15 Back-to-School Crafts for Kids to Kick-Start a New Year

Designed for toddlers, preschoolers, and elementary school students, these 15 back-to-school crafts are fun and functional. Make a desk organizer, bookmark, pencil pouch, and more.

When back-to-school season rolls around, many children aren't quite ready to swap summer days for study sessions. Get them excited for another academic year with some creative back-to-school crafts!

We rounded up easy crafts for toddlers, imaginative crafts for preschoolers, and clever crafts for elementary school students. And perhaps the best part: Your child can actually use some of these items in their studious endeavors, whether they choose to make a desk organizer, bookmark, pencil pouch, personalized backpack, or something else.

Kids Craft Geometric Pencil Pouches
Jeff Harris
  • RELATED: 8 DIY School Supplies

So pick a day in late summer (maybe one with a rainy forecast), choose a back-to-school craft, and let your child's creativity run wild!

Back-to-School Crafts for Toddlers

Toddlers are likely heading to daycare instead of big-kid school, but that doesn't make the milestone any less exciting! Kids can't think too creatively at this age, so the best crafts will keep them entertained while bolstering their motor skills.

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Sticker Sorting

Kids Collections Shadowbox Picture Frame with Stickers
Aaron Dyer

Give your toddlers some stickers with a back-to-school theme. They can make a collage with them, which improves their fine motor skills. Older toddlers can also sort the stickers by color or size.

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Open-Ended Art

Manners & Responsibility: 3 Manners Toddlers Should Know

Your toddler will probably use variety of art supplies at daycare: pencils, crayons, markers, paint, etc. Introduce them to these instruments by giving them a blank canvas and letting them create open-ended art. They'll practice hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills, and fine motor dexterity!

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Finger Painting

Allison McDonald baby block painting
Courtesy of Allison McDonald

Finger painting has plenty of benefits for toddlers: It can teach colors, improve fine motor development, and encourage creative thinking. Give your toddler painting prompts related to daycare (like "What will you eat for a snack?"). While the final result won't look anything like a banana or crackers, it might get them thinking about what to expect at daycare.

Back-to-School Crafts for Preschoolers

When children reach preschool age, they might start to get excited—and a little nervous—for back-to-school season. Prepare them for the classroom with these craft ideas, which include patterned pencils, a polka dot backpack, and paper collages.

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Fruity Pencils

pencils with tape design
Dane Tashima. Dane Tashima

This back-to-school craft only needs two materials: washi tape and white pencils. Your preschooler can wrap the tape around the pencils to create personalized writing utensils—perfect for learning letters and numbers!

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Polka Dot Backpack

Do the Polka Backpack
Tara Donne

Your preschooler can assemble this DIY backpack with a little help from a parent. Start by getting three to five foam pouncers of different sizes, as well as craft paint in their favorite colors. To make a dot, dip a pouncer in paint, remove the excess by dabbing on paper, and pounce it onto the backpack. Let the backpack dry, and it's ready to wear!

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Preschool Collage

children creating art work
Photographs by Todd Meier

Draw a simple image of something related to preschool (the school building, a backpack, a book cover, etc.). Gather clippings of different colors from newspapers, magazines, or construction paper. Then, let your child glue the clippings onto the drawing for a makeshift collage. While they're completing the back-to-school craft for preschoolers, talk about shapes, colors, and what to expect at school.

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Back-to-School Coloring Pages

Happy Student Coloring Page
Eric Jeon. Eric Jeon

Print out some of these back-to-school coloring pages, and have your preschooler decorate them. (Bonus points for staying in the lines!) Hang the completed pictures on your fridge to remind them of the fun school year ahead.

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Bulletin Board

Mushroom Bulletin Board
Peter Ardito

Your preschooler can pin up school projects and photos on this bulletin board, which is actually made with button mushrooms! Simply slice a large button mushroom down the middle and blot it dry. Dip it into acrylic paint (poured onto a paper plate), and press onto a bulletin board. Rotate the mushroom 90 degrees, then stamp again. Repeat until you have a flower shape. (Note: You can also make stamps from other vegetables like potatoes, broccoli, and peppers!)

Back-to-School Crafts for Kids

Older kids can make crafts that double as functional back-to-school supplies, including pencil pouches, bookmarks, backpacks, and desk organizers.

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Desk Organizer

Kids Craft Desk Organizer
Jeff Harris

Fun and functional, this desk organizer is perfect for older children. But how do you make it? Well, you'll need a metal mesh desk organizer, primer and spray paint (optional), yarn, tapestry needle, and tacky glue.

What To Do:

1. Prime and spray-paint the organizer if desired. Let dry.

2. Draw a pattern or design on the organizer and mark points on mesh.

3. Cut a 45-inch strand of yarn and thread the needle. Starting at the back left side of the diamond, insert the needle through to the front, leaving a 4-inch tail. Weave in and out of the mesh to match the diamond shape—or whatever shape you designed. Double-knot the ends in back. Trim close to the knot, and use tacky glue to secure the ends. Repeat with other yarn colors

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Moon Bookmarks

moon bookmarks on blue background
Dane Tashima. Dane Tashima

These unique bookmarks can mark your child's place in their books. To make them, have your child roll white and gray clay together into a ball. Divide into 3/4-inch balls, and flatten into 1-inch circles. Insert a jumbo metal paper clip into each clay circle, pressing to secure. If you want, make craters by pressing a wooden skewer into the clay moon. Bake the bookmarks according to instructions on the clay package.

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Pencil Pouches

Kids Craft Geometric Pencil Pouches
Jeff Harris

Most elementary-aged children use—and carry—pencil pouches. They are essential for storing sharpeners, erasers, pens, pencils, and more. But your child's pencil pouch doesn't have to be store-bought—or boring. Buy a blank canvas bag and let your child decorate it as they see fit, using fabric pens and (maybe, if you're feeling adventurous) puffy paint.

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Personalized Backpack

Kids Craft Backpack
Jeff Harris

Personalize your back page using fabric paint and a pen or a needle and embroidery floss. Not sure what to do? Draw (or paint) stars on the surface of your bag—or other shapes. The world is your child's oyster. Let their creativity and imagination soar.

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Pencil Pal

Pencil Pals Craft
Sabrina Helas

Homework is never fun, but these spiky-haired pencil toppers make it a little more manageable. To make them, layer three pieces of streamer together (with 4.5 inch lengths). Cut fringe into one of the long edges, and put double-sided tape between the layers. Roll the stack around a pencil, securing with tape, and finish up with a paper mouth and googly eyes.

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Reading Nook Canopy

reading nook
Kate Sears

Sure, studying at a desk works fine, but why not create an irresistible (and distraction-free) retreat instead? Our no-sew canopy is made from a bed sheet and a quilting hoop.

Get the how-to instructions here.

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Apple Cozy

Apple Cozy
Photo by Ed Judice, Idea By Tova Opatrny

It can be a bruising ride to school in a kid's lunch box. Protect fruit from dirt and dings with a fleece pouch. It's such an adorable back-to-school craft for kids!

Get the how-to instructions here.

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