Homework Before Play Sign

I know, back to school! It’s not even the end of July, but I’ve already started buying school supplies so that the financial hardship that it brings isn’t so “all at once”. I’m not really ready to start making back to school crafts, but I thought I would share this fun sign I made a few years ago. The idea is to hang this on the front door. When the sign says “doing homework” friends will know to come back later.

You see I actually had a deep need for this sign a while back. My kids’ friends would come and knock on the door looking for my boys. The most common answers I gave were “they are doing homework” or “they are outside playing”. This sign was a big help in answering that question for me!

Sorry I don’t have any step by step photos, but if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask :)

Homework Before Play Sign
printable version

What you need

shirt shaped paper mache sign*
Liquitex Basics Gesso
black craft pen
medium flat brush
large scruffy paint brush
acrylic sealer spray, matte

acrylic paint:

What you do

Paint the entire sign with one coat of Gesso. If you don’t have Gesso, you can find it in the art department of any craft supply or hobby store. Alternatively, you can use a coat of white acrylic paint. Allow to dry completely.

Paint entire sign with yellow acrylic paint. Let dry and repeat with a second coat.

The stripes do not require a pattern, uneven lines add to the character of this project. After yellow paint has dried, use a medium flat brush to paint on wide red stripes, starting at the bottom of the shirt and working your way upward. Paint a red collar band and sleeve bands on as well. Repeat on the other side. Let dry completely.

Before this step, be certain that the red paint is completely dry or the white will turn pink. Use a large scruffy brush to dab on a white oval in the center of the shirt. Let dry and repeat. Let second coat dry completely.

Use a black craft pen to write “outside playing” on one side and “doing homework” on the other side. Spray both side with acrylic sealer spray and let dry overnight. Hang!

To use: Simply hang on your child’s door, or on your front door. Have your child flip the sign to the approriate side when needed.

* I purchased my shirt sign at Michael’s Craft Store.

More from me you might like:
Paper Bag Scarecrow
Tin Can Frankenstein
Football Crafts

More from the interwebs:
Locker Magnets from MakingFriends.com
Pom Pom Flowered Desk Caddy – from FreeKidsCrafts.com
Desktop Supply Box (by me) on Kaboose

Visit thecsiproject.com


ANOTHER CRAFTY IDEA >>  Colorful Flock of Craft Stick Sheep


  1. Dawn says

    I think this is a wonderful idea and I'm definitely going to use it when Madelyn starts school. So glad you posted this. =)

  2. Chica and Jo says

    What a wonderful idea. I have been thinking of something to let people know when we are all outside, which is often.

  3. creativejewishmom/Sara says

    Great, as usual Amanda! Thanks so much for stopping by Craft Schooling Sunday, you're one of the stars of the party! all the best!

  4. Christin@Pregnant with power tools says

    Wow! So many great ideas! I can't wait to do some with my little preschooler!

  5. Staci J says

    That is sooo clever!! I'm saving this for when my little ones start school… visiting from tools are for women.

  6. Amanda@The Hand Me Down House says

    Okay, well how cute is that!!?! Adorable! I love this idea – so practical!! :)

  7. Jenglamgirl says

    These back to school shirt hangers are so darling and clever.

    also Thank you so much, let me know when its all working, also I subscribed to Craft Gossip. Is that what you were referring too? Have a super day! Jenn

  8. muralimanohar says

    Brilliant! :D I was homeschooled, so it wasn't an issue for my mom, usually being done with everything by the time they all came out, but my FRIENDS' moms sure could have used one! Rofl

  9. Jacqueline says

    This is so cute. I know my little ones would have loved something like this. Your painting is really cute. So nice to meet you.

  10. Stephanie Lynn @Under the Table and Dreaming says

    Amanda, This is such a cute idea! Love it. The stripes are adorable. Thanks so much for joining the Sunday Showcase. Hope you have a wonderful week! ~ Stephanie Lynn

  11. Jessica says

    I think this was a real thoughtful idea. I couldn't find a shirt shaped plaque (and I am sure any shape would have worked), but I thought the original shape suited the project. So I brought molding clay (the kind you need to bake) and shaped it myself, then poked holes before baking, and after I painted it I threaded thick twine through my holes. It turned out great, so thanks for inspiring!

  12. Amanda says

    Thank you for the kind comments everyone!

    Jessica – love that idea, and yours is probably sturdier than mine! :)

  13. The Pennington Point says

    Hi Amanda! Thanks for letting me know about Craft Gossip and their new Home and Garden category. I will be doing a follow up on my floor (I've gotten tons of questions) and I will definitely link over to CG. What a great idea to put it all in one place and you've got a great group of editors. Amazing! Lisa~

  14. malia says

    great idea! i hear what you're saying about school supplies. i spent an hour in target last night looking for everything and it occurred to me it's July 20th! i don't even want to think about school yet. last year i waited until august and couldn't find everything… lol

  15. Sandy@PrettyNiceThing says

    What a great idea, definitely will use this for our school area this coming school year.

  16. Michelle says

    I love this! We have the same issue at our house, so this will definitely be put to use in the fall. Thanks for posting this!

  17. Helena says

    This is adorable. I love the bright colors you chose!

    Thank you for participating in the Therapy Session with Life in the Pitts!

  18. jennoreilly says

    Love this idea, my kids are still too young but I remember this happening to me when I was a kid so I think in a few years this will be on my to do list!

    New follower from Tidy Mom, happy weekend!

  19. Threeundertwo says

    What a great idea! You're a smart mom. And I agree, it's a lot less painful to spread out the back-to-school shopping and prep. My kids start back Aug. 12, which seems insanely early to me.

    Thanks for linking up to Finished for Friday!

  20. Caroline @ The Feminist Housewife says

    That's such a cute idea! I'll have to do it when my son is a tad bit older!

  21. [email protected] says

    That is such a fun idea, I love this! Thanks so much for the great project, I'll be linking.

  22. Melinda says

    Thank you. I actually need this. We homeschool, and we started school last week, but the neighbors haven't started public school yet. Something like this will save a lot of headache.


  23. WildHair says

    I think this is a good idea. When my children were much younger, I had a new baby and all the children napped at the same time, so I did too, every day without fail the neighbor children would bang on the door, they didn't just wait a minute in between knocks either, it would wake everyone up and make a mad mom of me. One day I made a door hanger with a photo of my newborn sleeping but no words. I hung it on the door and they never knocked if it was hanging up, they'd just wait until they saw us outside then come on ever. Even if they hadn't been taught to ask their mother first they good and well knew better than to wake a sleeping new baby!

  24. sommerhowey says

    That is such a cute idea. I love this. I will be attempting to make this for my little girl, but use a dress instead of a shirt.


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