Toy of the month – January 2015

This month’s “Toy of the month” is a fabulous little idea that really caught my eye as ALL kids love stickers and ALL kids love receiving letters and packages in the post. What a brilliant concept to combine the two things that all kids adore!

We were sent the introductory first pack to review for this post and my kids squealed in delight at receiving stickers in the post! It was like a birthday treat for them to receive a little package in the mail.

Pipsticks, is a monthly sticker subscription started by Maureen Vazquez. Based out of New York, Maureen remembers her fondest memory as child, was being able to  go to her local shop each week and being allowed to purchase a square of stickers to add to her sticker album. She wanted to recreate this idea alongside keeping her 3 children entertained with a creative focus and came up with the idea of a monthly sticker delivery subscription.

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All subscribers receive this first introductory pack. The kids had a ball one afternoon sticking stickers all over the place and creating a special postcard for one of their best friends in Germany, who they miss dearly. The best thing was, that there were so many stickers there were heaps left over to use for another day or two!

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The sticker pack we received had 16 different types of stickers from animals, to dots, to racing cars and love hearts. We also received 3 pieces of colourful paper to use for our sticker creations. Maureen has picked out a great selection of stickers that would appeal to both boys and girls alike.

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The stickers are a carefully selection of colourful, fun, and brilliant designs that can be used for making cards, crafts or even for school projects. Maureen sources them for all over the world. I particularly loved the squishy bunnies!

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Our little postcard that we created ready to send to our friend in Germany.

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All kids LOVE receiving mail in the post and they adore stickers, so this is a brilliant idea if you are looking for a unique and fun gift idea for your child, niece, nephew or grandchild.

Plus as part of the subscription, you receive a monthly newsletter, Sticklit, which provides information on the different craft ideas that Maureen has come up with on the blog section of her site.  You can create greeting cards, place cards, sticker puppets and accessories.  There is also a free printables section on her site that gives different backdrops for even more fun sticker creations.

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Sticker subscriptions start at USD $15.00 a month and for a 12 month subscription it is USD $155.00 for the year. You can also get family pack subscriptions where you get over 45 sticker sets each month or try a taster pack to see if it is what your child would enjoy.

There are lots of different choices but I can tell you that your child will love you even more for this sticker subscription and I am sure it will create the same fond memories with stickers, that prompted Maureen to create Pipsticks in the first place.

Ages: 2+

DISCOUNT CODE: By using code KIDS1 at checkout Maureen has kindly offered my readers one month free on any 6 or 12 month Club or Family Pipsticks subscription.

pipsticks creations

 Disclosure: in order to review this product we received this free introductory pack.

Australian kids labels – ones to watch 2015

I have to say 2015 is looking like a hugely successful year for so many young Australian kids brands. It was so hard picking just a handful so here is my selection of 12 to watch this year. Some are already established and some just starting out but I predict HUGE things for all of them in 2015! Watch this space…

Australian kids labels – ones to watch 2015

Clockwise L-R:

One Two Nine “Quilt 1”

Paul and Paula “Go Bananas” tee

Inkibabinki  “Grid bloomers”

Mint Rhapsody “Milky Attic House”

Mum life project – soon to be released project supporting mums

Miss Pigeon Productions – crochet sweets

Maven Dolls “Maven Elsie”

The Hook Co “Wall hooks”

Captain + Co “Gone Batty Bunting”

Smallest Tribe “Spearminty dance party girls skirt”

Little Red Elk “Bunny wall hook”

Babee and Me “Handpainted memory game backyard animals”

Creatures and Features

Sometimes I get completely blown away by a new product and this is one of those products! From the time I set my eyes on “Creatures and Features“, I knew I had to  try it out and review one!

Creating your own creature on a t-shirt by iron on pictures is such a fantastic idea and I knew my eldest son Jasper, my little artist, would love creating his very own customised creature t-shirt.

