August 22, 2013

What's cool – and not – for back to school

New fashions, accessories and electronic gadgets help take the pain out of returning to the classroom.

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

Long hours glued to a desk, scribbling furiously in a notebook to keep up with the teacher's rapid-fire words, one eye always on the clock.

Locker chandelier, $24.99

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Minion flash drive, $10.99

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That's how a lot of students -- especially when they're still on summer vacation -- view the prospect of being back in school.

Luckily, there is something to ease the pain: Stuff.

Cool back-to-school stuff, to be specific.

There are always new fashions, accessories and electronic gadgets on the market to make getting back into a school routine a little more exciting, a little more fun.

Even if a youngster isn't into clothes, there's a new iPhone case to be had or a cool flash drive. Even a nifty new lunch box might be enough to make school palatable for some.

Here's a look at some of the cool stuff trending right now for the back-to-school crowd, both for kids and their parents.


Once upon a time, lockers were merely book depositories. This no longer has to be the case. Companies such as sell everything from wallpaper to faux chandeliers in a variety of eye-popping colors and designs. Some of's items include aqua-zebra locker wallpaper ($21.99); battery-operated locker chandeliers in black, white, pink or aqua ($24.99); magnetic locker flowers ($6.99); locker rugs ($9.99) and pink or light blue hanging locker bins ($12.99).


An item doesn't have to be big to have some style. A good example? Flash drives, the tiny gizmos people use to move data from one computer to another. They come in all sorts of colors and a variety of shapes, from superheroes to Matchbox cars. This fall, some of the cool flash drives for children include "Call of Duty: Black Ops 2," with designs based on the video game; cutesy characters from the "So So Happy" line; and flash drives shaped like the minions from the hit animated film "Despicable Me 2." All of the above start at $10.98 and are available at Walmart.


Some kids will listen better to an electronic gizmo than an adult. For them, the designers of smartphone apps have come up with apps for everything from waking up to sharing with classmates and siblings. Many are free, including the "Happy Parents" apps from

Coin Flip is an app that solves the age-old problem of who goes first. A referee character flips a coin, and all results are final -- beats carrying loose change. Share Timer lets parents set a timer that will then sound when time is up for each child. Up to six kids can be timed.

Beep and Boop allows parents to list custom goals -- getting dressed, getting to the bus stop on time, etc. When a goal is met, the child gets a "beep" sound; when it's not, the child gets a "boop." You can find other back-to-school apps at


Bento boxes -- derived from the Japanese tradition of meticulously arranging lunch in a compartmentalized box -- are the current school lunch box craze. Search online, and you're sure to find one to your child's liking. Consider these: A bright red box with a multicolored lid and matching plastic water bottle from Circo, $8.99 at Target; a Rilakkuma Bento box with a bear character on the lid, $10.99 at several stores; and Green Sprouts' "Lion on Safari" Bento box with a lion-shaped box and a lion face on the lid, $7.99 at Kohl's.

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Additional Photos

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Share Timer from

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Flip Coin from

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"Lion on Safari" bento box, $7.99

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Stylish iPhone case, $20

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Puff-n-Stuff jacket, $59


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Chukka boots, $49

Studio 1912

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Uggs? ugh.

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Same goes for Silly Bandz.


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