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Back to School Guide

Back to School Guide Kindergarten and Pre-SchoolWhether your little ones are heading off to school or they find their classroom at home, we have some great picks to get them ready for learning!


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Look Sharp, Think Sharp

Hip Fall Children’s Collections:Tea Collection is a perennial favorite. This chic children’s clothing line always has stylish options for children. The Fall ’09 Collection, inspired by the Japanese art of indigo dyeing, launched August 1 and features adorable plaids and sweet pieces perfect for layering. tea_indigo
School is Cool: We love the style and reasonable pricing on the hip graphic snapsuits and t-shirts for babies and children at Sandbox Threads (designed by a Work at Home Dad). This PRESCHOOL t-shirt is a hilarious play on the COLLEGE shirt from Animal House.Support your pre-reader with this AC/DC inspired shirt: AB/CD: for those who are about to read, we salute you from Trendy Tadpole (on sale for $11 for a limited time). T-Shirt
Shoes: We’re huge fans of Vincent Shoes’ whimsically sophisticated European styling (available for kids up to about 8 yrs), and See Kai Run’s sweet chic look (up to size 9). Check out our guide to flexible soled toddler shoes for more options.

Deals on Hip Threads for School:

Stay Organized

Back Packs for Pre-Schoolers: Is there a more adorable way for your tot to tote stuff than the Skip Hop Penguin Zoo Pack? Or splurge on the cute and lightweight BlaBla Kids Backpacks for preschoolers ($43 at Oompa Toys). penguin
Backpacks for School Kids: When your kid has a little more to pack, check out the Four Peas Backpack ($25 at Oompa). I love that many of their designs work well for boys, too! They also make a smaller toddler size and a messenger bag. Four Peas Personalized Children\'s Backpack
Clothing, Cup, and Shoe Labels: If you are hoping your child actually returns home with her supplies, you need to check out the popular Mabel’s Labels. As word spreads, these dishwasher and washing machine safe labels are fast becoming a must have for parents sending kids to camp, daycare, or school. Stick-On Labels
Supply Organizers: My daughter is absolutely in love with the Doodlebugz Crayon Keepers, DoodleBags, Crayon Aprons and Toolbelts, and Crayon Purses and Duffle Bags. These licensed Crayola products, available at Princess Linens, help keep your little artist organized and ready to create!At home, keep crayons organized with the telescoping crayon tower organizer. Check out all the Back to School supplies from Crayola.
Doodlebags Crayon and Chalk Keeper
I’ll Pencil You In: Like it or not, our kids activities are more scheduled these days. We recommend lots of free, unstructured play time, but as your kids get older, they may want to participate in different activities. Keep yourself organized and sane by tracking your schedule in our top pick: the BusyBodyBook ($17.95). Read our full review of the BusyBodyBook. BusyBodyBook family schedule

Brain Food

Reusable Lunchbags: More eco-chic than brown bagging it, reusable lunchbags are the perfect back to school accessory, keeping food fresher, and saving money in the long run.  Cool Tote Lunch Sacks ($17) are a fashionable way to lunch. My daughter’s tot-chic kitty lunch sack has both a strap and handle, an inside net pocket, and an included 8 oz. Freezer Pack. The Cool Tote Lunch sack is lead free and made in the USA. Cool Tote offers a variety of sizes and fabric choices for pre-schoolers through adults.

We also like the whimsical look of the Mimi the Sardine Eco-Friendly Lunchbug ($20 at Oompa Toys and Amazon). The bags are made in the US from environmentally-friendly materials with a child-safe coating, designed in Sweden and produced in Estonia–how’s that for international?

Reusable Lunch Bag
Reusable Bottles: SIGG Water Bottles are at the top of our list for their hip style and earth-friendly ethos.  They range in size from tiny tot sippy cups to big athletic water bottles.  Everyone in my family has their own SIGG. SIGG is temporarily shutting down its online shop while production catches up with demand, so I recommend getting a SIGG now.Some other great mini metal canteen options for kids can be found at Our Green House and The Nature’s Child. Sigg Kids Bottle

Get Smart

Teach Financial Responsibility: Most academic programs teach the three Rs plus music, art, and more, but leave finances until high school.  Give your child a head start with Money Savvy Generation. Money Savvy Generation is a program of story books, piggy banks and financial organizers that introduce the concepts of saving, investing, spending and donating in age appropriate ways.
Go on a Brain Quest: Brain Quest from Workman Publishing makes a series of flashcard games for children as young as 2. We checked out the Brain Quest for Threes and had a lot of fun playing these pre-literacy and early skills games together. The games are designed mainly as a jumping off point for parental and child interaction, so whether your child is ahead of the curve verbally or is taking her time, these cards will work at the kid’s level. You can have even more fun with features like Stump the Genius at Brain Quest Pre-School Flashcards
Practice Makes Perfect: With Workbooks and Games from SchoolZone, your kids will have fun practicing their new reading and math skills. Math War Multiplication and Math War Addition and Subtraction are exciting card games which help kids memorize their numbers in a way that’s fun for parents too. Math War is available for $1.63 at Amazon.The Scholar Series Workbooks reinforce reading, social studies and language arts skills with colorful pictures and puzzles. First Grade Scholar (Scholar Series Workbooks), which is the one I tested, is available for $2.34 at Amazon. (Products also available at Math Wars and Scholar Series

Guides From Some of Our Favorite Stores:

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