Backpacks  Image: Image from Creative Commons

Back to School Guide 2014

Books Comic Books GeekMom Reviews
Run! Run! Run! It's back to school time!!  Image: Image from Creative Commons
Run! Run! Run! It’s back to school time!! Image: Image from Creative Commons

Welcome to this year’s back to school guide! We have a nice mix of gadgets, accessories, books, and clothing to outfit your student with for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year. We’ve got backpacks, fitness trackers, cameras, laptops, and books. Oh my!

Gadgets and Accessories

Misfit Shine Red  Image: Misfit websiteMisfit Shine ($99.00)
Shine is a wearable fitness tracker that is capable of tracking your activities and sleep with only a watch battery and Bluetooth technology. Misfit Shine comes with a magnetic clip and a durable sport band (I advise against using the magnetic clip because it falls off easily) and is available in nine colors.

PureGear: PureTek Roll on Screen Shield Kit ($24.99)
Why take the chance on spending $150.00 on screen repair when you can spend $25.00 and prevent it? PureGear: PureTek Roll on Screen Shield Kit is the easiest screen protector I’ve ever used and the first I didn’t have any issues with when putting it on.

PureGear: PureMove ($39.99)
PureMove is a comfortable armband holder for those who like to take their iPhone out on a run with them. I tested this with my own iPhone 5s and it felt very secure inside the casing.

Rilakkuma Computer Mouse Pad with Wrist Support Plush Cushion ($22.00)
Comfort is a big factor when working on a computer for any length of time. Make it fun with this fun bear plush cushion for your wrist.

Lenovo Flex 2 ($600.00)
The Lenovo Flex 2 is the laptop of choice when it comes to needing enough power to get school work done without the worry of your student getting caught up in extensive online gaming. The screen flips 300 degrees for those who prefer to use the touchscreen element or watch a movie. JUMP ($49.99)
If size matters to you when it comes to carrying around a spare battery, you can’t get much smaller than the JUMP. The downside to its size is that it will only give you around 30% more power on your iPhone battery and you can only use it once per charging cycle. On the upside, its small size allows it to fit in your pocket and it light as a feather to carry around.

JunoPower: JunoJUMPR ($99.00)
JunoPower: JunoJUMPR works on both your electronics and your car. Providing 12 volts at 300 amps it can bring your car or motorcycle back to life with the included jumper cables and it can also be used to charge your electronic devices.

Big Red Button – USB Powered Rage Relief DeviceBig Red Button  Image: ThinkGeek ($14.99)
Who doesn’t love a big red button that they can push to make their screen blow up, make it look like they are working (or studying), or let them punch something in the face as many times as they desire? I have mine on my desk at work and it’s great for those moments I need a little stress relief in my day.

Polaroid Z2300 10-megapixel Digital Instant Print Camera ($179.99)
To capture those special school moments, the Polaroid Z2300 brings an old school classic to new school. You can either print the photos you want to keep or save them to the camera and drop them on your computer. I like this camera because unlike previous Polaroid cameras, I can pick and choose what to waste my paper on. The 2×3 size paper makes it perfect for smaller scrapbooks.

iRecorder – Retro Cassette Player Styled Portable Speaker For iPhone ($39.99)
I’m a sucker for retro gadgets. I remember having a cassette player just like this one and it’s kind of cool to put my iPod in one now. The sound isn’t Bose quality, but it’s cheaper and looks pretty cool on my desk.

Keyport Slide 2.0 Bundle – Ultimate Keychain Replacement ($99.99)
This is the master of all key rings. You can have up to six different keys or tools in this one compact case. I like the flashlight, 32 GB USB drive, and house key sliders. You can also have a bottle opener, pen, Nite Ize S-Biner MicroLock, barcode insert (for your reward card barcodes), and your car key even if it’s a chipped model. It’s your modern Swiss army knife.

Keyport Slide 2.0  Image: ThinkGeekKikkerland KRL32TC Dog LED Keychain with Sound ($6.88)
Every backpack looks cooler with key chains hanging off of it, so why not make one of them useful? This adorable puppy shoots bright lights out of his eyes, lighting the way when needed. Oh, and you can also use it to hold keys.

Pyle Audio Light Up Erasable Board ($80.00)
For those that want a cooler board than the traditional white board check out this cool board by Pyle Audio. I have one in my office and I use it to write encouraging messages to myself.

Building Block Flash Drive ($9.49)
Flash drives have become the new office supply that you can never have enough of, especially during back to school days. How about getting a few back ups, made to look like Lego building blocks, so the kids can have their own? Warning: These are just as painful to step on as real Lego bricks, so keep them off the floor!

Rubik’s Cube Flash Drive ($24.90)
What better way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Rubik’s Cube than to have a few tucked into your kid’s backpack? Or maybe this is one item you can say you bought for the kids, but ends up in your office supply basket?

Iron Man Flash Drive ($10.99)
This is one way to make homework fun—load it up on an Iron Man flash drive! This is one back to school accessory that won’t get lost along the way.

Guitar Flash Drive ($9.69)
For all those musicians in your house, there is nothing classier than having your school flash drive be a small guitar. A fun conversation starter with teachers and friends.