Gorgeously packaged, the tee arrives inside a cardboard carry bag with the tee, instructions and iron on features all included in a cute little packet. The designs and the quality of the tee is just fantastic.

creatures and features packagaging

cool packagaging

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creatures and features 2After unpacking and washing the tee as per instructions; a day later we got to work on creating our creature by cutting out each part. We made a few different designs before we decided on the final creature.

Included in each pack are both girl and boy features and there are more than enough features available for the tee. So much so, they will soon be selling blank t-shirt’s so that you can create creatures for other siblings.

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We had so much fun creating our little creature and it was a fab afternoon activity that both boys enjoyed helping to create. The iron on features really come to life once you have ironed them on and slowly peeled them off once they have cooled. My boys clapped and squealed in awe after the creature had been revealed.

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cutest creature

Creatures and Features is a sister company to Neve and Hawk who are a brilliant US based clothing company that caught my eye last year not only due to their beautiful yet comfortable clothing range but in part to their philanthropic ways; they donate money towards arts in public schools in America. But back to that part later on.

Creatures and Features was created because their darling daughter Neve loves to draw “fashion” when owner Kris is working. That gave them the idea to find a way for her to create her own fashion masterpiece and thus Creatures and Features came to life!

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With their motto “Fight for Creativity” they have helped to combine their love of fashion and support of the arts in one amazingly designed product. Each t-shirt allows the child to become their own artist.

All the tees and features are hand drawn by Kris’s husband, Bob.  He then takes those drawings and makes them into graphics and iron ons. Creatures and Features is proudly designed and made in the US, it took over a year for them to source a local iron-on company with the outstanding quality they desired.

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With so many plans for a young vibrant company, I can see so much in store for their future. But more importantly, I adore what this company is about and giving back to the community and being socially responsible, this is a company with a huge future ahead. I believe arts whether it is drama, drawing, dance, painting, or writing, deserves more recognition, especially for our kids and the youth of today. Art allows them to express themselves and provides them with a creative outlet to focus their energies. Without art in the world, it would be a very depressing place. As such a company that sees the importance of art and creativity for our children, is a company that is thinking about our children’s future. And that is just what Creatures and Features is doing!

GIVEAWAY: for your chance to win one of these fantastic t-shirts and create your own creature, comment below.

Disclosure: We received the t-shirt as a gift in order to review this product.

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Starting School – Lunch Boxes

As we prepare for the start of school next week, I have finally completed some well needed research into lunch boxes. After making lunches and snacks for J last term at pre-school ( in Germany, kids receive a warm lunch as part of the cost), I have to admit at the end of term I was over having to clean up 4-5 Tupperware containers everyday ( not helped by no dishwasher in our new cottage – the kitchen is so small, ours doesn’t fit!).

I also wanted to try to be “rubbish free” for all of his lunches going forward, which many schools in Australia now request. Alongside the Tupperware I had been using ziplock bags for some of his food.   I therefore resolved as part of starting school to look into the Bento style lunchboxes that have been around for a few years.

J usually has a sandwich, yoghurt, fruit and either crackers and hummus or cheese and salami or some popcorn, so with the many compartments, the bento should work perfectly for him.

So here is my selection of Bento Style lunch boxes:

 

Starting School – Lunchboxes FINAL81. Go Green Lunch bag – It has 5 compartments with one of those you can use for the water bottle. So there are 4 compartments for food if you put the water bottle inside which you would as it fits perfectly. Using “turn ‘n lock” technology on the lid, it ensures food stays fresh with silicone bands around each compartment to ensure a secure leak-proof seal for all 5 sections.  It is dishwasher friendly and it comes with a water bottle included in the price. For an additional $20 you can buy an insulated lunch bag and cooler pack as well which makes it a great buy. The lunch bag comes with a white board for messages and a pocket for utensils and if you buy the additional cooler bag, they have a huge amount of designs on offer to suit any kid.

It is BPA free and measures 30 x 19 x 6.5cm.

RRP A$39.95.

