Back to School Organizing Ideas

With the arrival of a new school year, I always feel the need to get organized, don't you? There is something fantastic about  making the chaos of "back to school" a little less chaotic. Today, I am sharing a few of my favourite back to school organizing ideas. They are easy, inexpensive, and guaranteed to bring a little order to your home.

*Note: This post contains a few affiliate links. If you decide to make a purchase using one of these links, I will get a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

Use clear shoe racks - Clear shoe racks are perfect for organizing because they utilize the unused space behind a door, and the clear pockets make it easy for kids and adults to easily find the item they are looking for. You can use them for school / homework supplies, water bottles / school lunch containers, and clothing (hats, mitts, socks, underwear, etc...).

Create a homework area - An organized space to do homework is important, and what could be cuter than making your own colourful pencil holder for all your homework supplies? Simply cover a dollar store pencil holder with crayons using a glue gun. You can find the full tutorial here.

Organize the kids' clothes - Back to school is the perfect time to organize clothes. First, get rid of everything that is out of season or doesn't fit. Then, fold everything like the picture below... clothing folded into thirds and placed in the drawer so everything can be viewed at a glance. It is life-changing. The kids will no longer have to dig through their drawer to find their favourite t-shirt!

Label everything - You work hard to get kids the things they need, so don't let them lose all their clothes and school supplies. I label everything... and I can't tell you how many items (including expensive hoodies and jackets) that have found their way back home. You can check out the labels I order here.

Stock the pantry - Make snacks accessible and minimize the time needed to make lunches by stocking and organizing the pantry. Save time and money by buying in bulk, getting rid of boxes, and storing snacks in easy to access containers.

Get the backpack off the floor - If you don't have a mudroom full of lockers, you can still easily create a space for backpacks. Using hooks to get them off the floor is key. We have door hooks that can support the weight of backpacks full of books. When the backpacks come home, sort through them, do the homework, and then hang them up on the hooks. They will be ready to grab on the way out the door the following day.

Create a space for artwork - All parents struggle with all the artwork that comes home from school. The key is to not let it pile up. When it comes home, display it proudly. (We use decorated clipboards to allow the artwork to be changed easily and frequently.) Then, when new masterpieces come home, get rid of the old stuff. Special pieces can be saved, but the rest should go in the recycling bin.

Aren't these back to school organizing ideas great? How do you organize your home for a new school year? The shoe rack is key for us, but all these ideas help us control the chaos. Please share your best tips and tricks in the comments. We are always looking for new ideas.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

First Day of School Class Treats

The first day of school is a big deal for kids, and it is an occasion that deserves to be celebrated. For this reason, I have always loved sending my boys back to school with treats for their teachers and classmates. Today, I am sharing some of our favourite ideas for first day of school class treats (for both classmates and teachers).

When it comes to treats for classmates, I like to find something that is simple and inexpensive. Then, I "up" the cute factor by adding a funny tag. Here are some of the trinkets and treats my boys' have shared:

Dollar store glasses - These colourful classes are super-cute, and I love the "I am really LOOKING forward to having you in my class!" tag that you can download for free here

Colourful pencils, pens, or markers - Something bright and cheerful to write with makes a practical first day of school treat. Just attach it to the "Let's start the year off WRITE!" tag that you can download for free here

"excel" gum - Gum is a great treat for older children to share with their friends. I love the idea of attaching a punny note that says, "We are going to have an 'EXCEL'lent year!" You can download the gift tags I designed (for free) here.  

Cookies - If school nutrition policies are not a concern, these packages of peanut-free cookies make a sweet treat. You can make it extra special by stapling "Happy first day of school to one smart COOKIE!!" tags to the tops of the bags. Get your FREE printable tags here

Goldfish - Little bags of crackers are inexpensive and easy to share, and they become a fun treat if you add a cute "o-FISH-ally wishing you a fantastic first day of school!" tag that you can download for free here.

