How are we shopping for fun school supplies already? Though it feels like back-to-school season surprises us every year, in the time warp that has been the last couple of years, we are particularly thrown for a loop right about now. So depending on where you live in the country, it’s now time — or almost time — to choose new lunch bags, backpacks, binders, folders, pencils, clothes, calculators, and crayons — not to mention we’ll still need face masks and hand sanitizer.
But whether you (and your kids) love it or loathe it, back-to-school shopping is still a necessity, so why not make it enjoyable by also selecting some really fun school supplies? Here’s our very special Jedi mind trick: You hone in on some extra special novelty items, like a dragon-head stapler or pencil cases that look like food, and then turn off your brain to load up your cart with the required list of felt-tip pens and wide-ruled spiral notebooks. Then when you bring home your bags from the store or you and your kids open the Amazon box at your doorstep, there will be something they’ll be excited to see. It’s also a great way to banish anxiety about all the strange new changes they’ll be facing in a new classroom.
As going back to school still looks different for us this year, our list of fun school supplies to shop for is evolving, too. Going to a classroom will mean they’ll continue to wear kids face masks and need lanyards to keep those masks in place. You’ll probably want to buy several of both so that they’ll stay clean and you won’t have to worry about one getting inevitably lost at home or at school.
If you’ve opted to homeschool your child, there’s still the potential for fun school supplies. You can get sillier pens and pencils that teachers might frown upon in the classroom as distractions. You can keep your kids’ schedules intact with dry-erase boards. And you can keep everyone in the household happier with each other with a good pair of headphones with microphones that can make Zoom calls a million times less annoying.
So even if the back-to-school season is sneaking up on you, we challenge you not to get psyched about the school supplies we’ve rounded up ahead.
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A version of this article was originally published in July 2017.