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2007 Back to School Shopping Guide

While most of our readers have children a good decade or more away from the SATs, this might be more of an "Off to School Guide" than a "Back to School Guide." Even so, by popular request, we've poked around the net to dig up some fabulous goodies for the beginning of daycare, preschool, the first day of kindergarten or those early grades. And some awesome discounts to boot.

The picks here are entirely, as always, totally advertorial free. Just the stuff we love from sites we trust.

(Although as far as our sponsors, we looooove them too and can personally vouch for all of them.)

Remember, when you shop a Cool Mom Picks pick, you're not only getting a fantastic product that you can love for all of eternity (or at least the season), you're most often supporting an independent business or emerging company, many run by hardworking moms. Happy clicking!

Sponsored in part by:

The Coolest
Backpacks and Bags

Goodness, there are a lot of backpacks out there. Save yourself the hours of searching and check out this short list of cool.

*Pooki & Co hooks up funky kids with equally funky characters like the Pooki Pirate Backpack at Chittypulga.

*Little buckaroos can haul their fixin's in the Red Cowboy Backpack from Western Chief Kids.

*We've always loved the giraffe backpack from Little Packrats, or check out their new animal styles including the way cute bunny.

*The bookbags from Room Seven at Forest and Zoe are to die for if you've got a spare $118 lying around.

*PVC averse? Go handmade with the fantastic limited edition handmade backpacks at Quiet Hours Toys, like this monkey or the car, made exclusively from recycled and vintaged fabrics.

*More monkeys, this time of the sock variety. They cover this lunchbox we love at Dandelion Baby.

*Splurge a bit and what do you get? The hard-shelled Hybrid Mini Backpack in lime green, silver or camo. Make sure it comes home at the end of the day!

  • Chittypulga: 10% OFF sitewide with code SCHOOL07 and free shipping over $75
  • Dandelion Baby: 10% OFF anything in the store (including Sale and Clearance) with code "CMP10" plus free shipping on orders over $150
The Coolest Kicks

The best part of back-to-school may well be the shoe shopping. Here are a few of the hot new styles to take kids from the blackboard to the blacktop.

*Vincent is always a great site for good deals on hot styles. This Fall, we're loving the sporty Stan Shoes now in brown with pink or orange accents (available end of August). And Vincent's new leather Adam ankle boots are a Beatle-esque alternative to sneakers for your future art school student.

*We love that Livie and Luca makes shoes the old fashioned way--by hand. Check out their navy and camel loafer for boys and drool a little.

*See Kai Run has super new t-straps for girls in brown and blue at Dandelion Baby. And we love the new loafer for boys, made modern with shades of caramel and chocolate.

*You're in luck, preschoolers: You can still fit into the gecko-emblazoned Outback boots from Pedoodles to keep you warm on Fall adventures.

*Kids with firefighter fantasies stay dry in authentic-looking FDUSA rainboots from Western Chief Kids, just one of the awesome rainboot styles on the site. Don't get stuck wrapping your kids' feet in plastic bags on the first rainy day.

*Trumpette's Mary Jane Rain Boots may cover more than a few female feet this Fall (and Doody Baby prices them well).

  • Doody Baby: 30% off Clothing and Swimwear only with code B2S2007

The Coolest
Smartypants Tees

Smart is cool. So are these togs for the honor roll-bound tot in your life.

*The Japanese Love School Tee says it all. If only we could read it.

*You may have a decade or more until the SATs, but SATees give kids a verbal head start with words like Sapient and Jocular.

*The under-five set can still get away with a tee proclaiming "teacher's pet," and we love the retro styling of this one from Made U Look at The Silly Wagon.

*The rare child yearning for the little red schoolhouse days of yore will feel right at home in the Old School tee from Abe Jones. Click over and we guarantee a giggle.

*Tomorrow's science majors can make a run for the Atom-atic embroidered tee from Fadiddle and make a statement without saying a word.

*Mind Candy Clothing uses bling to state your daughter's academic aspirations: Don't miss Future PhD or Rocket Scientist.

  • Plum Denim: 15% off your order with code COOLMOM15
  • SATees: $10 off orders of $50 or more through August 31 with code COUPONTEE at checkout
  • Abe Jones: 20% off your order with the code "super20" through 9/20/07. Make sure to order via this link
  • Silly Wagon: 10% off your order with the code "silly10"
The Coolest
Peanut Butter Carriers

Buying a lunch box for your child tests your superparent powers to resist licensed characters. Resist! Resist! You'll be thanked for it in oh, 25 years or so.

*At Oompa we found the Urban Lunch Bag from European designer Allerhand, to help set your child on the path to good aesthetics early.

*Crocodile Creek's lead and pvc-free lunch boxes at Chittypulga are adorable and very, very kid-like with their animal themes.

*Cute and CEH-recommended Lunchbugs are bags, not boxes. Find them at Nubius Organics, alongside a good selection of stylish, safe Sigg water bottles: Just say no to juice boxes.

*Itty Bitty Ladybug carries great-looking tin lunchboxes with designs that littler kids will love.

