Like everyone, I often wish I could be a kid again, if only for some of the way cool geeky stuff they come out with these days.
On that of that, the cultural milieu has changed. When I was a kid, beyond a certain age we had to hide our geekery at school unless we wanted to be targeted, and that certainly meant we could not show off our geeky paraphernalia. But times have changed and there’s never been a better time to grow up and go to school as a pop culture or a tech nerd.
For busy parents, back-to-school shopping can be a royal pain in the butt, especially if your kid is a discriminating geek. Here, then, is a round-up of some of the latest and coolest back-to-school essentials for your kid. Inveterate online browser that I am, I’ve scoured the available selections, read the reviews, made the comparisons and have listed the stuff that I’d want to buy my own kid (if I had one).
**(For more details and reviews on any of these products, or to simply buy them, click on the product’s title in red or the accompanying image. If you click through to Amazon.com using the links, images or ads on this site it helps keep us afloat since with each purchase we get a tiny commission from them which helps pay for our website maintenance fees.)
Sporting a vintage image of classic Spider-Man, with an intentionally nicked and weather-worn design, pretty much the only bad thing about this bag seems to be that it’s so cool that kids fight over wearing it.
There are lots of Spider-Man backpacks floating around out there, but some of them go overboard with the design and end up looking gaudy. This one’s simple and stylish. From the reviews I’ve read it’s also comfortable and sturdy, both important qualities since we all know from experience that when a bag is uncomfortable it makes the already unfortunate reality of having to go to school even worse. And buying a new backpack every several months because the last one fell apart is no fun for the parent either.Buy at Amazon
None of us can actually be a superhero but if you want to at least be a hero to your Frozen-loving kid who can’t stop singing “Let it Go,” get her this. Apparently, according to a few reviews, this one’s also pretty hard to find and as everyone remembers, having a cool but hard-to-find item makes any kid the envy of her classroom. With this on your kid’s back, she’ll never let it go.Buy At Amazon
For the smaller tykes, this would be irresistibly cute. And even for you adults, I’m tempted to crack an inappropriate joke here about how this bag will help you get some tail. Oh, wait, I guess I just did…Buy at Amazon
LUNCHBOXES & BAGS
“This is the single most awesome lunch bag in the history of lunch bags. There’s really no other way to put it.”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is from the most highly-ranked review for this product on Amazon. But seriously, did Industrial Light & Magic design this lunch bag or something? I mean it’s got freakin’ sound effects and flashing lights, almost as if R2 himself was serving your kid her lunch!
As an added bonus this lunch bag seems fit to do double-duty as a security device/droid:
“The LED lights are also bright enough that when I put it on the dashboard of my car, and pressed the button – I scared off some punks who thought I was the police at night (disclaimer – this lunch box will not protect you from thugs).” Whether this reviewer was exaggerating or not is hard to say, but one thing that’s certain is that she’s just one of many happy, impressed parents (and spouses, lest you think this is just for the kids).
Now if you could just get R2 to actually make the lunch, life would be grand.Buy at Amazon
There’s no doubt about it: LEGO is in.
When I was a kid, LEGO was neat for a while but I quickly grew out of it. And the fact that it wasn’t considered very cool might have played a part in that. But nowadays, with just about every popular pop cultural franchise having its LEGO version, LEGO sets selling out, the LEGO movie, LEGO themepark, it’s clear that the property has made one of the most massive comebacks in toy and pop culture history.
This lunch box is also nice in that it’s soft. When I was growing up lunch boxes were either made of tun and thus prone to rust (alas, my poor Indiana Jones lunch box) or plastic which can sometimes break. A soft exterior makes a box more resilient to the inevitable drops and scrapes. Plus it can’t be used as a weapon.Buy at Amazon
Studio Ghibli is closing (moment of silence)… but that doesn’t mean your kid can’t continue to cherish the Miyazaki magic with this microwavable bento box. In particular, if yours is an Asian or Asian American household, and your child is accustomed to getting his rice, a regular sandwich-style lunchbox just doesn’t cut it. A bento box is a must as a backup item, and this one is microwavable, no less.Buy at Amazon
More Frozen goodness.
Traditionally, the commonly held idea of a Thermos was to keep liquids hot, but of course they keep ’em cold as well, and what better way to do so than with a Frozen Thermos?
