Back-to-school gets high-tech

Some of this year’s coolest back-to-school products revolve around our technology-savvy kids. From kids who are new to the music craze of MP3s and iPods to students who are looking to improve their spelling and vocabulary, we’ve got you covered.

Rather than investing hundreds of dollars into the latest iPod for your younger kids, the moderately priced Sansa Shaker MP3 player may be a good alternative. The player has a removable card in the unit that has 512MB, which can hold about 125 songs. Two can listen at the same time through the player’s dual-headphone jacks—although it only comes with one set of headphones—or everyone can enjoy the music with the built-in speakers. Sounds let children know when they have turned the player on and off. There are two ways to change songs, by using the controller band on the bottom, or by pushing the play button and shaking the player. Volume is controlled by a band on the top. One AAA battery, which comes with the product, allows for about 15 hours of music. Sansa Shaker by SanDisk, $39.99;

Forget the plastic pencil cases from back in the day—this pencil case makes music. The Mead Five Star Sound Deck Case takes carrying school supplies to the next level. Within the hard shell of the case are imbedded speakers that play music off an MP3 player. There is plenty of space to hold school supplies along with a smaller, slightly padded pocket to hold your musical device. The speakers are of surprising quality, especially for the price. The case requires four AAA batteries, which means your child will need to remember to turn the speakers off when they are finished. There is also a kick-stand, style flap to hold the case open for optimal sound and easy access. Sound Deck Case by Mead Five Star, $14.99; exclusively in Staples stores. To locate a store visit

Although most papers are written on the computer these days, pencils are still in high demand. The iPoint pencil sharpener from Westcott is smarter than most—it knows when your pencil is ready for prime writing. The biggest version pushes your pencil back out, something the smallest, battery-powered sharpener does not. The best part of the

battery-powered sharpener is that it’s portable. The pencil sharpeners are all titanium bonded, which means they are supposed to last longer. You can’t beat hands-free pencil sharpening on the bigger version, which needs to be plugged in and would make a better at-home appliance. Clean up is easy, but if you want to keep the pencil shavings off of your desk, empty it before you get to the internal fill-line. The smaller iPoint pencil sharpener by Westcott sells for $17.99 in Office Depot and Max,

When your children begin to write longer papers in school or simply need help building spelling and vocabulary skills, the Spelling Ace Spelling Corrector with Thesaurus from Franklin Electronic Publishers is a gadget that might fit well in their school bags. The product has word-building exercises, an SAT word list, crossword solver and calculator. The Spelling Ace Spelling Corrector with Thesaurus by Franklin Electronic Publishers, $29.95;

- Advertisement -


At-Home Family Activities for Tweens and Teens

Bond as a family without even leaving the house.

Best New Family Movies We Can’t Wait to See in 2024

2024 is welcoming tons of family-friendly flicks. Here are 21 of our favorite kids movies coming out this year.

Highest-Rated Steakhouses Restaurants in Chicago by Diners

Celebrate your next special moment at one of these top steakhouses in Chicago.

- Advertisement -