The school year fast approaches, and so too does the deadline for getting those school supplies for your school-going children. So here are a few of those much-needed supplies, in case this past year has made you or your child forget what normal school is supposed to look like.

1: Masks

There is still much debate and political wrangling over the requirement for masks in school this fall. Most common masks will protect those around the wearer, but not the wearer. If you are looking for a mask that is at least 95% effective in protecting your child, look for one rated KN95 and above. Be sure to do some shopping around, though. There tends to be a large variance in price on these.

2: Backpack

There will be many books, which need to be carried around easily and quickly. So there’s not a whole lot better answer than a good, sturdy backpack. If your kid complains about the straps digging into their shoulders, there are other backpacks out there with extra padding in the straps that should solve the problem. If they complain that the backpack is too heavy, there are backpacks available that come with a handle and rollers.

3: Notebooks

Typically, you’ll want to get ones that are ring-bound, with lined pages that are easy to tear away from the notebook. Notebooks like that are a little more multi-purpose and easier to use in more situations. Then, of course, there are the classic black-white glue-bound notebooks (they do come in different colors, by the way). The important thing here is that it serves as a notebook: a place for writing and storing written notes. As opposed to the bag of loose paper your child will bring home at the end of the year.

4: Pencils

But you can’t write anything in a notebook if you’ve got nothing to write with, right? The reminder to get No. 2 pencils almost goes without saying these days, as it’s so ingrained into everyone’s subconscious. However, it’s worth mentioning anyway: the lockdown made us forget about many basic things.

5: Student Planner

Speaking of forgetting basic things, you know what would cut down on the stress of remembering all the homework assignments that need doing and when they need to be done? Writing them down in a little calendar, with a little handy task list, of course. Not only does it help your child stay on top of things, but it’s also convenient for you if you need to check in on their progress and help them organize themselves. Good training for later in life!

6: Water Bottle

No, not the plastic ones that come in bundles. We’re talking about the reusable ones – the big ones you can keep refilling when necessary. Especially as the weather remains hot around this time of year, making sure that your kid can stay hydrated for long periods is important. Even with schools being mostly air-conditioned, hydration is important for brain function and especially during physical activity.

7: Lunch Box

Hardcover lunch boxes can get filthy if you don’t clean them or get new ones. Trust me. And you do not want your kids to go out with grimy lunch boxes for a fun and colorful variety of reasons. So, why not purchase a new lunch box? It’s also important for the simple fact that it’s getting hotter, and keeping the food cool will be a bonus. Besides, your child’s taste in design has probably changed since last year.

 

Now, those are the essentials that you’ll need to ensure that the school-going members of the family aren’t going ill-equipped. However, that doesn’t mean they have to go with just the bare necessities.

For example, if your child has certain learning or attention-related disabilities, there are a few things you can get for them that will help enable their concentration. Of course, we all have learned about fidget toys by now – spinners and cubes and the like – but there’s also squeeze balls, silly putty, gum, or if the school is particularly progressive, they can wear headphones and listen to music set at low volume. These items are tremendous tools in helping those with ADHD to concentrate.

One final note: Yes, the pandemic is still going. And while we put masks at the top of this list, it bears repeating. Make sure that your child is as safe as they can be. An additional idea to the masks is to arm your child with small bottles of hand sanitizer and remind them to wash or sanitize their hands frequently.

What is better than jumping into the water on a hot, sunny day? Going to the swimming pool with friends and family is a great way to spend quality time and let the kids exercise and play. The health and wellness of our loved ones will be improved all while having fun.

Here are some interesting benefits to spending time at the pool:

It’s great for your mental health.

Swimming allows you to detach from the modern technology-driven lifestyles we have. In addition, it releases feel-good hormones, which reduce stress and anxiety, and this means you would feel more relaxed.

It’s great for your body.

In addition to your mind, your body will be grateful for the time you spent in the water. It is a low-impact exercise that means your joints are not under so much strain as exercising outside of the pool. It’s a great aerobic exercise and will build strength and tone your muscles. Swimming also serves as an aide to recover after injury, and it’s a great exercise to maintain or boost your fitness levels.

You will sleep more soundly.

What a wonderful feeling it is when you drift off to sleep after a fun-filled day in the sun. Swimming helps your mind to shut off and increases both your quality and duration of sleep.

It increases your IQ

A recent study showed that children who began swimming at an early age were better with certain activities than the normal developmental curve. Additionally, they had an advantage at mastering language and math. It also helped improve motor skills and physical literacy.

Swimming enhances your social skills.