Capacity = 2000 ml

2. Shikiri Bento Lunch box –  It is dishwasher  and microwave safe. It has 6 compartments with 3 movable elements: a horizontal separator, and two 3-compartment inner dividers or cups that fit nicely.  It has a silicone rim lid to keep in freshness.

It is BPA-free and measures 20 × 16.5 × 5.5 cm.

Capacity = 870 ml

RRP A$25.00.

3. Sistema Triple Split and Go – You get 3 compartments and an additional yoghurt pot for the price which is great value.  It is freezer, dishwasher and microwave safe. It features 2 snap-on lids on one side for air-tight freshness but it is not leak proof.

It is BPA free and measures 25 x 22 x 8cm.

RRP A$7.99.

Capacity = 2000 ml

4. Goodbyn Hero –  It is dishwasher safe and has 3 separate compartments. It comes with 2 additional leak proof pots for yoghurt or dips, and comes in 4 different colours – pink, blue, green and red.

It is BPA free and measures 27.2 x 17.8  x 7 cm.

RRP A$24.95.

Capacity = 1745 ml plus the additional dip pots are 177ml, total capacity = 2099 ml.

5. Lunchbots Bento Cinco stainless steel lunch box –  this is the largest of the range  (they have 5 other amazing designs and thermos containers too ) with 5 compartments – 2 large and 3 small. The 2 larger compartments would fit sandwiches, wraps, muffins, rice, salad and more. The smaller are perfect for snacks. It is not leak proof so you would need to put yoghurts or dips in a container ( sold separately).

Made of 18/8 stainless steel, it is easy-to-clean, and virtually unbreakable. It is dishwasher safe.

It is BPA free and measures 20.3 x 15.2 x 4.45cm.

RRP $34.95.

Capacity = 960 ml

6. EasyLunchboxes –  billed as the no 1 lunchbox sold on US Amazon, you get 4 lunchboxes for 1 price, so for value for money, this is the best buy out of all of them. Plus they can nest in each other for easy storage. It is safe to use in the refrigerator, microwave, dishwasher, and freezer but the containers are airtight not leak proof.  It comes in 4 colours – blue, green, orange and red.

It is BPA free and measures 23.82 x 15.49 x 5cm.

RRP A$30.00.

Capacity = 937.5 ml

7. Yumbox Panino – it is dishwasher safe, leak proof and is the newest Yumbox to hit the market catering for a sandwich area and 3 additional compartments, so 4 in total. Yumbox is designed to hold wet foods but not liquids (water). It is available in pink, red or blue.

It is BPA free and measures approx 21 x 15 x 5 cm.

RRP A$40.00. 

Capacity = 780 ml

8. Fuel Bento Sectioned Lunch box –  it is dishwasher safe but they recommend handwashing. It has two removable inner containers that can be used separately. One is perfect for salads, wraps or sandwiches and the other is divided into 3 different compartments, with different sizes and shapes.

It is BPA free and measures 26 x 6.5 x 17 cm.

RRP A$22.95.

Capacity = 1300 ml

 

Which one to choose?

All are dishwasher safe although they recommend to hand wash the Fuel Bento to prolong its life.

I don’t want to spend huge sums of money in case he loses it in the playground          ( another to look out for is the Planetbox) although with his name sticker on it, we should get it back.

I also want to get something that is durable and that will last a long time and see him through a few good years at school. His appetite will increase so I need something that will cater for that future requirement, he is a growing boy of course!

My one issue is that my son loves yoghurt and has one for lunch each day. Therefore I need a lunch box which is leak proof or I could remove compartments to put in a container for his yoghurt. The only ones billed as leak proof are the Go Green or the Yumbox.

The Goodbyn Hero comes with additional yoghurt pots although it then takes up the space of one of the compartments, only leaving you with 1 large and 1 small. However, given the Hero has 2099ml in capacity for the entire lunch box and it has the largest capacity of the 8 shown, I think this could be a great option.

You can buy additional pots for the Lunchbots for yoghurt or dips which are leak proof, so again another option which would work. Although they would be separate from the lunch box.

