Our Favorite Things for School

kindergarten back to school inchbug label

So many kids are back in school already, so I wanted to share some of our favorite things that we use while the kids are attending school (many of which we use year round too).  My kids still have a few more weeks before school starts, but it’s never to early (or late, if you’re like me) to start planning!

yeti rambler kids water bottle inchbug orbit label

Inchbug Labels-  The number one thing I get questions about that I’ve never mentioned on the blog- Inchbug labels!  We use the Orbit labels on water bottles, the adhesive labels on things like bento-style lunch boxes and hard surfaces, and the clothing labels on all masks and clothing that goes to school.  They wash SO well and are incredibly handy because I have awful handwriting.  A bunch of labels come in each set so I just slap them onto everything we use.  They’re affordable and I recommend these to everyone looking for customized labels!

inchbug orbit label for water bottle

Water Bottles-  We love Yeti Rambler Jr. water bottles because they keep drinks cold, they’re machine washable, they don’t leak if they’re closed, and the tops are MUCH easier to clean than Hydroflask lids, which seemed to trap all sorts of gunk in them back when we used those a few years ago.  They come in a bunch of different colors and then I just pop on one of the Inchbug orbit labels and never take it off because they’re machine washable.  Even Tate uses one of these water bottles!  We upgraded to the larger size (pictured in this post) for summer since my kids guzzle water and it’s hot outside but we’ll likely switch back to the smaller ones for school.

ll bean kids backpack

Backpacks-  I like nice and simple backpacks that are durable too.  I also need a sizable pocket to fit a Yeti water bottle easily.  The LL Bean Junior Original Book Packs are the best.  Caroline loves her bright pink one and Jack has a nice blue one that he loves too.  (I need to get Tate one!)  I add a monogram for $8.  The kids use these year round and I always let them fill them up with toys when we go on road trips.

Jenzy shoes - Cienta t-strap sneakers - red Cientas - boys new balance sneakers - amazon toddler dress

Shoes-  I’ve shared my love for Jenzy before, but I truly love the shoes they offer and the sizing tool is incredibly handy.  All of my back to school shoe picks can be found here!

Clothing-  I prefer clothes without logos that are simple and relatively-timeless with good handmedown appeal.  I like affordable clothing but I do splurge on occasion if I know that something will have good resale value.  My favorite places to shop for kids clothing are:

H&M  Affordable and on-trend.  They have great basics and this has been a favorite source of mine for kids’ clothing since Jack was a baby.  They have the best fall clothing and I love their knit tights for the girls!

Amazon–  See my post on little girls’ dresses here and my curated kids clothing list that I update often.

J.Crew Factory–  J.Crew and J.Crew Factory are my favorite places to shop for my own clothes, so I always scoop up some pieces for the kids at Factory too.  They have great sales!

Walmart– They have darling little girls’ dresses with pockets that Caroline is obsessed with.

Cecil & Lou– For classic smocked clothing like bubbles or bishop dresses for the girls.  More affordable than other places that sell similar styles.

Janie and Jack– Slightly dresser and more dapper than most places, Janie and Jack always sells beautiful clothing.  Their girl’s swimsuits are darling and that’s what my girls have worn for the past few summers.  If you’re looking for a more affordable option check out Hope and Henry on Amazon.  The styles are very similar and the brand was founded by one of the original Janie and Jack founders.  Jack has a few Hope and Henry pieces and they feel just as nice as Janie and Jack.

Old Navy–  I tend to buy the girls a few pieces from Old Navy every year.  They have great solid, swiss dot, or floral pieces in the warmer months and nice simple knits when it’s cooler.  They also have great leggings and playful dresses that Caroline really likes.  (She can’t wait to wear her long sleeve dinosaur dress again!)  I don’t really shop for Jack at Old Navy- J.Crew Factory and H&M are my favorites for him.

(I do like Target on occasion but I find that so many people shop there that sometimes pieces don’t look all that unique.  We’ll only get a few pieces from there a year and I tend to mix and match with other brands.)

lunchbox to use with bentgo

Lunch Boxes-  I’ll be honest, Jack will be eating school lunch if they serve a hot lunch- but I just got word that they’ll be doing bagged lunches due to COVID-19 so that changes my plans a bit.  Back when he went to public pre-k at the elementary school in Hawaii he ate school lunch every day and it was the best thing for him.  Turns out he’d try new things when I wasn’t around and when he didn’t have other options!  He’s a picky kid who does well with a little peer pressure to encourage him to try new things.  I also don’t get any joy from packing lunches, truth be told.  (So if you need a little permission to not pack your kids’ lunch then count this as it!  Doesn’t make you a bad mom even if everyone else seems to get joy from packing cute meals for their kids.)  That being said, we do have these Bentgo lunch boxes that are really handy that I pack when we have picnics sometimes and I’ll likely use them until Jack’s school decides to serve hot lunch again.  I’ve heard teachers are fans of this style of lunchbox because children don’t need help opening multiple containers or packages.  They just open one thing and everything is right there ready for them.  I also just ordered these lunchboxes from Pottery Barn Kids because I’ve heard great things and the Mackenzie Cold Pack size can hold a Bentgo lunch box.  I’ll use the Inchbug labels on them (and the Bentgo boxes) because I opted to not get them monogrammed so that they’ll arrive sooner.  Jack chose the blue dinosaur lunchbox and Caroline chose the navy multi hearts lunchbox.  Both are fun for the kids but cute enough for me to actually like them too.  The cold pack size also has a holder for their water bottle and a handy shoulder strap.

inchbug clothing labels

Masks-  My favorite masks for the kids are from Tuckernuck (though they’re slightly small for Jack now, but their fit is the best) and J.Crew/J.Crew Factory.  Factory doesn’t have any listed right now but J.Crew has a number that are now on sale.  We’ve tried some other brands (Target, Old Navy, to name a few) but I wasn’t very happy with how they fit.  Jack has to wear a mask while inside at school and I’m not sure yet about Caroline’s school, but the Tuckernuck, J.Crew and J.Crew Factory masks we have all fit well, wash well and the Inchbug clothing labels work so well on them.  I just place them on the inside and they’re so smooth that the kids don’t even feel them.

affordable girls hair bows

Bows-  My very favorite bows are these 4.5″ bows from Amazon.  They come in a set of 20 bows in every color you’d ever need for under $10.  We now have 2 sets of them because they’re the size I prefer for both girls now.  The quality is fantastic and they’re nice and simple.  Highly recommend if you’re looking for affordable, solid colored bows!

Jenzy shoes - Cienta t-strap sneakers - red Cientas - amazon toddler dress

Hair Ties-  Both of my girls have very fine hair so I like to use tiny plastic hair ties.  You can get packs pretty much anywhere and I opt to use them only once since they often snap on the second use.  They’re tiny and affordable and hold fine hair very well.  The ones we’re currently using are from Walmart (Wonder Nation, found in the girls’ section) and one pack has lasted us over a year.  We’ll get these Amazon ones once we need new ones!

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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