Easy Back to School Ideas for an Organized and Productive Year

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It’s that time of year again when we prepare for our kids to go back to school. To ensure a smooth transition and a successful academic year, we have gathered a variety of back-to-school ideas and DIY hacks that will make your life easier. From keeping lunches cool to organizing school supplies, these tips and tricks will help you and your children stay organized and focused. Let’s explore these easy and practical back-to-school ideas together.

Now that the school season has arrived, here are some back-to-school DIYs that will make your life easier.

I freeze water-soaked sponges in a Ziploc bag.

Awesome and Easy Back To School Ideas

Keeping Lunches Fresh with Frozen Sponges

To keep your kids’ lunches cool and mess-free, freeze water-soaked sponges in Ziploc bags overnight.

I then place them in my kid's lunch boxes to help keep things cold and they don't make a mess.

Place the frozen sponge in your child’s lunch box to maintain the temperature of perishable items throughout the day. This hack eliminates the need for ice packs and prevents any leaks or condensation.

I place a variety of snacks into containers and place in the pantry I also label each container - dessert, snacks, and protein so they can grab one from each and go.

Organizing Snacks with Labeled Containers

Streamline your snack organization by using labeled containers. Fill containers with a variety of snacks, categorizing them into dessert, snacks, and protein options. This way, your children can quickly grab one item from each category, making lunch packing a breeze. Keep the containers in the pantry for easy access and stress-free lunch preparation.

Carabiner Clips for Lunch Boxes and Water Bottles

Maximize space inside your child’s backpack by attaching a carabiner clip to their backpack strap. Clip the lunch box onto the carabiner, allowing it to hang outside the backpack. This hack frees up space inside the bag for other essentials while ensuring that the lunch box is easily accessible. Additionally, you can purchase waterbottles with a clip or add a small carabiner clip to the water bottle and then clip it to the bag. This will prevent the loss of water bottles.

I label key chain tags with Monday - Friday (and you could include weekends).

Keychain Tags for Outfit Planning

Simplify your mornings by labeling key chain tags with the days of the week, including weekends if necessary. Use these tags to plan your child’s outfits for the entire week.

My kids make outfits for the week in advance and put the tags on them to grab and go each morning. This helps my kiddos who are not morning people.

Hang the corresponding outfit on each tag, making it effortless for your children to grab the right attire each morning. This hack is especially useful for those who struggle with morning routines.

We put our chore lists in a picture frame.

Chore Tracker with a Picture Frame

Create a chore tracker using a picture frame.. Place a printed list of chores inside the frame and use a dry erase marker to check off completed tasks.

I hot glued a pom pom to the back of a dry erase marker.

To erase the checklist, attach (via hot glue) a pom-pom to the marker’s end.

The kids can check off their chores each day, then at the end of the day or next morning they use the pom pom end to erase and start over.

This simple and interactive chore tracker encourages responsibility and provides a visual reminder of daily tasks.

I decorated a display board (or you can easily let your kids do this too). We use it to as a divider at home to limit distraction while studying.

Decorative Display Board for Focus

Enhance your child’s focus and limit distractions by decorating a display board. This board can act as a divider between the study area and potential distractions, such as a TV or other siblings. Personalize the display board with stickers, drawings, or any decorations your child prefers. When it’s time to concentrate, unfold the board and position it accordingly.

We use it to as a divider at home to limit distraction while studying.

We used a dish rack to homework folders and keep them organized. We also made a portable supply container with colored pencils, glue, and scissors that can be moved out to the table when working and put away when not in use. You can see my daughter using it in the picture above.

Dish Rack and Portable Supply Container for Homework Organization

Utilize a dish rack to keep homework folders organized and within reach. Place the folders vertically in the rack for easy access. Additionally, create a portable supply container with essentials like colored pencils, glue, and scissors. This container can be moved to the table during homework time and stored away when not in use, ensuring that all necessary supplies are readily available.

Protect your child with essential supplies

Place a small tissue pack, antibacterial hand wipes or hand sanitizer, and a first aid kit in a pencil pouch and place it in their backpack. In addition to that add a safety light to the backpack for those kids who walk to the bus stop in the early morning when it’s dark outside.

