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26+ EPIC First Day of School Traditions

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The kids are headed back to school soon so I've been looking for FUN first day of school traditions to make the day extra special. Today I'm sharing a whole bunch, as well as a few affiliate links for back to school shopping.

Back to school season has always been exciting for me. I always loved shopping for school supplies and it is still a fun activity to do with the kids. The school lists they hand out are basically a pre-made back to school scavenger hunt! LOL!

I know, this year is different. School varies from a little different to “completely threw me for a loop, insanely different.”

BUT. We are resilient and we can do hard things. And hey- we can EVEN make it fun.

I asked some friends and family what they normally do for back to school with their kids, excited to get the year started. I got tons of ideas from everyone.

I know no one can do ALL of them of course but I didn't want the research to go to waste! These are perfect whether your child is heading to school for the first time or you want to mark the start of your homeschool year.

First Day of School Traditions – Photo Ideas

Of course- who can resist taking a photo every year so you can look back and see how the kids have grown?! Here are some fun ways to do just that. It's one of the cutest First Day of School traditions I can think of for sure.

Patricia from Texas says, “We framed [our daughter's] 3yr preschool pic and took a pic of her holding it before her first day of 4yr. We'll hold that pic (in the same frame) this year for kinder, and every year after just changing the year before picture.”

Louise and Jenni over at Paging Fun Mums celebrates the first day of kindergarten with fun sidewalk chalk photos. I love how she recorded what the kids want to be when they grow up. You could even do this one at the bus stop!

Every kid loves to see photos of him or herself. Sarah from Massachusetts says, “My mother-in-law started taking a photo of her son, Ben's little brother Riley, next to the same landmark every year at the start of the school year. He's 12 now, and it's really cool to flip through the pictures and see him growing up!”

Lauren from California says, “Ikea chalkboard with the day, school and ‘event' written on it… Then take her photo next to it… Do the same thing for the last day of school.. Cute to see how they've changed.

Megan from Coffee Cups and Crayons says, “…lots of first day of school pictures. With printables or a chalkboard, with their backpacks, and new shoes. The shoes only photo always makes me smile because I remember how excited I was to have new shoes for school!” If you visit the link in the blog name there, she also has a link to a great printable for the photos.

Kristina from School Time Snippets homeschools her son so she shared her Homeschool NOT Back to School Photo” and student interview from when her son was starting Kindergarten. This year she says, “I am thinking we'll go do something fun like the zoo or bowling for the 1st day of school.” What a great way to celebrate the start of the homeschool school year! She links to a NOT Back to School bloghop for even more ideas!

You could also pick a theme for the year, starting with your photo. Amber from Classic Housewife (who has TONS of Homeschooling Tips, in case you are interested) says, “We make the first day of school FUN. This year I'm thinking of kind of a “masquerade” theme. (I always look for ways to cover their faces so I can take pics for my blog since I don't post their faces [for the blog].)” Here is her pinterest board of 1st Day of School ideas.

Robin of Be Social, Get Success says, “We always take a picture of him leaving the house and one of him getting on the school bus. Lately he has has hated the pictures ( he will be a senior) but we still take them.”

Virginiaa Ngg , “I saw on Pinterest a shirt in the size you think your kid will be when a senior in high school with the words Class of 20–. The child wears it every first day of school until senior year.”

RELATED: Grab Your Class Of T-Shirt Today

Antoinette Peterson from Sister Save a Lot say, “We do picture using these First Day of School printables from How Does She website.

Alicia Myers of Gateway to Saving says, “This isn't just a first day of school thing, but it's the perfect time to start. A friend takes her daughters pic every morning. She posts hers in a FB album, but sending them to groove book or a photo site would be good, too.”

RELATED: Editable Back to School Sings & Printables on Etsy

Back to School Traditions to Eat

A lot of people mark the first day of school by preparing a special treat or making a special meal. Here are some ways to mark the occasion with something yummy for their tummies!

I know lunch gets to be a monotonous task, but what a fun tradition it would be to make a cool Back to School Lunch for the first day of school each year.

Lisa from Illinois makes a school bus cake for her kids every day and invites the grandparents over to see the kids off to school.

