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Thrifty Back-to-School DIYs for Students, Teachers, Moms & More

It's that time of year again when it's time to pack away the swimsuits and unpack the text books and school supplies. And it's not just kids who are gearing up for back-to-school; teachers, parents and college students are all heading back to the books this fall.

Whether you're sending your child to their first day of preschool, high school, or you're a teacher getting a classroom in order, these fun and thrifty DIYs will keep your school year fun, creative and organized. Save some cash on expensive supplies and teacher gifts, and make your own pencil cup, laptop case, lunchbox ice packs.

Check out some of our favorite back-to-school DIYs below for the elementary school student, high school student and teacher. And if you need any more organization inspiration, ee've got you covered with our Back-to-School Organization Ideas!


For the Elementary School Student:


Pencil Picture Frame: 

A homemade pencil picture frame is an adorable way to display your kid's official class photo, or precious first-day-of-school snap. It would even make a great teacher gift on the first day with some homemade artwork inside. Grab and old frame from the basement or a thrift store, and cover in dollar store pencils. This adorable frame from Leigh Laurel Studios used bright colored pencils, but you could also use classic #2 pencils for a real schoolhouse touch. 


Lunchbox Chalkboard Sign:

Enjoy writing your kids notes for their packed lunches? Save some paper and create and adorable Lunch Box Chalkboard, like this one from Classic Play. You can write a new one every day, and maybe your kiddo will write a new one back to you! Create a fun border with washi tape or paint so that it really matches the lunchbox.


Washi Tape Pencils:

Washi tape seems to be showing up everywhere, and we love it! This simple DIY from Passion for Savings is great to personalize your child’s pencils. They'll never lose a pencil again. Plus, you can make a few extra for your own desk. Aren't they just adorable?


Reusable Lunchbox Ice packs: 

Packing lunches for your kids? Instead of investing in lunchbox icepacks that will get gross and cost you an arm and a leg, throw a wet sponge into a zip-close sandwich bag and freeze overnight like My Kitchen Escapades did. You can reuse them as long as you please, and when they start to get funky, you can use them to clean the toilet or other gross spots in the house. And when you finally decide to throw them out, you won't have any remorse!


Book Buddies DIY Book Marks: 

Make reading fun with these easy DIY bookmarks from Meaningful Mama. Grab a few Popsicle sticks and pom-poms for your kids to decorate, and voila! A  fun friend for them to read their favorite books to.


For the High School Student:


Sweet Verbena Sweet Lil Pencil Pouch: 

If you're teen is heading off to high school, make sure they are prepared in style. If you're savvy on a sewing machine, or even by hand, then you have to give this pouch from Fancy Little Things a try. Have your student pick out their favorite fabric, and fill up their pouch with some new pencils and pens for their first day! They'll love it because it will be totally unique and personalized; no one else can copy their style!




Skip spending tons of money on binders and notebooks and make your own like The Commuter. Just recycle some old books you have laying around. Fill them with loose leaf paper and a few binder clips and you're student is good to go. Plus if you run out of paper, you can easily add more whenever they need! Again, the unique designs and style will make these really stand out in a sea of boring primary colors. 


DIY Book Covers: 

We all know covering your hardback textbooks is an important assignment at the beginning of the year (you don't want to ruin those expensive books, after all). Rather than hitting the store and getting book covers, why not make your own personalized ones out of pretty paper you already have laying around the house (or even paper bags from the grocery store)? Rue La La has a great picture tutorial to help you make these origami covers.


Bold Bookmark: 

Mark your spot in the classic high school reads, such as The Great Gatsby and Lord of the Flies with this super easy bookmark from Violet Paper Wings. All you need is some extra-large paperclips and 3D stickers to make this DIY.


Leather-Trimmed Laptop Case: 

High School means lots and lots of papers, and possibly even a laptop to write them on. With this DIY Leather-Trimmed Laptop Case from We All Sew you can make sure that their precious laptop is kept safe even when traveling to and from school.


For the College Student:


Corinne's Thread, Liberty Backpacks: 

Heading to and from class in college doesn't require a huge backpack in college. These drawstring bags from Purl Bee are perfect for carrying a book or notebook and a few pens to class. Plus, they are so simple you can make one for every season! Maybe we'll add these to our next college care package.


Paper Pencils:

A bit more advanced than the washi tape pencils, these paper ones from Scissors.Paper.Wok. are great for any college student. Choose any origami paper you want, and get making. Just roll your lead up in the paper, add mod podge and sharpen! 


Pen Tube Bookmark: 

When I was in college, I was constantly loosing highlighters and pens. This knit bookmark from Ravelry solves that problem. It not only marks the page in the textbook, but also has the perfect pouch for a pen or highlighter. Now why didn't I ever make one of these?


Laptop Stand:

College dorm room beds will become your kitchen, couch, desk, and of course place to sleep. With this colorful DIY from Mashable, you can turn your bed into a desk where you won't hurt their back or eyes typing away all of those research papers. 


Upcycled DIY Pencil Holders: 

Just a little something to make a college student's dorm more into a home, these upcycled pencil holders from Modern Day Mrs. Darcy will keep the desk clean and your writing utensils all in one place. You won't be complaining about losing all the pens and pencils you bought, when they have them all on their desk!


For the Teacher:


Pallet Shelf: 

Every teacher needs a bookshelf, and this one from Home Stories A to Z would be perfect for any teacher trying to save space in their home (or classroom, if the school allows). Just some simple pallet shelves will help to keep your book organized and off the floor for this upcoming school year. 


Kids Bean Bag Chair in 30 Minutes:

Add something new to your classroom this year. These bean bag chairs from Project Nursery are super fast to make and will transform any corner of your room into a reading nook for kids to enjoy. Make a few of them in different colors and watch your student read away in their comfort!


Weekly Planner:

Start the new school year off with some new organization. This DIY weekly planner from Wise Witty Teacher will keep you weekly lessons looking pristine, and will have you organized all the way through Christmas! Even if you don't follow this tutorial word for word, the great organizing could inspire you to make your own!


Classroom Caddies: 

via classroomdiy.com

Keep all your classroom supplies together and in simple bundles to pass out to group of your students. These caddies from Class Room DIY are simple and can be decorated however you want. Plus, with the hot summer we're having you're sure to have more than enough 6 pack holders... we won't tell!


Simple DIY Clock with Duct Tape:

Pre-school teacher? This cute clock could help you teach your students how to tell time. This DIY from Mer Mag is so simple you could even have your class make them to take home to show their parents their new found skills!

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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