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Easy DIY projects for getting school-ready without the store

Aug. 20, 2014 at 9:52 AM ET

As the kids head back to school this fall, you may be dreading the school-supply store run that comes with the season. 

But fret no longer: Brit Morin, founder of Brit + Co, stopped by TODAY to share her tips for fun and easy DIY projects for essential back-to-school items. From crafty backpacks to homemade book covers, find out how you can get classroom-ready — without spending too long at the store. 

VIDEO: Watch how to craft some fun and easy DIY school supplies for back-to-school!

Lunchboxes

Lunchbox
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Instead of buying an expensive, decorative lunch box at the store, design one of your own with this fun, school-themed personal touch. Simply paint the outside (or inside) of the lunchbox with chalkboard or whiteboard paint, then use chalk or dry erase markers to pen your own messages or decorations. If you're a parent who likes writing notes or reminders to your children, this is especially handy.

  • Chalkboard lunchbox: Paint two coats of chalkboard paint on a tin lunchbox. Let it dry, then write on it with chalk (or with a chalk pen for a more permanent phrase). 
  • Whiteboard lunch box: Paint the outside with white acrylic paint (you'll need a few coats). Then add three coats of white board paint. Let it dry for three days, then write on it with dry erase markers.
Too cool for school? Not with these creative lunchboxes that will keep your food fresh and your kid happy.

Book covers

Crafting your own book covers is a great way to add a creative touch to school supplies — not to mention it's also easy and inexpensive to do. To create the perfect cover, just add some fun elements like colorful tape, a die-cut design or Instagram-printed wrapping paper. 

Book covers
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  • Colorful tape cover: Wrap your book with craft paper, or even a paper bag from the grocery store. Then simply add colorful tape to create a pattern or design.
  • Die-cut design cover: Wrap a book with plain, white paper. Use a print-out of your favorite design to trace it onto the book cover. Then, using an Exacto knife, cut out the design. Tape the design to the back so that it peeks through.
  • Instagram photo cover: Take your favorite Instagram photos and have them printed on wrapping paper. Some examples of where you can do this are the website Spoonflower or Kinko's. 

Personalized pencils

Standard yellow and mechanical pencils are a bit boring, so why not jazz them up with your own favorite pattern? Coincidentally, washi tape (a Japanese craft tape known for its cool designs) happens to be the perfect width to wrap around a pencil. Just tear off strips and wrap — you can even switch them up whenever you want.

  • Washi tape-wrapped pencils: Use washi tape in your favorite designs to decorate your pencils with different patterns and colors. 

Pencil holders

Now that you have your fun, personalized pencils, you'll obviously need a place to put them. Here are some creative ideas for storing them in a pretty convenient place: your notebook. 

  • Outer notebook pencil sleeve: Hem the edges of a long strip of fabric. Then add a front pocket, and stitch some elastic to the bottom so that you can slip it onto your notebook.
  • Inner notebook pencil sleeve: Cut and sew a small piece of fabric. Then stitch a piece of elastic onto the fabric, making sure to leave room for the pens and pencils. Hot glue the fabric to the inside of your notebook cover.

Cord organizers

To keep all those pesky cords neatly wrapped up when you're not using them, create a simple, homemade pouch that will keep them (and you!) organized. To craft a cord-carrying case, simply use cut-outs from pieces of vinyl or leather, and add a snap to keep it closed. 

  • Roll-up cord pouch: Cut a house shape out of your vinyl or leather and decide where you want your cords. Make slits using your Exacto knife, then roll it up. Add a snap to keep it closed.
  • Mini cord pouch: Using your leftover vinyl or leather, cut out small rectangles and add snaps to create pouches. 

Bags

Create a crafty backpack that will get you excited about packing up for school this year. Instead of opting for a boring, solid-colored bag, try one of these ideas that's full of individuality.

Bag
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  • Instagram-themed backpack: Here is a great way to use Instagram photos — teens will especially love it. Using photo transfer paper, simply print out and iron the images onto your favorite tote or backpack. 
  • Painted backpack: Customize your tote or backpack with fabric paint. Simply create a design with painter's tape, add the paint, wait for it to dry and then peel the tape off. You'll be done in under an hour.
Bag
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