Simple Ways We Got Our Backpacks School Worthy

Simple Ways We Got Our Backpacks School Worthy

With school approaching it was time to set the girls’ backpacks up. Here’s what we did. Maybe it can also help you prepare for your own year.

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At the end of last year’s school year I had the girls empty out their backpacks and then I removed all of the extra ties and toys before running them all through our washing machine. I used a mesh laundry bag for all the loose small parts and later hung the backpacks up to dry so they wouldn’t get damaged. After returning the keychain stuffies to the girls I set aside the backpacks so they’d all be ready and waiting to go for the end of the summer.



When Ada entered kindergarten she quickly realized she could add keychain toys to her backpack. She then went through all of our stuffed animals and put the three small animals she did find onto her backpack. Last year, when Zoey started school, I made the girls pick their favorite toy (we somehow still had the same three) and then added a LEGO® keychain to each. Over this last summer they each chose another LEGO® keychain but I also came across some sew-on LEGO® patches from Target that I decided to surprise the kids with too. They loved them! Especially once they realized they also got to chose which thread color, where the patch should go, and in what pattern it should be sewn on. Ada had fun stitching hers on and then had me take over while Zoey didn’t want to try. They both adored looking through their LEGO® Dots to further customize their patch. Going forward I’m curious if the patches will stay the same all year round or whether they will get updated and how often this might happen.

Image shows Zoey separating the contents of the box. She holds two bags and a blue square. Her hands are moving and thus a bit blurred.
Each box came with a bendable LEGO® patch with holes around the outside and two small baggies of LEGO® Dots.
Ada is bent over her backpack and she's stitching the patch to the front. The thread is creating dashes along the side of the patch.
After choosing a thread color and the patch’s placement Ada got to town stitching hers herself before deciding I should finish it.
Image shows a closeup of Zoey's rainbow backpack with a green brick keychain, a yellow ribbon, and the LEGO® patch edged with purple thread and festooned with random LEGO® dot circles, squares, curves, an eye, and two emojis. Other than a black circle it looks random and helter skelter.
Zoey chose purple thread for her patch and I carefully wrapped the thread around the patch edge with each stitch. I went around the square twice creating crisscrossing Xs around the edges. I love the combination of her favorite LEGO® Dots and lack of pattern creating her favorite things.
This image shows a closeup of Ada's heart backpack with a view of her patch and, in the background, the back of her Wonder Woman LEGO® keychain hanging from a zipper.
Ada chose red thread and wanted it to create a solid line bordering her patch. She used the examples on the back of the LEGO® box as inspiration for her own design while also including her favorite pieces.

Writing this up I just realized that the girls haven’t gone looking for their old stuffies so right now their backpacks are just adorned with their new LEGO® items. That said, for fun decorations, any keychain works. Since starting this post the girls were gifted with mini popping fidget keychain toys and they requested it on their backpack too.

Sun Screen Lotion

Back before COVID and this whole pandemic we had issues with Ada getting burnt at school so we threw a bottle of sunscreen lotion into her backpack along with a hat and hoped they were used each day. Last year, with both kids in school, we needed an easier option so about a month or two in I found some squeezable silicon travel tubes on keychains and bought the pack of three. I filled two of them with sunscreen lotion and clipped them to their backpacks so the sunscreen would be easier to access and thus hopefully be used more. Over the year we only had one loss. The only negative I had was trying to clean them out at the end of the school year as the sunscreen had expired and I figured I should fill it back up with fresh closer to when school started again. That said it was a small price to pay for easier sunscreen access for the girls plus they were easy to grab and fill when we ended up needing them for summer camp.

Image shows the store name, the rating with 86 reviews (now 215), and an image of the product.
If interested here’s a screenshot, taken about a year ago, of the product we bought from Amazon. I don’t have any affiliate so I’m only dropping it here for your convenience
Image shows the pink keychain silicone travel tube with the top off and partially filled with white sunscreen. The lid is open to the right and the bottle of sunscreen is slightly showing at the top.
The cap screws off so I can more easily fill it up with sunscreen and the girls can easily flip the top open to get to it at school. When washing you can squish in the sides of the pink silicone part and pull it apart from the white lid too.
Image is from last year and shows the back of two backpacks with the newly bought and filled tubes hanging from the top.
The small carabiner makes it a breeze to attach to the backpack so it’s accessible to the kids. Over the course of the school year we only lost one tube… not sure if it was the carabiner’s fault or something else. Overall a great track record and since it was originally a pack of three I just grabbed the third one to replace it.
Images shows a green silicone tube attached to Ada's backpack with a Wonder Woman LEGO® keychain attached nearby.
Ada chose to put hers at the top of the backpack again while this year Zoey wanted hers attached to a zipper pull as she hated it getting trapped between her back and the backpack last year. We’ll see how this year goes.