*What the Piggy Fairy Lunch Tote lacks in practicality, it makes up for in joy spread among the girlie girl set.

*If paper lunch bags suit your lifestyle, you'll love Learning Lunch bags, printed with academic questions for grades 1-12.

*Don't see anything exactly perfect here? Let your child make his own sandwich-carrier with the Build-a-Lunchbox Kit. He can decorate the whole thing with stickers, just the way he wants it.

  • Itty Bitty Lady Bug: Get a 20% discount with code "coolmom20" plus free shipping on purchases over $99

The Coolest
Girlie Accessories

Don't even think about sending your daughter out into the world without the perfect finishing touches to her new school clothes. And we don't mean Bratz barrettes.

*Myself Belts help make her the star of the classroom with this blue metallic star belt. Or explore her wild side with Monkeyfoot Design's reversible brown cheetah/zebra ribbon belt.

*Hair gets the finishing touch with bobby pins from Loungefly. We love the lightning bolts and girl robots at Juvie Shop.

*Snag a few of the Kanzashi style hair clips from Thea Starr, or the vintage Kimono Hair Clips at Craftsbury Kids, and parlay them into an Asian geography lesson.

*Small Paul fans will dig girls in the pokadot beanie in yummy pink and navy.

*We love little girls in thick tights. The Argyle legwarmers from BabyLegs are a cool alternative. Or click over to the mismatched tights from Little Missmatched and think fondly of "Blossom."

  • Myself Belts: 10% off your order with code COOLMOM. Plus buy 2 belts for free shipping through 10/15/07
The Coolest Outerwear
They Won't Take Off Inside

It may be bathing suit season now, but give it a few weeks. Funny how Fall always works that way.

*Could a boy look anything but adorable in the Dirt Bike Jacket?" Answer: Nope.

*Mamma Made Designs is going to hook up some very lucky girls with their beautiful double-breasted "Inside" Coat

*Windbreakers + skateboarding logos = rad. Check out the one from Independent Truck Company at Little Ruler.

*Arte Bebe is always a great resource for hip wear for kids up to 6. We love the army jacket styling of the Russian Motobike Jacket in a beautiful blue.

*Check out Tea Collection's funky canvas vest at Shop Genes, which bridges inner and outerwear with style. We also like their crimson sweater robe which your little girl just may live in.

*Appaman outcools their already cool kids collection with the vintage racing jacket in brown for boys and raspberry for girls. Or brown for girls. Your call.

  • Arte Bebe: COOLBEBE for 10% off your purchase
  • Shop Genes: 10% off any outerwear purchase with the code COOLMOM

The Coolest
School Supplies

Not that standard #2 yellow pencils and those drugstore brand spiral notebooks don't elicit squeals of joy, but...yeah, okay. They don't. However these might.

*Kids can decorate supplies (even the drugstore brand spiral notebooks) with the awesome funny face stickers at One Good Bumblebee. We also love the Japanese Smile Friends and robot stickers of course.

*The bright, soft Allerhand pencil case in orange will be easy to spot even in a packed bag o' books. For something more fanciful, check out the Haba Shuttle Case shaped like a rocket ship.

*Stock the pencil case with Forest-
Friendly Colored Pencils
from Fred Flare to keep things green, and yummy Dessert Erasers to keep them fun.

*"Magic" staplers affix a few pages to each other without staples. Perfect for kids!

*Library card bookplates are so so cool, and help insure that the books your kids brings to school come home with tham too.

*Bag tags from Yosi Girls are definitely not just for girls (although the girls' tags are pretty cool too). Hang the rocket ship or airplane from your little guy's bag to make it stand out from the rest.

The Coolest Mama Must-Haves

Back to school season should make things easier on mama too. Browse the list, and stay organized. And sane.

*You cannot possibly send your kids to school with any of the aforementioned items--and expect them to come home with them--without labeling it all up the whazoo. Mabels Labels has the best selection we've seen anywhere.

*MomAgenda's new Kitchen Folio is a swanky way to store class lists, sports schedules, and the general mess that accumulates. We love the hot pink cover.

*The Cubissimo alarm clock is not only sleek, it displays time and temperature. So you can be sure to get the kids up in time...and dressed appropriately too.

*Even if you have your days free now, don't you want a few nights free too? The Baby Sitter Board lets you rest easy while painting the town red.

*Quick, before the first glowing report card comes in! Get yourself the School Years keepsake album to keep a record of some of the memorable moments of K-12.

*The Butler Bag is an ingenious mom-saver--a gorgeous handbag with compartments that keep the 18 pounds of stuff you carry with you absolutely organized. Besides, it's a gorgeous handbag. You survived summer - go for it!

  • Mabel's Labels: 15% discount with code CMP07.
  • Mom Agenda: 10% off purchases of $100 or more with code COOLMOM through 10-01/07
  • Teacups and Tadpoles: 15% discount with code COUNT215 (enter it in the comments box at checkout)

Humongo thanks to Christine for the awesome buttons. No wonder her business is so successful.

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