30 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. Indeed, 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.

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1. Back to School Paper Plate Apple Bags

With just a little cutting, painting and pasting, kids of all ages can easily craft these adorable paper plate apple bags, which feature a handy pouch for storing pencils, crayons, erasers and other small school supplies that have a habit of going missing.

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. Back to School Circle Print Apple Art

The geometric design on this eye-pleasing apple craft is the result of a pretty nifty technique that involves dipping the end of a toilet paper tube in paint and then stamping it onto paper (in this case a free apple template) to create perfect circles. It’s easy enough for a little kid to achieve and looks seriously cool, especially once your little one has added some watercolors to complete the work of art.

7. Yarn Wrapped Letter Bookmarks

No need for dog-eared pages—just procure some wooden letters, a ball of yarn and assorted decorative materials of your child’s choosing and you can spend the afternoon crafting a customizable bookmark for a place-holder that’s hard to lose.

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. Back to School Crowns

It doesn’t get easier than this free printable craft—just cut out the cardstock crown (or have your kid do it if their scissor skills are up to snuff) and leave your kid to color and decorate it however they see fit. Tip: Pom poms, rhinestones and other crafty embellishments will make the project more fun.

11. Toilet Paper Roll Pencil

Take advantage of the free printable template or go your own way with this one—either way, the craft is pretty easy for kids of all ages to accomplish and the finished product is undeniably adorable.

12. Glue Stick Back to School Teacher Gift

When you go school supply shopping be sure to stock up on extra glue sticks so you and your child can put together this cute wreath. It’s easy to make and there’s no hot glue gun involved, so kids can help at every stage of the crafting process. Plus, it will look darn cute hung up in the classroom and the gesture will likely get your kid on the teacher’s good side.

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. Pencil Vase

Here, another teacher gift that involves turning excess school supplies into something worthy of display. This one does require a hot glue gun at one point, though, so maybe send your kid out to pick some fresh flowers while you tackle that part of the process.

16. R2-D2 Pencil Holder

Your 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. Emoji Magnets

These playful magnets come together in a jiffy with just a little yellow paint, some wooden discs and either the artistic talent of a kid with excellent fine motor skills or some store-bought emoji stickers.

18. Back to School Homework Caddy

Pro tip: Craft this DIY homework caddy with your kid before you go back to school shopping. That way the supplies can be sent straight to their new home, as opposed to being strewn all over yours.

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 that encourages creativity and builds back to school excitement.

23. DIY Back to School Photo Frvame

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.

30. Easy Origami Bus

Origami is a fun parent-child activity that improves dexterity, boosts visual reasoning skills and yields a pretty nifty paper craft. Needless to say, this particular origami project is perfectly fitting for the back to school season.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Emma Singer is a freelance contributing editor and writer at PureWow who has over 7 years of professional proofreading, copyediting and writing experience. At PureWow, she covers...