AquaNotes ($7.00 each or 5-pack for $28)
Have you ever noticed that some of the best ideas or forgotten thoughts come to you while in the shower? That’s because when you are in the water, your mind goes into a kind of meditative state and things come forward that may have been pushed back. It drives me nuts when this happens because when I leave the shower I’ll more than likely forget whatever it was I remembered again. This is where AquaNotes comes in. AquaNotes are waterproof notepads that you can write in while in the shower. They are perforated so when you dry off, you can take your notes with you. The suction cups on the notepad and the pencil make it easy to attach to the shower walls in between you genius thoughts. AquaNotes come in traditional blank pages and fun word game pages.


Cyborg Gadget Glove  Image: Amazon
Cyborg Gadget Glove Image: Amazon

William Shakespeare’s: Star Wars translations ($9.00 and up)
No class on Shakespeare is complete without Ian Doescher’s translation of the Star Wars trilogy. It’s by far the coolest way to learn and with references to original Shakespeare plays, it’s a fun way to get kids to find the hidden meanings. Check out the teacher’s guide to learn how to use these three books to help your child understand the Shakespearean language.

Nick and Tesla’s Gadget Glove ($10.00)
Nick and Tesla’s Gadget Glove gets kids reading about a fun adventure between to kids and along the way, the reader is instructed on how to build the glove that the main characters use in the story. You don’t get all of the instructions at one time, so it encourages kids to finish the book to learn how to make the glove 100%.

Piggy Island ($9.00)
Piggy Island
takes readers into the world of the bad piggies from Angry Birds. Any Angry Birds fan will appreciate the humor in seeing how King Pig rules his subjects and what goes on when they are not fighting the Angry Birds. While it doesn’t teach mathematics or science, it will give your reader a break from the serious and enjoy some fun.

Yogi Bear: Life is a Picnic Basket ($9.00)
For Yogi Bear, life is a picnic basket and in this hardcover title, Yogi gives advice on seeing the glass half full. I don’t think there is another bear out there who I would trust to give me life advice.

World of Warcraft Journal ($16.00)
Journaling is a great way to reduce stress in your day and help you put your mind at ease before bed. Get your student off to a great start by giving them a cool journal they will be happy to take with them everywhere. While the theme of this journal is World of Warcraft, the name of the game is nowhere on the journal once you remove the paper wrapper, so if they are into Dragons, but not the game, this is still a cool looking option.

Marvel Heroes and Villains Poster Collection ($18.00)
Decorate that dorm room with some Avengers posters. For $18.00 you get 40 posters in a humble 11 x 17 size. My favorite part of this book are the movie posters they included. They are just the right size for the average size dorm room and you can swap them out easily for a quick change in decor.

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor  Image: Amazon
Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor Image: Amazon

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor ($9.00)
With a main character with the name “Frank Einstein,” you know that something will get zapped by lightning and that’s when the real fun begins. The author did a nice job intertwining real science in with a story about a creative and fun main character.

Explorer Series ($10.00)
The Explorer Series is the first graphic novel series on this list and for good reason. The story isn’t hero driven or politically oriented. It has beautiful art that draws you into the story and has enough humor, suspense, and darkness to interest kids today. Each of the books in the series revolves around something mysterious and are great for those that like to read multiple short stories that tie together in a nice little package.

NERDS Series ($8.00)
NERDS stands for: National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society. What happens when a group of unpopular fifth graders start their own spy network and run it within the halls of their school? You get a fun story about kids turning their nerd qualities into extraordinary abilities with some James Bond-like villains thrown in. This series is told in a traditional chapter book format.

The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic ($ 8.00)
Anytime I can learn something through a comic book format, I’m all for it. The Incredible Plate Tectonics Comic takes us on an adventure with Geo and his robot pup, Rocky, as they travel back in time to Pangea to wade the dangers that lurks there and race to get back in time for class.

Learn to Program with Scratch ($24.00)
Scratch is a language that is kid friendly to learn and explore the basic elements of programming in general. The book is aimed at young minds and illustrates examples throughout the book. I’d recommend this title for anyone in the 4th grade and up.

Words for Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels ($19.00)
Brian Michael Bendis gives his best advice to those who have a dream of working in comics. As one of the most popular writers at Marvel, he has plenty of good advice to give and takes time to write it all out in black and white. This is a must have book for any aspiring comic book artist or writer.

Foundations in Comic Book Art ($19.00)
Get your inspiring comic book artist off on the right start with Foundations in Comic Book Art. With step-by-step lessons and exercises for future artists, this title will make a nice addition to their school books this year.

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare  Image: Amazon
How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare Image: Amazon

How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig ($9.99 and up depending on format)
Ken Ludwig, may be a successful playwright and author in his own right for Broadway hits like Lend Me A Tenor and Crazy for You, but his book How To Teach Your Children Shakespeare, celebrates another scribe, William Shakespeare, with contagious enthusiasm.

Rather than the dry interpretation of many of Shakespeare’s classics like Romeo and Juliet and The Tempest, Ludwig makes the stories–and The Bard’s writing style–adventurous and fun.

