Whether you love it or hate it, the back-to-school season is upon us. If you’re not already up to your eyeballs in pens, pencils, protractors and paper you will be soon. But between your lists and the school’s lists and your kids’ lists, and in the midst of the stress of it all, it can be easy to forget that back to school shopping can be fun. Because fun is kind of our thing, here are a few items that help make it cool to go back to school.
It’s hard to improve on the classic pencil. Sure, you can make it triangular or paint it wild colors, but at the end of the day a pencil’s a pencil. A smencil, however, is completely different. Smencils are made from recycled newspaper, wrapped tightly and hardened around a graphite core. After they’re crafted, smencils get a dose of one of 10 different scents; from cola to waffle cone to papaya. But the scents aren’t all just for fun. For tests, pick up a peppermint-scented Smencil – a smell proven to stimulate brain activity and increase concentration.
You can pick up a classic #2 Smencil, or get creative with a set of colored Smencils. There’s nothing quite like a gummy-bear-scented paper on the industrial revolution.
Between addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, not to mention fractions, percentages, probability and algebra, there are a lot of math rules to remember. Old-fashioned tables are fine, but they can be difficult for kids who learn with their hands. Learning Wrap-ups aim to solve the problem by making math a hands-on activity. The Wrap-ups come as sets of colored plastic keys. On either side of each key are notches with numbers, and in the middle is the number by which to multiply, divide, add or subtract. The budding mathematician winds a long string across the key, from the initial number on the left to the final solution on the right. After the key is all wound up, turn it over to see if you got it right!
It’s a simple game that gives the fidgety-handed a way to learn in a way that makes sense to them. We have Wrap-ups for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and state capitals. I guess you could say you’ll really get wrapped up in learning! Ha! If only they made Wrap-ups for puns!
Rulers of the World
Let’s be honest: Rulers are boring. They’re foot-long pieces of wood or plastic or metal, lined with tick marks and numbers blah blah blah. Fortunately, some brave souls over at Rich Frog have stepped up to the plate to bring rulers to their full potential. Their series, Rulers of the World, fills the otherwise blank backs of wooden rulers with lists and timelines of historical rulers – people of influence from different walks of life.
There are Rulers of the North, Rulers of the South, Rulers of Judaism, Rulers of Modern Art, African American Rulers, Native American Rulers and Great Women Rulers of Sports. There are rulers of rulers of science, education, art and almost every other facet of history. Rulers finally get their proper place in the back-to-school echelon of fun.
Flash of Brilliance Flash Cards
Flash of Brilliance is all about honesty. When creator John Richardson was teaching his 1-year-old son vocabulary, he wasn’t satisfied with store-bought flash cards. “Too many cards didn’t show the actual item being named,” he writes on the FoB website. “They were cartoons, or photographs of stuffed animals. I wanted Stevie to know what an elephant looked like, not what a stuffed elephant looked like.” John decided to take things into his own hands.
The end result is a six-volume series of flash cards: animals, ABCs, outer space, bugs, dinosaurs, and numbers, shapes and colors. On the front of each card is a real photo, in order to keep kids learning in the realm of reality, and on the back are a few foreign translations and fun facts. It’s never too early to learn what the world really looks like.
In between trips to office supply stores, desperately in search of the perfect binder or specific kind of glue, stop by Kazoodles and pick up something fun! Remember, back to school shopping doesn’t always have to be a drag.