Sweet Study Spaces to Get Kids Pumped About Homework

As children begin the new school year, they do so with a sense of excitement, anticipation, and a little angst. You can help ease the transition and encourage the achievement of academic goals by creating a back-to-school workstation filled with all the essentials your child will need to succeed.

Decorated Pencils

The secret to overcoming writer's block is a pencil so marvelous that you can't help but pick it up and start scribbling. To create one, a kid winds extra-thin tape around a plain pencil, paints it, and then unwraps the tape. Each design has a personality all its own: A pencil with parallel stripes, for instance, makes math homework fun, while dreamy blue spirals are lovely for writing secrets in a journal.

Tip: Natural-color cedar pencils work well. Kids can make different styles by varying tape size, wrapping tape in different ways, and painting alternating colors between bands.

Related: 24 Bathroom Organizing Tips You Haven't Thought Of


1/16- to 1/8-inch-wide skinny masking tape
Acrylic paints
Plain pencils


1. Begin by wrapping tape around pencil; try a candy-cane design, or wrap in individual circles for parallel lines.

2. Paint over whole pencil generously with acrylic paint. When paint is dry, remove tape.

Cereal Box Organizer

Kids go through cereal fast. Make use of all the empty boxes by turning them into handy holders for their desks. Large boxes work well for books, small ones for supplies. Cut box with a utility knife at desired angle and height. Wrap decorative or contact paper around box to see how much you'll need; unwrap and cut. Secure paper with double-sided tape; trim excess. If your kids aren't cereal fans, try the Martha Stewart Home Office Stack+Fit filing system.

Related: No Excuses: 30 Everyday Things You Should Know How to Do

Paint Can Cubbies

Don't let your desktop disappear under piles of paperwork. Inexpensive, unused cans can be purchased at paint stores; lined up on a shelf and anchored in place with Velcro, they become organizing cubbyholes with a modern flair. Assign cans as storage spaces for bills, catalogs, and personal mail, or one for each member of the family. Label the shelf beneath to make sorting easy.


Paint cans, without handles
Self-adhesive Velcro strips


1. Line up as many cans as will fit on the shelf. Working from one end of the row, attach them one by one: Cut Velcro strips slightly shorter than the length of the cans.

2. Peel backing from one side and apply strip to a can; remove backing from other side and affix to shelf in desired spot. Center and adhere labels to front edge of shelf beneath cans.

More from Martha Stewart:
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10 Clever Ways to Save Space in Your Kitchen
12 Secrets for a Cleaning the Bathroom in Less Time

Any kid would be psyched to curl up with a book under this DIY bed canopy.