Robin of Be Social, Get Success says, “We always try to have a picnic or back to school family meal the day before. And the first night of school a special meal. When he packed his lunch I always left a note in his lunchbox.”

Robin from Illinois says, “Cake and a candle with a wish for a good year. At the end of the year I did another mom's idea and had her teachers sign her “oh the places you'll go” book –each year we'll have her teachers sign.”

Gina at East Coast Mommy had some bus cookie lollipops ready when her son came home.

Still Need School Supplies, Cothes or a new back pack? Here's my go-to back to school shopping headquarters!

Back to School Crafts and Tips

The week before school starts is also a great time to take advantage of the alone time with the kids before the hectic school year begins. Here are some trips and crafts to do together or to make for your kids to eek out the last bits of fun from the summer.

Deb Chitwood of Living Montessori Now shares the many ways they celebrate the start of their homeschool year, including taking a family hike or field trip.

We made a Back to School Bus Countdown Calendar and each day will hold the picture of something special to do leading up to school.

Maggie at Red Ted Art has a great tutorial for a traditional German craft to start the school year. It's called Schultute. It looks small in this picture but you should click through to her other blog Life at the Zoo to see a big picture of the Schultute– it's pretty large!

Gina at East Coast Mommy put together some first day of school classmate gifts for her son's classmates, what a nice way to incorporate an act of kindness by giving to others!

RELATED: 30 Super Fun Back to School Crafts

Back to School Party Ideas

Sarah from Happy Brown House had her boys throw a Sundae Funday Back to School Party. I love that the kids were in charge, gotta harness all that excited energy to make it a special day. Plus who can resist ICE CREAM!

Sunshine and Laser beams has lots of Back to School Party ideas and a couple of my favorites are this Colorful Back to School Party and the Neighborhood Back to School Party. I love the idea of including neighbors.

First Day of School Traditions to Address Jitters

Sometimes kids can be nervous about starting school. Scroll below for some ideas to help ease their nerves.

Boy on first day of school carrying a traditional back to school bundle

In addition to the photo ideas above, Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons also has a helpful post about easing Kindergarten jitters with ideas that would help kids of any age entering a new class.

Amy at Teach Mama has a great idea with her Hello Teacher Letters, I am totally doing this with Ladybug!

Julie from Chirping Moms shared several ideas for preparing for 1st grade, including how they used a Kissy Bunny to make the transition to class time easier.

Kim at the Educators Spin on It has a great post with ideas on easing anxiety leading up to school with Back to School Magic Dust. Check out the poem, free printable book and fairy dust that helped her daughter start the school year off with a smile! She also shared this fantastic list of back to school tips for kids AND parents. I bet you didn't consider preparing yourself in addition to your child!

More First Day of School From Around the Web

That's a LOT of First Day of School ideas! BUT if you are looking for MORE, I invite you to check my Back to School Pinterest Board for photo ideas, food fun, crafts and more!

Do you have a Preschooler getting Ready for Kindergarten? If so, check out the Top 10 Summer Activities for Kindergarten Readiness!

Before you go- please follow along on our facebook page so you don't miss any of the fun! See you next time!


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    1. Thanks for the kind comment, yes we ended up doing one of the Get to Know Me Teacher notes that I linked to, I love the idea, we need to add a copy to her memories box too!

  1. I LOVE that first photo idea so much! I will definitely do it with my little ones. Thanks so much for sharing with the Parenting Pin It Party. I have pinned and shared 🙂

  2. I haven’t really done any true traditions for my son going back to school, but this year I’m going to throw a party on the first day for him. He’ll wake up and have the house decorated, I’ll take a fun picture with a sign and that night we will have a “school themed” supper. I do this for other holidays and thought I’d start for school as well.

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  4. When my three children crawl into bed on that last exciting night before starting a new school year, I am planning for them to find an envelope on their pillows. Each envelope will contain a letter in which I have written what I liked, what I loved, and what I will always remember sharing with each of them over this past two months of summer. I am hoping that this will send them to sleep with sweet dreams of the fun we have shared, and help them to remember what a full and joyful time this summer has been for all of us. You can get this FREE PRINTABLE to customize for your kids by visiting Simply Fun Families at

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