Whether you are in the water or reading a book on the pool deck, be sure to acknowledge the social benefits of a day at the pool. Swimming has amazing benefits in the social vertical like building confidence, enhancing skills needed for teamwork, the interaction between children and adults in and around the pool means better social skills. As a result, the bond between families and friends is stronger, resulting in better emotional security and a sense of belonging.

Learn how to reach goals in the pool.

Swimming and most of the games that go along with it have a very interesting benefit. It teaches individuals and groups how to set and reach goals. This life skill will be one to draw on throughout your entire life. The fact that you can teach your kids this necessary skill in a fun environment just makes it so much better.

Here are some interesting games to play:

Beach Ball Game

Super Simple — This is just a game from one side of the pool to the other, but there are beach balls. Each child receives a beach ball and pushes it to the other side. The first one there wins, or the silliest swim wins. It’s however you want to play the game.

Marco Polo animal noise

This classic is especially popular with young children. It’s like the Marco Polo game that you already like, but with the sound of animals, which makes it very stupid. A swimmer closed his eyes and said the name of an animal, namely “monkey.” Then all other swimmers must respond with the sound of a monkey to show their position. Use different animals in each round.

Table tennis ball game

Playing with ping pong balls in the pool is very interesting. Buy a large bag that is usually available for only a few dollars, and then throw them all in the pool at once. All the children jumped to pick them up. The child with the biggest collection wins.

Noodle Joust

Children love this game because it will never be allowed in the house. Two children sit on their parents’ shoulders or older children and compete with each other in the pool. The goal is to use the pool noodles to knock the other person off their parent’s shoulders.

Coin Dive

This game is like the ping pong ball game, but with coins. They will sink to the bottom of the pool instead of floating on the water. Just put a lot of change in the swimming pool and let your kids fetch it. The one who collects the most money wins.

Do not forget basic pool safety:

  • Wear sunscreen. It is important to take care of your skin.
  • Do not swim alone or without adult supervision. Accidents happen, and it’s just safer to know someone is there to keep an eye on you.

Always make sure there are floating devices nearby. Even strong swimmers can get into a difficult situation. Floating devices will help if someone is having trouble keeping their head above water.

Time marches ever onward. Popular music flows along with the rivers of change, and once-great bands soon find themselves in the annals of history – memories within the eras of the past. But when we look back upon these storied pasts, do we rediscover our favorite classics and find the youth of this new age lacking? Were bands from the 90’s better than the bands of today, or are our memories more intoxicating than the actual songs?

Let’s face it, the ‘90s had Vanilla Ice, and it still needs to apologize for that.

In all seriousness, the point of this article is both to look back and see what happened to those we used to love. For example, N’Sync — what happened to all those guys, anyway? Where are the people who crafted the music of our childhood, teendom, college years? Has Vanilla Ice learned the error of his ways and become a monk as atonement? Let’s find out, shall we?

Backstreet Boys

Backstreet’s back, alright. Around the ‘00s, they seemed to just disappear into the ether, never to be heard from again (until we heard from them again). They started releasing albums once more in 2007 with “Unbreakable.” Their most recent album came out in 2019, “DNA.” So, hey, those boys are still hanging around those backstreets!

Spice Girls

There was a moment in time when five young women set the pop music industry on fire. They educated the young lads on what they should do if they wished to be their lovers and prodded the deepest parts of our minds with the fundamental human question: “Who Do You Think You Are?” But alas, the spice, much like the hot kick it gives to a meal, was short-lived. In 2001 they disbanded, and they never really got back together again, not really. They would go on to collaborate on a few disparate projects, a tour or two, but that was about it. More or less, they went off to do their own successful things, like birds leaving the nest or the spice rack.

MC Hammer

Aaahhh yes, the untouchable man, the craftsman of rap, the wearer of the low-hanging pants. His days of making music were quite fruitful (it wasn’t just that one song: He’s released ten albums throughout the entirety of his career). But those days are presumably done. Now, he’s a spokesperson in ads for things like Command Strips.

N’Sync

Hey, if you’re looking for more N’Sync, at least one of those guys is still banging out the tunes. While the Backstreet Boys reunited and continued their fated journey across the streets, N’Sync has more or less said their final farewells, with the last major reunion being a one-off in 2018.

Destiny’s Child

Well, we know where Beyonce went. But what about the other two? How are Rowland and Williams? Though Beyonce obviously stole the world’s attention, the rest of this sparkling group have done pretty well for themselves as well. You might know Rowland from her role in “Empire,” and Williams got to be in “Chicago” in 2010.

