Editors' pick: Originally published August 17.
With back to school spending anticipated to reach $75.8 billion, the National Retail Federation reports families plan to "stock up" on school supplies this year rather than cover the bare minimum.
You may have already gathered the prerequisite notebooks, pens and paper, but what about some of the high tech academic tools that could help make this school year the best ever? Once you've checked the boxes of school supply requirements, consider interactive and fun scholastic gadgets and gizmos outside the box.
We've assembled a list of unique tools, apparel and accessories designed for students of all ages and grade levels. From headphones to insect-repellent jackets, we've got your student covered and ready for a great school year.
Ideal for the student taking a language or who likes to listen to music (or cancel external noise) while doing homework, the House of Marley, Rebel BT On-Ear Headphones provides the same wireless technology you would expect from some of the high-end models but at a reasonable price.
Bluetooth technology allows for eight hours of continuous play, so your student can work uninterrupted, while the in-line microphone with a one-button remote is there for you when you need to plug in and recharge. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery keeps you engaged as the Bluetooth 4 with A2DP stereo audio radiates superior sound quality.
The signature Marley design is created to enhance and complement any sound or music quality, which can be highly effective especially if your student is using them to learn a language or listen to a tutorial. The on-ear design is equipped with soft ear cushions to protect delicate hearing, and a soft padded band for a softer, more comfortable feel.
Constantly dealing with a cracked or smashed smartphone screen because your student tends to drop his or her phone? Avoid more trips to the smartphone repair shop and cover your student's phone with the protective power of the Cygnett CY0441CPURB Urban Shield iPhone Case.
The delicate smartphone has met its match with this durable phone case. The Cygnett literally shields the phone from damage, making it less likely to shatter or break. The brushed, premium-grade aluminum design gives the phone a sleek and fashionable look, while the ultra-slim, close fitting rubber finished corners snuggly holds the phone in place without that bulky feel often found with many phone cases.
Looking for a phone case that can also hold your student's I.D., debit card and other vital pieces of information? Go for the Distil Union - Wally Wallet Case for iPhone 6/6s -- a phone case and wallet all in one. Its slim fit encompasses not only your student's smartphone but it can also hold up to four cards, without giving that wallet look and appearance. The hard shell case shields your phone from wear and tear while snapping shut to keep everything in its place. Designed using premium leather and available in black on black and frost brown.
If you want the same look and feel without going for the case, consider Distil Union's Wally Stick-On Wallet for iPhone 6 Plus or 6s Plus in cowboy brown and ninja black. Just as functional and slim as the other Wally Wallet, the Stick-On Wallet holds up three cards and simply attaches to any iPhone and most cases. A pull-tab reveals your iPhone/wallet contents, allowing quick and easy access anywhere and at any time. A great fit for younger students!
For a hands-free viewing experience, the Stanley Flexible Leather Phone Stand is designed to make life considerably easier for the busy student. A reliable phone stand is vital when doing research using your smartphone or for sharing data and information with other students in a study group.
Created from bendable material, this phone stand is adjustable to various heights and viewing angles. Compatible with a variety of surfaces, smartphones and cases, this phone stand will hold its own and is not easily tipped over or rattled. If you need to plug-in, the cable pass-through holds your line in place. The Stanley Stand comes in a smattering of colors including black, aqua, brown, grey, red and lime.
For the student who has trouble remembering his or her school locker combination or constantly loses the key to the lock, the Dog & Bone LockSmart technology allows the user to open its patented lock using smartphone technology. No longer will your child have to panic because he or she can't remember the locker combination or key, the LockSmart app is paired to your student's smartphone for quick and secure access.
The Dog & Bone LockSmart offers the highest Bluetooth security standard (128-bit advanced encryption). It features a rechargeable custom cell lithium-ion battery, providing up to two years of power or as many as 3,000 opens before recharging.
A clean computer or smartphone screen is a must for academic success and finding a nontoxic cleaner that does the job can be a challenge. Thanks to WHOOSH! Screen Shine Duo+ Desk Bottle and Pocket Sprayer & two microfiber cloths, a powerful screen cleaner is available that not only cleans, but shines your smartphone or computer screen without harmful toxins. The cleaning solution comes with two microfiber cloths to safely clean and shine without the worry about scratching or damaging delicate screens. Cleaning solution and cloths are resistant to dust, dirt, oil and fingerprints, which keeps your screens shiny and smudge-free for a longer amount of time. Available in a .3 oz., 1 oz. and 3.7 oz. bottles.
Being able to quickly and accurately determine if your child is running a fever is important, so having a reliable thermometer on hand is vital. Trust the ARC Devices InstaTemp Non-Touch Digital Thermometer, a nimble point and click, non invasive digital device, which allows you to evaluate your child's temperature with an easy-to read screen. You'll no longer have to worry about waking a sleeping child or wrangle an irritable toddler to measure fever--this thermometer is any parent or caregiver's first aid staple because it's as easy as touching the device near the child's forehead and receiving a reading.
Booq Daypack is the best and probably the last backpack you'll ever need to buy for your student. Lightweight, but extremely sturdy, this pack holds up to a 15.6 inch laptop, plus books, notebooks and accessories with ease. The top of the pack opens wide so searching for items buried deep inside the main compartment is a snap! Side pockets have snaps and an open top mesh pocket provides quick access to pens or your smartphone. Never worry about a lost backpack because each pack is equipped with a Terralinq serial number so you can identify and track the bag. The contoured backpack straps are designed to provide less stress on your shoulders and back.
Every student needs a new jacket before heading back to school, but with Zika concerns on the rise and the threat of sunburn still a problem in the early fall months, finding the right jacket, that looks great, can be a challenge.
Craghoppers' Insectshield Ryley jacket not only looks stylish, but also provides a protective layer from insect bites, including mosquitoes. Sun-protective and quick drying, this jacket is ideal during those cooler mornings waiting for the bus or cheering siblings on at late night games. It's made from supple, jersey material that stretches to fit any body type.
For rainier climates or unpredictable fall or spring weather, Craghoppers Prolite Waterproof jacket is a great fit for that college or high school student on-the-go. Made from 100% Polymide, the Prolite is an extremely durable waterproof garment thanks to its Aqua Dry membrane and is also extremely lightweight. Travels and packs with ease; this jacket can be incorporated into any backpack or carry-on bag. Available in attractive sport blue, black or red to accommodate any student's taste.
No dorm room or apartment is complete without durable dinnerware. Both dishwasher and microwave safe, the Pebble Dinnerware Collection looks like high-end dishes, but without the high expense and delicate material. Each piece comes in classic white, rimmed with decorative beading. Complete 4 piece set comes with dinner plate, salad plate, bowl and mug. Great for personal use or to share with roommates.
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