Back To School Decorating

2 Hours

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It’s almost that time. Time for lazy pool days to end, the sleeping in to cease and vacations to stop because it is almost time to go back to school! And now is the time to do some back to school decorating. Whether it is for porches or mantels to take those all important first day of school pictures in front of. Or for a back to school party or boo-hoo breakfast for the first day of school. I have you covered with easy DIY projects to decorate your home for back to school.

Vintage Style Chalkboard

A chalkboard is necessary vintage school decoration! I don’t think many schools have chalkboards anymore. They all seem to be replaced with whiteboards, but what is the fun in that?!! I found a vintage children’s chalkboard in an antique store but was too cheap to purchase it knowing I could recreate it!

Supplies I used to make my vintage style chalkboard – the first piece of my back to school decorating
  • Stencils – I used these letter stencils from the Dollar Tree and number stencils I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby, they were actually in with the door mats!
  • White Craft Paint and a foam brush
  • Chalkboard Contact Paper (yep, I wanted this to be super simple!) and scissors
  • I used the wooden backing from this frame but you can use any thrift store frame and cover the existing print with the contact paper! Find out what I used that gorgeous frame for here!

Start by cleaning your wood base really well and removing any hardware. The contact paper sticks better to a clean surface. Turn your contact paper over and mark by the very helpful straight lines where to cut.

Stick to the base smoothing as you go. My wood had a seam running through it so it was impossible to get it smooth but I think it adds character (at least that’s what I’m telling myself!). If you have any trouble with it sticking mod podge helps stick it to the surface. Just use a small amount on the back, none is needed on top of the contact paper.

I used my paper trimmer to cut my stencil page into strips so I could line them up at the top of my chalkboard.

Then using painter’s tape I adhered them to my chalkboard so they would not move while I dabbed white paint into the stencil.

Vintage School Bells

My favorite part of Little House on the Prairie is when the teacher steps outside the door and rings that big bell and says so sweetly school time. AND they all come running! EAGER for school. I made these with the small hope I could sweetly ring them and my daughter would instantly become a Laura Wilder and not a Nellie Oleson in the morning! Big dreams y’all, big hopes! HAHAHA!

Supplies I used to make my vintage school bells – the next piece of my back to school decorating

  • Paint – chalk paint in relic grey and a metallic silver craft paint
  • Bells of Course! I found these wicker bells in a local thrift shop but Christmas decor is arriving at all the stores and bells are out there!
  • Small Spindles or wood sticks for handles.

I needed to place the spindle through the top of the bell for the “handle”. I drilled holes in a circle around the top of the bell where the hanger was located. It was woven together very well which is why I needed the drill, your bell might need less power to create the hole.

After drilling the holes I covered the entire bell with relic grey. Afterwards I dry brushed silver metallic on. In retrospect it would have been so much faster to spray paint the bells but I did not have grey spray paint and changing out of pajamas to head to the store seemed too much of an effort. I guess I could have stayed in my jammies and went to Walmart …

Insert your spindles or wooden pieces for handles. Mine fit tightly in the holes I created and did not need glue or attachment.

Back To School Decorating Ideas

These are a few ideas of things to gather for your back to school mantel.

  • Finished Projects – Vintage Chalkboard and Teacher Bells
  • Globe
  • Books
  • Fake Apples
  • Tin Buckets
  • Rulers
  • Pencils
  • The Schoolhouse Rocks Flashcards from my store – Twigs and Fluff
  • The Back To School Flashcards from my store – Twigs and Fluff, free for a limited time!
The Finished Back To School Mantel

The chalkboard turned out amazing if I do say so myself! Here is a closer look at that!

The teacher bells turned out better than I thought they would! I had my doubts as I was dabbing paint in all the nooks and crannies of the wicker – I was definitely having some Nellie Oleson moments of my own! But now I feel all Caroline Ingalls about them!

The other side of the hearth features a display of apples in a small soda crate (but I think teachers would rather have caffeine than apples … haha), a vintage globe and a flashcard in a flower frog.

Make sure to pin these projects for yourself! Decorate that mantel or porch for back to school pictures. Plan a celebratory back to school party and use these ideas for your decorations. Host a boo-hoo breakfast for your mommy friends and use these ideas to decorate easily and simply!

Kristin Sullivan
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  • Sue Sue on Sep 03, 2021

    Cute ideas! I have never really considered decorating for back to school time, but it's a great idea to the get the kids ready to return to the classroom.

    • Kristin Sullivan Kristin Sullivan on Sep 03, 2021

      Hello Sue!

      It's a great way to get them excited and make going back to school a celebration instead of a chore :) Also great for those back to school pictures!

  • Delores Newton-Kerlin Delores Newton-Kerlin on Sep 04, 2022

    This would be especially good for those that are homeschooled. It would feel more like a school than a home.

    • Kristin Sullivan Kristin Sullivan on Sep 05, 2022

      What a great idea Delores! Yes it would be perfect for a homeschooling family to celebrate the start of a new year!