Each year, I love snapping photos of my girls to commemorate the first day of school. Our back to school photo traditions are as much a part of the day as new classrooms! Nothing marks the passage of time more accurately (and maybe more sadly) than comparing these photos side by side, year after year.
Looking ahead towards graduation
When my oldest started kindergarten five years ago, a friend made me a gray t-shirt that simply read “Class of 2028.” The shirt is an adult large, and the first time my then 5-year-old put it on, she laughed. It fell past her knees! But she has put on that shirt for photos each first day of school, and each year, the shirt is a little smaller on her. She is now almost 10, and I love looking back at the photos of her in the same shirt year after year because I don’t always notice how much she grows week by week or month by month. But seeing how much smaller the shirt is on her now than it was in 2015 reminds me of just how little she used to be and how quickly time flies!
I now own three gray t-shirts, each imprinted with a different graduating year, for each of my three girls. It has become a fun yearly tradition to sport these shirts for the camera and mark this moment in time! I bought gray t-shirts at Walmart for less than $4 and asked a friend with a Cricut to add the “Class of” logo each time. This idea cost me about $5 per shirt and is so worth it!
A photo record of their favorite things
We also have posters made each year with my girls’ favorites on them. Favorite food, favorite movie, favorite song. It also lists what they want to be when they grow up, their current grade level and age and a few more personal details. My friend with a great computer app makes these and prints them at Costco. (I pay her for her time!) I love comparing the lists year and year to see what remains the same. My middle daughter has listed mac and cheese as her favorite food for three years running! Seeing what changes makes me smile, too. She has yet to list the same movie twice! I store the posters under my bed after we take photos with them. Later, I plan to put them up at each girl’s high school graduation party as a way of showing how much she has changed through the years!
Free printables and budget ideas for cute photos
If you don’t have the time or budget for some of the above suggestions, there are plenty of ways to grab a great photo on the cheap. Many stores such as Target and TJ Maxx sell chalkboard signs that you fill out and erase each school year to commemorate the first day. They can be shared by siblings, and many even have a “Last Day” saying on the flip side so you can capture the first and last day of school each year. There are also lots of websites that offer free printable signs in all grade levels from kindergarten through 12th grade! Grab my favorite printables here.
Chalk makes everything cuter
Even easier, grab some chalk and get creative! Draw a large Class of XXXX on the driveway and have her lay next to it. Or write “First day of XXXX” and have your kiddo smile with his backpack and lunchbox next to the words. I’ve also seen friends on social media create frames out of old cardboard boxes that they decorate and paint and have their kiddos hold while they pose for the camera.
Get creative with these fun back to school photo traditions. Time passes so quickly. Thankfully, first day of school photos are so fun to look back at year after year to celebrate how much kids have grown.