It’s almost one of my favorite times of the year: back to school supply sales! I’ve always had a thing for pristine notebooks, brand new crayons, and my personal favorite, pens. I’m not talking about regular Bic or Papermate pens; I fully admit that I’m a bit of a pen snob, and rely on Uniball or Staedtler or Pilot for my everyday writing needs.
So every July/August, school-supply-buying time rolls around, and I go crazy, stocking up on glue sticks and pencils, highlighters and scissors, rulers and protractors. Of course, my kids only need one or two packages of each of these items for school, so I end up with a big pile of supplies that they’ll never use. What to do?
Here are a few projects I’ve taken on in past years in order to put the cheap back to school supplies to good use:
Composition books work best for this, because they don’t fall apart with a lot of use, like spiral notebooks do. During summer sales, I can usually get them for 50 cents or so. I prefer the college ruled, but the wide ruled ones are easier to find. What I do is use scrapbook paper to cover the front and back covers, inside and out. (I also have an affinity for scrapbook paper, so I have a large selection; you can feel free to use cardstock or construction paper for this.) Once the cover is appropriately decorated with the use of stickers, rick rack or whatever I have on hand, I can use the book for anything at all! To write recipes in, to take notes, etc… or, my personal favorite, to make a special memory book with the kids. We take turns writing down experiences that we want to remember, as well as experiences that we do remember. These are great to look back on later!
Melted Crayon Art
Once the kids color with a box of crayons and wear down the points, they don’t want to color with them, so the 25-cent boxes of Crayolas are actually really handy. But what to do with the still-good-but-worn-down crayons that are left? I peel them and store them in baggies grouped loosely by color. Then when I have a good selection and the kids are home on a rainy day, we can melt them into crayon “tarts.” Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners, break up the crayons and fill the liners about 1/3 of the way with a few different colors each. Bake at 250 degrees until the crayons are melted, then remove the pan and let them fully cool. Pop them out of the liners, and you have marbled tart-shaped crayons! You can also shave crayons with a vegetable peeler, place the shavings between wax paper layers, and iron, creating a sheet that can be cut into various shapes and hung in the window.
Folders are fun, particularly the kind without the prongs. I’ve found that making lapbooks is a great activity to do with the kids. They can use them as book reports at school, or can simply make them for their own benefit. My kids have gotten really creative with them. The basic premise is that the folder serves as a base for homemade mini-books about a particular topic. There are too many possibilities to discuss here; a quick Internet search for lapbooks will give you a ton of ideas!
What are some ways that you use extra back to school supplies that you can buy for a song?