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The 50 best back-to-school buys

Published 21/08/2010

<b>Anti-Smell Sports Bag </b><br/>
Sounds too good to be true but it has patent pending. It works like a shoe odour eater with a carbon filter sewn into the lining that lasts for a year. Choose from red, yellow or black. <br/>
<b>Where</b> 020 -7012 1715; <br/>
<b>How much</b> £7.95
Anti-Smell Sports Bag
Sounds too good to be true but it has patent pending. It works like a shoe odour eater with a carbon filter sewn into the lining that lasts for a year. Choose from red, yellow or black.
Where 020 -7012 1715;
How much £7.95
Smash Skates and Bottle Lunch Set
There are several designs to choose from in this lunchbox range including skulls and skaters so they will work for the older ones too. Handy space for the bottle, which will also remain cool, and which is included in the, rather elevated, price.
Where 08456 049049;
How much £13
Cloud 9 PVC Journal
Research has found that children are more likely to put pen to paper if they have their own notebooks to write on - swearwords, list of friends, whatever. This one also boasts a handy zip pocket.
Where 020-7467 6200;
How much £7.75
Unzip the case halfway and it will turn into a pot that you can stand on the desk and stop the pens rolling all over the floor. Neat idea. Made from neoprene - the wetsuit stuff.
Where 08456 049 049;
How much £7
Brainbox Maths
Created by a primary school teacher, this set explores all the maths taught in years 3 and 4 in a game that lasts only 10 minutes with each round taking about 10 seconds so there's no time to get bored. New to the range is inventions and English history.
Where 0870 8745 437;
How much £9.95
Historical Heroes
From Miles Kelly publishing comes this weighty tome in the Horrible Histories mode. Funny profiles of six characters including Shakespeare and Caesar and the worlds they lived in.
Where 01371 832440;
How much £14.99
Junior Active Backpack
We are often told that our children's backs are in danger from the amount of stuff they have to carry to school. These bags, with a patented curve to protect the back, are designed to counteract heavy loads.For ages 7-11.
Where 0844 736 5827;
How much £25.99
Animal Lunchbags
A sweet lunch bag that opens up flat so they can use it as a plate and see everything in it at once - although it has an internal pocket, so you can try hiding the cereal bar to get them to focus on the fruit first.
Where 0844 848 6000;
How much £12
Gel Ink Pens
Muji is the first stop for affordable stationery and this set of 15 multi-coloured gel pens is great for taking notes or doodling on the cover of folders during double maths. Good stationery leads to good homework. Fact.
Where 020-7287 7323;
How much £9.95
Magic Multiplication Pencil Case
Handy tube for keeping pens that comes with a built-in sharpener and will also help with the times tables. Which is clever, if likely to encourage cheating.
Where; 0844 826 8677
How much £3.99
Time Teacher Wall Clock
The problem with all these digital clocks is that they can't read the time on a traditional face any more. This clock is perfect for drilling that into them - and they do need to know.
Where 0844 848 6000;
How much £23
The Science Book
Looking at 27 big ideas from atoms to net force, this book aims to help them understand what they see around them. Symbols also direct them to specially created online activities.
Where 0870 607 7600; www.
How much £19.99
Skeleton Backpack
This rucksack should appeal to most small boys. There is a mesh pocket for a bottle of water, a detachable zip bag for keys and money and a larger padded pocket to protect a phone.
Where 0845 196 0000;
How much £12
Coolkidz Funtainer Food Jar
Sometimes they get bored with sandwiches and sometimes you want them to have a hot meal. This stocky Thermos will take soup or pasta and keep it warm for up to six hours.
Where 01822 611177;
How much £19.99
Mode Pocket Organiser
New year, new diary and new reason to be organised. This comes with six-month diary, notepaper and to-do lists all on different coloured paper so she can really plan her homework.
Where 08705 143702;
How much £23
Chocolate Bar Pencil Case
Complete with silver foil wrapper, this'll be a good way to prank the teacher and store useful stuff at the same time - maybe even some chocolate.
Where 0844 414 2885;
How much £5
The latest thing from Brainbox, these tins are filled with questions on a variety of subjects including myths and legends, Shakespeare and the Tudors.
Where 0870 8745 437;
How much £10
Horrible Histories
This BBC series has been a huge hit and they really do learn from them. Scholastic is churning the books out as fast as they can. Check out the Horrible Science strand too.
How much from £5.99
Girls school bag
Rucksacks are better for backs than shoulder bags, so for a tenner it's worth seeing if she'll carry this one to school. It's from Regatta, so should survive the trials of the walk to school.
How much £9.99
Fugu Lunch Tote
Built NY make great lunch and bottle bags. This tote keeps food and drink separate and expands to fit how ever much lunch you want to carry.
How much £21.95
18-Month Diary
You've probably missed the start of it if you're just buying now but this will take you through to December 2011. You can write all the term dates and insert days and homework deadlines as far ahead as they will give them to you.
Where WHSmith nationwide
How much £4.49
Lisa Stickley Hector Pencil Case
This emerging British designer has built up quite a following with her lovely bags and has now come up with this range for the Tate. This pencil case is trendy monochrome and doubles up as a make-up case too.
How much £13
Smart Lab Human Body Kit
It doesn't seem to come on the curriculum very early, but that doesn't stop constant questions about the body and how it works. This will help. Comes with removable organs as well as a book with facts about the body.
Where 0844 557 5263;
How much £21.99
I Am Not Going to Read or Write Today
As the mother of a child who redefines the term 'reluctant reader', I cannot recommend this highly enough. Tried everything else. Rows. Tears. Fury - mainly from me. This worked. Try it. There's a maths one too.
