> >
July 25, 2021 7 minute READ

11 Must Haves for Back to School

tags At Home | Inspiration | Mast Family Favorites
locations All

It’s difficult to believe, but it’s back-to-school time already. We know back-to-school shopping is going to be particularly difficult this year because of shortages, but this is a time to think creatively to find substitutes and perhaps items that students didn’t know they needed for school.  

Below you’ll find a Back-to-School list that warrants some attention and thought. While a few items are usually found on any ol’ list, there are some that may not have been considered before. Our list is inclusive of all student situations – from pre-school through university, so let’s get ready to crack open those books and start learning. Shop the whole list HERE.

Here’s our list: 
Water Bottles1. Water Bottles. There is no reason to be thirsty! Studies in both the United States and the United Kingdom are showing links between hydration and cognitive ability. The brain is 73% water and requires a delicate balance of water and other nutrients to function correctly.  

There is a water bottle in most every favorite color – some have straws, some have wide mouths, some are plastic, some are metal, some are insulated. Choose one that works best for you!

2. Lip Balm. Lip balm protects your lips, got it! Warm temperatures, wind, and cold, dry air can parch your skin before you even realize it’s happening. And the delicate skin of your lips is particularly susceptible. Glide on a little when out on the trail or headed into class, especially in the winter months.  

From tasty lip balm in tins to handy tubes that are easy to keep close at hand, there’s a lip balm for everyone. They can also be used to soothe sore noses from colds or to help relieve the pain of small blisters.  

Journals3. Journals. While many students do most of their notetaking via the keyboard on their computers, there are some studies out there that indicate a link between handwriting notes and thoughts and better retention of the information. According to an article on PBS’s Nova website, “taking notes by hand requires a different type of cognitive processing than taking notes on a laptop. … (handwriters) listen, digest, and summarize the material to capture the essence of the information.” 

Of course, journals can also be used to capture the everyday, mundane events that will be precious to review in a decade or more or a student’s poetic musings while contemplating the storyline for the next writing assignment.  

4. First Aid Kit. It’s always good to be prepared – hmmm, seems like we’ve heard that somewhere. A first aid kit or a few first aid basics are always good to have close by. For younger ones, since we know there are some restrictions on what you can carry in your backpacks while at school, take a resealable sandwich bag and put in a few fun bandages for those scrapes and scratches that will occur on the playground. There are lots of fun ones to choose from like big bandages with Bigfoot on them or bravery medals that are perfect for taking care of yourself.  

For those heading off to college, you’re there on your own. Mom can’t kiss your boo-boos, so consider including a small first aid kit to keep in your dorm room and adapt to carry in your backpack. 

Thinking Putty5. Thinking Putty. You remember Silly Putty, right? Well, Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty is characterized as “sillier putty.”  Admittedly, the Aaron behind this crazy project was making his putty for adults, but kids love it, too.  

Thinking Putty comes in a tin and in several colors and with different attributes. Take it out of the tin and watch the creativity begin! 

6. Rain Jacket. A rain jacket isn’t just for rain; it’s a versatile piece of a year-round weather wardrobe. And, not all rain jackets are the same. Take stock in what’s important to you before choosing this year’s jacket. Do you run a little hot? Definitely look for one that is breathable and has pit zips. Do you wear a cap most every day? Look for one that has an adjustable hood. Do you like just a little more coverage? Seek out a trench coat style.  If you want to do your part for the environment, there’s even a jacket made from recycled Ripstop nylon (Marmot’s PreCip Eco).  

Backpacks7. Backpacks. Backpacks come in different sizes and colors and with lots of features and organization. From simple packs that get the job done to a pack that can double as your daypack for an afternoon hike, Mast Store has just what you need to pack in as much learning as possible. There are even backpacks for the littlest scholars that are just right for snacks, a rain jacket, and maybe a game or two to play with friends.  

Use your rain jacket as a shell and windbreaker in the winter by pairing it with a fleece. 

8. Flashlight/Headlamp. Margaret Fuller said, “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.” Well, sometimes you just need a light to find something in the dark. Flashlights come in handy for the walk back to your car after studying in the library or for finding an earring that bounced behind a piece of furniture. Headlamps are great to keep in a car glove box for changing tires in the dark or for walking to those evening labs in the winter. Check out the fun, and surprisingly powerful, flashlights that can be easily attached to backpacks or keychains. 

Hand Sanitizer9. Hand Sanitizer. If we learned one thing from the happenings last year, it’s that washing your hands often and using hand sanitizer makes a difference. Plus, sometimes you’re not near a sink and some running water when you get the sudden urge to eat a snack, so keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer nearby is a good thing. There are several scents to choose from. 

10. Unemployed Philosophers Mints. Sometimes we all need a little encouragement. And sometimes that can come in the form of a mint, like these little gems from the Unemployed Philosophers Guild. Mr. Rogers provides encourageMint; Ruth Bader Ginsberg provides a few judgeMints; and Nikola Tesla always encourages a few experiMints. These mints are great for first impressions and for sharing with friends. 

11. Socks. Do you remember President Nixon’s famous quote on Laugh In … “Sock it to me?” If it was socks he was looking for, he would surely find his fill at the Mast Store. Your sock is just as important as your shoe when it comes to having a good foundation for your body’s happiness and health. There are styles to keep your feet cool – try CoolMax blends – and styles to keep your feet warm and dry – look for Merino Wool blends. If you are a runner, hiker, or skier, you’ll find socks that are particularly suited for those extracurricular activities, too.   

Why 11 items, you may ask. And that question did come up as we were putting the list together. There were several considerations – all of them very scientific, we assure you, but the biggest reason is … odd numbers are more interesting. Eleven is also a prime number, meaning it is only divisible by itself and 1.

As strange as it may seem, prime numbers have been of interest to mathematicians and mystics since numbers were invented. Magical powers are often assigned to prime numbers, and some believe that they can even be used to communicate with extraterrestrials. We believe that 11 is just the right starting point for a basic back-to-school list that can be built on and augmented for every level of study. Good luck in the classroom!

join catalog mailing list tell me more