This project was created as a collaboration with Safari Ltd. I received compensation and products in return for a creative use of the Safari Ltd. animals. All the ideas and opinions stated are 100% mine.
DIY Homework Station for Animal-Lovers:
“Wow! Mom, is this for US? You did an amazing job. Now I am ALMOST excited for school to start!”
You know you have done something right when THIS is the reaction you get from a tween who hasn’t bothered to pull his nose out of his Harry Potter books all summer.
Surprisingly, the thing that got such rave reviews from our oldest, was the homework station I made for them.
Jacob pulled out his chair at the kitchen table, sat down and rolled the homework station closer. A few minutes went by as he closely inspected the turtles I used to decorate the bins and jars and the content of each of the containers. He looked up at me with an excitement I immediately recognized. Mother and son, sharing a nerdy moment of excitement over back-to-school supplies.
You see, for some people, back-to-school is a time of stress, but if you are anything like me – and Jacob, you love the hunt for the best school supplies. You may even sneak an extra pack of pens and journals in the cart, as a special “treat” for yourself.
I recently teamed up with Safari Ltd. to create this fun homework station for the animal lover in your house. We live in Florida, so I chose to use sea turtles found in our local waters as the theme of our DIY homework station.
Browse the online catalog of animals made by Safari Ltd., their selection will amaze you and the quality of their products is second to none. Our kids have always played with the realistic and beautifully handpainted Safari Ltd. animals. They are PERFECT for imaginary open play, the very kind of play kids thrive on the most.
With back-to-school upon us, more or less, parents are feeling very conflicted. On one hand, it’s always great when the kids start a new school year, getting your family back in a routine and on a schedule. But with schedules and routines also come projects, assignments and homework… and THOSE things send a chill down every parent’s spine.
After spending the past six years having one or more school-aged kids, I have learned how to establish a good homework routine that works for our family, which you should read about – lots of great tips suitable for families of all sizes.
One of the main keys to homework success is to be prepared, which means, having all the necessary tools and supplies readily available. There is nothing more frustrating for a kid stuck on a common core math question, than having to search for his math cubes, or when his fingers go numb from writing cursive and he can’t find the pencil grip that helps him hold the pencil properly.
You see how excited our oldest is for school to start, after he saw how much effort I put into making sure that their homework space is decorated and fully stocked. I worked on this DIY homework station, on and off for the better part of a week. The kids saw me painting and gluing, they helped me pick the turtles for the right locations and together we filled the jars and containers.
The message I sent them was: “your homework matters, and is so important that I am working hard to ensure that you have every necessary tool at your disposal.”
Now to the nitty-gritty instructions, so you too can have excited school-age kids!
Supplies and Instructions to DIY Your Own Homework Station:
Safari Ltd. Products used:Green Sea Turtle from Safari Ltd. Leatherback Turtle from Safari Ltd. Baby Sea Turtle from Safari Ltd. Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle from Safari Ltd. Loggerhead Sea Turtle from Safari Ltd. Sea Life Mini Assortment from Safari Ltd.
School supplies in our homework station:Pencils Eraser pencil tops
Pencil grips (one of our kids uses them daily)Crayons Washable Markers Colored pencils Wide-ruled notebook paper Math counting cubes Ruler Protractor Hand sanitizer
Bottle of hand sanitizer and sea life:
(OK, how adorable and fun is this bottle of hand sanitizer?!)
I could have put a regular bottle, straight from the grocery store shelves, on the table, but how often do you think it would be used?! THIS bottle will catch their attention – and be put to good use!
Items needed to make the sea life hand sanitizer bottle:Sea life mini assortment from Safari Ltd. Clear plastic bottle with pump Hand sanitizer
Step by step instructions to make Sea Creature Hand Sanitizer:
- Remove pump from clear plastic bottle.
- Pour hand sanitizer in the bottle.
- Put sea life animals in the bottle, shake lightly to disperse the animals.
- Voila! There’s your adorable hand sanitizer – the one the kids WILL use.
These two trays are going to help me stay incredibly organized. The bottom tray is for lined notebook paper, which I know our 3rd and 5th graders will use daily. In previous years, the paper was in a cabinet across the room, having it right next to them will help them to stay focused and not have to get up from the table so often.
The top tray, with the adorable turtle is MINE… The kids will empty their folders daily into this tray, so I can sort through the countless flyers, papers to sign and completed work to save. The turtle is my paperweight and SO good at his job!
Two colored wood paper tray, items needed:
Untreated wood trays
Wood milk paint, two complementing colors.
Step by step instructions to paint wood tray:
Step 1: Paint the inside of the tray one color, let it dry for 30 minutes, apply a second coat
Step 2: Paint the outside of the tray the other color, let it dry for 30 minutes, apply a second coat.
I know, super simple, but the effect of the two colors is stunning. It creates depth and gives you the ability to use more than just one color to decorate.
Wooden Pencil Cup and Wooden Crate for Jars:
Items needed for the pencil cup and wooden crate:
Leatherback Sea Turtle from SafariLtd.Baby Sea Turtle from Safari Ltd.
Wooden crate and wooden pencil cup
Two complementing colors of milk paintPaint brushes Hot glue gun
Step by step instructions:
- Paint the inside of the cup/ crate with the first color, let it dry for 30 minutes, apply a second coat.
- Paint the outside of the cup/ crate using the second color. Let it dry for 30 minutes before you apply the second coat – allow to dry overnight.
- Glue sea turtles on each side of the crate and on the outside of the pencil cup by applying hot glue to the turtle.
- Place the turtle onto the painted wood, apply pressure for a few minutes, then allow the glue to dry and harden completely – for a few hours.
Mason Jars for School Supplies:
Sea turtles from Safari Ltd.
Mason jars, different sizes (You can also use pasta sauce jars)
Hot glue gun
Step by step instructions:
- Paint the lids of the mason jars with a bold color that complements the other colors used in the homework station.
- (Apply a few coats of paint for better coverage)
- Apply hot glue to the turtle and place it on the lid.
- Press gently for a few minutes, until the hot glue can be touched, then allow it to dry completely.
There’s nothing in this craft project that is hard to execute. However adding the hand painted animals from Safari Ltd. IS the finishing touch this DIY needed to bring all the different components together.
I have been so impressed by working with Safari Ltd. They are a family-owned and family-run American company and their products are hand-painted… yes, you heard that right – HAND-painted!
I recently went through our kids’ stash of plastic animals. After I finished the project, I was surprised to find that the only quality toys that I kept were from Safari Ltd. All of our kids have had an obsession with one animal group or another over the years. Jacob, our oldest carried a large black and white cow everywhere he went. I found her in their toy box and to my amazement, there wasn’t a scratch or sign of all the miles she traveled with Jacob as a toddler.
The educational value in these beautifully crafted animals is that they encourage open play. Children don’t have a story line from a TV show they follow when they grab the big silverback gorilla. They don’t have specific phrases or pre-determined roles for the animals – everything about these toys is educational and inviting free play – for the curious animal loving child.
Before the new school year starts, don’t miss the homework strategies that have worked for our family of four boys (three in school) for the past six years. Our homework routine even makes bedtime SO easy, so hop on over and read all about it: The Best Homework Routine for Parents With Tired Kids!