Get in gear with more than 10 back-to-school essential items

A look at some essential items for heading back to school.

Combined ShapeCaption
A look at some essential items for heading back to school.

School is almost in session. Returning to a physical classroom in the fall will look different for kids, teachers and parents. With social distancing and other safety precautions in place for kids under 12 years old, parents can prepare their children with must-have items such as masks as well as necessities like lunchboxes and fun things like stickers and colorful writing instruments.

ExploreBack to school news

Back-to-school essentials entail more than things for the classroom, so this list also included items that are applicable to school prep, eating well, getting rest and staying connected to support a well-rounded lifestyle. Many stores, including the big-box brick-and-mortar ones, have sections dedicated to school supplies, so shop early to increase your chances of getting all items on your list.

The right fit

Children that opt to or are required to wear face coverings can do so with an adjustable mask by Izzy and Liv that is “a celebration of every kink, curl, and coil in a Black girl’s hair journey.” For fairytales, sharks and butterflies, opt for breathable, lightweight adjustable patterned masks with PM0.1 filters by Enro. According the website, the masks are equipped with the filter which helps to prevent the spread of disease and illness. Masks are also available for adults. Izzy and Ivy mask, $6.99. izzyandliv.com. Enro youth mask, $16.50. enro.com.

Pack it up

Kids can carry meals from home in a fun-themed Space Jam: A New Legacy lunch bag which features quirky Looney Tunes characters on the front. A sturdy handle at the top makes it easy to transport and interior insulation helps to keep food and drinks at the right temperature. The lunch bag is accompanied by a pair of door hangers for your child’s do-not-disturb study or napping moments. Available at Amazon, this lunch bag does double duty: at the end of the school year and after much wear and tear, use it to store creative supplies like crayons, coloring pencils, paint and more. $16.95. amazon.com.

Combined ShapeCaption
A backpack set with a bookbag, lunch kit and more is just what kids need to carry their essential items throughout the day. Courtesy of Macy's

Credit: Handout

A backpack set with a bookbag, lunch kit and more is just what kids need to carry their essential items throughout the day.
Courtesy of Macy's

Credit: Handout

Combined ShapeCaption
A backpack set with a bookbag, lunch kit and more is just what kids need to carry their essential items throughout the day. Courtesy of Macy's

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Carry it

Children can carry their school gear in Love 2 Design’s three-piece set featuring a unicorn book bag designed with a dazzling rainbow-sequin front and two side pockets perfect to store things like a water bottle or hand sanitizer. The set also includes full-size headphones and a bright-hued lunch kit with a silver-toned glitter unicorn applique. Superhero fans will find it easy to carry complex assignments thanks to a six-piece Avengers-themed backpack set featuring a book bag with a zippered front and side mesh pocket, insulated lunch kit, small Marvel bottle that’s perfectly sized for hand sanitizer, shield-like Captain America key chain and more. Each book bag accommodates a lot: think a tablet, notebooks, writing instruments, masks, lunch and things each kid needs for a happy, safe and productive school year. Both sets are available at Macy’s; each is $42. macys.com.

Food, to-go

Good and Gather, a Target private label brand, offers a variety of to-go lunch and snack options. Lunch is easy with a kit containing circular-shaped turkey slices, square-shaped cheddar and crackers so kids can stack (and eat) their “sandwich” then enjoy a sweet treat of mini-oatmeal cookies. A similar kit features ham, cheddar, crackers and strawberry-flavored bites. Kids will enjoy veggies (seriously) in the form of organic fruit and veggie pouches with flavors like apple-blueberry-beet, apple-carrot and apple-spinach. Refrigerator-chilled pouches are especially yummy after playtime. $2.49-$14.99. target.com.

Combined ShapeCaption
Make meals in a few minutes with microwavable cookware. Courtesy of Anyday

Credit: Nader Khouri

Anyday product shoot in Napa, Calif.    Nader Khouri 2020

Credit: Nader Khouri

Combined ShapeCaption
Make meals in a few minutes with microwavable cookware. Courtesy of Anyday

Credit: Nader Khouri

Credit: Nader Khouri

Cook it quickly

When meal-prep time is limited, use Anyday microwavable cookware to fully cook rice, poached eggs, honey-mustard wings, pineapple-chicken curry and more. The everyday set features four bowl and lids, making it perfect for families who want more meals. A slew of recipes are available on the site to help take the guesswork out of mealtime. Each bowl has a frosted glass finish; lids are also frosted and feature platinum-grade silicone and microwave-safe stainless steel. All products are dishwasher-safe so cleaning is easy and time-saving. $120. cookanyday.com.

Combined ShapeCaption
Take notes, doodle and more with vibrant and classic colored retractable ink pens. Courtesy of Pilot Pen

Credit: Handout

Take notes, doodle and more with vibrant and classic colored retractable ink pens. 
Courtesy of Pilot Pen

Credit: Handout

Combined ShapeCaption
Take notes, doodle and more with vibrant and classic colored retractable ink pens. Courtesy of Pilot Pen

Credit: Handout

Credit: Handout

Write now

Colored pens, pencils and other writing instruments will make note taking a bit brighter. Staples offers a 14-pack of Pilot G2 retractable fine point pens with a mix of metallic and vibrant ink; a classic four-pack of fine pens with black, blue, blue and red is also available. When downtime calls for doodling, Crayola has a three-piece set of markers, crayons and colored pencils called Colors of the World which was created to represent various skin tones. A coloring book illustrating diverse people is also available. Pilot pens, $23.99. staples.com. Crayola set, $14.47-$20.46. crayola.com.

Peel and stick

Remember when stickers would get…stuck? Kids may just prefer reusable stickers like the ones found in the Colorforms Picture Play Set. The package features 145 re-stickable pieces, vibrant play scenes, a storage box and more. The set is great for students learning shapes, colors and animals. $19.61. amazon.com.

Work and play

Of course Apple offers MacBooks, iMacs, iPhones and so much more but the company’s trade-in programs allows current device owners of older smartphones, tablets, computers or watches to earn a credit. After entering an item’s serial number and a few other details, the site generates a dollar value for your device and the amount is issued as a credit, which can be applied to a future Apple purchase for something you want and need for school and your new lifestyle. apple.com.

The cover up

Students can have a good night’s rest after studying on clean, cool sheets by Bedsure Home. Available in a variety of sizes including twin, twin XL for dorm beds and up to California king for parents, the soft sheets are comprised of 100% bamboo viscose which provides a natural thermoregulating, cooling effect. The sheet set includes both a flat and fitted sheet and one pillow case. $37.99-$62.99. bedsurehome.com.