It’s hard to believe, but undeniable every time we step into a store lately— back-to-school season is upon us! Whether you live in a part of the country where classes have already started, or if you have about a month of summer left in your hometown, we all spend this time of year trying to get organized and help our kids succeed. One of the best sources for school time tricks and hacks? The Dollar Store! That’s right, nearly everything you could want for a better-than-ever school year can be found there, and there are tons of ways to get creative with it. Check out our favorite smart and scholarly frugal ideas!
- Homework Caddy
The thing most kids dread the most about going back to school? Having to give those precious afternoons and evenings over to homework! Make the experience a little more enjoyable – and MUCH more organized – with a homework caddy. You can make it like this one, lazy-Susan style, with shot glasses and marble beads, or this more simple version from Chocolates For Breakfast that uses cake pans and candlesticks. Either way, the materials will all be at the Dollar Store!
- Portable Homework Caddy
Do your kids do your homework less in a designated spot and more wherever in the house the knowledge and creativity starts flowing? Then they need portable homework caddies! This super-easy one is made from upcycled household products, so you get even more bang for your Dollar Store buck.
- Dish Rack Book Rack
If your kids are a little older and at the point where their backpacks are filled with more big textbooks and notebooks, rather than crayons and scissors, you need a different kind of organization. Enter the dish rack! They’re perfect for holding everything, totally affordable and available at the Dollar Store. This option’s especially great for home schoolers, too.
- Tablecloth Bulletin Board
Whether it’s for your home’s “command center,” homework area, kids’ rooms or kitchen, a bulletin board is a great way to keep up with school schedules, permission slips, and homework. Learn from frugal teachers and use plastic Dollar Store tablecloths to refresh a worn out bulletin board backing or give it new seasonal flair. And speaking of command centers . . .
- Family Command Center
. . . did you know you can absolutely make your own? You can, and you can find most or all of the materials at your local Dollar Store.
- Calm Down Jar
Going back to school – or starting it for the very first time – can be a prime trigger for a child’s anxiety or just plain temper tantrums. One teacher-approved fixer? A Calm Down Jar! This one uses a Lego mini figure, but there are plenty of small toys from the Dollar Store you can use, too, along with the glass jar, glue, glitter and food coloring you need to make it.
- Fidget Tools
For students with attention and/or sensory processing disorders, fidget tools are heaven-sent. Find affordable ones like squishy balls, mini Slinkys, yarn, silly putty and more at the Dollar Store.
- Magnetic Paper Bin
We all need ways to keep announcements, permission slips, and homework for each child organized, and the more kids we have, the more complicated it gets. Make it easier with these DIY magnetic paper bins! Grab scrapbook paper and magnets from the Dollar Store, and upcycle an old cereal box for easy organization.
- Flashcard Organizer
Flashcards are one of THE best ways to study, whether it’s vocab words, times tables, important history dates or elements on the periodic table. They’re also one of the easiest things to lose. Keep them together and organized with a simple travel soap container from the Dollar Store.
- Book Covers
Those fancy colored book covers are fun, but expensive, and the old paper grocery bag trick can be a little boring. Compromise by getting some fabric from the Dollar Store to make book covers! They’re great not only for protecting those textbooks, but for personalizing both them and notebooks to make sure your child will never mix hers up with a classmate’s.
- Backpack Holder
How much time does your child waste every morning trying to remember where he dropped his backpack the night before? Keep it organized, easy, and right by the front door by using a wreath hook to hang up the bag where he can’t miss it.
- “Quick Grab” Hat And Mitten Baskets
Another thing to keep by the door for faster mornings? Baskets for hats and mittens! Get a Dollar Store basket for each kid, and your cold-weather mornings will be SO much easier. You can also take it one step further . . .
- Makeshift Mudroom
. . . and make a make-shift mud room anywhere in your home! Dollar Store hooks and baskets in a spare corner make it easy and keep your kids organized. Goodbye morning scramble!
- Clothespin Word Note Clips
Even when you have folders for each child’s papers, it can be tricky to keep each of those papers on track and remember what to do with each one. Make it easier with some clothespins from the Dollar Store! Write or stamp key words on them, and use them to keep your tasks straight.
- Schoolwork Memory Boxes
Another thing you’ll want to do with all that schoolwork coming home? Save some of it! Whether it’s for yourself or for a gift to give your child upon high school graduation, looking back at papers and tests from younger days can be so sweet and funny. Keep the stuff you want to save organized and picturesque with some file boxes and folders for each school year from the Dollar Store.
- Locker Decor
One of the most exciting things for older kids is getting that first locker, and they always want to personalize it. Make it fun for them without breaking your wallet by getting supplies for a mirror, magnets, and a frame at the Dollar Store.
- Magnetic Word Board
Moveable letters are a great way to build a child’s vocabulary, but we don’t always want them underfoot in the kitchen while they play on the fridge. Far better? A Dollar Store metal baking sheet and magnet letters!
- Over-Door Supplies Organizer
Running low on room and can’t devote extra space for homework stations? Reappropriate an over-the-door pocket organizer! Easy, and affordable.
- First Aid & Survival Kit
For older kids moving from class to class, it isn’t always clear where to get things like bandages or a tissue, but it’s not worth missing class to head to the nurse. Solve the problem with a DIY first aid kit that can also hold things like mints, gum, hair ties, and sanitary products. Even better, attach emergency contact information on the inside cover!
- School Supply Buckets
Kids mourning the loss of beach season? Make those summer memories last by using colorful Dollar Store pails or buckets to store school supplies like scissors, glue and pencils. Bonus— while the hooks in this picture came from IKEA, we just know you can find some of those at the Dollar Store, too!
- Ice Pop Crayon Organizer
Nothing slows young scholars down more than not being able to find the right writing or drawing implement when they need one. Keep the organized with – of all things! – the trays you use to make ice pops! This idea is especially good for when you have multiple children using multiple packs of crayons and colored pencils.
- Lunch Station
What slows down school-day mornings more than any other? Making lunches for picky eaters! If you’ve ever had to frantically repack a lunch for a kid who’s suddenly decided he doesn’t like what you put together the night before, you’ll love this idea that lets you pass on the job to the kids themselves. Just use Dollar Store baskets to make a mix-and-match lunch station. Your kids can make their own lunches, or you can do it with much more ease of mind and time.
- Easy Ice Packs
Packing something cold for lunch, but worried that your kid’s going to lose his ice pack— again? Just make some DIY ice packs that don’t cost much and you’ll feel better if one or two (or five) go missing! All you need to do is soak a sponge in water, pop it in a zip-top plastic baggie, and freeze. (And if you prefer the gel version, you can make some of those on your own, too!) Easy!
Getting organized, prepping for school, and saving money all at once? What’s better than that?! Check out even more Dollar Store back-to-school ideas from Buzzfeed and DIY & Crafts, then tell us how YOU prep for the start of the school year. Which trick will you try first?