yep, these can also mark tagless clothing) and more with this bundle of sticky name labels that won’t come off and can be personalized to their style.
Middle School Supplies
Got a budding engineer at home? Clock up some bonding time before school starts with this hands-on project that doubles as a back to school must-have. Follow step-by-step DIY instructions to construct the core, add the battery and wire the mechanism up, and then watch your genius at work thanks to the clear design. KiwiCo notes this project is best for kids ages 14 and up, but younger kids can likely get in on the action too with some help from a grown-up.
Will this turn your slovenly teen into a neat freak? Probably not. But it will at least keep their desk looking fresh (not to mention totally adorable). The mini vacuum comes with an attachable nozzle and a cleaning brush, and is rechargeable with a USB cable.
We love a multi-purpose product, don’t you? The new Pixel Tablet has a magnetic charging stand, conveniently turning this middle school must-have into a household hub for the whole family (think: answering homework questions, setting timers for dinner, alerting you of your kid’s upcoming doctor’s appointment). Then whenever your kid needs it for a study session or research, they can just pop it off and put it back when they’re done.
High School Supplies
It doesn’t matter how nice their desk set-up is or how many times you remind them to sit at the table, your kid is going to do their homework (read: watch TikTok) in bed. But putting a laptop on your lap is bad for their health, say experts, which is where this handy lap desk comes in. Featuring a removable foam cushion to distribute heat and weight, it can transform any surface into a workspace, plus is large enough to also hold a notebook and supplies (or, you know, their phone).
For the teen whose phone is always dead (meaning you can never contact them when you need to!), gift them this cute keychain with a charging cable to stick to their backpack. Now they have no excuse not to text you before going over to a friend’s house.
Transparent Post-it Notes have been huge on TikTok as of late, and it’s easy to see why. These smart stickies can be placed over a book so that you can mark a page without marking it up or obscuring anything—great for tracing over diagrams or highlighting text without ruining the book.
Encourage your kid’s love of reading with a monthly subscription to Amazon’s audiobook service Audible. Let them read as much YA as they want under the covers, or hey, cue up one of the more than 40,000 titles in the car to and from school and enjoy listening to a great read together.
Does the thought of your kid walking home from a late night study sesh at the library freak you out? Give them this self-defense keychain that includes a kubotan (a mini stick used for self-defense purposes), a safety alarm and an LED light, plus the option to add pepper spray (although note that some states have shipping restrictions on pepper spray). It also has a sanitizer holder and a furry pom pom.
Hopefully your college-bound kid knows how to do a load of laundry (if not, they’ll learn!), but for those emergencies where they need to look their sharpest ASAP (like for an internship interview or a networking event), these stain remover pens are a total life-saver.
Before your kid leaves the roost, make sure they know how to cook something other than instant Ramen (even if it’s just scrambled eggs) with this beautiful recipe journal. You could even get them started by jotting down your famous chicken casserole recipe or their favorite pasta carbonara.
Oh, you thought that AirPods were the cool thing? Allow us to inform you (and bump up your cool factor in the eyes of your kid) that actually massive over-ear headphones are where it’s at. And these ones boast noise canceling technology, up to 30-hour battery life, quick charging (a 10-minute charge gives 5 hours of playback), multiple-device pairing and excellent call quality. You know, so they can call home once in a while.