This post is sponsored by SchoolSpecialty.com. You can see the full disclosure below.
I just shared that my kids are changing schools this year. My son – we call him Bug around here – is doing an online charter school. This is a big adjustment, of course. Not only will he be home every day, but he needs space and supplies to help him stay focused and organized. It was just perfect timing that the folks at SchoolSpecialty.com reached out to see if we’d check out some of their offerings for BTS (back to school!) shopping. I wasn’t familiar with them, but it turns out that they have over 100,000 items all designed to help students, teachers, and even families have the best school year possible.
We already had a room set aside as a library. I suppose it was originally intended to be a dining room, but we’ve got a breakfast nook that more than suffices for us and not enough room for all of my books, so there you go. Anyway, we picked up an inexpensive corner desk, which then didn’t fit into the space that we had. I mean, we had a plan for how to fit it in, but it required moving a bunch of other things and it was too much effort. The corner desk became a regular desk. Maybe that will change at some point when the BTS rush is over. Anyway, it’s plenty of space for a kid, his laptop, his books, and a bunch of school supplies, right?
School Specialty, Inc. sent us three sample “kits” that they had put together to show the breadth of their inventory and give us some creative ideas for how to make it all work for us. They sent one kit each for teachers, students, and parents. All of the supplies were packed into covered plastic bins for easy storage. I am of the opinion that you can never have too many plastic bins. I don’t want to test that theory, but right now we can always use more.
Because Bug is attending a virtual charter, things for us look a little different than the traditional setup. He will have teachers to guide him, correct his work, and provide support when he needs it. But he won’t have a normal classroom, and my role in his education will be larger than it normally would. Things like planning out the week, providing supplies, and keeping him on tasks will fall on my shoulders. I divvied up the School Specialty kits to fit our family needs as we’ll have one kid at home and one in a brick and mortar. I also set aside some of the supplies to send to my daughter’s new school. But, because I really enjoyed how they had thought about the needs of each of these three groups, I wanted to show you the original kits they made for us. You can’t buy these already assembled, but you can pick and choose to put together your own “kits” as a surprise for your kids or a gift for a new teacher.
School Specialty BTS Sample Kits
Students: The student bin was all about being focused and organized. It had a fantastic zippered binder system, a pair of noise-cancelling headphones, pens, highlighters, a flexible LED light, a memory game, and a Buddha Board. The kids saw the Buddha Board in a shop a few weeks ago on vacation and thought it was very cool, so they were excited to see one arrive in our house. If you haven’t seen one, it’s a board that you paint on with water. When it dries, you start again. So relaxing!
Parents: Anyone with school-aged kids knows that the key to a successful school year is getting – and staying – organized with all of the homework, notices, events, and extra-curricular activities. This bin had a fun purple dry erase board with fluorescent markers, a desk organizer, desk supplies (push pins, paper clips, etc.) a calendar, some pens, a clipboard, and some Post-It label tape, which was one of my favorite items of all. It’s a roll of tape that easily peels off and that you can write on. I used to to label the art and science bins. The white board, clipboard, organizer and pens all went to Bug’s desk area since keeping him organized is going to be a team effort.
Teachers: The learning equation doesn’t work without great teachers. The teacher bin had a planner, bright file folders, dry erase markers, Post-It notes, and push pins, a Post-It note picture frame, a ream of colorful paper, and even a tool to help fidgety kids.
Our Favorite Items
I had a few favorites in the bunch, so I wanted to share links directly to those products on SchoolSpecialty.com to make your BTS shopping a bit faster. For those who are curious, I did some comparison shopping and found prices that were similar to, and sometimes better than, other large online stores.
- Post-It Full Adhesive Roll – this comes in other colors, too, and it’s great for labeling things.
- Dooley Boards Magnetic Dry Erase Board – ours is purple and it comes with a white dry erase marker. It’s just a little bit more fun than a plain white board. They also sent some fluorescent markers, too.
- Case-It Mighty Zip Tab O-Ring Binder – This is not your mother’s Trapper Keeper! It’s got a nylon cover outside and a carrying strap. Inside, there’s an accordion file system, mesh pocket, and a carrying strap. The whole thing zips shut so none of your papers fall out. Honestly, since many of Bug’s text books are of the electronic variety, he could just put a Kindle in there, too, and take most of his school work on the go.
The beginning of the school year is approaching and I’m both nervous and excited. Everything will be different and it’s a lot to adjust to all at once. But since I wasn’t thrilled with how things were, I’m also hopeful that the changes will be mostly positive for us all.
If you have favorite school supplies that are out of the norm or great BTS tips, I’d love to know!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by School Specialty. All opinions are my own.