Fixing Up the Zipper Pulls

Ada’s backpack is now three years old and over the course of last year she lost two of her three zipper pulls as the zipper pull base itself opened up just enough for the pulls to slip off. As such, for this year, I decided to pull out my hot glue gun to close the hole and make that last zipper pull more secure and, hopefully, last the year. I was careful to not glue the pull itself, so it can still be angled any which way, and reminded Ada to watch the glue bits and let me know if it comes off so I can fix it again. I repeated this glue gun process with each of her pulls so all the extra toys would also be secure. This does mean, looking back, that I can’t add more keychains to the pulls that were completely closed up.

Image shows a closeup of the zipper pull and its clear glue gunned opening.
I used my hot glue gun to close the opening in the zipper pull so the dangly bit would stay secured and stay on this year. Hoping this lasts the year but I was sure to ask Ada to keep an eye on it and tell me if I need to fix it again.

When we bought Zoey’s backpack last year it came with ribbons on each of the zipper pulls that, over the course of the year, kept loosening and falling out. When we cleaned the backpacks I carefully removed the remaining ribbons and used a mesh laundry bag to keep them together in the laundry. While setting up the backpacks this year I gave them back to Zoey and she chose to give two of them to Ada so now both girls have two ribbons each. Like last year Zoey just wanted them knotted on even though I recommending sewing them together so they don’t fall off this time around. Ada agreed to the sewing and after switching to purple thread I carefully threaded the ribbon through her chosen zipper pulls, scrunched them in so they’d fit, sewed them on, and used my hot glue gun so they wouldn’t slip off like the prior pulls.

Image shows a closeup of the two teal ribboned zipper pulls. On is fully stitched together while the other one has the end of purple thread coming from it.
Ada chose which of the zippers needed the ribbon and then I attached them and sewed them closed. I also needed to scrunch them in as the ribbon was wider than the zipper opening.
Image shows a closeup of one of the teal ribboned zipper pulls but now there's clear hot glue around the base.
Once the ribbon was sewed on I scrunched them further in and used the hot glue gun to keep it in place. Later Ada wanted a keychain added to one of these pulls but it no longer would work… she put it in her strap webbing instead.

The Inside

Last year I made a mask command center for my girls so they had agency over which masks they wanted to wear to school and when. It included two zippered clean mask bags and five cinched dirty mask bags as I assumed they’d be switching out masks daily. They didn’t but they did have clean masks on hand for the odd time they did need them so I’m still glad I made it. This year I figured I wanted the option open so I had them grab one zippered bag, choose four masks to go inside, and grab a cinched bag for their backpack.

Image shows two plastic Dollar Tree containers each containing new fabric masks, two zippered pouches, and ten ribbon cinched bags.
Image taken from last year’s mask command center post. It’s now more used and messier and I’m so glad I took the time to put them together.

In kindergarten the girls were asked to bring a change of clothing to school just in case. I figure with the heat outside, PE (physical education or gym class), and potential spills at lunch they may still feel comfortable knowing they have a change of clothing on hand. Thus at the beginning of the year and over Christmas break I have them choose a set of clothing they don’t care as much about and we lay it out in a pile and carefully roll it up for school. Throughout the year they can change the clothing out but they never seem to do so hence the not favorite selection. I then use a zippered wet bag, leftover from our cloth diapering days, so it stays clean and secured in the backpack. This way the wet bag can also be used to bring their potentially wet clothing home without worrying about anything in their backpack getting wet. Actually as I type this out I realize how handy these wet bags are and just hopped onto Amazon to buy a four-pack so the kids can choose which bag they want with extras for the beach or pool.

Screenshot shows a product photo of four colorful wet bags with two zippers and a ribbon to hang it up with. Off to the right is the title, brand, rating, price, alternate colors, and details.
Here’s a screenshot (taken on August 4th, 2022) of what I just ordered off of Amazon. Haven’t had a chance to stress test it yet but sharing in case you’re interested.

With the clean backpacks festooned with toys, the sunscreen at the ready, and just in case clothing and masks inside the backpacks we are now ready for the first day of school!

Image shows the backpacks side by side with the sunscreen tube and toys visible.
The back of the girls with their ready-to-go backpacks. Water bottles, sunscreen bottles, and decorations completely ready!

Whether you are preparing for a new school year to start or are already within a year I hope this post helps. And if it does feel free to comment how in the comments below. I’d also love to hear any tips for future years!

I hope you’re having an awesome day!

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