Ali Edwards Capture life. Create art.

August 19, 2008

Three Things : Back to School


Two more weeks of summer here.

The last couple of days here have included rain + thunder + lightning – all very exciting for a six-year-old fascinated by storms and weather (not to mention a mama who loves, loves, loves the changing of the seasons, most especially summer to fall).

Today, in honor of back to school season, I am highlighting some of favorite school-related products:

Maya Road School Daze Black Rub Ons : a fun combination of lines, letters, and numbers (especially love the rulers and alphabet).

KI Memories Composition School Days Paper : this is a classic favorite that was re-released with their new School Days collection.

7gypsies 97% Complete School Stickers : my favorite part of this sticker sheet are the strips of words (white on black) – tons of great ones specific to the school year.

[ Three Things is a weekly product series : check out the archives here. ]


Last year around this time I did a post about back to school traditions. There were tons of unique ideas and reminders about ways in which we can all celebrate the back to school season. I would love to hear about anything you are planning to do this year or special things you do for your children (or things you did that you loved as a kid).


  • 1.
    Jan Connair said…

    I don’t know if I posted this last year, but I generally make a celebratory/consolation dinner for the kids. Favorite foods and cake for dessert. I figure it shows that I think school is good and worthy of celebration. If they are sad about summer vacation ending, they can just choose to be cheered up by the cake, lol!

  • 2.
    Heather said…

    First of all, what on Earth are you doing up at 5am to post products for??
    I love fall so I completely understand your excitement for this time of year! (I’m also obsessed with office supplies so *yay!* for school shopping!) I can’t wait to see some of Simon’s school pages :)

  • 3.
    tami said…

    i did read the old post, but i think a special breakfast, treats and a card and photo in her lunch bag and a special dinner with dessert of her choice. this is our first year celebrating going off to school

  • 4.
    Shaun Paddock said…

    Well, we started back to school today and my house is much to quiet. Our tradition starts the day before school starts. We spend the day in the pool and we take a photo of my three kids jumping into the pool together. This is only the 2nd year I have done this since we have only lived in SC for a year. Then we have encilladas for dinner, home made ice-gream, then roast marshmellows and make smores. After the kids are bathed we shoot a game of pool.
    I always write the kids a note that I put into their backpacks to find when the get to school. I also make them a bookmark that is hidden as well. The morning of the first day we take photos of each child holding up their fingers for the grade they are starting. My middie son was excited to be able to use two hands this year (6th grade) even though he was soooo nervous about starting middle school. My daughter was excited to have her school all to herself. It is the first year that she has not had at least one brother at the same school. We had fun with my oldest since this year he needed three hands (11th grade). My daughter stood behind him and held up a finger. When they get home today they will be greeted with brownies.
    Well, I have blabbered on enough. If you get bored this week you can check out photos from our traditions tonight and tomorrow.
    Congratulations on your new blessing!
    Have a groovy week!
    Love and God bless,

  • 5.
    Jen@ODBT said…

    I have the kids write their name & decorate a piece of paper on the 1st day of school, then we take a picture by the door. They do this again on the last day of school so we can see how much they’ve grown, how their writing/drawing style changed. Great for the scrapbook.
    Something new I’m thinking of — having popsicles for all the kids at the bus stop the Friday after the 1st day (we start on the 2nd). A fun way to celebrate the end of the 1st week.

  • 6.
    Amy Dow said…

    I used to be a teacher so I really make buying school supplies fun. We hit all the local stores (Target, Wal-Mart, and Staples) and take our time picking out just the right supplies. I will also take the kiddos out for breakfast this week…just the three of us…to celebrate the end of summer and beginning of school. This year my youngest is starting kindergarten so it’s very exciting for them. I, however, have a huge lump in my stomach because I love the lazy days of summer and having them home with me. I am startled at how FAST they are growing up and I wish I had a remote control for them so I could pause and rewind whenever I wished! (Ali, soak up each moment with both your little ones…you will turn around and be putting both of them on the bus in a wink!) Yes, I get tired of the arguing and the messy house but the lack of schedule and being able to snuggle with them when ever we want is just too nice!!! (But I will keep this to myself and put on my happy face and be excited for them…it does mean extra time in my scrapbook room…I would love that!) As Tom Hanks said in “You’ve Got Mail”…I would give you a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils!

  • 7.
    Jenna said…

    Because the weather usually doesn’t turn cool for a few more months, we hold off on buying fall clothes & just let the kids get a few new t-shirts & a pair of new shoes to supplement their summer wardrobe.
    On the first day of school I take pictures of the boys & their backpacks standing at the front door & then go into the classroom & take their pictures with their teachers. This year only one boy was young enough to still have that happen. After school I try to have brownies or cookies for them or take them for a Sonic slushie during happy hour.

