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School stuff has its fun side


To lots of kids, "back to school" evokes fear, panic and a resounding shudder. The piles of homework, the pop quizzes, the impossible new locker combination -- it's a dreaded time of year for many. But, in fact, it's also about new friends, new experiences and, of course, cool new stuff. For this new school year, parents will find an array of smart, helpful and fun supplies, gear and games for their kids. Here are a few suggestions.

No more excuses for being late to school with the Emerson Research SmartSet Dual Alarm Clock Radio ($29.95). The smart clock automatically sets the right time, date and year, even adjusts for Daylight Savings Time and leap year and resets itself after power outages. The clock radio is available at Wal-Mart, Kmart, and other mass retailers.

Your kid will be so, like, totally cool when he slings the new Laptop Backpack ($59.99) from Case Logic over his shoulder and walks down the school hallway. The backpack is designed to carry and safely protect a laptop up to 15.4 inches big, as well as school books. The pack features shock-resistant padding and adjustable closure for the computer, side pockets for a cell phone or water bottle, zippered front pocket for disks, pens and accessories, a removable CD / DVD folio and line-out jack and CD / MP3 player pocket. Visit or call 888-666-5780 to purchase.

When she's not on the phone, doing homework or doing chores, your daughter may be "scrapbooking." And because it has become her biggest hobby, consider purchasing her the new Glamour Girls Scrapbook Kit ($20 for a 12-inch-by-12-inch postbound album or $12.99 for a 9-inch-by-12-inch spiral album) from the Burnes Group. The colorful kits come with Glamour Girls stickers, alphabet stickers, memo tags, pre-printed scrapbook pages and more. The album's cover features three photo openings for displaying favorite pictures. Call 877-643-7263 or visit for retailers.

For your little slugger, consider the new All-Star Sports Wire Wall Sculpture ($15) from the Burnes Group. The wire wall sculptures come in baseball, football and soccer themes, with photo frame openings on the front. Each is decorated with cross hatches and curlicues for holding memorabilia. Call 877-643-7263 or visit www.burnes for retailers.

Educational and fun, the 3-D Plastic Spherical Puzzle ($27.99) from Esphera 360, helps kids brush up on their geography. The 9-inch spherical globe must be pieced together like a puzzle. It can then serve as a decorative and useful reference piece in your child's room. A puzzle stand, 540 pieces and instructions are included. Geared to ages 12 and up. Available at Toys R Us and other toy stores. Call 800-447-2151 or visit

Cuddly and functional, the plush Camera Case-Brown Dog With Strap ($11.99) from Case Logic makes for an adorable camera bag. The soft pup -- who quite resembles your kid with an overloaded backpack -- carries the padded, weather-resistant case, which fits most digital, compact 35 mm, point-and-shoot and APS cameras, on his back. Shoulder strap is included. Visit or call 888-666-5780 to purchase.

Home Front welcomes interesting home and garden news. Please send suggestions to Lori Sears, Home Front, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278, or fax to 410-783-2519. Information must be received at least four weeks in advance to be considered.

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