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15 Lovely Back to School Ideas for the Best First Day (and a Great Year!)

August 21, 2018

I love love love love Back to School season! I long for the end of summer days when my family would take a Saturday to purchase school supplies and outfits for the new year. Those days, combined with the scent of a new classroom and the excitement of seeing friends after a long summer, are some of my most fond memories.

In fact, when I think about the thing that makes me most excited for Kelm kiddos of our own someday, it isn’t t-ball games or ballet recitals (though, those events will be so fun, too,) I look forward to fostering the excitement for a new routine and new knowledge that each school year brings.

If you’re a Pinterest-poking mom, you’ve seen the overload of back to school decor, organization, party and meal ideas. I’m sharing my fifteen faves to help you celebrate the wonderfulness that is back to school with the littles in your life.

Collage Wall to Die For

The Girls with Glasses

This idea combines two of my very favorite things. Back to school and collage walls. I’m such a sucker for every single bit of brightly colored wall art that’s on this wall. The best part about this decor? This could stick around for the entire school year in a playroom or office area. Swoon, amirite?

I think the thing that I love most about this wall is that certain pieces can be changed out, but others can remain.


Morning Checklist

Create Craft Love

I’m a big fan of a good checklist, especially if it helps to reiterate and create a routine. This simple, six step list is a perfect helper tool for primary age children to become accustomed to their new school routine. Put this free printable in a cheap dollar store frame, let your kiddos mark off the tasks, and wa-lah – a lesson in responsibility for them and a bit of a smoother morning for you.




School Supply Cart

Mothers Niche

You had me at art cart. I’m a firm believer that one of the keys to a clean and clutter-free home is having a place for everything. Art and school supplies can often be scattered and strewn about, throughout multiple rooms, and of course, never in the boxes. Of course, this leads to clutter, but it also leads to buying more supplies because you aren’t quite sure what you have. This cart is the perfect solution – everything has a place! If you’re needing a solution that saves space, an over the door shoe organizer would be another great option for storing all things artsy.



Pencil and Cork Wreath

Organize Your Stuff Now

This door hanger is perfect for back to school for a few reasons. 1. It reminds me of the bright August sun. 2. The cork center can be used to pin notes or other pretties. 3. It is so darling, yet so easy. 4. It’d be perfect for indoors or out.

Want me to go on?


DIY Customized Notebooks

Pottery Barn

Real-talk, cute notebooks are kinda expensive. I hate that I have to choose between paying upwards of $3 for a pretty cover or choosing a yucky plain cover, both which have the same number of pages!

For 8 subjects, mommas and daddies are spending over $25 on the pretty notebooks – and that calculation is just for the 100 sheet spirals. What I do like is spending less than a dollar on the boring notebooks, Mod Podging (is that a verb?) some beautiful on-sale scrapbook paper on, and adding a washi tape subject tag. Queue the most darling and simple DIY.


Crayon Organization

Sugar Bee Crafts

Remember what I said up there ^^ about everything having a place? It’s especially a great idea for loose items like crayons, colored pencils and markers. This would be the cutest centerpiece to a homework table, could sit out on a desk, or grace a shelf in a playroom. It’s not only practical, it’s cute. If you’re not a fan of the aluminum bottoms, you could spray paint them prior to adding paper or ribbon or you could make the color band extend to the bottom of the can. Easy peasy and I bet you already have the supplies to make it!



Upcycled Binder Clips

BSAZ Creates

I’ll say it over and over and over again – you’ve gotta pay for the cute stuff! I’m all about getting a good deal, and I already have the supplies for these darling upcycled binder clips in my craft room. I use the black and silver clips frequently and now I can’t wait to them cute.

Aside from being practical and a money-saver, this is one of those quick DIYs that gives you instant satisfaction.



You Rule! Teacher Gift

Tilly’s Nest

Know what? Teachers do rule. Teachers are the greatest gift to walk this planet and they should absolutely, most definitely be celebrated for their graciousness. Little gifties like this are the best, because they’re affordable but not cheap looking. Thinking outside of the box for teacher gifts is important, because teachers have millions of mugs and tumblers.

Plus, HOW CUTE is the pun? To add a bit of bright color, you could make a little washi tape flag on the end of the pencil to write your message.



Ruler Frame for Back to School Pictures

Karen Kavett

Speaking of rulers… This ruler frame is such a cute and easy way to display your kiddo’s most recent back to school picture. I really love the black and white label.

Back to School photos oftentimes end up in photo books in the closet. The fate of these pictures makes me so sad because they often show so much more than what meets the eye. Displaying these in an office or where your kids do their homework is the best way to remind them of the excitement that they felt on their first day, plus you can see how much they grow throughout the year.


Inspiring Lunchbox Tags

The Crafted Sparrow

I recently read a quote by Peggy O’Mara that said “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” Woof, that hits hard.

These free printable lunchbox notes are the best way to kick your kiddo’s year off on an inspiring note. I remember the days when my momma wrote notes on napkins in my lunchbox – I’m sure that all kiddos would appreciate the same encouragement and love when they sit down to eat. These printables are an easy way to give em’ a smile while they’re at school.



Book Wreath

One She Two She

What’s more back to school than books? I love a good wreath. This one, while great for back to school season, could be used for bookclub or fall. Change out the little chalkboard sign in the middle, or glue some themed additions to the pages and you’ve got a breathtaking, easy DIY’d wreath for your door. My advice is to hang this wreath inside or behind a glass storm door to prevent moisture from making the pages crumple.

School Supply Cake

The Craft Patch Blog

While not a real cake (though, I’m not sure they’d object) your kid’s teacher will obsess over this school supply cake! I love this idea because it can be customized to include items that your kid’s teachers need most. Top the cake with the cute printable tag from The Craft Patch and you’re good to go!

I always hit up the isles when school supplies goes on clearance, and this would be a darling use for the 1,428 bottles of white glue that I have. If remember only one thing, remember this: Teachers ALWAYS need school supplies.


A Homework Station

Polka Dot Chair

The children will never be able to say “I couldn’t find a pencil” again. A homework station is a simple DIY opportunity to create more organization in your space. Fill containers that you already have in your home (think Mason jars, vases) with all of the appropriate-age supplies that your kids will need to do their homework.

While pencils, scissors, a stapler, erasers and sticky notes might be in every station, primary age children will need markers, crayons and colored pencils and high schoolers will use paper clips and highlighters.

My personal favorite is the file box for signed papers.

DIY Back to School Mantle

The Certified Celebrator

Brittany over at The Certified Celebrator truly believes that every occasion can (and should!) be celebrated.

She celebrated back to school by creating this oh-so-lovely layout for her living room mantle. Who would have thought to use flashcards for decor? Adding a few little back to school touches to your existing decor doesn’t require a ton of money or effort and can look cute without looking kitschy. Plus, displaying your excitement for school only does positive things for the little people watching you.

Snack Station

100 Things 2 Do

If one thing’s for sure, school works up an appetite. This DIY snack station includes plans for building your own 3-tier stand for storing snacks galore.

You can oftentimes find similar stands at thrift stores – and after a good cleaning and painting, they’d be perfect for this! Just fill the shelves with mom-approved goodies and let them pick what they want.


I’m not kidding when I say that I love back to school. It’s one of my favorite times of the year. I also know that it is a hectic (and sometimes emotional) time for parents of all levels. Hopefully some of the above DIYs, organization hacks, crafties, gifts, and decor can help ease your fam into the new year with grace.

Have a lovely school year, friends!


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