How much £4.99
Darani Shopper
For the teenage girl who doesn't want a backpack any more this shopper will hold all those books and folders. It comes with a key cord, phone pockets in a variety of colours.
Where 020-7287 1985;
How much from £48
Room It Up Lunchbox
A Florida-based company that takes its inspiration from the catwalk for its lunch bags and totes. You may not be impressed with the desire for lunchbox as fashion statement but they will.
Where 01420 511405;
How much £12.98
Cartesio Notebook
Lovely acid-free creamy paper and a band to keep it closed. Going back to school is only fun if you can have lots and lots of fabulous stationery to take with you.
Where 0845 127 9931;
How much from £9.99
Transport Stationery Set
This set has rather sweet planes, trains and automobiles on it and zips shut to keep everything in place. Plus, it has little zip pocket for those special things they pick up andwant to secret.
Where 08450 262 440;
How much £12
Handwriting Rescue Pack
A huge success among the 11+ set, the kit has 300 exercises to help spelling and tidy up writing. For the younger ones, try the Write and Write again sets for £9.99 with a wipe-clean board.
Where 0844 4122250;
How much £24.99
Oxford Mini School Dictionary
It's good practice to get them to look up words in the dictionary and this one, aimed at 9-11, has over 40,000 words and phrases aswell as notes on grammar and usage.
Where< 01865 556 767;
How much £4.99
Older Boys Pure Cotton Rucksack
For parents who don't like branding, M&S has this totally plain rucksack with lots of pockets and adjustable straps.
Where 08456 090200;
How much £12
Ez-freeze Cool Flip Zooey Top Drinks Bottle
This has an internal freezer stick that attaches to the lid and remains as a cooling core of ice in the bottle for up to four hours.
Where 08456 049 049;
How much £5
Pink Paisley Ring Binder
Gorgeous ring binders that also come with a matching magazine file that would look great on a teenage desk, and might just encourage some tidiness.
Where 0844 858 0744;
How much £8
Petit Bateau
A limited-edition range of pencil case, book bag and satchel. It's organic, sustainable and really rather chic. Yummy mummies form an orderly queue.
Where 020-7794 3254;
How much from £10.50
Colour-in Map
A giant black-and-white map of Britain's counties and places of significance as well as historic figures and landmarks for them to colour in and stick on the wall.
Where 0844 5575263;
How much £10
Best Websites for Homework
The trouble with the internet is that it's hard to know if you've found a reliable source of information. This book, by a former primary school teacher, does that research for you and presents a list of websites arranged by subject for 11-14 year olds.
How much £2.81
Tammy Shopper
Perfect for a girl about to start secondary school, this pink shopper with silver detail, or the pale blue with heart studs, will bring individuality to the uniform while being practical enough to carry everything she needs.
Where 0845 196 0000;
How much £10
Hungry Jungle Lunch Bag
Lunchboxes can be expensive and given that they do need replacing regularly, it's not worth spending a vast amount. This one also has a shoulder strap to make carrying much easier and there's a butterfly version for girls.
Where 015394 88100;
How much £6.99
Mood Notebook
Made in Italy from recycled leather, these notebooks can be refilled as soon as you run out of pages and there are plastic pockets for scraps of paper. The inside of the case is a contrasting colour.
Where 0845 127 9931;
How much from £9.95 including pen
Multi Pencil Case Stripe
This case also comes in plain black, but this design is just a teeny bit Paul Smith, at a fraction of the cost. Plenty of room for all manner of stuff including the calculator and a ruler.
How much £4.25
It looks like a game. Which it is really. A three-in-one set of Go Fish, Multiplication Bingo and quick-fire questions. It doesn't look like a way of learning your times tables up to 12.Which it is.
Where 0844 4122250;
Starting School by Janet and Allan Ahlberg
There are so many books on this subject but this one is a classic. It tells it like it is - carpet time, choosing a peg and so on through the first term, which gives them a real idea of what to expect.
How much £3.99
Personalised Boot Bag
They really love having their names on stuff, and this personalised football boot bag is a great present. The inside is wipe clean and it has a strong double zip.
Where 0844 4122250;
How much £14.99
Easy Lunchbox
These compartmentalised lunchboxes will hold everything in place without the need for foil or bags. Comes in a set of four so you've always got a spare.
Where 01420 511405;
How much £15.98 or £24.49 for a carrying bag too
Moleskine Large Ruled Notebook
It's not the cheapest but it's a classic. The large ruled notepads sell well among teenagers and the simple black covers appeal to boys too.
Where 020-8735 2882;
How much £12.95
The range has grown from suitcases to include this pencil case (there's a purse too) and a neat little rucksack, the Go Vinci.
Where 0117-542 780;
How much £7.99 and £19.99 for the bag
The key to being good at arithmetic is practice so you can speed up. This simple card game is perfect for that. Fun and doesn?t feel like sums.
Where 0870 8745 437;
How much £9.95
What You Need to Know Now
Illustrated encyclopaedia aimed at 9-13 year olds of the internet generation. In other words, big colourful graphics and bitesized information on everything to do with the modern world.
How much £11.25
Otis Holdall
Back to the theme of using shopping bags for school, this gorgeous laminated canvas holdall from Lisa Stickley will stand out in the playground.
Where 020-7737 8067;
How much
Aladdin Aveo Clear Water Bottle
This bottle allows you to see how much water is left after a thirsty break. Plus, it's leak proof with a wide mouth for easy filling.
Where 08456 049 049;
How much £7

From indestructible lunchboxes to anti-smell sports bags, Kate Watson-Smyth presents the coolest kit for surviving the year ahead

>> Click on the image to launch our guide

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