We use a small travel soap holder to keep crayons together and from breaking. This also works great for flashcards. Write spelling words, math problems, etc on index cards, and store in a travel soap holder for your kids to take back and forth to school, use on the bus or at home.

Organization with Toothbrush Holders and Travel Soap Holders

For crayons, repurpose a small travel soap holder to keep them intact and easy to transport. You can also use the travel soap holder for storing flashcards or other small school supplies.

We use a toothbrush holder for pencils to keep them together and keep the leads from breaking.

Keep pencils organized and prevent breakage by using toothbrush holder as pencil organizers. These holders keep the writing utensils together and protect the lead.

Index Cards for Study Aid, Index cards are versatile tools that can enhance your child's learning experience.

Index Cards for Study Aid

Index cards are versatile tools that can enhance your child’s learning experience. You can either get a container specifically designed to hold them or use a binder. Index cards are excellent for creating flashcards for spelling words or practicing math problems. Your child can take them anywhere or leave them at home for study sessions. Personalization is also an option, as your child can write notes on the cards to aid in studying for tests or different subjects.

Convenient Backpack Organization

Convenient Backpack Organization

Keeping backpacks organized is crucial for a smooth school routine. Install hooks in your entryway or designated area for your kids to hang their backpacks. Adding their names to the backpacks ensures they don’t get mixed up with others. This simple hack teaches responsibility and helps avoid any confusion when it’s time to leave for school.

Personalizing School Supplies

To avoid confusion and make school supplies easily identifiable, consider personalizing them. Use a Dremel engraver or address labels to add names or initials to items such as water bottles, lunch bags, or school calculators. This simple step ensures that your child’s belongings won’t get mixed up with others.

Utilizing Storage Boxes for School Supplies

Don’t let school supplies clutter your space. Take an old box, like one from a previous school year, and repurpose it as a storage container. Fill it with items such as markers, crayons, and other essentials. Placing the box in the kitchen, close to where your kids do their homework, ensures easy access.

Drawers for Essential Supplies

Create a dedicated workspace by organizing your child’s supplies in drawers. Keep printer paper, construction paper, scissors, pens, and pencils in one drawer. This ensures that everything they need for school projects and homework is within arm’s reach. Having a designated area for supplies saves time and eliminates the need to search for items when they are needed.

Homework Station with a DIY Lazy Susan

Are you ready to get organized in your home? Today I’m sharing an awesome and simple DIY Dollar Tree lazy susans I’ve made.

Snack Stations

Keep kids fueled by creating a snack station or organization in your pantry.

We put this by each person's jacket and different things by the front door so when it's time to run you grab what you need and take them out. You can also add a water bottle to this because you always want to hydrate in the summertime too. So very simple and you've got yourself stuff to go for each person in the family on the way out the door.

Dollar Tree Organization Ideas

Use dollar store trash cans and create endless possibilities to keep yourself ready to go anytime for school. Before school last-minute grabs, on-the-go snacks, these DIY ideas are for you!

Other back to school ideas, tips, and tricks to get ready before the first day of school

  • DIY school supplies by decorating your pencil pouches to customize them
  • Decorate a book cover or cover in a paper bag or gift wrap (that’s what I did)
  • Grab a small container from Dollar Tree for earphone holders
  • Give your new backpacks a new look at the start of the school year by decorating them with acrylic paint or fabric markers, and don’t forget to add a backpack tag with your name on it.
  • Washi tape pencils so that you know they’re yours
  • Stock up on new school supplies as this is the best way to get them at the best price.
  • Pack all of that school stuff into a container to grab when you need it throughout the year.
  • I also double up on some of these supplies for easy crafts, fun DIYs, and projects throughout the year.

After the last day of school, use your kids’ backpacks for the summer holidays. You might be able to stretch them a little longer for summer day camp, trips, and more.

