15 Must Have Gadgets To Make Return To School A Breeze (And Still Cheap!)
It's that time again. Getting up at 5 am, dragging your child out of bed... multiple times. Waiting at the bus stop. Yes, the days of summer are over and another grueling school year awaits.
Just because you have to deal with the new school year doesn't mean that school itself has to be difficult. Afterall, it's 2018 and technology dominates every aspect of our lives, so why not let it make school easier. Without further ado, here are 15 must-have gadgets and apps to make back to school a breeze.
Desmos Graphing Calculator (Android and iOS)
I remember when I was in school there was always one really expensive piece of equipment that I had to have every year. That's right, the Texas Instrument is the graphing calculator that potentially costed more than everything else in your back to school kit.
The real bummer about this calculator is that, even though I still have it, I don't have a clue how it works anymore. Since the TI graphing calculators can cost upwards of $200, it can be frustrating if it gets lost or damaged and it's something that your child might not even use after they graduate, unlike a laptop or smartphone.
Thankfully Desmos is here to make it all better with the Desmos graphing calculator app. Performing nearly all of the functions of the real thing, the Desmos app is completely free and can be downloaded on any Android or iOS device, so download it and check it out before you go spending a small fortune on a dedicated calculator.
Photomath (Android and iOS)
Unless you are naturally good at math, math class can be a traumatic experience. The teacher might not be great at explaining equations or maybe your kid just needs a little extra help that the teacher can't provide because there are 29 other kids in the class. Either way, Photomath is here for you with an app for Android and iOS.
Photomath is a cool little app that allows you to take a picture of an equation and it will solve it for you. Don't worry about your child not learning from the app because it will also explain in detail how it got to the answer. It's like a personal tutor, right on your smartphone.
Photomath can solve nearly any equation including graphs. Heck if you've forgotten any of your math skills since you were in school you might just want to download it for yourself so that you can understand what your kid is talking about. Photomath can read print as well as handwriting so you can also use it to check your own work.
Samsung Galaxy A8+
There are so many apps that can make the K-12 experience easier, but there is just one problem. Smartphones are so expensive these days and you never know if you are actually getting a good deal or not. Then there's the fact that if you buy a smartphone from a carrier, you are locked into that carrier and can't take your phone anywhere else without jumping through a lot of hoops.
The Samsung Galaxy A8+, a cousin of the S8+, features 64GB of storage, 4GB of ram, a 16MP rear camera, and dual front-facing 16MP and 8MP cameras. The display is 6" and it even has IP68 water resistance meaning that this phone can take an accidental dunk in the toilet, a spill or even a swim in the pool.
The A8+ is a powerful phone that doesn't break the bank and you can get it on Amazon currently for only $399 as opposed to the $699 and up that you see on more expensive smartphones.
Wouldn't it be nice if there were a place that the whole family could go to see homework due dates, practice schedules, grocery lists and more, right from their smartphone or tablet? Well, it turns out that there is.
Trello is an app that you can download on iOS or Android and it allows you, or anyone else that you allow, to create boards and post, upload pictures and serves a whole host of features to keep your family on track.
Asus Chromebook Flip C302
The Asus Chromebook Flip C302 is an Intel-powered Chromebook that is small, well designed and has a bunch of cool features. Aside from being good looking, the Asus Chromebook Flip has a 1080p touch display, a 360 hinge that allows the keyboard to be folded behind the display and be used as a note-taking tablet and has the ability to run Android apps as well as a desktop Google Chrome experience.
This all in one device is great for typing, watching TV and even playing some games from the play store. You can pick it up on Amazon right now for $449.
Is your child taking a foreign language? Duolingo is a great way for you to keep up with them so that you can help them get used to the language and fit in some real person to person practice.
Learning a foreign language improves brain function so it's beneficial for everyone involved, and you get to help your child learn and enjoy something meaningful.
Duolingo is available for Android and iOS so you can learn at your convenience from pretty much anywhere.
There's nothing worse than missing spelling errors when turning in homework. Thankfully, Grammarly is here to help you edit your writing in real time. Grammarly helps you fix your spelling and the way that you structure your sentences as you type so that your rough draft is almost good enough to be your final draft.
Grammarly is both a program on windows as well as an extension for Google Chrome. Grammarly has both a free and paid version but honestly, the free version is perfect for a student.
Google Home Mini
Does your child have an alarm clock or radio on their bedside table or dresser? Maybe it's time to consider upgrading to a Google Home MIni. Google Home Mini is a speaker that is connected to Google Assistant.