LEGO crayons - Recycle last year's broken crayons, and make a unique gift to share with classmates. It's a great way for kids to "BUILD" new friendships. Read more here

Don't forget to bring a first day of school gift for the teacher too. Here are a couple of inexpensive gifts that my boys' have shared:

First day of school survival kit - Fill a fun container with chocolate, advil, coffee gift cards, hand sanitizer, etc... It's a cute gift that is useful too! Download the free printable tags here

Handmade pencil holder - I love the idea of a child crafting a gift for their teacher. You can give it on its own, or you can fill it with chocolate or markers. You can find the instructions for making this cute gift here.

You can download "A SWEET treat for a SWEET teacher!" tags here.

And a jar of cookie mix makes a useful teacher gift too... and you can get the directions and FREE printable gift tags here.

And, you can download, "MARK my words, we are going to have a great year!" tags here.

Sharing inexpensive treats on the first day of school is a wonderful way to start a new. Happy "back to school" everyone!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

My NEW ally in my battle with my son's airborne allergens

*sponsored post*

I have never suffered with allergies, so it is not something I have ever given much thought to. I have heard people talking about allergy symptoms, and I have seen TV commercials about allergy medications, but allergies were never something that concerned me... that is, until my youngest son started coughing at night and complaining about having itchy eyes. So, when Philips* approached me recently about trying out the Philips 2000i Air Purifier, I jumped at the chance to test it out in my son's bedroom.

My lack of experience regarding airborne allergies is tough for me as a mother because I want to do everything I can to keep my children healthy and happy. I love the idea of cleaning the air in my son's room. I can't control the allergens he comes into contact with outside our home, but I am hoping that reducing airborne allergens in his bedroom will help his dry, itchy eyes... and allow him to get the sleep he needs to succeed as we move into another busy school year (and hockey season). (Note: While in night mode, the Philips Series 2000i Connected Air Purifier stays quiet and turns off all the lights so that your child can have a restful sleep.)

I have never used an air purifier, so I didn't know what to expect. When it arrived, I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to set up and operate. I basically took the plastic off the three filters (the washable pre-filter, the active carbon filter, and the true HEPA filter) and plugged in the machine. It was super easy.

There is even a simple app that you can download that helps you analyze the air quality outside and in the room. The app makes it really easy to easily see air quality... it makes the invisible, visible!

The Philips Air purifier senses, reacts, and visibly works to reduce allergens, odours, volatile organic compounds and even certain bacteria. It automatically monitors and purifies the air, and it gives you a visual cue that your air is cleaner.

Are you interested in learning more about the Philips Series 2000i Connected Air Purifier? Do you want to reduce the allergens, gases and odors in your house? 

Over the next couple of months, I will be sharing some of the product's features with you, and I will be letting you know how we are liking it. In the meantime, you can find the Philips Series 2000i Connected Air Purifier at Canadian Tire, Hudson's Bay Company, Amazon, and specialty appliance retails. Or you can just purchase it online here.

Do you have an air purifier? Do you like it? Got any tips for me? Feel free to leave any advice or questions in the comments below.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

*Disclosure: I have partnered with Philips Canada and have received compensation for this post. However, as always, all opinions expressed on this blog are my own.

Crayon Holder Teacher Gift

I love the idea of kids making simple gifts for their teacher on the first day of school, don't you? It really is a nice way to start a new school year. Today, I am sharing a few options for easy and inexpensive handmade gifts children can make for their teachers. I'm even including some adorable (and FREE) printable gift tags.

The base of the gifts is this colourful crayon wrapped pencil holder. I purchased a pencil holder from the dollar store for $1.50 and a box of 64 crayons at Walmart for $2.97 (and didn't use the whole box). Then, my son use hot glue to attach the crayons (one-by-one) to the outside of the container.

The glue is hot, so adult supervision is definitely required. For younger children, adults can do the gluing, and the kids can just pick out which crayon should be attached next.

Then, you can fill the container with tasty treats or a gift card for coffee. You can wrap the container and add a card that says, "Wishing you a SWEET start to the school year!" or "First Day of School Survival Kit".

To download the tags below: click on the desired picture below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

You could also fill the container with Sharpie markers and add a tag that says, "MARK my words. We are going to have a fun year!" or "A little something to keep you SHARP on the first day of school."

To download the tags below: click on the desired picture below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

All of these first day of school teacher gifts are easy to make, and the supplies are inexpensive to purchase. Heading back to school with a handmade teacher appreciation gift really is a wonderful way to start the year off right.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

PS (You may also want to check out this Facebook Live we did showing how to make this gift. We also shared some of our other favourite first day of school traditions.)