Back To School Ideas Video

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Learn more about “Why to Deep Clean and Organize Your Home” to save money, function better, and keep your sanity. 

back to school ideas

51 Fun and Exciting Back to School Ideas

  1. Create a personalized pencil case using fabric markers.
  2. Organize a classroom scavenger hunt to familiarize students with the new environment.
  3. Have a “Welcome Back” bulletin board where students can post their summer highlights.
  4. Start a daily journaling activity to encourage self-reflection and creativity.
  5. Plan a field trip to a local museum or educational center.
  6. Set up a reading corner with comfortable seating and a variety of books.
  7. Create a class playlist and play it during breaks or free time.
  8. Organize a class debate on a topic of interest.
  9. Encourage students to design their own classroom rules and display them.
  10. Have a weekly “Show and Tell” session to share personal stories or interesting items.
  11. Plan a fun science experiment to kick off the school year.
  12. Create a class newsletter where students can contribute articles, stories, or artwork.
  13. Assign a “Student of the Week” role with special privileges and recognition.
  14. Have a classroom pet or plant to teach responsibility and foster a sense of nurturing.
  15. Organize a talent show for students to showcase their unique skills.
  16. Set up a classroom library with different genres and reading levels.
  17. Create a classroom job board where students can take on various responsibilities.
  18. Plan a back-to-school picnic or outdoor gathering for students and their families.
  19. Introduce brain teasers or riddles as a warm-up activity.
  20. Decorate the classroom door with a creative and welcoming theme.
  21. Plan a mini-Olympics day with fun games and competitions.
  22. Organize a book swap where students can exchange books they’ve already read.
  23. Implement a reward system like a sticker chart for positive behavior.
  24. Have a “Crazy Hair Day” or dress-up day to add excitement to the week.
  25. Set up a classroom economy system where students can earn and spend class currency.
  26. Incorporate technology by using educational apps or online learning platforms.
  27. Plan a community service project that benefits a local charity or organization.
  28. Organize a class debate on a topic of interest.
  29. Create a class mural where students can contribute their artistic talents.
  30. Host a themed cooking or baking activity to explore different cultures.
  31. Start a buddy system where older students mentor younger ones.
  32. Conduct a classroom election for student representatives.
  33. Plan a virtual guest speaker session to inspire and educate students.
  34. Have a “Guess Who?” game to help students get to know their classmates better.
  35. Set up a relaxation corner with cozy cushions and calming activities.
  36. Create a class time capsule to be opened at the end of the school year.
  37. Have a pen pal exchange program with students from another school or country.
  38. Plan a field trip to a local farm or nature reserve.
  39. Organize a spelling bee or a math challenge for friendly competition.
  40. Start a “Book Club” where students can discuss and review books they’ve read.
  41. Create a classroom Instagram account to share updates and photos.
  42. Plan a virtual tour of famous landmarks or museums around the world.
  43. Organize a career day where professionals from different fields visit the classroom.
  44. Implement a “Star Student” program where one student is highlighted each week.
  45. Have a classroom debate on a current event or social issue.
  46. Plan a mock trial or courtroom activity to teach about the legal system.
  47. Introduce mindfulness activities like meditation or deep breathing exercises.
  48. Set up a science fair where students can showcase their experiments and projects.
  49. Organize a “Minute to Win It” game day with fun and challenging tasks.
  50. Start a class blog where students can share their thoughts and experiences.
  51. Plan a school-wide talent show or performance to showcase student talents.
back to school ideas

How can I make my first day back to school special?