Ultimately when choosing a lunch box, you have to ask yourself what works best for your child? Are they grazers? Do they just eat a sandwich and some fruit? Do you need to cater for ” Crunch and Sip” which seems common now in Australian primary schools and the kids must have a piece of fruit and water. Do they love yoghurt, therefore you need a leak proof lunch box or containers to store it?

Do you want to splash out on an additional insulated lunch bag? Some of the lunch boxes I have shown are extremely large at 30cm long and many standard insulated lunch bags won’t fit them. So you have to buy their branded lunch bag or find one that is suitable. Do you want a water bottle to fit in with the lunch box or to sit inside the insulated lunch bag?

So many questions but only you can answer them. Who knew it would be so hard to decided on a lunch box for a child?

Best online stores in Australia for bento lunchboxes that I found in my research were:

www.limetreekids.com.au

www.littlebentoworld.com

www.trendyliltreats.com.au

www.yumboxlunch.com.au

Since first starting this post, “Trendy Lil Treats” have kindly offered my readers a 20% discount until the 31st January 2015 on all their lunch boxes ( Go Green, Fuel Bento, Goodbyn Hero, and Shikiri Bento lunch box) using code “kidsgiftandtoys”.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.

Australian kids labels – ones to watch!

My very first kids fashion and design feature for this blog was about upcoming Australian talent that I had discovered. I wrote the post for Australia Day 2014 which is celebrated on 26th January every year.

I needed to have this post on my new blog as I love and adore these brands and so excited about how far they have all come in the last year. Luckily for me, this was one of the only post I ever had saved in MS Word. After losing my blog last September, now ALL my posts are backed up in Word.

I feel so proud to be Australian when I see how brilliantly these companies are doing, designing, creating and making on the shores of this country. It just goes to show that if we support small business, it can and will go far.

Read on to be blown away by 4 labels which were definitely my Australian “Kids labels to watch” out for in 2014.  They have diversified, grown, developed and become even bigger a year on. They are truly blitzing the kids world at this time!! Huge CONGRATS and well done you inspiring Mumpreneurs!

 

Kapow Kids labelHaving been established for less than a year, KaPow Kids has found itself a loyal  following amongst Australian parents looking for “kool threads for little people”.

KaPow Kids produces a range of clothing and accessories for 0-2 years which includes: gorgeous  dribs (dribble bibs), headbands, onesies, tees, harems, leggings & the cutest little shorts. Focusing on bright  graphic prints & bold designs like super hero masks, ice creams, bats, clouds, lightning, unicorns and more; this is one label for parents who don’t want their child looking like all the others in the playground! With an emphasis on FUN, these designs look amazing but with the added comfort and functionality required for babies and toddlers.

Kapow Kids labelThe label started in 2013 as hobby by comic book lover and architect, Andrea Goulding. Having loved fashion since she was a child, but following her childhood dream of becoming an architect, all that changed when she became a mum to one little superhero boy! Now her focus is on kids fashion and having received well deserved press from around Australia, this fabulous gem of a kids label is certainly one to watch this year.

Kapow Kids products are all unique, handmade & produced in limited editions in her Melbourne studio.

NB: – the onesies are not made in Australia but are customised in Australia.Hidden tiger harems “Meet the Maker” session with Andrea Goulding aka “KaPow Kids”:

What is your favourite “KaPow Kids” product you love seeing being worn on little ones? When I see a photo of someone’s little one wearing a KaPow piece I get so excited!  I love that mums and dads like to share their KaPow photos, makes it a lot of fun. My favourite KaPow design that I like seeing on kids would have to be the appliqued onesies and tees. These were the first things I made so they mean a lot to me.

icecreamsWhere do you see your company in 5 years’ time? My tiny business is growing every week. I get many emails about collaborations and requests from stockists to stock my range.  At the moment I am making wholesale orders for several little Australian boutiques but in 5 years’ time I hope to be able to have stockists worldwide and have a few more people helping me with the business and production side so that I can focus more on designing.