This one does have some mixed reviews. Apparently a few people have had problems with the lid, which is at least replaceable. But other reviews testify to how well this bottle keeps liquids cold, even when out in the sun all day.Buy at Amazon
I like the idea of an Iron Man Thermos, for obvious reasons. And although this one is pretty straightforward and would be way cooler if the entire bottle were red and gold, it looks like it gets the job done and that’s what you need with a Thermos.Buy at Amazon
TABLETS / LAPTOPS
Winner of PC Mag’s Editors’ Choice, the LeapPad Ultra is designed for kids ages 4-9. It has a 7″ touch screen, full wi-fi, front and back cameras (just like an iPad), 8 GB of memory and rechargeable battery. And appropriately for a device designed for kids, it’s shock-resistant and has been drop-tested. Yes, it’s got games, obviously, but it’s very much designed with education in mind and LeapFrog is one of the most recognized and lauded companies in this field. The Ultra is newer and has more features, but alternatively you can compare and opt for the LeapPad 2 which is cheaper and which some parents seem to prefer.Buy at Amazon
For the older kids, this tablet is a good choice that’s cheaper than the other tablets out there from Apple, Google and the rest and also has a simpler interface than other mobile OS systems. Like the LeapPad Ultra, it was also chosen as one of PC Mag’s “Top Tablets for Your Kids.” It also has a parental control mode that lets you allocate time limits for different kinds of functions and content. There’s also the “Mayday” video support which lets you fix things if your kid accidentally messes up any of the settings.Buy at Amazon
Does your kid need something a step up above a tablet without the price of a fully-equipped laptop? This machine is the answer.
Nowadays, the kinds of functions that once necessitated a desktop application can now be done on the Internet over cloud, like wordprocessing on Google Docs or editing photos on the innumerable free online editors. Most kids don’t typically go beyond that either unless they edit a lot of videos and the like. For this, the Acer C720 Chromebook is quite sufficient. It was selected as one of PC Mag’s “5 Great Laptops for Kids” and boasts a price you just can’t match.Buy at Amazon
Still very cheap by laptop standards, this model offers more power, longer battery life and is better all around. It was also chosen as one of PC Mag’s top 5 laptops for kids as well as earning the Editors’ Choice.
Most likely, this will be my own next laptop.Buy at Amazon
What, you need an explanation?! It’s Guardians of the Galaxy!Buy at Amazon
Is there any escaping the spell of Frozen? No, not if you don’t want your kid losing all her important papers.Buy at Amazon
Angry Birds is a pop culture phenomenon, and both kid and adult will appreciate this simple, no-nonsense notebooks from that stalwart provider of school supplies, Mead.Buy at Amazon
A bit more an obscure choice for your precociously uber-hip, manga-savvy child. Should be particularly delightful for the budding goth kiddies.Buy at Amazon
With the new Hobbit movie coming, now’s a good time to get these. Put a little Sting into your child’s words.Buy at Amazon
Gel pens offer the smoothest ink-writing experience and with these Wonder Woman pens, your child will write the truth and nothing but the truth!Buy at Amazon Buy at Amazon
Mechanical pencils are definitely cool, especially as a kid enters junior high or high school, but for the younger kids there’s nothing like starting out your writing years with good, old-fashioned wood. Now that the new movie is coming out, these should prove popular.Buy at Amazon
An alternative to the TMNT pencils are these Disney princess pencils with Snow White, Cinerella, Belle, Ariel and others.Buy at Amazon
Resistance is futile.Buy at Amazon
Did the movie make you cringe? I know something else that’ll make you cringe: having to buy the same pencils and pens over again because Johnny lost ’em. This pouch will ensure that he doesn’t.
Now if only there were a way to contain Michael Bay.Buy at Amazon
SCHOOL SUPPLY BUNDLES
For the parent who would say, “Aw, f**k it, lemme get it all over with (almost) in one package!” Also for the kid who just can’t get enough of a single franchise.
This thing is hardcore and comes with 8 items: 8 items: Guardians Of The Galaxy backpack and lunch box, 2 folders, 11 piece stationary set, 7 piece calculator set and 1 box each of CraZart 24 count crayons and 12 count colored pencils. But your kid just saw the movie and she wants it so cough it up.Buy at Amazon
Because not everyone is a Marvel maniac. Contains: 1 How to Train Your Dragon 2 Backpack (Dimensions: 16 x 12 x 4), 1 Matching lunchbox, 3 2-Pocket folders with prongs, 2 1-subject Wide ruled spiral notebooks (assorted colors), 1 Ruler (assorted colors), 1 8-pack of #2 Pencils, 1 Crayola Scissors,1 Crayola 24 Crayon box, 1 Crayola 12 Colored Pencils, 1 Crayola 10 Classic Markers, 3 Ring Mesh Pencil pouch (assorted colors), 100 3×5 Index Cards, 15 Eraser caps.
Take note that the only actual items with the Train Your Dragon design in this bundle are the backpack and lunch box.Buy at Amazon
For the budding otaku in your household. Contains: Backpack, Lunch Bag, 12 oz. Beverage Bottle, and 11 piece Supply Pack containing: 2 Folders, 1 Notebook 8 in. x 10.5 in. 40 Sheets, 1 Memo Pad 3 in. x 5 in. 25 sheets, 1 Pencil Pouch, 3 No. 2 Pencils, 1 Sharpener, 1 Ruler, and 1 Eraser.Buy at Amazon
Obviously, this isn’t an exhaustive list and back-to-school shopping for a child involves more than just getting a backpack, lunch box, notebook and pencils, but these are some places to start.
Hopefully, dear parents, we’ve managed to shave a bit of time off your school shopping, leaving you more time for your own geeky activities like beer and board game night.