10 Back to School Ideas That’ll Get Your Kids Excited

Are your kids bummed about the end of summer? These back-to-school ideas will get them excited to go back.

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Ah, back-to-school time. No matter your kid’s age, the transition back to the classroom can be a tough one, even if you spring for a new backpack that looks like a unicorn. And if your kids are doing virtual learning this fall, the transition may have a few extra challenges. Here are some back-to-school ideas that your kids will actually be excited about.

1. Create a Back-to-School Survival Kit

Hair shampoo (mask, conditioner, face cream, sunscreen lotion) and hair brush in the small make-up pouch. Top view, copy space.kazmulka/Getty Images

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Any Age

Get a small container—like a pencil box or a zippered makeup bag—and fill it with things that you think your kid might find helpful or comforting when they head back to class. Depending on their age, your back-to-school kit might include things like gum or candy, fun pens and pencils, stickers, a hairbrush, lotion, lip gloss, hand sanitizer, a stress ball, a few dollars for the vending machine or an encouraging note from mom or dad. If you’ve got a groaning teenager on your hands, try swapping out the kiddie goodies for snacks, gum, mini lotion or hand sanitizer, a water bottle or a gift card to their favorite fast-casual restaurant.

2. Go on a Back-to-School Shopping Trip

Mother and Daughter on Back To School Shopping During Coronavirus PandemicCasarsaGuru/Getty Images

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Any Age

This is a surefire way to get your kid excited to go back to school. (Because what kid wouldn’t love to get brand new clothes and school supplies?) Make sure you don’t leave the house without a list of the essentials (especially for dorm room shopping). And, make sure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to stock up from the Walmart Back-to-School Sale!

Psst—Add these back-to-school snacks to your list for your little ones.

3. Bake Up a Batch of Treats

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Back-to-School Idea Best For: Any Age

Saying goodbye to summer and hello to the classroom (or dining room table) can be a tough transition, but luckily, there’s nothing that a batch of back-to-school cookies can’t fix! If a tray of cookies greets your students when they walk through the door, there’s a good chance they’ll forget all about that first-day homework assignment.

Don’t forget about those college students! Send them a care package treat.

4. Pick Up These Picture Books

Mother and daughter readingImage Source/Getty Images

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Elementary Students

For younger kids, reading picture books about the first day of school can help squelch some of their fear and anxiety. After all, if the Pout-Pout Fish isn’t scared, there’s no reason they need to be. Good picks include: First Day Jitters, The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School, The Night Before Preschool, Kindergarten, Here I Come or The Kissing Hand. This is a great option for a back-to-school gift, too.

5. Prepare Yummy School Lunches

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Back-to-School Idea Best For: Elementary Students

Break from tradition for the first week of school. Sure, PB&J in a brown bag is all good and fine, but to make your kiddo feel extra special, pack some of their faves for lunch—spinach turkey pinwheels, peanut butter pitas or pizza wraps. Hungry for more? Try our favorite lunch box ideas. Or if your kid is old enough, have them whip up their own lunch.

6. Carve Out a Kid Cave

Young Native American boy draws in his sketchpad underneath his blanket fort in the living roomFatCamera/Getty Images

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Elementary Students

Anybody who’s ever picked up a grumpy kid from school knows they need some downtime after a day of rules to unwind. The first week back might be kind of stressful for your kids, so providing them with a spot simply for relaxing might do the trick. This could be as simple as creating a cozy fort and gathering some new books, a juice box and one of these yummy snack ideas.

7. DIY a Portable Homework Station

A SIMPLE HOMEWORK CADDYCourtesy cleanmama.com

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Elementary Students

Blogger Becky of Clean Mama had the great idea to create a homework station out of a Target cutlery caddy. Fill canning jars with homework essentials—like pencils, markers, a ruler and stickers. You could even put some energizing snacks in one cup, like this granola trail mix, to help keep the brain fueled up and ready to conquer algebra.

8. Decorate Back-to-School Essentials

iBayam Journal Planner Pens Colored Pens Fine Point Markers Fine Tip Drawing Pens Porous Fineliner Pen for Bullet Journaling Writing Note Taking Calendar Coloring Art Office School Supplies, 18 ColorsVia amazon.com

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Middle School through College Age

Add a personal touch to lockers, planners, notebooks and binders. Middle schoolers will love creating collages of photos and stickers onto their school essentials. Try out a more sophisticated look for high school or college kids by using washi tape and decorative felt pens.

9. Make a Back-to-School Craft

Back to School DIY projectsCourtesy Damask Love

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Middle School through College Age

Make a back-to-school craft for homeroom or their dorm room! Middle schoolers will love these washi tape pencils, high schoolers will stay organized in style with these homemade pocket folders and your college student will use this hanging paper organizer on the daily. Make them as a gift or send these ideas to your kid to make on their own.

10. Sign Up For School Activities and Organizations

Multi-ethnic boys reading notice in school. Male friends are checking list on bulletin board. They are in uniform.HRAUN/Getty Images

Back-to-School Idea Best For: Middle School through College Age

Looking for another way to get your older kids excited to go back to school? Have them sign up for school sports, activities and organizations! If your teen (or pre-teen) is heading into middle school, high school or college for the first time, have them do a little extra research before their first day so they can have a good idea of which clubs they’d like to join. College students can do a little digging on their college’s website and social media pages for ideas, too.

Amanda Kippert
Amanda Kippert has been an award-winning freelance journalist for nearly two decades. She is based in Tucson, Arizona and specializes in food, health, fitness, parenting and humor, as well as social issues. She is the content editor of the domestic violence nonprofit DomesticShelters.org.
Christina Herbst
Christina is a Social Media Editor for Taste of Home. She enjoys trying out local restaurants and coffeehouses and adding copious amounts of garlic and cheese to any recipe she can get her hands on. In her free time, you can find her hunting down one-of-a-kind furniture pieces at thrift and vintage stores and DIYing trendy home decor crafts.