Putting the fun in functional

The autumn means shorter days, sweater weather, pumpkin spice everything and, of course, back to school.

by Jennifer Korpela

Getting back to the books signifies a new year for parents, teachers and students. For many, that means new routines, new friends, new teachers and a new backpack. To assist with your back-to-school shopping, we have scoured the nation looking for the most fun and functional (maybe even a little funky) products that are sure to send you to the top of the class.

Hands Up

This clever Canadian-born contraption is the perfect post-pandemic partner in returning to school. Simply fill with your favourite sanitizer and wear on your wrist for convenient access to germ killing antibacterial products. Squeezy Bands are available in just about every colour you can imagine.

$15 | SqueezyBand.com

Lunchbox Love

Connect with your student while they are away from home by popping a sweet little note in a lunchbox or coat pocket. Lunchbox Notes are easy to use; your special someone can scratch to reveal a hidden handwritten message.

$19.96 (US)/set of 24 | InklingsPaperie.com

The Small Stuff

One thing I know for sure is that returning to school this year is going to take some guts, brains and a whole lot of heart. Just in case your student feels they could use a little extra lift, the Happy Organ Erasers Variety Pack is the perfect addition to the school supply list. Hey, come on: why not use a happy little pancreas to correct that punctuation? For the future physician in your life, or anyone who likes a little bit of silly.

$13.99 | Store.SparkScience.ca

Lunch on the Go

Fact: there were some questionable fashion choices in the 20th century. For example, orange plastic lunch boxes with Miss Piggy or Ninja Turtles plastered on the front. Thankfully, cooler times are here courtesy of ‘SoYoung’s’ collection of stylish lunch boxes for 21st-century kids. This fun Canadian brand also merchant an entire line of matching ice packs and backpacks for all ages and stages.

$13 to $45 | SoYoung.ca

Make Your Mark

Sorry Elmo, but if the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that sometimes – just sometimes – sharing is not caring. A great way to avoid your neighbour chewing on the end of your pencil is to have your name laser engraved right down its shaft. These are a must-have item whether you’re just starting to write your name or write your thesis.

$1 each | AMSign Shop • Etsy.com/ca/shop/AMSignShop

Lock it Down

This customizable WordLock padlock, which is avaialble in a variety of colours, is a great addition to back-to-school shopping lists. Just think: how many five letter words exist in the English language? At least 100,000! Hey, that’s a lot of ways to keep belongings safe.

$11.99 | CanadianTire.ca

Pack the Snacks

You start off the year making little moose shaped sandwiches and cutting cheese slices to look like trees to send your child out into the world with an Instagram worthy lunch, but by May you are filling their fists with Cheez-its as they head out the door. Oh, the joy of school lunches! But never fear: Colibri reusable snack bags, available in several sizes and patterns, to the rescue! Whether packing homemade cookies or tossing in a handful of cheese crackers, every lunch is guaranteed to be insta-worthy!

$26/set of three | ColibriCanada.com

Back at it

SportChek has a variety of awesome backpacks from which to choose, but take a tip: consider their stylish Ripzone Edison 20L for older students. Keep your electronics secure in a padded laptop and tablet sleeve and smaller items stay organized in the organizer panel. Lots of pockets and an expandable water bottle pocket will keep everything in its place with a place for everything.

$39.99 | SportChek.ca

Take Note

Even if the subject matter isn’t their favourite, students can let their personality shine with their choice of quirky Canadian notebooks to record their “beary important thoughts,” or keep track of due dates and date nights. To really up your fall fashion game, you can even match your socks to your notebook!

Notebooks $14 | Socks $8 LazyOne.ca

Wrap it Up

As we all work to improve our carbon footprint, our schools’ litterless and boomerang lunch programs provide a wonderful opportunity for us to teach our children to be conscious of their environmental impact. Canadian company Nature Bee’s Bees Wraps are 100 per cent reusable, eliminate plastic from the kitchen, keep food fresh for longer and come in a variety of colourful designs.

$25/set of three | NatureBeeWraps.ca

New Pajamas

Doesn’t everyone need new jammies for back to school? A good night’s sleep, after all, being very important for busy brains. Whether you’re a “beary cool” kid, or an “otterly exhausted” adult, LazyOne Canada has soft, cuddly night wear that will appeal to everyone’s fun side. Show your school spirit on pajama day, or cozy up after a long session of learning.

$36 | LazyOne.ca

Jennifer Korpela is an independent designer and owner of Chalk and Doodle in Haliburton. Facebook.com/ChalkAnddoodle and Instagram.com/ChalkAndDoodle