  1. Plan a Special Breakfast: Start the day off with a delicious and nutritious breakfast that your child loves. It can be a favorite meal, pancakes in their preferred shape, or a breakfast buffet with various options. Adding a personal touch to the first meal of the day will make your child feel special.
  2. Create a Back-to-School Tradition: Establish a unique tradition that you can repeat each year on the first day of school. It can be something simple like taking a special photo in front of your house, writing a letter to your child about their goals and aspirations, or exchanging small tokens of encouragement. This tradition will become a cherished memory and something to look forward to each year.
  3. Prepare a Surprise Note or Lunchbox Message: Slip a heartfelt note into your child’s lunchbox or backpack to remind them how proud you are and that you’re cheering them on. It can be an encouraging message, a funny joke, or a reminder of your love and support. This surprise gesture will uplift their spirits throughout the day.
  4. Plan an After-School Activity: Organize a fun activity or outing for after school to celebrate the first day back. It can be a trip to the park, a family picnic, a special treat at their favorite ice cream shop, or a movie night. This gives your child something to look forward to and helps them unwind after their first day.
  5. Choose a Special Outfit: Let your child pick out a brand new outfit for the first day of school. It can be something they’ve been excited about or a unique ensemble that makes them feel confident and ready to conquer the day. Wearing something special will boost their self-esteem and add to the excitement of the occasion.
  6. Personalize School Supplies: Add a personal touch to your child’s school supplies by customizing them. Use stickers, labels, or paint to decorate their notebooks, binders, or pencils. This small act of personalization will make their supplies stand out and reflect their individuality.
  7. Organize a Meet-Up with Friends: Reach out to other parents and organize a get-together for your child and their friends either before or after school. It can be a playdate, a trip to the park, or a pizza party. Reuniting with friends on the first day will make the return to school more exciting and help ease any nervousness.
  8. Capture the Moment: Take a photo of your child on their first day back to school. Create a keepsake by displaying the photo in a frame or creating a scrapbook page. Looking back at these snapshots over the years will bring back fond memories and show how much they’ve grown.

Remember, making the first day back to school special is about creating positive experiences, fostering excitement, and showing your child that their education matters. The key is to personalize the day and make them feel loved and supported as they embark on a new academic journey.

back to school ideas

Back-to-School Ideas to Promote Collaboration, Reduce Anxiety, and Foster a Positive Classroom Environment

As the beginning of the school year approaches, it’s essential to plan engaging activities and establish a positive classroom atmosphere. In this blog post, we will explore a variety of back-to-school ideas using keywords such as anxiety, collaboration, bulletin board, teamwork, and more. These ideas will help create an inclusive environment, build connections among students, and ease anxiety while setting the stage for a successful year of learning.

  1. Icebreaker Activities to Reduce Anxiety and Encourage Collaboration:
  • Implement icebreaker games or activities during the first week of school to help students get to know each other and build connections. Examples include “Two Truths and a Lie,” “Find Someone Who,” or collaborative problem-solving tasks.
  • Encourage teamwork and collaboration by assigning group projects or team-building activities that require students to work together to achieve a common goal. This promotes a sense of community and enhances social interaction among students.
  1. Bulletin Board Display:
  • Create an interactive bulletin board that reflects the theme of the school year. Include student work, self-portraits, and collaborative projects to showcase their achievements and foster a sense of pride.
  • Incorporate colorful visuals and inspirational quotes to create a welcoming and positive atmosphere in the classroom.
  1. Classroom Rules and Expectations:
  • Engage students in a collaborative discussion to establish classroom rules and expectations. Allow them to provide input and suggestions, fostering a sense of ownership and responsibility for maintaining a respectful and inclusive learning environment.
  • Use visually appealing templates or printables to display the classroom rules, making them easily accessible to students and serving as a constant reminder throughout the year.
  1. Welcoming New Students:

By incorporating these back-to-school ideas, you can foster collaboration, reduce anxiety, and create a positive classroom environment from the very beginning of the year. Utilize templates, printables, and engaging activities to encourage student participation, establish classroom rules, and promote teamwork. Remember to tailor these ideas to suit the specific grade level and needs of your students. By doing so, you will create a supportive and inclusive learning environment that sets the stage for a successful and enjoyable school year.

