From choosing a new stylish backpack to finding the perfect notebook and even new tech gadgets, selecting supplies is part of the excitement of getting back to your routine. But how do you know what products to choose? Luckily, we have you covered.
Shop TODAY editorial director Adrianna Brach joined TODAY with Hoda & Jenna to show off some of her favorite gadgets to help you get ready and settle into your fall routine. From a label maker to upgrade your home organization to a felt letter board to capture family milestones, these useful products are perfect for school, work and more.
Back-to-school tech essentials as seen on TODAY
What makes this lock unique is that you set a four letter word rather than a number combination, which can be much easier to remember, says Brach. It's perfect for those who have lockers at school, work or even the gym. The brand does note that a color is randomly selected at the time of shipment.
Brach loves this genius Japanese staple-less stapler for school or the home office. According to the brand, the gadget binds the papers by punching a hole then securing the edges through a slit. Brach says this origami-inspired method works best when used with three to five sheets of paper.
Get your kids' supplies organized and house ready for fall with this portable label maker. Brach loves how this gadget connects to your phone with bluetooth, so you can completely customize the labels. Coming in four different shades, you can use different fonts, emojis, symbols and graphics — and even make QR codes.
Save on costs and forget having to constantly buy a new cord with this cord collar. Brach says these are a must-have and will protect your cords in the areas where damage is most common, minimizing breakage and fraying. They also come in a multi-color pack so you can identify all your different cables.
This double-sided tool features a brush and microfiber pad which is perfect for cleaning finger prints or smudges off of screens and brushes away any dirt trapped between the keys. Brach loves how small it is and says it can easily be tucked in your child's backpack or tucked neatly away in a drawer. According to the brand, you can use it on laptops, tablets or phones!
Brach says this a cute and personalized way to capture milestones throughout the year, from first days to birthdays — she even used this on her daughter's first day of daycare. Coming with over 370 precut letters and border colors, this will make a great memory for years to come.
Who doesn't love receiving a heartfelt note? Brach says you can throw one of these uplifting cards in your child's lunch box, or even leave one out for your spouse with their coffee. Coming in a pack of 30, they feature prewritten notes such as "I think you're the best. I really do" and even has a spot to make it more personalized.
More back-to-school essentials, according to Jennifer Jolly
Jennifer Jolly, tech expert and founder of Techish, stopped by the 3rd hour of TODAY to share some of her favorite tech gadgets for students of all ages. From smart watches to smart notebooks, these tech tools can set up students — or anyone — for success in their new fall routine.
Tech for students of all ages
Jolly says you or your student will be able to show off your personality with this colorful, retro keyboard. Coming in three fun colors and eight swappable emoji-themed keys, the brand says the keys are scooped for easy typing and is compatible with most computers, tablets and smartphones.
Tech for preschool and elementary school
Children will be able to talk to some of their favorite storybook characters with these Alexa-compatible interactive books. According to the company, these books are meant to encourage kids to read and develop listening and language skills by identifying shapes, colors and more! Jolly says children won't get bored since there are thousands of different story variations.
Tech for elementary and middle school
If you're not ready to give your young child an expensive cellphone, Jolly says you can start them on "training wheels" with this smart watch. Pairing with your own cellphone, they'll have access to a completely parent-managed contact list to talk, text and voice chat.
Tech for high school
Jolly says these reusable study tools are magic. By downloading the Rocketbook app, she explains these are used like normal flash cards but you can scan and upload your notes to any cloud storage, then wipe the cards clean for another study session.
If you're looking for more paper to work with, this smart planner comes with 13 reusable and wipeable pages that are perfect for note taking, goal setting and weekly planning. Similar to the notecards, you can easily snap or scan your notes and upload them to your favorite cloud storage via the Rocketbook app.
Tech for college
Avoid that dreaded dead battery with this cellphone charger that is as thin as a credit card. Jolly says many popular portable batteries can be big and chunky and she loves this option that easily fits into the card slot of your wallet. According to the brand, this charger provides a quick battery boost and is compatible with iPhones, Androids and more.
More back-to-school essentials, according to Katie Sands
Style expert Katie Sands joined the 3rd hour of TODAY to share back-to-school essentials for the whole family and all grade levels. From freezable lunch bags for you and your children to anti-theft back packs that are perfect for a college campus (or travel), there's something for everyone in the family.
Elementary, Middle and High School
Sands says this brand was created by a mother who was frustrated with only seeing disposable plastic school supplies, with the help of crowdfunding she created "waste-less" classroom supplies. This kit contains recyclable and “zero-waste” essentials, which includes a DIY binder, pencil tin, pocket folders and more.
This multi-functional storage unit is not only perfect for school lockers, but can also slide in closets and be used at home, the office or gym. Featuring two-tier storage for books, it comes with mesh side pockets to hold school supplies and more. Coming in five color choices, the brand also mentions it’s made of non-toxic and eco-friendly fabrics.
