My latest project, a rather big one, has been designing and making back to school displays for the windows in my husband’s office building. We own a beautiful old building in our quaint downtown where his business is located. For the past number of years I have been decorating the windows with seasonal displays. In the beginning I tried holiday displays but found that to be a bit too much to keep up with.  So now I do Back to School, Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer. I tend to give the displays a somewhat vintage vibe as in keeping with the era of the building.

At the end of August, about a week before school started, I installed my latest display and it is definitely the one I’ve worked the hardest on.  For a number of years I have seen these large versions of school supplies in catalogs, but they are around  $70 a piece and I have two windows to fill!  So this year I decided to go for it and make some myself.

I gathered my ideas and Pinterest boards and headed out to various places in search of  advice and materials. After a stop at my favorite local gift shop that collects and repurposes just about everything you could think of and then two plus hours at Lowe’s, I was ready to get started!!! At the gift shop I found an old wooden railing in their scrap wood pile ( I have made so many projects out of that scrap pile!) that they only charged me $3 for and cut it in half for me!!! They’re always so nice! I left there inspired with the base pieces for my large pencils!!!

Next stop, Lowe’s!  I have spent many hours in Lowe’s in the past, whether it be for home decor, building projects for after prom parties, gardening supplies, etc. They have always been so accommodating and I swear they get just as excited to help out with my crafting projects as they do helping contractors!  From lumber to PVC to paint, I think at one point I had about seven different people helping me out! The young man in the paint department went in search of a pencil so I could accurately match the colors to paint my large pencils and erasers! A few of them asked where the displays were going to be  so they could go see them when complete!!

Here’s what I did:

I bought a 2x10x10 board and had the guys at Lowe’s cut in half. They do one complimentary cut for you in store. These would be my two rulers. Then I made the ruler lines on the boards marking with pencil. I used a yardstick to figure out where to put the lines. I can’t remember how I decided how far apart to put them, it was a lot of multiplication and division in my head!!!  I then went over the lines with sharpie marker. Then I used some stencils to put the numbers on, also with a sharpie.

Then I lightly sanded the two halves of railing with my mouse sander and painted them yellow. It took me forever to decide how to make the erasers but I decided to use small paint rollers and painted them pink.


Next I cut the two pieces of PVC down to a good length with my jigsaw and sanded them all over so paint would adhere better. I had a leftover can of red spray paint from a past project so I painted them with that.

I made a Back to School sign looking like scrabble pieces out of a roll of brown craft paper  and then supported the back with pieces of poster board. I then used my hot glue gun to attach the paint rollers to the ends of the pencils. I cut a couple of pieces of Cricut silver vinyl and wrapped that around the middle then put two metal connectors around that to look like the metal pieces joining a pencil and it’s eraser.

I hemmed and hawed for days about how to get the pencil points made. Short of spending hours upon hours whittling them, I was at a loss. Then my dad came up with the idea of using craft paper and rolling it into a cone. So I did that and it turned out great! I just taped them and used a sharpie to color the ends.


To make the paint brushes I just stuck the little hand brooms into ends of the PVC (I hot glued around the handles first). Then I wrapped aluminum foil around and taped it closed.  I brushed some paint on the ends of the bristles to look like used paint brushes.

 I threw a quick coat of weathered oak stain on the rulers and voila! Both windows together cost me just less than $100.  In the end I decided to have the Back to School sign laminated so I could reuse it.  I googled “vintage looking flashcards” and printed them off my computer. My parents own the desk from their elementary school and all other props I had on hand.  I’m so happy with how the windows turned out and knowing I made most of it myself just feels good!!  These will definitely be my “go to” back to school windows for years to come!


11 responses to “Back To School Window Displays

  1. I love these windows and personally love the rulers, I wish I had something like this to measure my kids on every year when they were little. Looking forward to you Christmas windows, they always put me in the Holiday Spirit!

  2. Wow, wow, wow, wow. ?????????
    I love every single thing that you did.
    Super creative and skillfully done.
    You should be more than proud of your vision and the end result is FABULOUS.
    Great job Jen ?????

    1. Thanks so much, Donna! I truly appreciate your comments! There MAY be some things I purchased from you in my holiday windows!!! Stay tuned!

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