11 Back-to-School DIYs to Make This Your Most Organized, Productive, and Fun Year Yet

published Jul 27, 2022
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

You might still be enjoying the long, hot days of summer — afternoons at the pool, nights sitting around a campfire, or week-long roadtrips with the family — but fall is going to be here before you can say “pumpkin spice latte.” And with fall, of course, comes back-to-school season. You’re probably already seeing hints of it out and about: pencils, notebooks, backpacks, and lunch boxes are all starting to creep into center stage at big box stores.

In most places across the United States, you’ll still have at least a week (or even another month or more) before kids hit the classroom. That means that you’ve got some time to pull together DIYs that will make the start of the school year more organized, more productive, and most importantly, more enjoyable.

Here, 11 simple DIYs to get you and your whole crew revved up for the back-to-school season.

1. “First Day of School” Chalkboard Sign

Looking back at “first day of school” (and “last day of school”) photos is a nice reminder of your little one’s journey over the years. Take your snapshots to the next level with this DIY chalkboard from Melissa of Fireflies & Mudpies, which has a cute school supply theme and can be used year after year with new text.

2. Customizable Name Plates

Whether it’s required by school or you just want to give your kids a sense of ownership over their supplies (or maybe just ensure those supplies actually come home with them this year), these adorable, printable animal labels will do the trick. They’re perfect for adding to notebooks, lunchboxes, and pencil pouches. Get the printables at Yes! We Made This.

Credit: Club Crafted

3. Eye-Catching Planner Dividers

Phones can do a lot to keep you organized, but for anyone who prefers old-school paper planners, this DIY is a must-do. This bold and punchy planner divider from Club Crafted will help keep your notes organized and your day-to-day running smoothly.

Credit: Studio DIY

4. Glam Pencil Pouches

All those new pens and pencils need an exciting place to call home. Dress up a pencil pouch with painted designs, glitter (don’t forget the Mod Podge to keep that glitter in place!), and fun keychains. You can find instructions, as well as the stencils shown here, over at Studio DIY. 

5. DIY Command Center

A good organization system is key to getting out the door seamlessly. This DIY wall organizer from Paper & Stitch has a clip for homework, a shelf for journals, a hook for a backpack — and oh, it’s also a chalkboard for doodles and notes. Make one for each kid so everyone has their own school station.

Credit: Studio DIY

6. Whimsical Locker Decor

Lockers are a chance for tweens and teens to express their interests and personality, and experiment with interior design on a small scale. Encourage that interest with Kelly of Studio DIY’s quirky ideas, like her Snapchat filter magnets, wallpapered doors, and customized whiteboard.

7. Sophisticated Leather Mousepad

Adults need back-to-school gear, too, whether it’s for their own studies or just for refreshing their office space to keep them and their family organized. Over at Ctrl + Curate, I’ve got instructions for how to make a sophisticated minimalist leather-and-cork mousepad with a spot for storing a writing utensil so you always have one handy.

8. Canvas School Supply Organizer

One easy way to clear off space on your desk? Moving any necessary gear to the wall, where it can be stored close at hand without cluttering your work zone. Brittni of Paper & Stitch has instructions for a practical wall organizer that can work for kids of any age, as well as adults, and can be customized to fit your own decor style.

9. An Old Backpack with a New Look

Last year’s backpack might function just fine, but if your kid wants a new look, there are plenty of ways to achieve one without having to buy new. Try patches, puffy paint, stickers, pins, and paint markers to zhuzh it up. Then, take a cue from Lexy of The Proper Blog and carry the same design element from the backpack to pencil pouch and lunchbox for an entire matching set of custom creations.

10. Washable, Reusable Snack Bags

Using just one reusable sandwich bag during the school year can keep roughly 180 bags out of landfills. These DIY snack bags made by Mandi of A Beautiful Mess can be made with any cotton fabric of your choosing, whether it’s old sheets, scraps from another DIY, or remnant fabric scored for cheap at the store.

11. A Charming Gift for Teachers

Help your favorite teacher start off on the right foot (pun very much intended). These printable sock wraps are an adorable way to show them some appreciation at the start of a busy school year. Cindy of Skip to My Lou also has a printable coffee gift card card if daily caffeine seems more their speed.