29 Back to School Crafts for Kids to Combat First Day Butterflies
Come September, most parents are more than ready to load their kids onto the school bus. And for little people, going back to school often comes with a lot of excitement...and some jitters. Especially this year, when virtual learning might become the new norm and "going to school" may well mean logging on in the living room.
After three carefree months, the transition back to the structure and separation of school-life can feel daunting. Fortunately, you can help calm nerves and ease the transition back to academia with a little art therapy. Check out this roundup of back to school crafts for kids so your little learner can hit the ground running.
1. Zig-Zag Calculator with Stickers
We’re all for using unique methods to get kids more interested in their studies, and turning tools into pretty pieces they’re proud of is a great place to start. Pick out some colorful craft vinyl in a hue they love, trace it to match the size of the calculator case, cut it out and stick on. Then, grab stickers, washi tape, rhinestones, whatever—and go to town customizing that calc. To shop the materials or get design ideas and instructions, head to Camp by Walmart inside the Walmart app (via the Services tab), tap the “Make it Awesome” section and choose the activity your kid likes most.
2. Apple Stress Balls
These back to school stress balls are incredibly easy to make—just get some red balloons at the dollar store and a swatch of green felt, and then raid your pantry for flour or any other filling with sensory appeal. This palm-sized stress-reliever is especially great for kids who suffer from separation anxiety at the start of the school year. Plus, the apple design is on-theme and totally adorable.
3. Apple Stamps
Let’s be honest, there’s nothing more novel to your preschooler than an activity that sanctions food play. Slice an apple in half and have your child help by painting the cut-side red for an apple stamp that best imitates the work of Mother Nature herself. Just don’t forget to give your wee one some googly eyes for good measure.
4. Monster Bookmarks
With the help of these homemade monster bookmarks, little readers will be ready to dive right into new material (and then pick up where they left off on day two). Gather some craft sticks, paints, pom poms, googly eyes...and don’t forget your kid, because the crafting fun is fuss-free and child-friendly.
5. Yarn Apple Garland
The process of picking out a first day of school ensemble is a yearly rite of passage, so get a head-start one late summer afternoon with this easy craft. The finished product? An accessory that goes well with any getup and makes your daughter look like the good apple she is at her core.
6. Bedazzled Denim Hat
Distress then dress a plain denim hat for a cool new DIY piece of back-t0-school fashion. Psst, there’s no actual time-consuming (or dangerous) distressing involved...they can fake it with some clever white fabric paint application and tape. To see exactly how it’s done, download the Walmart app and watch the episode on Camp by Walmart (found via the Services tab) under the “Make it Awesome” section.
8. Fluffy DIY Pencil Case
Big kids can get a head start on home economics and try their hand at sewing a unique pencil case that’s way cooler than anything you can find at the office supply store. Plus, the sense of accomplishment tastes pretty sweet.
9. Pencil Topper Minion Craft
Writing exercises and standardized tests will feel a little more fun when you give that No. 2 a minion makeover. These pencil toppers come together quickly with some felt and a needle and thread—and the outcome will bring a smile to any student’s face.
10. Shoebox School for Pretend Play
Back to school isn't an accurate phrase if you’re the parent of a preschooler who has never actually been to school before. Give your little one a leg up with this shoebox diorama that allows newbies to explore their own excitement and nervousness through the magic of pretend play.
11. Personalized Splatter Paint Backpack
This one’s for the kids who can’t resist a good, solid mess. Turn any backpack into a custom work of art by splattering it with paint, Jackson Pollock style, and adding any extra designs their hearts’ desire. Have them write their names on foam sticker sheets (the glitter variety really pops), cut out the letters and apply them to the backpack. For more ideas and directions, head to Camp by Walmart, found inside the Walmart app via the Services tab.
12. Back to School Time Capsule
Summer break comes and goes so quickly...and so does the school year, for that matter. Fortunately, you don’t need to have your smartphone ready 24/7 to capture the present on camera. Instead, celebrate the back to school ritual with a crafty time capsule.
13. DIY Back to School Chalkboard Balloons
If the first day of school is a source of dread for your little one, keep things light with a balloon craft that’s both foolproof and Insta-worthy. We highly recommend maximum kid involvement: Schoolyard veterans can write their own celebratory messages while new kids on campus can use the latex canvas to write down their worries before letting them go (just make sure your balloon is tied to a string so it doesn’t float away). Either way, the exercise will facilitate a helpful dialogue and the photo-op will make you misty-eyed.
14. Superhero Notebooks
With some comic books, a little creativity and that composition notebook on your back-to-school shopping list, your schoolyard superhero can bring her (adorable) delusions of grandeur to life...and to a classroom desk. These decoupaged notebooks are so darn cool, we wish we could turn back time and sport one ourselves.