Readers are challenged, in Ludwig’s friendly, witty, and conversational style, to read passages aloud for themselves, then with their kids. Parents will also find themselves learning a bit more about Shakespeare in the process. They might even get some of the more melodic passages stuck in their head like a catchy tune (“I know a bank where the wild thyme grows”).

Although the primary focus of this book is the appreciation and interpretation of Shakespeare, its memory exercises can also help the mind stay fresh for other subjects and tasks.

Give this book as a companion book to any of Shakespeare’s works in book or video form.

Lunch Boxes and Backpacks

Cotapaxi Backpacks (starting at $79.00)
When choosing your backpack this year, consider Cotapaxi’s lightweight backpacks and give back to underprivileged children in Peru at the same time. The backpacks are built by designers from leading companies including: Nike, Columbia, Sportwear, and Marmot Mountain. The backpacks start at $79.00 and pays for a week of onsite tutoring for a child in Peru.

Timeless Characters Pencil Pouch with Bonus Notebook Jacket ($12.85)
Make sure your student has a writing utensil when they need it with a pencil pouch that attaches to their notebook. It’s small enough to hold a couple of pens or pencils without getting bulky.

R2-D2 Tin Lunch Box ($29.99)
What Star Wars fan wouldn’t be excited about bringing their lunch to school in a cool R2-D2 lunch box? It has great reviews for durability and likability.

Hello Kitty Lunch Box ($19.99)
An adorable option for the Hello Kitty fan, this lunch box will inspire good nutrition and great conversation at the school lunch table.

Aquarius Fender Amp Lunch Box ($10.99)
Be the coolest kid at the lunch table with this authentic looking Fender amplifier lunch box. The teachers might be as intrigued as the kids sitting next to you.

Boombox Lunch Box  Image: Amazon
Boombox Lunch Box Image: Amazon

Boombox Lunch Box ($12.99)
With detailed authenticity on every side, fool the teachers (or co-workers) into thinking you’ve brought some tunes along for the lunch hour. Deep enough for a thermos and cool enough for kids or adults.

OGIO: Newt Backpack ($99.00)
If your student has a laptop (up to 15″) to drag back and forth I recommend the OGIO: Newt Backpack. I use it for my laptop anytime I’m going out of town and it holds my laptop, a couple of notebooks, and plenty of comics to get me through my journey. The compartments for the laptop and its accessories are padded with a soft velvety material to protect them while in transit. There is also a chest strap for added support if they want to clip it in place.

Bag of Holding—Con-Survival Edition ($29.99)
ThinkGeek has given us the Bag of Holding and now they have the Bag of Holding—Con-Survival Edition. The really cool part about this bag is the clear vinyl iPad pocket that lets you work your iPad without taking it out of the bag. The soft area on the front is great for attaching patches and pins for collecting. I like to carry this when my daily tasks involve my iPad and taking notes.

Health and First Aid

MediBuddy First Aid Kit ($5.99)
These mini first aid kits come with all the basics (band-aids, sting relief, burn cream, etc.) and will easily fit in a backpack or mom’s purse. Kid-friendly packaging make them fun to carry. Maybe grab one for the bottom of the diaper bag too.

Captain America Cardigan  Image: Her UniverseAAA 85 Piece First Aid Kit ($24.99)
Do you have a first aid kit in your minivan or other kid hauling vehicle? The first time you have a bee sting, bump, or cut while on the go, you’ll be thankful you thought of it. This one easily fits under the seat, is filled with all the essentials, and can be refilled as needed.


TOMS Red Chemical Structure Women’s Classics Slip-On Shoes ($54.00)
TOMS is celebrating back to school with this nerdy chemistry pattern. Comfortable, stylish, and geeky! GeekMom Ariane is happy to see them offered in women sizes, because TOMS has had some geeky patterns available only in men sizes in the past.

Her Universe Marvel Line ($20.00 and up)
Her Universe is full of awesome lines for the female geek to outfit their new school year. One of my favorites is the Captain America Cardigan because it’s light enough to carry in my backpack, but still keeps me comfortable in a cold room. When purchasing anything Her Universe, I suggest you go one size up to account for shrinkage. In terms of the cardigan, I would go two sizes up if you like it a little loose around your arms.

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3 thoughts on “Back to School Guide 2014

  1. This is a fabulous list! I will be sitting down with my daughter and showing her this. I think she might like the Her Universe stuff.

    I first ran across the Shakespearian Star Wars translations just over a year ago when I was having breakfast at a sci-fi con. The woman at the next table was reading part of the Episode IV book to someone who was with her, and I thought it was very well done. I’m not always into “classics meet fandom” books even though I am a geek who loves many of the classics (I HATE the Jane Austen vs. zombies stuff that was big a few years ago), but the Star Wars series appeals to me.

    1. Thank you. If you would like another way to introduce your daughter to Jane Austin that isn’t Zombies (I agree with you on the yuck factor there), I am IN LOVE with the Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice. I didn’t think anything could make me love the story more until I read this on Sunday.

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