Impress the teacher with back-to-school planter

September 2, 2018

While your child surely will be the apple of his or her teacher’s eye, it never hurts to start the school year on the right foot. That’s why this month’s craft is a small back-to-school ruler planter for students to give teachers upon returning to class.

Here’s what you’ll need:

Yardsticks, at least 2 — $3.99 each at Hobby Lobby, about $1 each at Home Depot and Ace HardwareHot glue gun and glue sticksSawAssorted small succulents and cactus — between $3 and $5 each at Home DepotSpanish moss (optional) — $3.97 a bag at Home DepotMarkerScissorsAssorted rocksEmpty milk cartonPencil and paper


The first step to make our “school rules” planter is obtaining a small milk carton to use as the foundation. This is a great excuse to treat yourself to a little half-and-half in your coffee for a few days, or experiment with almond milk smoothies to acquire the needed carton. Once emptied, wash the carton and let it dry. Then take out your yardstick and measure the width of one carton side to determine how long of a yardstick section you’ll need.

Yardsticks were harder to find than I expected. I recommend using a heavier (and more expensive) one such as what I found at a craft store, as opposed to the lighter and cheaper ones available at hardware stores. I needed two yardsticks to complete a quart-size planter.

Using a hacksaw, cut two lengths of the yardstick and hot glue them to opposite sides of the carton. Then take the remaining yardstick and measure the length you’ll need for the other two sides, including the small sections of yardstick already glued on, so as to completely box in your planter. Once you have the dimensions you can cut the remaining pieces. This is, by far, the hardest part of the craft. However, it took me only about 25 minutes to cut all 12 pieces of yardstick needed for the planter.

I recommend going at least three yardstick levels high when trying to decide how tall to make your planter. Once you have it measured, cut open the carton spout and trim down to where the yardsticks will stop, with the goal of having no carton showing.

Now you’re ready to hot glue your planter. If your child is old enough, this is a great time to have them help. Hot glue the yardstick sections until the carton is completely covered. Next, line the bottom of the planter with a few small rocks to help with drainage. After that it’s time to plant your cactus or succulent. Some additional soil may be needed.

Other plants also can be used — such as marigolds — but these will require more frequent watering and likely won’t last as long.

The size of your carton will determine how many plants will fit. A quart-size carton was the perfect size for one small succulent or cactus, while a half-gallon carton fit both a cactus and succulent. I also added some Spanish moss to the top, which looked nice, but isn’t necessary.

The final touch is to stick in a pencil in the dirt with a note attached saying “This year is going to rule!”

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