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Banish back-to-school blues with 5 fun (and easy) afternoon projects

back to school
Reading Time: 4 minutes
Aug. 21, 2018.

Yes, parents. There’s an expiration date on your kids’ back-to-school excitement. Before that excitement wanes, get together with your kids and try some of these fun DIY projects — or try a few on your own and surprise them.

5 quick back-to-school projects to simplify your school year

Not only will these afternoon projects keep your kids busy in the last dog days of summer, they’ll streamline your school days and make managing a hectic school year a whole lot easier:

1. Concentration station

back to school
southernfarmhousedesigns/Instagram

Everyone needs a concentration station, a no-TV zone where homework gets done. Your “concentration station” could be your kitchen table, a corner of your living room, or a desk in your kids’ room. You can also make a station that’s mobile so your kids can cart it around, and you can keep an eye on how their work is going.

Making a mobile station is easy:

  • In a rolling cart, organize your kids’ homework supplies into mason jars.
  • Add pencils, pens, a stapler, scissors, colored pencils, markers, etc.
  • To have more fun with this, decorate each mason jar and add colorful labels.

In the age of the internets, kids have a short attention span, and it’s even shorter when there’s homework involved. Keep a kitchen timer in your station so that you can help your kids focus in small bursts of time (10 to 15 minutes). You can even create weekly goals and give your kids small prizes (fun erasers, pretty pencils) when they reach them. Don’t forget to add your own DIY “motivational quote” to help your kids stay inspired!

2. Framed to-do list

back to school
katrina_lewis555/Instagram

Most kids aren’t going to get too excited about their daily to-do list. They can be tedious, and they’re easy to lose.

But you can make their to-do list more fun by turning it into a work of art:

  • First, find an old frame. You can grab one from your attic or buy one at your local thrift store.
  • Spray paint the frame in a fun color or a bold metallic. You can also your own embellishments, like ribbons, polka dots, or glitter.
  • Instead of putting a photo in the frame, add a cute background print in a light color.
  • Have a jar of dry erase markers ready so your kids can write their to-do list on the glass every day.

Depending on how large your frame is, you can also write down an inspirational “quote of the day,” notes, and more.

3. Hanging gallery

back to school
papersnpencilsathome/Instagram

As the school year gets going, you’ll receive more and more of your kids’ macaroni and handprint art. Sure, you could display it on your fridge. But most magnets aren’t strong enough to hold up construction paper creations for longer than a couple of days.

Create your own kids’ gallery instead — in the hallway, in your kids’ bedrooms, in the living room, etc. One easy way to make sure your gallery can “grow” with your kids’ art throughout the year is to set up a curtain wire, like this one from IKEA, and hang up the art with clips.

If you want to get really creative:

  • Get an assortment of frames and take off their backings.
  • Then, add eye hooks with wire to the back of each frame.
  • As more art comes home, hang up the art on the wire of a new frame, secure it with clothespins, and enjoy.

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4. Personalized stationery

back to school
saar___saar_outlet/Instagram

Kids are so fickle about school supplies. On the first day of school, their dinosaur binder is the coolest thing they’ve ever seen. But by October, it’s: “Dinosaurs are for babies.”

DIY stationery is “cool” stuff that’s way more affordable than anything store-bought. And if you involve your kids in the process, you can help them create something that is unique to them. Thankfully, every craft store has Washi Tape: the magical tape that makes everything look pretty.

It comes in so many colors and prints that you’re bound to find something your kids will like:

  • Use the tape as detail on plain notebooks, glue sticks, clipboards, binders, binder clips, and more.
  • You can cut it up into smaller shapes or cover your stationery entirely in Washi.
  • You can also use the tape to label your kids’ stationery.

If you have several kids, have everyone pick out their own color(s) so none of their stuff gets mixed up (i.e., fewer headaches for you).

5. Sweet lunch notes

back to school
xes_kitch/Instagram

Sure, sweet lunch notes are probably a better choice if you have a little one who is just learning to read or a tender-hearted third grader. If you have an “almost-an-adult-who-doesn’t-act-like-it” teenager, you might want to stick to texts.

In any case, here are some adorable messages you can download, print, and put in your kids’ lunchbox before school:

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For educational purposes only. Please contact a qualified professional for specific guidance.

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