Who remembers that Staples back-to-school ad from the late ’90s? You know the one where the dad is dancing down the aisles while his kids glumly drag their feet behind him and ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of Year’ plays in the background? We’re feeling the spirit of that commercial more than ever this year. It may only be back-to-school for the kids, but the fresh-start energy affects us all. Here’s our guide for making the most of this seasonal motivation while it lasts.
Go through last year’s winter gear to see what still fits and then buy replacements for this year
Why? The first snowfall will be here before you know it (sob), but, honestly, it just feels SO GOOD to know that you have everything you need to get through winter. You’re likely packing away the beach umbrella and camping gear anyway, so you might as well pull out the boots and snowsuits while you’re at it. Plus, kids can often get two or even three years out of a winter coat. Being organized could save you from needlessly buying new gear when you see them on display in the fall and panic.
To the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival, from September 7 to 11 at The Bay Centre
Why? Kids will be floored by the intricate, beautiful, and very 3D-looking works of chalk art. Just be prepared for them to begin beautifying your driveway with a renewed enthusiasm once you get home.
Fun, neon-coloured and emoji-themed school supplies
Why? Some schools send out supply lists during the summer and others wait until September. Either way, you’re sure to find yourself picking some last-minute tools, at the very least. It’s nice to treat your kids to a couple extra-special items to help get them excited about the new year. Bright colours are hot this year, so why not grab a pack of gel pens, some bright Post-Its, and a bunny-shaped pencil sharpener. Emoji-themed locker magnets, erasers and more are also super trendy right now.
Why? This is a fun and active game that reinforces basic alphabet and phonics learning. It’s perfect for preschooler and kindergartners with energy to burn. All you need is two bins, some letters (foam, wooden puzzle pieces, etc.) and a bit of space. Put all the letters in one bin and leave the other empty. You can call out a letter (or a sound or word to make it a bit harder) and your kid needs to search for the right letter and run it over to the other bin. Make it even more exciting by introducing a fun physical activity after each letter, like kicking a soccer ball or spinning a hula hoop.
The Darkest Dark by Chris Hadfield
Why? Chris Hadfield, the first Canadian astronaut to walk in space (who also played David Bowie’s Space Oddity on a guitar while he was in command of the freaking International Space Station), has a children’s book out this month. Wait, there’s more. The book is inspired by his own childhood fear of the dark and how the moon landing helped him realize that while outer space is the darkest dark there is, it’s also incredibly beautiful. It’s a wonderfully illustrated book about coming to terms with your fears and chasing your dreams. This will be making the bedtime rotation in our homes.
Interactive Telling Time HD
Why? This app, best for ages four and up, was designed with input from artists, educators and parents. It helps kids learn to tell time, introducing them to concepts such as am and pm and the difference between 12 and 24 hour clocks.
Why? The Owl publishing we all know and trust has a fantastic news site designed especially for kids. It covers breaking world news, science and tech, planet, sport, entertainment, history, and ‘weird zone’ stories. They are geared to strong readers (or to parents reading aloud to their kids) and do a great job explaining how and why things have happened. This is a great resource for kids to check in with daily, to use for research projects, or to help parents explain complicated issues like the Black Lives Matter protests.
Make an eco-friendly lunch plan
Why? Litterless lunches are nothing new, but finding the perfect lunch container sometimes feels like an impossible mission. And, well, maybe it is. Maybe there is no perfect lunch box. Remember, the most eco-friendly thing to do is to not buy anything new. Cloth lunch boxes and bags will freshen up nicely after a run through the hot laundry cycle with a small splash of bleach, and the food containers or bento boxes from last year might be just fine to use again. That said, these organic cotton Fluf lunch and snack bags (with a food-safe lining) and the seemingly indestructible PlanetBox get our seal of approval.
Freezable baked goods for school snacks
Why? Because it’s September! Because you have that do-gooder, go-getter spirit and you want nothing more than to bake homemade, nourishing snacks to see your children through the school day. (And because it’s only a matter of time before you run out of steam and there’s no shame in packaged granola bars either.) Muffins like these zucchini chocolate chip or banana ones are always a hit with kids. Fruit-filled squares like these or even homemade pancakes and waffles will also freeze well. Partially defrost in the microwave (or pull them out of the freezer the night before) and you’re set.
Make sure every kid in your child’s classroom starts the year on an equal footing. When doing your back-to-school shopping, throw an extra of something you’re already buying into your cart. Send it to school along with a note for teacher explaining that the extra is for any student in need.
Why? Two reasons: it’s important for kids to have the materials they need for school, both for their learning and their self-esteem; and teachers all too often end up personally paying for needed school supplies. They’ll appreciate your gift so much.