School Essentials Your Kids Need Right Now – Back to School 2022

posted in: Gift Guides

Believe it or not, it’s time to start thinking about Back to School shopping! No matter how well your kids care for their gear, they always need more for the coming school year. Toss in the long lists from the school and the fact that the kids are growing like weeds, and there’s a lot to buy. Here’s a list of stellar school essentials to help your kids start the school year off right. 


Generation Joy ($18 and up) 

This mom-designed apparel brand for boys and girls has clever features, like grow-with-me reversible leggings for girls, and joggers with adjustable waistbands and reinforced knees for boys. The tagless designs feature fabrics that are soft and comfortable, with lots of fun patterns and colors to choose from.  


French Toast ($15 and up) 

You probably know French Toast as a go-to brand for sturdy and functional apparel for schools with dress codes. This month, they are launching an adaptive-wear clothing line with design tweaks to help kids with disabilities dress themselves. The pieces are comfortable, tagless, and soft for all-day wear. The assortment is available on the French Toast website, as well as on Amazon, Kohl’s, and Walmart.


PatPat GONeat Collection ($15 and up) 

This new apparel line is made with Sorona fabric, which is breathable, stain-resistant, waterproof, and sustainably made from plants.  The collection is available in both plain styles and graphic styles and there are sizes for everyone in the family from babies to grownups who like to twin with their kids. 


Stitch Fix Kids (prices vary)

If your kids don’t really know what their style is or don’t enjoy shopping, Stitch Fix will help guide them with an engaging style quiz. Once the quiz is completed, suggestions in your preferred price point will be offered up for approval. You only pay for what your kids keep!



Sierra Designs Yuba Pass Backpack ($49.95)

These sturdy, expandable bags come in four colors and have a 25-liter capacity, dual water bottle sleeves, plenty of protective pockets, padded straps with reflectors, and gear loops. I like this backpack for older kids because of its generous size and its ability to also be used as a day pack for hiking or overnight trips. 


Highlights Backpacks ($49.99)

For the younger set, these backpacks from Highlights are designed to fit smaller bodies but have plenty of room to stash all their must-haves for school. The backpacks have empowering messages, hidden games, exterior pockets for water and quick-grab items, an interior pocket, padded straps with reflectors, and gear loops. They are available in a variety of designs and come with a pack of sticker patches that kids can use to personalize their bag. Matching lunch bags, pencil cases, and water bottles are also available.


Funkins Insulated Lunch Bags ($22.95 and up)

This mom-founded brand makes eco-friendly and durable lunch bags in a wide variety of designs using low-impact, non-toxic dyes, and fabrics that are CPSIA-compliant and free of lead and phthalates.  The Lunch Bags are made with stain- and water-resistant neoprene, which expands when needed and collapses when not in use. And they are washable! Coordinating cloth napkins and placemats are also available. 



Good Banana Bento Lunch Boxes ($15.99) 

Your little kids will look forward to lunch every day with these colorful bento boxes. Available in six fun designs, including Unicorn, Avocado, and Rainbow, the BPA-free boxes have a variety of different-sized compartments for items like sandwiches, trail mix, and fruits. The “Frustration-free SnackLatch” lid keeps the box securely closed, but is easy to open once your little one is ready to eat.  



Stanley Classic Legendary Food Jar + Spork ($26)
A food thermos with its own spork?  How clever! This insulated food jar is ideal for hot or cold lunches, and it opens easily, thanks to a pressure-release valve. The handy spork fits perfectly in its bracket on the site of the jar.  I also really like Stanley’s AeroLight Transit Bottle, which is an insulated metal bottle with a leakproof drink-through lid. It will keep beverages cold all day but is lighter than standard stainless steel beverage bottles.  


Nalgene On-the-Fly Lock-Top Kids Bottle ($13.64)

You know you can always rely on Nalgene bottles to be leak-free and sturdy, and this BPA/BPS-free 12oz. bottle is the ideal size for little kids. The lock-top also allows the bottle to be attached to a backpack with a carabiner.  Available in a variety of designs.  

rezip 5-Piece Lay-Flat Starter Reusable Storage Bag Kit ($19.99 for 5 on Amazon)

There’s no need to contribute to landfills when there are reusable plastic bags available! This 5-piece, multi-color starter kit contains three sandwich-sized bags and 2 snack-sized bags, each with a double-lock closure.  The bags are food & freezer safe, free of lead and BPA, hand-washable, and compress flat for easy storage.  Available at retailers nationwide, including Amazon and Target. 


Once Upon a Farm Organic Immunity Blends Smoothies ($44.28 for 12) Sometimes, making sure your kids eat healthy at school can be tough.  These packets of goodness, which are available in Apple, Cherry, and Elderberry Immunity Blends, are packed with vitamins and probiotics.  Pro tip: Keep them in the freezer and drop them into kids’ lunch bags in the morning.  From July 16-September 6, use code BTS30 to save 30 percent off your first subscription order.


​Kinderfarms Kindersprout Plant Protein Kids Nutrition Shake ($25.99 for 12)

These kid-sized, doctor-formulated, and organic plant-based protein shakes are a healthy addition to any lunchbox.  They are available in Chocolate or Vanilla and provide 8g of plant-based protein, 28 essential vitamins & minerals, and 3g of fiber from 12 organic fruits & veggies. They also have 33 percent less sugar than the competition. Kinderfarms gives back to 1 Percent for the Planet.



Personalization Mall Personalized Lap Desk ($49.99)

After sitting at a desk all day at school, a lot of kids prefer to sit elsewhere, whether it be a couch, their bed, or the floor. This lap desk is the perfect size for a binder or laptop and it can be personalized with your child’s name. The pillow bottom sits comfortably on their lap, and the smooth hardboard desk surface is easy to wipe clean.  There are a variety of colors and styles available.


Rocketbook Filler Paper Starter Pack ($24.99 on Amazon)I’m a big fan of Rocketbook’s reusable notebooks, so I was delighted to learn that they now have Filler Paper. The tear-resistant paper uses patented technology and Cloud-integration, allowing kids to create their own smart binder. With the Rocketbook app, kids can use features like Smart Title Bars, Smart Search, and a shortcut system. Once a page is filled, it can be scanned and wiped clean.  The Starter Pack comes with 18 double-sided loose leaf sheats, 1 Pilot Frixion Pen, and a microfiber cleaning cloth.  The brand also has Reusable Index Cards!  


Pair Eyewear ($60 and up for prescription glasses)

Kids and parents often cringe when they realize that a kid needs glasses, but these customizable specs will brighten their day! The glasses have a unique two-piece function that allows kids to change the color of their frames simply by snapping on a different magnetic Top Frame, available in hundreds of styles. The brand offers prescription glasses and protective Bluelight glasses.


Pebblebee Clip ($29.99 on Amazon)  

Ideal for the forgetful kid, this rechargeable item tracker can be attached to a keyring or backpack and can track misplaced items up to 500 feet from a mobile device. Simply tap the app and the tracker makes a loud sound so the item can be retrieved.  The tracker works for up to six months on one charge and can be used with Apple Find My to extend the tracking range.   


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Trae Bodge is an accomplished lifestyle journalist and TV commentator who has specialized in smart shopping, personal finance, and retail for more than a decade. She has appeared on TV over 1,000 times; including Today Show, GMA3, NBC Nightly News, Inside Edition, and network affiliates nationwide. She has been named a Top Voice in Retail by LinkedIn, and her expert commentary has appeared in Forbes,, Kiplinger, Yahoo Finance, and numerous others.