Make a "First Day of School" Photo Book

What You Need:

  • Camera (digital is especially handy)
  • Cardstock paper
  • Glue Stick
  • Tape
  • Markers

What You Do:

  1. When your child starts asking you questions about school, take it as a sign that they are ready to talk. This is an opportune time for you to set a positive, constructive tone about the experience. Even though you may not want to spoil some of the surprises of the first day of school, you can still prepare and inform your child for the best experience possible. If your child is entering a new grade at an existing school, many aspects of their day will actually be familiar!
  2. Schedule some "run-through” time to practice the first day of school routine, and get your camera ready. 
  3. For your first run-through, start with getting up in the morning. Invite your child to “act out” waking up; take a picture as they do so. Have them put on a nice outfit, the kind they'd wear to school. Once they're dressed to impress, take another photo. Do the same for eating breakfast, putting on a backpack, grabbing a bookbag, and so on.
  4. The next step — going to school — can be especially intimidating for children. Have your little one practice this, whether that means going to a bus stop, walking, or hopping in your car. Photograph the process.
  5. School itself comes next — which may be a little tricky to rehearse during summer when everything is closed. Many schools have an open house during midsummer or a week or two before school starts. Plan on attending — with your camera — if possible. Even if school is closed, you can still do a lot. Take your child over to the school and photograph them in front. Check out the playground and get a picture of your child on a swing or a play structure. And if your child's new teacher happens to be around — and many will be — by all means, say hello and see if you can snap a quick photograph of your child with their teacher, or even in the classroom itself.
  6. Finally, take some pictures of the afternoon transition. Your own family’s rituals probably vary, but in general, try for one to three photographs that can help your child know what to expect and to create a reassuring sense of familiarity. You can take a picture of your child arriving home, eating an after-school snack, or simply playing outside.
  7. To assemble the book, print your pictures and invite your child to help you lay them out in order on a table. (Note: parents, it’s tempting to do this sequencing yourself, but it’s much better to give your child some practice. When they can place the photos in the correct order, they'll feel even more prepared for the first day of school.)
  8. Cut your cardstock paper in half to make a stack of pages 5½ by 8½ inches. On the first page, place a picture of your child and write a title. If your child is able, they can also help with this part! On each of the following pages, place a photograph and one or two descriptive words, such as “waking up,” or “my school.” (You can have your child write the word, or ask them to dictate.) Use a glue stick to attach the pictures.
  9. You can make a traditional book by stacking all the pages, but our favorite method is accordion style. Use tape to attach each page to the next, so that you can read them one by one if you like. You can also stretch them out to create one long “timeline” of the day, like this:

In the days before school begins, this book can help your child look forward to the day, and can ease anxiety and keep the whole family aware of what to expect. Invite your child to travel through the pages with you, one by one, and visualize a great experience. With a little patience and support, your child will have all the tools they need for an exciting new adventure as a kindergartener.

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