  • 8.
    Lisbet said…

    I´m Lisbet from Sweden. I just surfed into your blog and I have never been here before – I think. I really enjoy design, colour and how people make stuff. If you want me to link you, just visit my linkblog, grab the blinkie too if you want.
    Grab the blinkie too if you want.

  • 9.
    AnnieM said…

    With 3 older children (22, 18, 16) the biggest back to school issue is related to changing our schedules from a teenage one to a school one…ugh. I LOVE the unstructured days of summer. But reality hits, and what we do is the 3 days before school starts, I wake up the teens, and we all go out to breakfast…each day getting earlier and earlier. They get to pick the breakfast spot, and they love having the quiet time and relaxed way to wean back to the ungodly time of 7am start for high school. This year 2 of mine are headed to college and my baby and I (16 years old) will do the 3 breakfast tradition.

  • 10.
    katrin said…

    I have three kids (14, 12 and 9) and back to school time is a huge change in their mindset. So to make our need to talk, plan and strategize throughout the school year less of a drag, we go out together every Friday night or Saturday morning. Each week we let one of them pick a place to go, whether for breakfast or dinner. When we are together, away from home and all the distractions, we talk about the week that just passed and what was good, bad and what we learned. Then on Sunday nights, we have a family dinner at home and talk about what is ahead of us the coming week!
    We forgo spouse date nights and invest in these family dinners instead!
    co-author, Mothers Need Time Outs Too

  • 11.
    kris said…

    Our back to school tradition involves pictures in front of a big old oak tree in their “back to school” outfits.
    True, they’re just pacifying me now by doing that (boyes: ages 16 & 11)but I just love those pics.!!
    This is the 3rd year that we’ve gone on vacation the week before school starts. They like that there’s something to look forward to all summer & it’s a signal that summer vacation is “officially” over. Our family recharges & is ready for the new year.
    Time does indeed fly & our oldest will be a Sr. next year & so these moments are so special to me/us.
    This is my all time favorite time of year along with the first snow!

  • 12.
    sue Treiber said…

    good stuff!

  • 13.
    Linn said…

    I love back to school time, even though my boys are too young still. Enjoy yourself!

  • 14.
    Tanya said…

    I take a photo in front of each school sign where the different kids are going that year – one on the first day and one on the last. It shows where they go, how they’ve grown, and who goes there. My kids know that tradition and even remind me :) ~Tanya

  • 15.
    Kayla said…

    The first day of school is so crazy busy I have found it difficult to get relaxed first-day portrait photos of my five kids (yes five) before they go to school. So this year the week before school starts I am going to have them all dress up with their “first day” outfits and take them to their schools and do photos with the school signs, etc. That way the first day of school I can just sit by and capture natural and candid shots, instead of asking them to pose. The hope is that it will be less stressful and more fun.

  • 16.
    kellyv said…

    Hi Ali,
    My little guy is 4 and we thought about sending him to JK this September but he is really resistant to the idea of starting school…I don’t know why. Anyway, we decided we would keep him home until SK. I would love to read about some ideas for building that excitement around school. I love school (I would still go back if I could) and this is my favourite time of the year as well.
    Thanks, Ali.

  • 17.
    Amber Osburn said…

    Hey Ali,
    Well, to put a different spin on it I homeschool my daughters, so we don’t need to buy backpacks or new clothes. But yesterday a huge box of curriculum arrived on our doorstep. We opened it with great excitement..NEW BOOKS! Today I will take them to get all the fun stuff, notebooks, pencils, erasers, glue, construction paper…all the good stuff! I am looking forward to starting back, getting back on a schedule and the weather changing.
    Amber Osburn

  • 18.
    Michele said…

    We like to do traditions that aren’t necessarily expensive or over-the-top, but something that the kids will remember for years to come.
    So far, I only have one school-aged child and I let him pick what he wants to eat for dinner the first day of school. I also make him my special homemade chocolate cake! I have a red, German “celebrate plate” that we use for special occasions and he will eat his dinner on this plate.

  • 19.
    Jennifer said…

    I just bought some of that KI paper, it’s awesome!
    I love the transition from Summer to Fall as well. My favorite season of the year.