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How are you celebrating Australia day today? At the beach with my family

What was your favourite toy as a child? I hated dolls when I was a little girl. I was a bit of a tomboy. My favourite toy as a child would have to be a yellow singing teddy that my mum bought me. I still have it.

 www.kapowkids.bigcartel.com

 

Beau Hudson header-cloudyEver since she was a little girl selling freshly picked flowers,  baked cookies and self-designed & created magazines in her  street, Sasha Deacon has always had a business head on her.

With 2 boys to style as her inspiration, this kids label started in 2013 and was developed to provide accessories that are stylish & fashion oriented yet super comfortable.

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With the name of her company coming from the middle names of her two young boys, Sasha takes her inspiration to design from the adult fashion world alongside the kid’s street style so prevalent on social media networks like Instagram. However, not wanting to spend huge sums of cash on kitting out her gorgeous kids, Sasha looked to create her own label of cool and on trend accessories and the kids fashion world love it!

Garnering a large social media following, this is one label to look out for and snap it up fast before all those other savvy parents get in!

Beau Hudson is your “go to” place for beanies, bandini’s, bow ties, suspenders, cardigans and bando’s.

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“Meet the Maker” session with Sasha Deacon aka “Beau Hudson”:

What is your favourite “Beau Hudson” product you love seeing being worn on little ones?

I would say our Bandit Beanies! They have been so popular, and when I see a customer post a photo of their child wearing our Beanies, I still have to pinch myself that it’s actually our product! In saying that, anytime I see any of our products on kids, I love it!

Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?

We have massive plans for the future of Beau Hudson…the sky is the limit in our eyes! There will always be kids being born and parents who love fashion! We’d like to continue to expand our range with cool new products, and be recognised around the world. Our vision is to grow Beau Hudson to a level that we can one day pass down to our boys.

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What do you enjoy most about living in Australia with a family?

I love the weather! In Queensland specifically our winters are mostly sunny and fresh so you can still be out enjoying the parks and even beaches in the winter! We have great theme parks and have year passes so can take the kids anytime! I still feel like a big kid going to them and love that they never get old for my boys!

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What was your favourite toy as a child?

I so badly wanted a Baby Alive doll and finally got one on my 7th birthday!! I thought it was SO cool that you could give it a bottle and it would pee, and give it solid food and it would poop! I loved changing its nappy and making my dad be “grandpa” and babysit it! haha! It was the most like a real baby you could get when you were 7! If only the love for changing nappies carried on until now!

www.beauhudson.co

LLEGS_CMYK_GREYbkgdThis Sydney based label was started in 2013 by Danielle Bailey after the birth of her son Ledger and her inability to find any cool and hip clothes for him that were affordable and most importantly “Made in Australia”.

Specialising in baby and toddler leggings, it was with a little help from her sister who lent her a sewing machine, some inspirational vintage fabrics and positive encouragement from her loving husband, that has enabled her business to grow and gain a loyal customer base.

Leopard-ShortsIn bold, bright patterns, stripes and animal print teamed with basics on top, she has certainly created a go to label for hip & wallet conscious parents. A far cry from her childhood dream of being an archaeologist!

Leggings are $18.00, shorts are $15.00, beanies are $12.00, Pockerchief tees and singlets are $10.00. NB:- the tees and singlets are not handmade “We don’t make the singlets, we just make them cool”.

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“Meet the Maker” session with Danielle Bailey aka “Ledger’s Legs”:

What is your favourite “Ledger’s Legs” product you love seeing being worn on little ones?

I absolutely love seeing little girls in their Ledger’s legs because I found it really hard to find fabrics that I liked but weren’t overly “girly”, and also, I have a little boy, so girls are a little foreign to me! I also just introduced a new range of matching T-shirts and singlets and I love seeing little LL lovers in them!

Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?

I see 1000’s of smiling Ledger’s Legs customers, a sewing room, designing my own prints, a couple part time mumma’s working with me to help get my hundreds of orders out (a week), and a little sibling chasing Ledger around the house… that is the dream.

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What do you enjoy most about living in Australia with a family?