15. Dry Erase Lunchboxes
Dare we say that Post-it notes feel antiquated in light of these dry erase lunch boxes? Maybe that’s a bridge too far, but you should still ditch ‘em when it comes to your kid’s lunch. Swing by a craft store and relay the message—I removed the crusts, so PLEASE eat your sandwich. Love you lots!—like a sophisticated crafting pro, because you know you’re gonna be that note-writing mom no matter what.
16. R2-D2 Pencil Holder
You son’s pencils are everywhere. They’re on the floor, behind the sofa cushion, on the dining room table...yet how is it that when we actually need one to jot down an important note, they’re nowhere to be found? Think of this craft as a (judgment-free) call to action. In other words, let’s capitalize on the Star Wars phase to get kids on board with the organization effort...before the school supplies eat us alive.
17. DIY Cereal Box Notebook
Attention all scrapbookers: Reserve some materials (decorative washi tape and embroidery thread) for this craft and you’ll get to watch as your grade schooler converts a plain composition book into a work of art that’s worthy of all the first day oohs and aahs.
18. Tie-Dye Crayon Spiral Notebook
Last year’s crayons join forces with this year’s notebooks for a statement-making craft they’ll enjoy all year long. Grab a hair dryer, a glue stick, sturdy paper and some washi tape to make a one-of-a-kind design you can’t find in stores. Directions, more suggested items and a video tutorial your kids can follow along with are all available in Camp by Walmart...aka, the STEM, arts and crafts and just plain fun hub that will keep your kids busy for the rest of the summer. Simply download the Walmart app to get started (then find Camp under the Services tab).
19. Back to School Bus Craft with Box Tops
The mad dash to make it to the bus stop on time is not yet a daily occurrence but it’s right around the corner, so ease back into the school year routine with a little cardboard crafting fun. Kids of all ages can participate in this easy project. Best of all, you only need basic arts and crafts materials like construction paper, paint and glue to pull this one off, so you might even be able to skip a trip to the craft store.
20. Recycled Cardboard Tube Desk Caddy
Organization is the not-so-secret key to success in school. Enlist your child in this creative project that relies on recycled materials (paper towel tubes) and promises to make homework hour a little less hectic.
21. ABC Salt Dough Magnets
If you’re preparing your future preschooler for his first day of formal schooling, this easy salt dough craft is a must. Little hands are more than welcome to get in on the action—toddler siblings can help, too—and the resulting magnets will look lovely when used to attach your kid’s most recent masterpiece to the fridge.
22. Mod Podge Book Cover Craft
Brown paper bag book covers are just a bit drab, aren’t they? Breathe new life into the boring old style of book-protectors with a project encourages creativity and builds back to school excitement.
23. DIY Back to School Photo Frame
It’s trite but true: They grow up so fast. Make the most of summer vacation with a back to school craft that keeps on giving—a DIY frame for school photos and a visual reminder of the parent-child bonding that accompanies each stage.
24. Denim Mosaic Chalkboard
Family communication gets a casual-cool look with this denim embellished chalkboard. The artistic process is easy enough for a preschooler to partake in and the finished product is cool enough to adorn a teenager’s bedroom wall.
25. Bubble Wrap Apple Stamps
Kids love bubble wrap (and don’t we all)? Turns out that this beloved packing material can also come in handy when the time comes for back to school crafting. This simple, child-friendly craft requires nothing more than the filler from your last Amazon order and some non-toxic paint. (Little ones might need help when it comes to painting something that actually resembles an apple but for bigger kids, the process is as easy as ABC.) When the painting is done, your mini can make use of this super cute apple imprint, which makes notebooks, binders, and even plain old pieces of paper look snazzy.
26. Kissing Hand Craft
The end of summer often goes hand in hand with ambivalence and angst. Enter The Kissing Hand—a library mainstay that helps kids cope with separation anxiety. Read the sweet story with your little one and then bring the heartfelt message to life with art. When the project is complete, your child will continue to benefit from this carry-along craft that symbolizes your bond.
27. Backpack Charms
You know how your son’s collection of small plastic animals seems to have no purpose but to injure the soles of your feet? Well, those trinkets finally found a raison d'être as charming ornaments that will get your kid excited to put on his backpack for the big first day.
28. Magnetic Locker Pencil Holder
Tweens can customize their lockers in a decidedly wholesome way with this magnetic pencil holder, designed to stick to that classic campus staple. But really, this cute accessory boasts both form and function, and your offspring will be proud to say he did it himself.
29. Duct Tape Monster Corkboard
Yep, the original way to pin it has survived the times. This duct tape cork board is inexpensive and so easy to make that even the littlest ones can get in on the artsy endeavor. Once this board has found its rightful place on the wall, it can be used as a gallery for budding artists or a schedule-keeping tool for parents.