  • 20.
    Laura H. said…

    Years ago a friend of mine shared her idea of “before school dates.” I have continued that tradition with all of my kids, and they look forward to it. Sometime over the summer, usually in August since we start school after Labor Day, I take each child on a before school date (just one child at a time). We go out to eat, to a movie or do some other activity they enjoy, and do a little shopping. We don’t get a lot of school clothes right away but on their date they are allowed to get a couple of new shirts. It is really good quality time together. I also like to have a homemade batch of cookies or bars waiting for them when they come home the first day of school. I also have them write the abcs, numbers, their name, etc. on a sheet of paper each year so we can compare their handwriting. Very fun idea. Thanks for sharing these ideas on here for us!

  • 21.
    Christi O. said…

    Mmmm…LOVE fall and the coming of hoodie weather! Our *new* tradition is to celebrate the last day of summer vacation. Our kids started school last week (already!) so the day before, we went to the park, out for ice cream, baked cookies, and just had a wonderfully special day….with lots of pictures, of course! Another tradition we’ve had is to take our kids’ pictures in front of our house on the first day of school. Then, not only do we have a way to look back on THEM as children, we can also see where we were living at that time. :)
    Is Simon looking forward to school?

  • 22.
    SpankMe said…

    Gosh, I wish I could get back to those days and have one more ‘back to school’ action… ;)

  • 23.
    Emilyt said…

    Oh, I just loved starting a new school year as a kid. :) Not much has changed with preparation – new supplies, clothes, shoes – the works! Only now I take pictures (Mom never did) and I take my daughters to school on their first day. It’s more fun to say good luck in person and ease the jitters. I especially love all the talk around the table at dinner. Who is in their class, how was the teacher, did anything funny happen, on & on. Love it.
    Thanks for the three things. I think I have the letter paper in a red…

  • 24.
    tammy g said…

    We make a Back to School cake the day before and eat some for snack after the first day. I take my son’s pic in front of the house. We also have a special dinner with more of our special cake!

  • 25.
    michellejeanne said…

    I have always loved buying new school supplies and new clothes, and my girls are the same. This year we celebrated my eldest entering Middle School by purchasing her a COOL desk for her room – she is so excited she can’t wait for homework! I also splurged on a beautiful Haiku messenger bag as the pink backpack she’d had since kindergarten fell aspart the week before school ended last year. (I really need to do a LO on that!).
    We will continue the annual 1st Day chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast, photos by the front door, and walking into the school, waving goodbye to me or hello to old friends. After school will be spent on a blanket in the backyard, eating cookies and talking over the day. My youngest who is not yet in school, will be treated to a special lunch out with Mommy.

  • 26.
    Jenny said…

    I am a special education teacher and I work with children in kindergarten through second grade who are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorders. One of the traditions we have in our classroom at the beginning of the school year is making a scrapbook of our daily activities and the people and places at our school. It really helps my new students become more familiar with our school and my returning students enjoy putting it together and showing it to their families.

  • 27.
    Michelle said…

    We have already been in school for two weeks, but our favorite back to school tradition is the school supply shopping. Not as much for my own kids, but they love getting school supplies for other kids who will need them more. I watch the papers and then we all go out and stock up and drop them off at donation sites for our in need school districts.
    Clothes shopping hasn’t been a big part of our back to school tradition because it will be at least December before we start wearing jeans and if I bought them now, they are sure to grow out of them. School supplies are so much fun…

  • 28.

    Notes in the lunch box for my kids. One day while helping my 16 yr old son get his room cleaned up to my standards I found a shoe box in his closet filled with all the note I wrote him since he started school. I was blown away and knew then that those notes were important!! Sometimes they just had a funny joke on them but I did something every day.
    I also get pictures of my kids in the same spot in front of their school the first and last day of school each year. Really fun to see how they grew!

  • 29.
    Jaclyn Venter said…

    BABIES!!! Congrats to you and your family as well on Jessica’s pregnancy! Its magical that you are both pregnant! God is blessing you abundantly!!

  • 30.
    Mary Jo said…

    My six year old son is starting first grade this year and also has a one year old sister who gets a lot of attention! This past weekend, Evan (my son) and I stayed “went away” for the weekend to a local hotel. We went back to school shopping, swimming in the hotel pool, to a movie and more!
    We both had a great time, and it was nice to have some special time together before he goes back to school full time.
    I would love to make this a tradition :0)

  • 31.
    scrapalicious said…

    Hi Ali, first of all I wish you a ‘happy’ pregnancy :)
    As my husband and I are both teachers, we count years in schoolyears, so next Sunday we will actually ‘celebrate’ New Year!!!
    We tell each other our goals and new intentions we never seem to manage to hold onto, but hey, that’s part of the tradition too, not? We buy a new (school)agenda and start with fresh lines. The house gets its Big Makeover the last two weeks: the dust of the summersun (or should I say this year: the tears of all the summerrain?)gets cleaned away, new schoolstuff’s bought and lots of planning is done. I like the idea of a fresh start, it’s like a second chance in that same official year we get. This year’s extra special: my little sixyear old girl goes to the ‘big school’!!!

