When he was small, my youngest son had a habit of filling his pockets with treasures he encountered in his daily adventures. I didn't always understand the value he saw in his chosen objects -- really, how many rocks and sticks could one boy keep? In his eyes, though, each one was beautiful and important. Life is just like that on a larger scale, isn't it? We gather up the precious bits of our experiences and save them all to learn from and enjoy later. Perhaps you'll find a little something here that you'd like to keep in your own pockets. Thanks for visiting.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cool for Back to School: 10 Great Finds for Tween/Teen Boys

I was watching the boys playing their own version of lacrosse one afternoon last week; Noah was going up and down our street on rollerblades, with Will running alongside him as they tossed the ball back and forth to each other. They chatted and laughed together as they went along, their carefree moods indicating that there was nothing more important to them at the time than the game they were both engaged in. Seeing how much they were enjoying each other's company, as they have on so many afternoons over the past couple of months, made me wish that summer could go on forever....

But we've reached that point in August where it's clear that summer is coming to an end soon -- school and routines are waiting just around the next corner. The boys and I have started looking through what we already have in the way of school supplies, making lists of what they'll need for a new year, and doing a little shopping together here and there to make sure they're all set for September.

I remember loving back-to-school shopping when I was a kid. The aisles filled with colourful notebooks and glitter pens and scratch-and-sniff stickers held enormous appeal for me, and I still enjoy browsing the school supply shelves now. I've discovered, though, that this kind of shopping does not much appeal to my boys at all. They're satisfied choosing only a few things for themselves this time of year and then they're begging to escape the mall (which happily leaves us lots of time to still be outside enjoying the last of the summer days!)

So what are my tween- and teenaged boys interested in as far as school supplies go? Here are some of their favourite finds.

Hollister jeans: Noah has reached the stage that a friend of mine aptly refers to as "unicorn sizes". He's grown out of the largest boys' size for jeans height-wise, but he's too slim to fit into the smallest men's size. I was a little worried about what we were going to do for pants for him, until I found that Hollister sells a size 26 men's jean online. It was like finding a real live unicorn the day they arrived and we discovered they fit Noah really well (and he really likes them)!  Hollister has their jeans on sale for $27 CDN a pair right now, with free shipping if you spend $50, and items can be returned to any Hollister store if they don't work out.

Graphic tees: Tees are the staple of many boys' year-round wardrobe, and Bluenotes always has a good selection of humorous graphics that appeal to teens.  Noah is especially partial to the comical cat ones. (Did you know that "taco cat" spelled backwards is "taco cat"?) If your tween/teen is still in kids' sizes for shirts, H&M often has great graphic tees that are just right for Will.

Nike running shoes:  The one store Noah does love shopping in is the Nike outlet, where we always find good deals on quality shoes for everyday wear, phys ed class, and track practice. I'm pretty certain that by now he's tried on every pair of men's shoes in the store to weigh its merits!

PackIt lunch bags:  The boys have been using this brand of lunch bag, which comes in a few different older-boy-friendly designs, for the past several years.  They're great in that they don't require the use of a cooler pack to keep food cold throughout the day; the bag has a gel built into its walls that freezes overnight. Simply pop the folded frozen bag out of the freezer in the morning, fill it with lunch and snack foods, and go.  The PackIt bags are roomy enough to hold teenaged boy size servings of food, too.

LunchBots:  LunchBots stainless steel food containers have long been our favourites -- they're practical, reusable, and stylish looking, too. With a wide range of single and divided containers in various sizes, plus insulated ones for hot foods, it's easy to find the right combination of pieces to keep tween/teen boys well-fed throughout the school day (and the containers should last them well beyond their school years as well).

Madd Gear scooter: Will loves riding his scooter to and from school, and I'm happy to let him; I love that he's getting in some extra physical activity every morning and afternoon. This Madd Gear VX5 Team Scooter is his top pick for a set of wheels right now.

Word Lock: For boys who need to lock up bikes or other modes of transportation in the school yard, this word lock is a fun way to keep their wheels secure. They can set a four letter word of their own choosing as the combination, which may be easier for some kids to remember than a series of numbers. (Bonus: there are no keys to lose, or to find rattling around in the bottom of the washing machine with the jeans!)

Vaultz pencil box: Will really likes this Vaultz pencil box for two reasons: it's easy (it just opens and everything is there in one place), and it has a lock. Maybe this will be a better place for him to store his valuable pencil collection this year. We found the box pictured below in-store at Staples.

Bic 4-colour pens: Remember these from when we were kids? Noah is a fan of the four-in-one colour pen for its usefulness -- no need to carry a bunch of different writing tools around when you have one of these! We found a few different colour variations of the four-in-one pens at Walmart.

RuggedKey flash drive: The product description for this 16GB USB flash drive reads as follows: "Since disaster can strike at any moment, it is important to have your files on a rugged USB drive that can withstand water, extreme weather, and heavy impacts."  Apparently, the device will survive an accidental drop from a height of 100 meters, and is heat, cold, and water resistant. That sounds like just about the right amount of protection for a tween- or teenaged boy's school files!

We didn't buy any glitter pens or scratch-and-sniff stickers, but I think the boys are well-prepared supply-wise for a new school year now, anyway! 

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