And this if fun too!!!

First day of school treats... "I'm LOOKING forward to having you in my class"

Bringing class treats on the first day of school is a great way to start the year, but sometimes allergies and nutrition policies make baked goodies out of the question. So, for my boys, I like to come up with cute ways to package dollar store trinkets. I recently found these colourful "party glasses" at the dollar store, and I thought they would be perfect for sharing with a cute tag that says, "I am really LOOKING forward to having you in my class." Cute, right?

To download the tags I designed: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

I love how cute the brightly coloured glasses are with the little tags, don't you?

These glasses with the "punny" tags make wonderful gifts for kids to give their classmates, and they would be fun little treats for teachers to give their students too.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

Let's start the year off WRITE {first day of school class treats}... with free printable tags

It's always fun to bring treats to share with the class, and bringing goodies on the first day of school is a great way to kick off a new year. My boys like to bring little trinkets instead of edible goodies on the first day because allergies and school nutrition policies are sometimes a concern. Today, I am sharing the simple little treat my youngest son is bringing to share with his new classmates this year... and I am including FREE printable "Let's start this year off WRITE" tags for you to use.

These simple treats are inexpensive, cute, and easy to put together. It doesn't take long to make enough for a whole class.

First, you'll need to print the tags I designed: click on the photo below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo.

Then, with the help of a cutting mat and an x-acto knife, cut two slits in each tag and insert a colourful pencils.

It doesn't get much easier than this little DIY gift!

Do you ever send treats on the first day of school? I think these "Let's start the year of WRITE" gifts make a fun treat for teachers to give to their students on the first day too. They are easy, inexpensive, and fun!

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

First Day of School Class Treats (gum)... with free printable tags

It's always fun to bring a little treat on the first day of school, and every year I try to think of new and unique idea. This year, I came up with these cute, punny tags to attach to packs of gum. (And if you aren't into sending gum, the tag would work on bubbles too!)

To download the tags I designed (for free): right-click on the picture below, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4X6 photo.

Attach the tags to gum or bubbles with a piece of ribbon, and you are good to go!

And if you are using "excel" gum, you could also use this adorable tag. To download it: click on the picture below, right-click, save it to your computer, and print it like a regular 4x6 photo. 

These are the tags that my middle son is using this year. Cute, right?

Do you like to send treats on the first day of school? I think simple treats help to "break the ice", and they add a bit of fun to a day that can be little stressful for kids.

Gina (aka East Coast Mommy)

DIY Ice Cream Pie (with easy to follow instructions and recipe video)

There is nothing like a cold, homemade treat on a hot summer day. Am I right? My boys and I always enjoy baking together, so I thought it would be fun to let them try making their own ice cream pie. It's a great way to enjoy summer baking without turning on the oven! Today I am sharing the instructions for making a SIMPLE summer dessert. You are definitely going to want to try this DIY ice cream pie.

To make a DIY ice cream pie:

1) Gather your supplies. You'll need: a pre-made chocolate crust, ice cream, cookies, and chocolate sauce.

2) Soften your ice cream. Leave it out of the fridge for approximately 15-20 minutes.

3) Crush the cookies in a ziploc bag. Use a rolling pin until they are all crushed. (Kids will love helping with this part!)

4) Add a layer of ice cream. Add the softened ice cream until it covers the bottom of the pie.

5) Add the crushed cookies.

6) Add a second layer of ice cream. Add the ice cream gently so that you leave the cookie layer intact. Smooth it out (using a warm knife if necessary).

7) Decorate the top with cookies.

8) Drizzle with chocolate sauce.

9) Place pie in the freezer for about an hour (to allow the ice cream to harden again). Cut with a warm knife, and drizzle with chocolate sauce (if desired).

Check out the recipe video I made to see how easy it was to make!

Everyone in my family loved this DIY ice cream pie... and it was as fun to make as it was to eat. If you love ice cream cake, you are going to love this. You can use any kind of ice cream, cookies, and sauce. You are only limited by your own imagination.

Gina Bell
 (aka East Coast Mommy)

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