  • Organize activities or projects that encourage existing students to welcome and befriend new students. This could include buddy systems, where older students mentor and guide new students, or collaborative group projects that allow new students to actively participate and form connections with their peers.
  1. Self-Portraits and Time Capsules:
  • Have students create self-portraits at the beginning of the year, using various art materials and templates. Display these portraits around the classroom, allowing students to express their individuality and uniqueness.
  • Encourage students to create time capsules at the beginning of the year, containing personal mementos, goals, and reflections. Open the time capsules together at the end of the school year, providing an opportunity for students to reflect on their growth and achievements.
  1. Engaging Literacy Activities:
  • Incorporate literacy-focused activities that align with the grade level, such as reading buddies, book clubs, or author studies. These activities promote collaboration, strengthen reading skills, and foster a love for literature.
  • Provide printable resources and PDF materials, such as reading logs, book review templates, or writing prompts, to support students’ literacy development and encourage reflection.
  1. End-of-Year Reflection and Celebrations:
  • Create opportunities for students to reflect on their accomplishments and experiences throughout the school year. This could involve creating memory books, hosting end-of-year award ceremonies, or engaging in collaborative projects that highlight their growth and achievements.
  • Plan enjoyable end-of-the-year activities, such as field trips, classroom parties, or collaborative games, to celebrate students’ hard work and promote a positive classroom environment until the last day of school.

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  1. Mother of 3 says:

    Lots of great organizational tips! Thanks so much for sharing with us at Encouraging Hearts and Home. Pinned.

  2. Wow, how organized are you! No more back-to-school days for us and I am loving it – they are now heading out to work!

    Wishing everyone a blessed and successful school year! #TrafficJamWeekend

    1. Thank you Antionette, we are so close to that too. My daughter started her first year in college and my son started high school. I have 2 freshmen on different levels lol.

  3. Thank you for sharing at #ThursdayFavoriteThings. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too!

    1. Thank you Marilyn, I’ll see you at the next party. Thanks for the Pin and sharing 🙂

  4. You’ve got organization on hyperdrive! Great tips and ideas to make life easier. Thanks for linking up to Creative Compulsions!

    1. You’re so sweet Michelle, thank you so much

  5. Oh I love all of these ideas! Going to have to remember and take notes on some of these! chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

    1. Thank you so much Mireille, I’m thrilled you want to utilize some of these.

  6. You are so organized. I love it! The frozen sponges is a great idea that I hadn’t heard of!

    1. Thank you so much Heather for the kind words. I’m thrilled you like the sponge hack. It is a non messy great one

  7. These are such great tips, amd I am sure your kid’s teachers appreciate your organization.

  8. Hi Chas, you have such a great list of tips and ideas. Pinning so that I can get started on some of these, I can see how these will make things a lot easier with school days.

    1. Thank you so much Jasmine, and thanks for the Pin. I’m thrilled some of these ideas might help you.

  9. ********************************************************
    Thank you for sharing at #OverTheMoon. Pinned and shared. Have a lovely week. I hope to see you at next week’s party too! Please stay safe and healthy. Come party with us at Over The Moon! Catapult your content Over The Moon! @marilyn_lesniak @EclecticRedBarn

    1. Thank you so much Marilyn, I truly appreciate the support.

  10. These are brilliant! I wish I had thought of these when my kids were in school. But it is something I can pass on to others though. Thanks so much for sharing these. #HomeMattersParty

    1. Thank you so much Donna, I appreciate your passing it along.

  11. Love this, Chas! When I go into Dollar Tree now, I think of you. LOL I saw the solar lights yesterday which I never really paid attention to before your posts on repurposing them. Thank you for sharing your back to school DIYs on Traffic Jam Weekend. It is my fave feature for this week’s party that goes live on Thursday at 5:00 pm CST.

    1. Thank you so much Kimberly. You’re kind words touched my heart. I’m thrilled you go into the dollar store now and think about all the possibilities. Thanks for the feature, and I’ll see you at the next party.

  12. Wow! You’ve got school organization down pat, Chas! Thank you for sharing at Party In Your PJ’s.

    1. Thank you so much Ann, I love being organized.

  13. Today’s tips are really great. I no longer have school-aged children, but many of these tips irganizational I can use in my craft room and bedroom. Thanks!

    1. Thank you so much Sue, and I’m glad you can use them too 🙂

  14. Cynthia Marrs says:

    Your post as a wonderful picture of you with your hair short or pulled back. Just a great photo. You look happy and healthy. Lots of fun ideas in the post, too.

    1. Thank you so much, and I’m glad you like the post. Hopefully there some ideas that might help everyone 🙂

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