Sands loves this stylish anti-theft backpack for college kids. “The main body zipper [is] on the inside, against your back while in use, so you can feel safer knowing that nobody will be able to unzip it when you're in a crowded, unfamiliar space,” said Sands.
Depending on the size you choose, there is a spot for tablets or computers, making it a perfect traveling option too.
According to the brand, you can save money and reduce plastic waste by switching to a filtered water bottle, and still have the same great taste. Stay hydrated with this personal and reusable Brita bottle, which has over 29,000 five star Amazon ratings.
Whether they’re walking between classes or spending time in the library, it’s important to keep hydrated throughout the day. Help them measure their water intake with this half-gallon water bottle, which features fun time-based motivators with each sip.
Parents and whole family
Keep your weekly errands, daily tasks and family schedule neatly organized in one place on this dry-erase planner. Sand’s loves how this calendar clings to most surfaces and the brand says it can be taken on-and-off up to 2,000 times.
According to the brand, this freezable lunch box is a “bag that’s an ice pack.” Featuring built-in freezable gel walls, the brand promises to keep your family's lunch completely fresh, which limits food waste. Not to mention there's plenty of room for snacks!
Coming in four different colors and patterns, this smaller snack bag contains the same freezable technology and is perfect for on-the-go snacks.
More best back-to-school tech essentials, according to Carley Knobloch
Digital lifestyle expert Carley Knobloch stopped by TODAY with Hoda & Jenna to share her favorite tech gadgets for both the classroom and home, including wireless earbuds designed with interchangeable ear tips to blue light screen protectors.
If you want to keep in contact with your child throughout the day but you're still uncomfortable giving them full access to a phone, Knobloch says this is a great choice because it's designed especially for kids and fully managed by parents. She says there's no web browser, apps with ads, access to app store and no social media.
"The phone grows up with your child and you can reduce parental controls as they get more mature and are ready for more freedoms," said Knobloch.
Knobloch chose these wireless earbuds that are specifically designed for kids. They feature a volume limiter to protect their ears from loud noises and a microphone so they can speak up in a remote setting. They also come with five different ear tips, which allow you to choose the perfect fit for smaller ears.
This interactive fitness tracker is compatible with your own phone via Garmin Jr. app, which offers fun game, tracks their steps and can even schedule chores.
"This is such a cute way to make sure your child is getting exercise and ever doing their chores," said Knobloch.
One Amazon reviewer says she loves the "rewards" aspect of the device, "this watch/app has been revolutionary for our household. Before this watch I would have to constantly monitor and bug my kids to do their daily chores. Last night, my son was upset at his dad for bringing in the trash can from the curb because he wasn’t able to get a coin for that chore."
Protect their eyes (and yours!) with this easy-to apply blue-light-blocking screen protector. According to the brand this is ophthalmologist-tested and proven to relieve eye strain and improve sleep. It comes in seven different sizes, including MacBook and Chromebook screen sizes.
If they're glued to their phones, throwing on a blue-light-blocking screen can be beneficial to their overall eye health, says the brand. In addition to eye protection, this screen comes in multiple phone sizes and will protect it from scratches and potential cracks. One Amazon reviewer wrote, "I absolutely feel less of the behind-the-temples headache at the end of the day, and have found myself falling (and staying) asleep so much better than before!"
If you're looking to start getting them into healthy brushing habits, Knobloch likes this electronic toothbrush with the dentist-recommended two-minute vibration timer, which comes with a travel case to keep the bristles germ-free.
Knobloch says this sunrise alarm clock is great for teenagers who struggle with early high school bell times. According to the brand, this alarm clock mimics the sunrise and slowly brightens the room, making it perfect for those heavy sleepers. Coming with 10 natural sounds, this clock features FM radio, Bluetooth capabilities and a night light.
Best back-to-school essentials, according to Meredith Sinclair
Meredith Sinclair, lifestyle expert and author of “Well Played," previously stopped by TODAY with Hoda & Jenna to share some back-to-school essentials to get your child ready for the new school year, from personalized stationary to glow-in-the-dark backpacks.
Sinclair loves the endless colorways this Herschel backpack has to offer. Featuring a laptop sleeve, water bottle holder and front pocket, the brand says this backpack is specifically designed for kids aged 8 - 12.
According to Sinclair, this drawstring bag is great for sports. Made out of recycled water-bottles, the brand says the drawstring design provides easy-access for little ones to get in and out of, whether they're grabbing their gear for after school practice or packing up their school supplies at the end of the day. You can even monogram it at an additional cost.
Your kid will have the coolest backpack in school with this glow-in-dark find from Pottery Barn Kids. Coming with a front pocket, two side pockets and a laptop sleeve, there's a space for everything your child will need for their school day. The fabric is made of water-resistant recycled water bottles and at an additional cost, has an option for name personalization.
