Make: A Paper School Bus Kids Craft and Photo Book

Can you believe autumn is right around the corner and it’s already back-to-school time?! School started here last week, and we celebrated by making this fun fold-up paper school bus craft that kids can fill with drawings of classmates or school photos of friends!

Three of our paper school bus photo books on a yellow background

With just a little cutting, pasting, and coloring you can make your very own school bus, then fold it up into a cute little book for safe-keeping! This is a perfect after-school activity for kiddos but also works great as a classroom activity (this one’s for you teachers).

A free printable fold-up school bus photobook kids can draw, color, or paste wallet-sized school pictures in! A perfect back-to-school kids craft!

The free printable contains full-color and black & white versions of the bus, along with some face templates for adding friends. As a bonus, you can also print extra faces to make into colorable stickers, mini notecards, or even a memory game! This project was originally created for our friends at hello, Wonderful, and although you can no longer download the free printable there, we’ve made it available for download here on our site!

For another fall project that makes a perfect grade-school classroom craft, stop by the easy tutorial for our DIY paper bag acorn portraits!

To make your own paper school bus photo book you’ll need:

Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains Woodpeckers Crafts, Etsy, Blick Art Materials, and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*



Paper School Bus Photo Book Instructions:

  1. Print our paper bus templates

    Print the desired template pages on heavy cardstock.
    Print the desired template pages on heavy cardstock.

  2. Cut out the paper bus template pieces

    If using the full-color bus pages, cut them out now. If using the black and white page to be colored in, they can be cut out now or – for younger artists – let them color/decorate first, then cut out (seems to work a bit better for small hands).
    Cut out the paper bus template pieces.

  3. Glue the paper bus template pieces together

    Attach the pieces of the bus by using a small amount of glue on the tabs and joining them together.
    Glue the paper bus template pieces together.

  4. Add drawn classmate faces or wallet photos to your paper bus

    You can use the face templates to draw your own or trim wallet-sized school photos to window-size and glue on.
    Add drawn classmate faces or wallet photos to your paper school bus

  5. Fold for a handmade school photo book

    Fold each piece in half accordion-style to make a book of school friends, or stand your finished bus on a table or desk!
    Fold accordion style for a fold-up school photo book

The custom-made school bus was designed for flexibility, so you can make it as long or as short as you need it to be depending on the size of your classroom or how many friends your kiddo would like to include.

Beyond adding friends, you can also use this bus for creative storytelling. Fill in the windows with the wildest riders you can imagine! Maybe this back-to-school bus is filled with animals from the zoo, or a band of merry monsters headed to Haunted Hill High.

Our paper bus kids craft siting on a yellow background.

Looking for new ways to celebrate autumn and back-to-school? Our free printable leaf activity kit is the perfect learning and play tool for the season. These gorgeous fall leaf collages use an easy and unique art process you’re going to love! Or grab a set of free printable art badges for art Olympics (great for classrooms or chilly fall weekends!)

For more buildable transportation-themed fun, visit our cardboard design-your-own food truck art project, or print a set of our custom-designed paper-cut car and truck templates!

Three of our paper school bus photo books on a yellow background decorated with silver foil stars.

Be sure to let us know how you’ve filled your school buses by tagging us with #barleyandbirch in your shares or leaving your idea in the comments below!SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave

*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Blick Art Materials, Amazon, Etsy, or Woodpeckers Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click through to make a purchase we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!

Amanda Eldridge
Amanda Eldridge

With a passion for cultivating imagination, Amanda aims to help kids and families discover their creative potential through art, play, adventure, activism, conservancy, and community. Amanda has a background in graphic design, environmental design, and art curation. When not playing with ideas and designs for barley & birch, she enjoys working in freelance design, art, and illustration.


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