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School is back in session and if you listen closely, you can hear the joyous cheers of parents across the country celebrating the silence of their kids being back behind a desk. While the initial shopping is done, there still are a few odds and ends needed to round out the usual stash of clothes, crayons, pens and Trapper Keepers. Wait, do they still even make those?

This week, I’ve put together a list of suggestions that will enhance your kid’s school experience from pre-school to college.

For Pre-Schoolers

Bixbee Backpacks


Price: starting at $27.99

Movie and cartoon characters will always be a hit for kids backpacks, but you don’t necessarily want your child to be a walking billboard for the next blockbuster movie. Bixbee backpacks are a colorful and fun way for little students to show off their individuality. The backpacks come in a variety of animals, butterflies, rockets and airplanes. If that isn’t enough to make you puke rainbows from the cuteness, some of the them are equipped with lights that sparkle and blink in patterns. Let’s see a superhero top that.



Price: starting at $7.48

One of the important things that often goes ignored is our children’s emotional intelligence. It’s no wonder why so many adults struggle with accurately expressing their feelings. Child Development and Parenting Expert Denise Daniels created Moodsters, a line of toys that help kids identify and communicate their feelings. While all of the toys are awesome, I highly recommend the Feelings Notepad.

There’s a dial on the cover that shows a ring of characters who represent different emotions like sadness, happiness, anger, etc. The gist is that whenever your child is wrestling with a particular emotion, they turn an arrow to the character that matches how they feel. In the attached notebook, kids can write or draw what’s going on in their little heads. Each character has a story that explains emotional situations and how they’re affected. Since young children may not have developed the vocabulary to express the complicated nature of emotion, Moodsters goes on the must-have list.

Gakken’s Go Go Series


Price: $7.95

You’ve probably never heard of the Gakken line of activity books (I know I haven’t) but they’re huge in Asia. I came across the Go Go Series and the first thing I noticed was how attractive the books were. Everything is brightly colored and designed with young kids in mind. The lessons span from ages 2-6 promoting academics and social skills. There are activities to develop pencil and crayon control, problem solving and everything else that rounds out a child’s study path.

For Grade/High Schoolers



Price: starting at $69.99

There have got to be a billion portable phone chargers to choose from but what makes MyCharge so cool is how there’s no need to carry a bunch of cords around. It’s literally a portable charging station. There are a few models in the line but my favorite is the Hub series. You don’t need a USB connection to charge it and there are built-in cables to support Apple Lightning and micro USB ports.

In the off chance you don’t have either, there’s a USB port to plug in any device that uses whatever proprietary connection (Sony devices are notorious for this). Charging a mobile device is also super fast, as I’ve been able to get my own phone charged from near death to half full in about 30 minutes. Typically, you can get a good 2-3 full charges before having to plug up again.The Hub series of chargers are perfect for connecting to a phone and putting it away in a bag or larger pocket. Now your teen has no excuse for not reporting in when they’re out and about.

WAFF Notebooks


Price: starting at $8.00

Doodling on notebooks is so last generation. WAFF allows young artistic minds to take their expressions further with a line of notebooks that feature building blocks, sort of like Legos, on the cover. The notebooks come in a variety of colors and the blocks come as emojis, letters and icons. If you’re looking for an affordable gift for pre-teens and teens, rock with WAFF. It’s one of those things that’s versatile so anyone can use yet cool enough that you won’t get clowned behind your back for giving a sucky gift.

For College Students

Lamp Champ


Price: $19.99

Dorm rooms don’t usually offer the luxury of having a ton of electrical outlets. With space being such a rare commodity, Lamp Champ saves the day by allowing you to charge your mobile toys through a super fast built-in USB port. The device screws into a standard light bulb socket, the bulb screws into Lamp Champ and boom, instant charging station. Since the Lamp Champ device is so small, it’s portable enough to toss into a bag just in case a roommate has boundary issues and wants to hog the thing.

Logitech C920


Price: $99.99

Thanks to the many video chat programs, being away at school isn’t as much of a lonesome experience. One of the things that can make or break your online communication is a good webcam. As of this writing, the Logitech C920 is hailed as one of the best all around webcams out there. I gave it a test to see what all the hype was about and was blown away. I’d go as far to say that the video quality is on par with some of the semi-professional cameras on the market. The C920 has a built-in mic and can automatically focus and adjust for lighting. With sound and picture so clear on the Logitech C920, there won’t be a problem spotting a terribly hidden bong in the background of your college kid’s next Skype call.



Price: $99

This massive update to the everyday alarm clock is one that packs an astounding amount of features into device that looks great. The Beddi can charge a phone and tablet simultaneously, wake you up with Spotify playlists, lull you to sleep with mood lighting and for those who still listen to it, play FM radio. Beddi even syncs up with the time on a mobile phone so that you never have to worry about running late because the clock was set slower. Beddi does so much for a hundred bucks that it’s a must have for your future grad.

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Larry Hester is a Brooklyn-born writer who’s written for Vibe,, The Source, Complex and more. He now resides in Newark, New Jersey with his wife and son. He welcomes any parenting advice or encouragement. Check him out on Facebook and Twitter @almostcooldad.







Almost Cool Dad: 6 Back To School Items You Didn’t Know You Needed  was originally published on