Nirvana

Erm, yeah, Nirvana isn’t a thing anymore. So rest in peace, Kurt. However, that doesn’t mean that the rest of the band disappeared. Dave Grohl, the gentleman of rock, is still making music in Foo Fighters. It’s a good thing the drummer for Nirvana is still around! Still here, and still making music! Foo Fighters would be considered by most actually to be a 00’s band, but that’s because they rose to fame around that time. However, technically, they did start in the ‘90s.

Vanilla Ice

You knew this was coming. Alright, Ice, it’s time. Your hour of judgment is at hand. Where are you now, and what have you done?

Are you the host of a home improvement show called “The Vanilla Ice Project”?

Huh. Okay. Unexpected, but okay. Good for you, Ice.

 

Well, there you have it. We could’ve gone into more bands, but the line has to be drawn somewhere, or we’d be here all day. If you weren’t already aware, there were a ton of bands in the ’90s. We could’ve talked about how Boyz II Men is still around and kicking, how Lauryn Hill had a fling with tax evasion before going back to performing at small venues, or how 98 Degrees was the boy band who did “Because of You,” and we’d all go “oooohhhh okay I do know them.” But we won’t.

Summer is here, and everyone is invited. In this beautiful and warm summer weather, health and wellness are worth celebrating, so let us go out and explore the great opportunities. Always stay safe and responsible, and remember to respect the environment.

The following are summer activities you can do, regardless of whether you continue to maintain social distancing.

Chasing down an ice cream truck

There is nothing better than a cone of vanilla soft serve in hot weather except for maybe a waffle cone filled with pralines and cream. So this summer, chase the ice cream truck with your friends as it slowly drives through your neighborhood. This is easily one of the best memories of childhood which you can relive this year.

Hiking

Hiking is a great way to stay active and spend quality time with your loved ones. However, depending on the popularity of the trail you choose, you may still be able to keep your distance from others. Exploring the wonderful outdoors is a great way to reconnect with nature and get lots of vitamin D from the sun.

Camping

Whether you are a veteran or camping for the first time, this is a great opportunity to enjoy the outdoors with a select group of people. However, it’s important to note that certain campsite reservation requirements and security arrangements may have changed. Unfortunately, this last year has left nothing untouched, and campsites may have different rules and regulations.

Fishing

Fishing is unique because it is a versatile, enjoyable activity both in groups and alone, on the ocean or a river. If you are a newbie, go on down to the water under the guidance of a more experienced person. Remember to wear a life jacket if you’re going to be in water waist-deep or higher.

Picking Berries

Summer is the berry season. Picking locally grown produce is a great way to pass the time. Strawberries are pretty much always in season from late spring to early fall, but others have specific seasons. For example, in early summer, you have blackberries, boysenberries, blueberries, and elderberries. Those last through the summer, except boysenberries, and in late summer, huckleberries, cranberries, marionberries, mulberries, and raspberries are in season. Bonus: you can also get the deliciousness, antioxidants, and all the nutrients that fresh berries provide.

Visit your local Drive-in

The drive-in is a summer staple, relatively unaffected by the global pandemic. Some drive-ins have seen a resurgence in popularity with the recent lockdowns. Get your family in the car and go out to support your local business. If you are still uncomfortable going out and about, watching a movie at the drive-in is an easy place to start.

Picnic

A picnic in the park, or even your own backyard, is a great way to take a day off and get some fresh air. Alternatively, a picnic is a great way to enjoy the warm weather with the family with the reopening of the parks. So take a blanket, put your food in a reusable glass or plastic container, choose a partly shaded or sunny place, and enjoy a good time in nature.

If you use disposable food containers for packaging food, be sure to dispose of them properly according to the regulations of your city, from black plastic containers, Styrofoam takeaways to milk and juice cartons.

Water Fights

In the hot summer, a water balloon fight is a great activity. However, while balloons may pose a risk to local flora and fauna, you can use alternatives. For example, a safer alternative you can use is to tie sponges together in the shape of crocheted balls or balloons to make them reusable.

Cup to the cup water race

This game requires two buckets, a player queue, a reusable cup, and some water. Players queue in a line, in front of the first player, is a water bucket. Behind the last player is an empty bucket.

The first player fetches water from the bucket. Then, they pass the cup to the player behind without turning their body. Next, the team hands the cup over their head to the person behind them until the last person can pour it all into the empty bucket behind them. The team that fills the first bucket of water first wins.

To increase the difficulty, for example, if an adult is playing this type of water game, the players can wear a blindfold.

Going to the Beach

On particularly hot days, going to the beach is a great way to cool off. Whether you’ve got the ocean on your doorstep or a local watering hole you love, playing in the surf and sand can be cooling and relaxing. There you can build a castle on the beach or swim in the ocean. Don’t forget to apply sunscreen and remember to stay hydrated.