Genius New Uses for School Supplies

Put those leftover must-haves to good use with these hacks.

As kids prepare to head back to class, shopping carts fill with essential supplies. According to the National Retail Federation, spending on supplies this year is expected to reach $83.6 billion, an increase of more than 10 percent over last year’s $75.8 billion. Leftovers? We're giving a pencil, an eraser, and a ruler a new assignment with these quick and easy household hacks.

Feeling the Back-to-School Chaos?

Get a list of these ideas and organize your family’s schedule with Cozi, a free shared calendar and list app from Time Inc. (available for iOS and Android).


Ruler as Plant Marker

Photo by Corey Olsen

Kids will have fun using a ruler to track a plant’s growth from seedling to adult. (Label the blank side with the plant’s name.) The wooden stick can also serve as a stake for plants that need support, like tomatoes.


Pencil Lead as Key Lubricant

Photo by Corey Olsen

Rub the tip of a pencil on a stubborn key’s teeth. The graphite greases the metal, allowing the key to turn more easily. This trick works well on difficult zippers, too.


Erasers as Frame Helper

Photo by Corey Olsen

Crooked frame? Help it grip the wall by gluing a couple of small erasers to the lower backside corners. Use scissors to snip the rubber tops off old pencils.