  • 32.
    Leeann said…

    I take the last couple of days just before the first day of school off to spend with my daughter. While we do all kinds of special things through the Summer (year long really), I let her pick how we spend these two days….the whole day mind you (must be reasonable – grin).
    The morning of the 1st day, I always take a picture of her by the staircase and opening the front door. It is a great way, using the banister and the door handle, to see how much taller she has gotten over the years.

  • 33.
    Michelle D Oregon said…

    As part of my on-going “organization” (my word for 2008), I am finding extras of everything art related (paper, stamps, ink, paint, tools, etc.) Since so many schools are cutting out art programs, I am donating my extras to a local school and an after-school art program. It just feels like the right thing to do.

  • 34.
    cheryl said…

    I take a picture of my son on the first and last day of school and write a note to him for his lunch box. It’s always fun to see how he has changed throughout the year and he loves looking at the layouts of those pics.
    Goodness Ali, what are you doing up so early????

  • 35.
    PAM said…

    Like Amber, we homeschool our sons so “back to school” is a little different. We follow a traditional school schedule, and I like the freedom of summer, too!
    My sons loved getting to see their new books. So they have new things to get excited about on the first day back, I keep some of the new books hidden so they see them for the first time on the first day. I also make a big banner, take the usual pictures, and this year I purchased new shirts for them to wear.
    Something we started when my oldest was in preschool, we go to the same bakery on the first day back, in the morning, and get a special treat.
    We do go shopping for school supplies together (it’s fun for them) but I always purchase a few special supplies that I keep hidden until they come downstairs on that first day. Again, I have to make it extra special for them since their classrooms and teachers don’t change! :-)
    I like them coming downstairs to a big banner, special books and supplies on the table, and a special breakfast. This starts the year off right and we have a great day!

  • 36.
    Lily said…

    I bought like 8 packs of those maya road rubons… them

  • 37.
    kimber quadling said…

    It’s a simple tradition at our place. It’s pictures on the frontsteps, drive to the bus stop(seriously, to many bears) and watch them get on.Grab a coffee and enjoy that sense of “free” time.

  • 38.
    Tina Guerrero said…

    Wow…time really does fly as you see your kids head off the school. My middle daughter will be going into high school, and my youngest will be starting her last year at middle school. I can’t help but think that in a blink of any eye, they will be off doing their own thing. It makes me sad thinking about it, so for the next five years, I am going to start a new tradition. Rent a house in Lincoln City, Oregon, shop at the outlets before every school year. Stay up all night and watch chic flics. Just me and my girls!!

  • 39.
    Kathleen said…

    We always do the picture with the backpack on. The kids turn sideways so we can see how HUGE they are (and they don’t even have their books yet!) Then after school we enjoy Chocolate Chip cookies and talk about the day. It’s a good time for them to share how it went. It’s a fun tradition and gets them talking!

  • 40.
    Angela Urbano said…

    With my daughter going into grade one this year, it will be a huge adjustment eating lunch in a cafeteria. I started a tradition my friend Rozanne does for her girls…LUNCH BOX LOVE NOTES. Mini envelopes pre-cut and unfolded with a secret message inside. “Happy Monday”, “be sure to help a friend today”, “tell a joke to your reading buddy”…that kind of thing. It was a great way for my daughter to practice reading the days of the week. Sometimes I would slip in a mini chocolate bar. I’ve kept some of them and will eventually add them to her scrapbook. Hopefully she’ll remember and treasure this “mom” tradition.

  • 41.

    I am creating name tags for my students that include inspirational quotes about education along with fancy letters for their names. They’re going to be on 4×6 card stock pieces. I’m going to laminate them so they last awhile. :)

  • 42.
    Julie Johnson said…

    I use fun napkins with breakfast, take their pic by the front door…same spot each year. I’m going to use one of the cosmo cricket little chipboard albums for these special pics….one for each of my 4 kids. I put pics of our Summer on our wall photo display, notes in the lunchbox, and send them off. Right after drop off, I invite as many mommies as I can find to come over for coffee. Today I called it “Kazoo and Kleenex day.” I put out some kazoos for little siblings, and kleenex for the mommies who needed it. We had a fun morning with 20 some moms catching up and eating yummy stuff. :)

  • 43.

    I so love that KI paper so to hear they are re-releasing it just makes me happy!!! It seems to just go with everything.

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