Tutorial + How-to

Published on August 1st, 2010 | by Julie Finn


D.I.Y. School Supplies: A Round-up of Five Crafty Tutorials

Moveable Alphabet Made from FIMO ClayI have a love for school supplies that is deep, and possibly unholy.

Yeah, my kids don’t even go to school. We homeschool, and yet you’ll still find me trolling the aisles at Wal-mart in the middle of every summer, elbowing aside all those families with their school lists as I stock up on 15-cent folders and 75-cent binders and 25-cent packs of crayons.

The fact is, of course, that you don’t need all that crap. You especially don’t need the super-expensive licensed-character pencils and folders and notebooks, and yes, you can still use last years’ binders, even if they’re a little beat up this year and have the wrong boy band written on them in permanent marker.

Crafting your own personalized school supplies D.I.Y. style is economical, allowing you to make some very uncool stuff look very cool using your own two hands and some stash materials. It’s also an eco-friendly practice, encouraging you to reuse and recycle what you already have on hand instead of buying new. Here are five awesome projects to get you started:

  1. Brown paper bag book cover. Or you can use wrapping paper, or gift bags, or newspaper, or maps–you get the idea. No matter what materials you use, you’re turning a grotty old binder or a beaten-up secondhand book into a personalized masterpiece.
  2. Personalized hand sanitizer. Some schools require that the kiddos bring their own hand sanitizer. If you make your own sanitizer, you may not want to send your kids to school with their homemade sanitizer in some boring, plain, repurposed dispenser that screams, “Hey, my parent makes homemade hand sanitizer! Kick me!” Instead, send your kids to school with awesomely decorated repurposed dispensers that scream, “My parents let me put stickers all over stuff!”
  3. Decoupage pencils. With a little Mod Podge and a few magazine photos, you can turn those tacky old Britney Spears pencils into…Hannah Montana? The Pixies? David Wax Museum? You decide.
  4. Reusable snack bag. While not a school supply per se, it’s often nice and often necessary, to bring a snack or lunch to school. What to do if you don’t want to brown paper bag it or buy a plastic lunchbox? Make your own lunchbags, of course, out of whatever kind of fabric that you want!
  5. Oilcloth backpack. Sure, oilcloth doesn’t come in quite the variety of colors and patterns as your average Jansport, but it’s wipeable! For more variety, sub in PUL, which is getting pretty popular among you non-cloth diaperers out there (we cloth diaper users have been putting PUL on our babies’ butts for a while now).

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

9 Responses to D.I.Y. School Supplies: A Round-up of Five Crafty Tutorials

  1. Pingback: DIY School Supplies: A Round-up of Five Crafty Tutorials – Crafting A Green World (blog)

  2. Pingback: Tweets that mention Crafting a Green World » Blog Archive » D.I.Y. School Supplies: A Round-up of Five Crafty Tutorials -- Topsy.com

  3. cerise422 says:

    Just to note, most green parents want to avoid phthalates in kid's stuff and oilcloth is not phthalate free. A lot of crafters don't know this and continue using it to make things for their children. PUL is a good, safe alternative and so is Laminated Cotton (and it comes in really cute prints). I have a section on my blog with project tutorials & crafting tips for using laminated cotton: http://sewcando.blogspot.com/p/craftshare.html

  4. Claire Light says:

    My mom is a big supporter of the hand me down philosophy, and as the youngest child, I’d always get hand me down binders and notebooks (those where only the first few pages were written on). I’d usually do your craft tip#1 and cover the binder with cutouts from old magazines.

    If I were still in school I’d totally want to try out those decoupage pencils; I guess I must wait until my niece starts going to school to try that craft project 😉

  5. Ask_Netfah says:

    Love these DIY back to school craft tips! Wanted to add one of our fabric scrap ideas for your viewers to use. Another fun way to spice up your childrens' book covers. Thanks for the sharing! http://www.jandofabrics.com/newsletters/back-to-s

  6. Pingback: Sticky Business: Posts We Liked This Week | An Eclectic Blog

  7. Pingback: Simple Repurposing Projects: Web Roundup | Goodwill's Thrifting and Green Living Blog

  8. Rostelamac says:

    Thank you for includnig my decoupaged pencils in your post 🙂

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