It's that time of year again -- when school supplies take over several aisles
at your favorite store. Gone are the days when the only choices were No. 2
pencils, wide-ruled notebook paper, three-pronged folders and fat pink
erasers. Yes, school supplies have come a long way, and even the most basic
items have new, fashionable looks. Here area a few items that have become
standard over the years and a look at how they've changed for the better:
The combination locker
For a lot of students, one of the exciting things about middle school is
finally getting their own locker. A little of that excitement goes away when
they discover what a challenge figuring out how to open the lock can be.
This year, Master Lock introduced its 1500 iD Speed Dial combination lock,
which opens with up-down-left-right directional movements. Students can
customize using matching pass-code indicators such as a letters, numbers,
colors, shapes and symbols. Locks are available in red, blue, black and
green, and black and silver for up to $8.99 at retail outlets.
These little $1 to $2 notebooks, which typically come in black and white can
be kind of boring for today’s hip kids, particularly when notebooks are used
for journals and to write creative essays. In the past few years, makers
have spruced them up by adding a little color. Now they’re pushing it even
further with stripes, clean lines and bold, contrasting colors -- enough to
inspire even the dullest assignment.
Crayola has come a long way from the basic boxes of chunky chalk and crayons.
No longer does “new” just mean new colors, but new items such as washable
markers, crayons for windows and fabric, and squeezable 3-D paint. Crayola
is even going green -- with more environmentally friendly products. This
year’s new product lines also include Liv Crayola (binders, notebooks and
index cards that can be personalized online or by using design packets) and
Wild Notes (notebook and pen combinations that make the writing change
colors). Available in the stationery aisle at Target.
Until recently, most homework boxes were cardboard or made from multipurpose
storage containers. Moms Made Easy has a new functional homework box that
comes with a tray that includes a ruler, stapler, tape, pencil sharpener,
scissors and a glue stick. There’s also enough storage space for homework
projects, study guides and artwork. Available at momsmadeeasy.com.
Sandwich and snack bags
Each year, billions of plastic lunch baggies are tossed in the trash after one
use. Now, along comes ReUsies -- cotton-lined, water-resistant nylon bags
with Velcro closures. These machine- and hand-washable, reusable bags come
in snack or sandwich size and are available in a variety of colors and
styles for $6.95 to $8.95 at www.reusies.com.
The book bag
Over the years, the book bag has evolved from canvas totes to backpacks to
ones that roll to messenger bags. But once again, function has stepped aside
for the sake of style -- at least in middle and high schools, where
messenger bags are popular again. For elementary students, particularly
kindergartners and first- and second-graders, it's good to know you can
still find book bags with your favorite book or movie character such as Buzz
Lightyear. Available at various retail outlets, including the Disney Store.