Sinclair loves these bento lunch boxes for the youngest kiddos. You'll be able to pack their backpack with their favorite lunches, without worrying about it being smushed. Coming in six adorable designs, from an avocado to a unicorn, the lunch boxes feature three compartments and has a silicone seal to prevent any leaks.
"The Very Hungry Caterpillar," by author and illustrator Eric Carle, comes to life on this insulated lunch bag. According to the brand, this small bag is ideal for younger children, has a zipper enclosure and is machine washable, making it easy to keep clean.
Say goodbye to accidental spills, the brand says these durable water bottles feature a "lock-top" lid making it perfect for small hands. Coming in a variety of fun themes, Sinclair says you can mix and match the lids with these 12-ounce water bottles.
According to the brand this bottle is 100 percent leak-proof, making it a great choice for car rides, family adventures and more. Coming in four color choices, the brand says this kids bottle is BPA free and machine washable.
Sinclair says you'll get the kids excited for the school year with personalized items. And because they'll never have enough notebooks, these are a fun option to personalize it with their name or favorite phrase. These come in a set of two purple and blue notebooks.
Your kids will never have to worry about losing their pencils with these personalized neon ones. Coming in a set of 12, you can choose the font and cute icon to go in between the repeating name.
"Nothing is more fun than personalized school supplies", said Sinclair. They'll want to throw their personalized pencils and more into this canvas pouch. You'll be able to pick out their favorite color combos and can even include an optional phrase below the name.
Sinclair says this is a trendy and easy way to keep their locker organized. It can also be used at the gym or home. Coming with three compartments, you'll be able to store and quickly access school supplies, makeup, in-between class snacks, and more!
Best back-to-school supplies, according to Lori Bergamotto
Lori Bergamotto, style director for Good Housekeeping, previously stooped by TODAY with Hoda & Jenna to share 12 of the best-reviewed school supplies that will help your student return to school in style. And while you prepare your own kids for the new year, you can also help a military family by donating school supplies to the organization Operation Homefront.
Selecting a backpack for the coming school year is always a tough decision, but you can't go wrong with this stylish rainbow design. Made with water-resistant polyester, sturdy zippers and adjustable padded straps, this backpack is both comfortable and durable. This design is available in both small and large sizes as well as a rolling model.
More Mackenzie backpacks:
- Mackenzie Gray Classic Camo Reflective Backpack
- Star Wars Grogu Glow-in-the-Dark Backpack
- Mackenzie Rainbow Clouds Glitter Backpack
- Mackenzie Rainbow Heart Galaxy Glow-in-the-Dark Backpack
This adorable construction truck backpack is perfect for littles ones as young as 2 years old. The backpack is made of water-resistant material and has padded adjustable straps. For an extra $12.40 you can personalize this backpack with a monogram on the front.
Kankens, along with the rest of the Fjallraven line, are known for their durability and functionality, as well as their cute design. Available in more than 50 colors, there is a Kanken for everyone.
Besides its stylish design, what sets this lunch bag apart is the non-toxic freezable gel that is built into the walls of the bag, so your entire bag can freeze and keep your food cool for longer. The bag also collapses so it can easily be placed in your freezer or stored in a drawer. The buckle handle on the back is perfect for clipping onto totes, backpacks and even strollers.
Machine washable and quick drying, this lunch bag is a sustainable way to transport food. The bag flattens into a placemat so you can eat on a clean surface no matter where you are. The fabric is also triple insulated so your food will stay hot or cold for hours.
Whether they are in the classroom or out on the playground, this water bottle is perfect for keeping active kids hydrated. With a leak-proof folding straw, you don't have to worry about spills, and the large handle makes it easy to carry around. The double wall–insulated bottle will also keep your drink cool while staying sweat-free.
Hydro Flask water bottles are known for keeping cold drinks icy cold and hot drinks steaming for hours. The exterior slip-free powder coating ensures the bottle won't sweat and it is also dishwasher safe for a quick and easy clean. Reusable and sleek, this bottle is great for students heading back to the classroom.
Super thin and lightweight, this laptop is a great option in today's technology-driven world, especially after a year of online learning. Run your favorite Google apps, access your photos, videos, music and documents all day long with this Chromebook. The HDR camera, fast wireless connectivity and long-lasting battery life are just some of its great features.
This pencil case takes organization to the next level with a storage capacity of up to 50 pens or pencils. This case can be opened sideways or from the top and is perfect for storing small notes, cards and tickets in an easy-to-view compartment. If you have no need for a pencil case, it can also be used as a travel case or makeup bag.
Padded, lightweight and sized for kids, these headphones are perfect for back-to-school. What makes these headphones standout is that there is a share-port, so one ear piece connects to the device while the other can connect to additional headphones so you can listen with friends. A portion of every purchase goes toward bullying prevention and awareness as well.