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Ready, Set… Go Back To School


Medical experts agree that as a general rule, children should not carry more than 15 to 20 per cent of their body weight in their backpacks. The Consumer Product Safety C ommi s s i o n (CPSC) estimates that each year over 4,000 emergency visits to the hospital occur due to backpack injuries.

Tip: If the backpack forces the wearer to move forward, it is too heavy.

Before choosing a backpack, make sure that you find one with two padded straps and several different compartments so that weight is distributed evenly.

Make school supply choices that are better for the environment by choosing refillable pencils and ballpoint pens. Select recycled pencils (read the label before you buy). Tip: Avoid toxics by purchasing non-toxic ink and crayons. If using mechanical pencils, buy spare lead and erasers. Using the supplied eraser will make refilling the pencil difficult.

Trivia: The traditional quill fountain pen was replaced by a fountain pen in 1884. The ballpoint pen became popular around 1947.

Don’t throw away broken or small crayon pieces. Remove paper from crayons and separate into colours in a muffin pan. Heat in the oven until melted. Cool and remove. Use muffin crayons to colour pictures. If you don’t have enough crayons to make separate colours, melt them together to make one big muffin crayon.

Before sending binders to school, attach a pencil with a string to binder coils. Your child will no longer waste time searching for a pencil!

For computer users, begin the year with a clean screen. Into a spray bottle mix together a solution of half-and-half isopropyl and water. Spray the screen and wipe with a soft cloth. Another option is to clean with CD/DVD cleaner.

You can make your own personalized stamp using an eraser. Trace the eraser shape on white paper. Draw a design inside the shape in ink and quickly push the eraser onto the paper. Apply pressure so that the ink transfers to the eraser. Using a sharp blade cut away unwanted areas of the eraser. Push the homemade stamp onto a stamp pad. Stamp.

Tip: When writing text, create the stamp as a mirror image.

Fingerpaint recipe: Into a pot mix 1/2 cup cornstarch, 3 tbsp. sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 2 cups cold water and food colouring. Cook over low heat for 10 to 15 minutes. Stir until paint mixture is smooth and thick. Remove from heat, cool and divide up into a muffin pan. Mix in desired food colours. To make your own paint roller for kids, remove the roll of an empty deodorant container. Fill with washable, watered-down paint. Replace roller and use.

Tip: Slide a man’s shirt backwards onto a child artist to protect clothing.

Add dish soap to kid’s paint. The soap will not affect the paint but cleanup is a breeze.

Glue substitute recipe for craft projects: Combine 3 tbsp. cornstarch with 4 tbsp. cold water. Add 2 cups boiling water. Cool and use.

Top of glue bottle plugged? Soak top in vinegar and poke hole with a pin.

Tip: If you lose the screw top to white glue, substitute with a plastic wire nut or plastic cake decorator nut.

Sharpen scissors by cutting a piece of folded aluminum foil. Cut through the foil several times.

To remove price tags on school supplies, coat the area with cooking oil and scrape with a plastic putty knife.

Can’t find the pencil sharpener? Use a potato peeler in its place.

Reena Nerbas is the author of the national bestsellers, Household Solutions 1 with Substitutions, Household Solutions 2 with Kitchen Secrets and Household Solutions 3 with Green Alternatives, available online and in stores across Canada. She graduated as a home economist from the University of Manitoba and speaks professionally on the subject of fixing life’s messes by using products behind everyone’s cupboard doors. As well as being a columnist, Reena can be heard on radio and TV programs across Canada and the U. S.

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