The weather here is amazing, the people are nice (most of the time), you can buy fresh produce straight from the grower and it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. I love that we are surrounded by water and I can walk down to the beach with my family and go for a swim on a hot summer’s day. I consider myself very lucky to live in such a beautiful and safe place, I wouldn’t live anywhere else 😉

What was your favourite toy as a child?

Humphrey B Bear went with me everywhere!

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2 little ducklingsAfter deciding not to return to the corporate craziness of the design world with the birth of her first daughter, Jacinta Weir created this AHH-mazing stationery and educational toy company in 2012.  which has

As is the case with many mums, Jacinta refocused her design aspirations and her passion for branding and illustrative logos after the birth of her beautiful daughter and created “Two Little Ducklings”.

“Two Little Ducklings” produces stunningly gorgeous personalised birthday invites, greetings card & birth announcement cards. She also creates custom orders for other events you may require. You can also buy custom name charts, ABC, 123 & colour wall charts.

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The products which caught my eye amongst Two Little Ducklings fabulous range were the ABC flash cards. Starting at $8.00 these cards are a great way to start teaching your children all about animals, counting, colours, shapes & their ABC’s.  However, my personal favourite is Jacinta’s new “Australian Animals” flash cards which launches today! Get in fast as these will surely fly off the shelves.

Two Little Ducklings Australian Flash Cards DSC_0040All handmade in Melbourne using FSC certified silk layered premium paper for all products. This is one kids company that is producing some visually beautiful pieces that are must for any nursery or play room!

Two Little Ducklings Range Photo DSC_0249“Meet the Maker” session with Jacinta Weir aka “Two Little Ducklings”:

As you have so many fabulous products, what is your favourite to work on?

By far my favourite things to work on are my Custom Name Charts. I developed these at the beginning of 2013, my cousin had a little girl and I wanted to make her something. There are so many lovely things for children’s rooms that display their name, but I wanted to go further than that, I wanted to educate along with having something beautiful to look at. I haven’t seen anyone else do anything similar to this, so I feel quite proud of these and they seem to get a great response when someone gives one as a present or orders one for their loved one.

Where do you see your company in 5 years’ time?

At the moment my focus for this year is to get some stockists. At the end of last year, I met the lovely Lisa from Room 99 and she stocked some of my Christmas tag range, I had great feedback that they flew out the door, so I’m really hoping other shops take a chance with me and my little business. As for five years, I would love to have my own little shop, where I can stock my own products along with other work at home mums with beautiful handmade products. Doing everything by hand, can be very time consuming, but you can see the love that goes into the products.

Two Little Ducklings Range Photo DSC_0239How are you celebrating Australia day this year?

This year we are celebrating with friends down by the Yarra River. It is one of our friends little boys first birthday, they asked me to design a dinosaur themed invite, with a matching bunting and t-shirt for the little man to where on his big day. Triple J Hottest 100 will be the backdrop to what I can imagine will be a fantastic day. What more could you want: sunshine; great friends; and great music.

What was your favourite toy as a child?

My favourite toy by far was my two Cabbage Patch Dolls (Paul and Fabian), I have just handed them down to Lexi, they were my first babies, I would strap them into the car and pretend to take them for a drive. I absolutely loved them (and still do) although they are in desperate need of some new clothes.

www.twolittleducklings.com.au

Starting School checklist

If you read my last post, you know my eldest son is starting school this year! I am extremely nervous but he is of course so excited he could burst!

I have been busily thinking about what I need to get him so that he is ready for his big day. I love lists and so thought I should get started to make sure I don’t forget anything. Comment below those experienced mothers, if I have forgotten something!

A little “Starting School” checklist:

1. Backpack

2. Lunchbox

3. Water bottle

4. Hat

5. Name labels for clothes and school bag etc

6. Pencils

7. Pencil case

8. Textas

9. Notebooks/exercise books

10. An apple for his teacher

So over the next 2 weeks I will bring you some ideas based around the above checklist for starting school!