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DIY Projects You Have to Try If You Teach Elementary School

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 -- McKenna Wierman

What teacher doesn’t love scrolling through Pinterest for awesome lesson ideas, classroom decoration inspiration, organizational tips, and everything in between? But, during the busy school year, it’s hard enough to find the time to eat three meals a day, let alone invest hours jumping into every project you come across online. Instead, take some time this summer to not only enjoy a little crafting but also to start getting yourself prepared for back-to-school time too! Give these handpicked projects a try because, before you know it, that school bell will be ringing and it’ll be time to get back to teaching.

Build the Perfect Teacher Binders

Some lucky educators are just naturally organized. But, if you don’t possess that gift, a teacher binder can be the perfect answer to keep track of everything you’re juggling. These cool tools give you space to keep track of your calendar, lesson plans, student data, and any other info you find yourself consistently reaching for. Check out this approach to build your teacher binder in just five easy steps. While you’re at it, make that easy-to-use substitute binder you wish you had last year when you caught the flu and were out for three days unexpectedly.

Craft Your Way to Classroom Management

Summer is the time to do the legwork for any new class-management strategies you want to implement next school year. If you’re looking for inspiration, you might check out this cool classroom incentive “punch it! board or these fun-to-make “quiet critters” that your students will love. These eye-catching watermelon-themed flip sticks are a great way to keep track of which students you’ve called on over multiple “question sessions” so that everyone gets a turn. Or, if you’re really feeling artsy, take a spin at putting together this cool spinner wheel for brain-break exercises, picking students or groups at random, and more!

Turn Pool Noodles into Station Manipulatives

Pool and beach season means that pool noodles are practically everywhere. So, take advantage of their abundance, and get started on some crafts your classroom will lose their noodle over! Cut pool noodles into pieces to make a fun sight words activity, teach a lesson in fractions, practice addition and subtraction, or create just-for-fun pom-pom shooters! You can also turn pool noodles into giant pencils for a fun back-to-school picture prop or make Truffula Trees to add some Dr. Seuss sparkle to your classroom library or literacy station.

Give Your Desk a Makeover

If there’s one thing that’s true about teaching, it’s that there’s always more organizing to be done at your desk. Start the decluttering by going digital and ditching your bulky paper desk calendar for a smarter online alternative with Google. If you’re one of those people who really needs a physical calendar, add a pop of color to your teacher-corner with this hangable paint-chip calendar. With all those pesky papers gone, you’ll have plenty of room to personalize your space with these cute DIY desk crafts.

Try Some DIY Flexible Seating

Next up, you can begin to tackle the delicate art of organizing your classroom seating (which, it turns out, has some science behind it). If you’re looking to move toward more flexible seating in your classroom, check out these DIY ideas for crate seats, tire cushions, fidget chairs using a rubber innertube, or a  comfy floor cushion. You’ll be amazed at how budget-friendly, fun, and easy it is to incorporate flexible seating options in your class. And, even if you’re not ready to take your class down the flexible seating route, some of these DIY seats also make great chairs for a reading nook or classroom library!

Make Your Own Welcome-Back Gifts

A little welcome-back gift for your students can be a great way to get the new school year off on the right foot. If you feel like spending the day indoors, try making these “worry stones to hand out—students can use them as fidget aids in place of the all-too-popular fidget spinners. Drop them in these easy-to-make, back-to-school goodie bags to greet your new class on the first day.

Kick Off Your Classroom Decor

Get a head start on your back-to-school decorating efforts, and try your hand at upcycling with this adorable water bottle fish craft or any one of these super cute toilet paper roll crafts. Use yarn to suspend crafts from the ceiling as wacky decor, add name tags to them for a friendly “meet the class” display outside your room, or build them with your students during their first week back as a fun way to help everyone get to know