You can ask it all kinds of questions like math equations, history questions and more. You can set timers and alarms, play music or even the radio. You are also able to listen to audiobooks and call cellphone and landline phone numbers. The Google Home Miniis capable of replacing so many devices in your home and it's no more than $49.
For parents, the Google Home Mini has a cool broadcast feature. From any Google Home in your house, you can say "Hey Google, Broadcast a message." You can then say anything you want and it will be repeated on the other Google Home Devices that you have. You can tell your kids to wake up, for example.
When I was growing up I always wished that I could take my Super Nintendo with me when I went places and play it on the go. Today, my console gaming dreams have become a reality with the Nintendo Switch. The Nintendo Switch is perfect high schoolers because if its portability and its durability.
Not only does the Nintendo Switch make a great home console with it's wealth of popular RPG games as well as Nintendo's signature titles such as Mario Kart, Mario Party and the upcoming Super Smash Bros, but it also makes a great portable console with its wide support for indie and even 3rd party titles such as Doom, Skyrim, Dark Souls and more.
The Switch is also a perfect media platform with its support for Hulu and possibly Netflix in the future. Like the Asus Chromebook, the Nintendo Switch charges with a USB Type C cable. This means that you can charge your laptop, gaming console and smartphone with just one charger.
Sometimes using your smartphone while you are at school can be a bad idea. You can't be Gym class with your phone out. One solution for this is to get a smartwatch.
The nice thing about a smartwatch is that it can track steps, exercise, total activity time and more. They have timers and calculators as well as the ability to call and text with your voice.
The Android Wear powered Ticwatch E is an affordable watch that will help your child track their fitness but will also help you keep in touch with them, perform calculations and is powered by Google Assistant.
SanDisk Cruzer Glide CZ60 128GB
Sometimes you are just going to have to use a good ol' thumb drive at school and what better option than the 128GB SanDisk Cruzer Glide. It's not flashy but it's also pretty inexpensive and durable as well.
Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD
It's inevitable that eventually, you will get that dreaded low battery warning on your devices. If you are a student at school, a portable battery is a great little device that you can keep in your bag to charge your smartphone, Nintendo Switch, laptop and more.
The Anker PowerCore+ 26800 is the perfect portable battery for tossing into a backpack and then forgetting until the need to use it arises. The PowerCore + has a 26,800Mah battery inside which translates to roughly one week of charges for a smartphone. Less if you are charging a device like a Nintendo Switch or a laptop.
Not just any portable battery can provide a full speed charge to a Nintendo Switch or a USB Type C powered laptop, but the PowerCore + comes equipped with Power Delivery and is, in fact, capable of providing a full speed charge to all devices.
Philips Hue is a very versatile smart lighting system that can serve limitless purposes in your home. It allows you to control your lights with just your smartphone or a Google Home or Amazon Echo device.
These are great for students, not only because they're cool but also because they're practical as a tool for waking up in the morning. You can set the lights to come on at a certain time, you can turn them on with your voice after you broadcast to your kids that you are waking them up. The possibilities are endless.
Logitech MX Anywhere 2X
When using a laptop for extended periods of time, the touchpad can start to be a drag. The solution to this is a mouse like the Logitech MX Anywhere mouse.
This mouse uses special technology that allows it to work smoothly on nearly any surface. This makes it a great mouse to take to school if you're going to be using a laptop for extended amounts of time. The MX Anywhere is rechargeable and runs on Bluetooth so it is easy to connect and keep power.
Jabra Elite Active 65t
The Jabra Elite Active 65t the perfect pair of earbuds for the bus ride to school and back or study time. The Jabra Elite Actives are small, rechargeable earbuds that fit in a small case and can be tossed into a bag. They're IP56 sweat resistant so you can wear them when you are working out and not worry about damaging them.
These earbuds come equipped with support for Google Assistant and Alexa so you will be able to utilize Google without having to pull your phone out. You can also use the right earbud solo so that you can talk on the phone while still hearing what's going on around you. The Elite Actives also come with rapid charging so you can charge your earbuds in less than half the time of the Jabra Elites.
Going to school used to mean a ton of paper, expensive equipment, and heavy books. It still means most of those things but thankfully school itself can be made a little easier thanks to modern technology. We are now able to simplify our routines, not pay for overly expensive calculators, and stay organized as a family.
Now it's your turn. Do you own any of the gadgets on this list? If so which ones and do you use them in the ways that we talk about here?