Get off to a smart start with one of these CDs.
Snack Time by Barenaked Ladies: This new release includes two dozen original children's songs with titles such as Pollywog in a Bog, Food Party and Crazy ABC's. Raisin Records, $12.04 on Amazon.com; also available at Barnes & Noble.
Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants: Kids learn basic scientific principles through toe-tapping songs such as Meet the Elements, I Am a Paleontologist and What Is a Shooting Star? This also comes with a DVD of videos. Disney Sound, $10.14 on Amazon.com; also available at Barnes & Noble.
Never miss a local story.
For girls: Gear-Up Black Pop Dot collection
Perfect for polka-dot-loving girls, this colorful backpack will hold books, a laptop, an iPod and more. 121/2 inches wide by 8-10 inches deep by 18 inches high. On sale at press time for $36.40. Pair it with a matching tote lunch bag, $15.60, and pencil case, $7.60. Both items also on sale at press time. The Black Pop Dot collection also includes a rolling backpack, water bottle, homework holder and more. Monogramming available. All from Pottery Barn Teen, www.pbteen.com.
For everyone: Pack-It Gear Jet Black collection
It's hard to go wrong with basic black. This collection of backpacks, totes, messenger bags, laptop sleeves and more comes in basic black with colorful toggle and monogram trims in either teal or pink. Patches help make your gear even more personal and include a boom box, peace sign, peacock and other options. Backpack with boombox patch, with padded area for laptop, 12 inches wide by 7 inches deep by 17 inches high, on sale at press time, $24.99. Match it with the Jet Black roll-top lunch bag, on sale at press time for $6.99. Pottery Barn Teen, pbteen.com.
Dress up her locker with easy-on, easy-off wallpaper. This pretty pink and green pattern from the Container Store is designed to match other items in the Slice Collection and can be used underneath magnetic hooks and bins for stylish organization. The wallpaper is 353/4 inches by 111/2 inches but can be cut to fit smaller lockers, $8.99. The Container Store.
The Slice organizer bin has magnetic backing so you can pop it onto the inside of your locker for easy access to pens and other small supplies, $6.99. More guy-friendly options also available, including bins in solid black. The Container Store.
Keep the kids
Water bottles are an important school supply this year. Make it easy for your child to stay hydrated and easy on yourself by picking up an easy-to-clean Camelbak Groove. The bottles are impact-resistant, top-rack dishwasher-safe and spill-proof. Even better: the filter means great tasting water, even from the tap at school. Holds 20 ounces, $24.99. Academy Sports + Outdoors.
Quell first-day jitters
These two modern-day kids' classics will help little ones with the transition to school days.
Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten
By Joseph Slate, illustrated by Ashley Wolff
Puffin (paperback), $6.99
Ease fears about starting school with a book that follows the teacher and her "students" on Day 1. The story begins with the students (who are actually animals) waking up and getting ready for school and alternates with the teacher preparing her classroom. The combination of colorful animal illustrations and rhyming dialogue makes this a winner for kindergarteners. Available at most bookstores, including Barnes & Noble.
The Night Before First Grade
By Natasha Wing, illustrated by Deborah Zemke
Grosset & Dunlap, $3.99
Make the transition to first grade a little smoother with a book that addresses the "what if my best friend isn't in my class?" question. We follow Penny, the main character, through her night-before-school preparations (matching her outfit with Jenny's), bus ride to school (sitting by Jenny) and her adjustment to class (without Jenny). The ending will make your kids laugh and also prepare them for dealing successfully with a disappointing situation. Available at most bookstores, including Barnes & Noble.
Monkey hear, monkey do
Make getting up in the morning actually fun, or at least funny, for you and your child, with this monkey alarm clock that screetches "Eee, Eee, Eee!" You'll be teaching responsibility at the same time. $18.95, www.chocolatecakeclub.com.
Let kids listen to their own tunes in the car while you scan the traffic reports. These peace ear buds for iPods send a happy message. Blue on green silicone. Other designs available. $13. Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.
Binders, folders and more
Why go elsewhere for stationery school supplies when Target has the market covered with great-looking, affordable options. Here, some of our favorites:
Fashionista and Furry Friends:
Innovative Designs, 11/2-inch binder, pink interior, $5.99.
Show Your Stripes: 1-subject spiral notebook, $2.
Icing Designs: Greenroom recycled 1-inch binder, $6.29.
Monday Morning Quarterback: Tony Romo 1-inch, 3-ring binder in blue, $5; coordinating folder, $1; spiral, $2.50.
Space for Schoolwork: Star Wars 1-inch, 3-ring binder, $5; coordinating folder, $1; 3-D spiral, $2.50.
Just for mom
Moms need a good organizational method for keeping track of lessons, appointments, etc. MomAgenda has brightly colored bound books with a very functional format. There is a list of favorite websites for mom, as well as holidays and party- and vacation-planning pages. The day-to-day pages feature plenty of room to write with a grid format to fill in daily family/work/exercise plans and a space for dinner ideas. At the back is a removable Mom Essentials address book. $40. MomAgenda also offers the All In One Folio, which has larger pages, places for baby sitter info, medical history and lots of clear plastic sleeves and small tabbed dividers. $48. Lawrence's.