Wednesday, August 6, 2014

a First Day of School Tradition (and a free printable)

You may have seen the popular 1st Day of School chalkboard signs on Pinterest. They are cute and a wonderful way to mark a milestone.

We started a similar tradition years ago.  On the first day of school, I give my kids a sheet of paper with simple block letters spelling out the grade they are entering.  They color it in with markers, crayons, or colored pencils and then I take a photo of them holding their sign. 

I include the photo of them holding their sign on the cover of their year-end portfolio.  I also save the actual sign and use it as the title page in their portfolios.

Way back when we started the tradition, it was a thrill to spend an hour coloring and call it school, but this has evolved over time. Now it's not simply a coloring page but a project as each child plans and designs an elaborate theme for their sign.  They came up with this idea on their own and they have literally been pondering their themes since May before we began summer break. The topic has dominated more than one dinnertime conversation, even as recently as last week.

Monday was our first day back to school for the new year: 

Alaine; pre-school

Ben; 1st grade; VeggieTales theme
Owen; 3rd grade; Lego minifigures theme

Maddie; 5th grade; castles and dragons theme

Gavin; 7th grade; The Lego Movie theme

Do you think your kids would like to color a 1st Day of School sign? I'm offering a free PDF for your use.

It's not fancy and not something you couldn't create on your own, but I'm providing it here to save you time.  Just click print and you are ready to go...even at the last minute!

A few ideas we use to make this even more fun...
  • We keep the first day of school low pressure.  I read aloud while they are coloring signs, then we maybe do one other subject before calling it a day.
  • Sometimes  I ask the kids to wear a favorite item of clothing for their photograph. It's another way to record and mark the milestone.
  • Instead of insisting that each kid smile, I try to let them do their own thing for this photo, even if means a frown, a pout, or a silly face.

A Look Back at the Past...


  1. I love this!! This is a great idea!!!

    1. It is so fun and easy...and makes a great memento!

  2. A fun first day of school tradition...made even more fun by the enthusiasm with which your students approach it!! Love their creativity! (Love them!)

    1. I bet you can guess who took the longest to finish their sign. Nope, not Maddie this time, though she took awhile, too. It was Gavin who was very deliberate and detailed. If only all of school was an art lesson, he would love it!

  3. I love how all their signs reflect their interests. And Ben's expression is priceless :)

    1. He had a great first day of school, but when we went outside to take photos, he saw a bee and panicked. So he cried and we wiped tears to take pictures and then we went back inside.


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