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DIY: Back to school

Decorate a milk jug snack container with a fun button and scrapbook paper for added personality. (Republican Eagle photo by Danielle Killey)1 / 5
Personalized bookmarks are an easy and fun project that can come in handy to hold your spot in textbooks, notebooks and planners. (Republican Eagle photo by Danielle Killey)2 / 5
Use an old cardboard box from your favorite snack or cereal to create a pencil holder. (Republican Eagle photo by Danielle Killey)3 / 5
An old milk jug can become a container for snacks in a few simple steps. Simply draw and cut out flaps to use the bottom as a holder for treats. (Republican Eagle photo by Danielle Killey)4 / 5
Decorating school supplies such as pens and pencils is a simple way to add personality and fun to back-to-school. Craft tape is one way to add your own touch. (Republican Eagle photo by Danielle Killey)5 / 5

Some kids look forward to heading back to school, while others may dread it. But some simple touches, such as decorating school supplies, might make the process a little more fun.

Make back-to-school time exciting with personalized pencils, recycled snack containers and bookmarks.

Back-to-school can also be an expensive time for parents, so making supplies at home can help save money.

Here are just a few ideas for useful and fun back-to-school crafts.

Milk jug lunch containers


• Plastic milk jug (gallon or half gallon)

• Black marker

• Hair tie, rubber band or other elastic material

• Button or similar

• Hot glue or sewing materials

• Optional — scrapbook paper, stickers or other embellishments

This relatively simple project from Crème de la Craft helps you recycle old materials, save money and personalize lunch containers all at the same time.

First, thoroughly wash the milk container and let dry.

Then draw four half-circles, one on each side of the milk jug, with a black marker. Make one side higher to serve as the lid of the new container.

Cut along the inside of the black lines. Discard the rest of the milk jug.

Bend down the flaps to form the container.

To create a container closure, sew or glue a button on the top of the lid. Then poke a hole just below the front flap on the container and put a hair tie or rubber band halfway through. Tie a knot on the inside of the container. The loop goes over the button to keep the container closed.


• Try to make the three shorter semi-circles that will form the sides of the container about the same size. The lid should be about twice as tall.

• If the container isn't folding properly after cutting off the extra milk jug material, try making deeper slits on the corners.

• If you decide to decorate the lid with scrapbook paper or anything else that will cover the entire top, do that before gluing on the button.

• Make sure the button is securely fastened to the lid. That is what will keep the container from popping open and spilling snacks in backpacks or lunchboxes.

Decorative bookmarks


• Plain paper

• Decorative scrapbook paper

• Ribbon

• Shape punch

• Glue or tape

Personalized bookmarks are a simple way to mark your spot in textbooks, notebooks and planners. Plus, kids of all ages can enjoy the easy craft in the final days before school.

Cut a piece of thick plain paper to the desired size for the bookmark. Use the shaped punch down the paper.

Cut a piece of scrapbook paper to the same size as the plain sheet and glue or tape on the back. Use the punch on the decorative paper and glue or tape that piece to the front, if desired.

Poke a hole near the top of the book mark. Cut a piece of ribbon, fold over and slip the looped end through the hole. Pull the other end of the ribbon through.


• Use thick plain paper, such as cardstock or even cardboard, to make sure the bookmark is sturdy.

• Keep in mind paper punches with shapes designed to go a certain way may not reach to the bottom of the bookmark, so you might need to flip it upside down or only punch through the top.

Recycled pencil holders


• Cardboard box, such as from cereal or pop

• Hook-and-loop fastener (ex. Velcro)

• Scissors

• Clear tape

• Pencil

• Ruler

• Scoring tool, such as butter knife

• Template (optional)

• Scrapbook paper or fabric (optional)

Create a pencil box from your favorite cereal or soda. Make your own design or use the template found here: courtesy of Creative Itch.

Flatten the cardboard box into one layer.

Cut out the template shape, or whatever box size you designed.

Fold and tape with clear tape.

Place Velcro strips on the inside of the lid and the top of the container.

If you don't want the cardboard design to show, glue or tape on fabric or scrapbook paper.


• Use bigger boxes if you want more of the logo and less of the other information on the box.

• If you make your own template, be sure to measure the pencils or supplies you plan to store to make sure the box is wide and tall enough.

First day photo board


• Whiteboard or chalkboard

• Permanent marker/paint

Remember what your kids were like at the start of each school year by taking a photo by the first day board.

Simply write categories you want to highlight with permanent marker or paint on the board. Here are some examples:

• Age:

• Grade:

• Year:

• When I grow up I want to be:

• My favorite color is:

• My favorite food is:

Then each year, fill in the categories with wipe-off marker or chalk and take a photo of your child holding the board before they head off to school.


• You also can create a template and print out a new document each year.

Decorated pencils/pens


• Pencils and pens

• Decorative tape, glue and scrapbook paper and/or paint

Make your school supplies your own by simply decorating them. Wrap decorative tape around pencils, paint with glue and cover in scrapbook paper or paint the pens and pencils.


• Decorate pencils before sharpening (if you're not using mechanical ones).

• The tape is easiest to sharpen through later, versus glue or fabric.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

(651) 459-4629