Back to School


Whether it’s your child’s first day of school or whether it’s “Welcome Back to School” this theme day is a fun way to prepare. 


Print out the Family Theme Day Planner and decide which activities you’d like to do and in what order.





Use this theme day as a way to talk to your child about his/her hopes, fears or worries about the new school year.






“The Wheels on the Bus” is a children’s song that would work for this theme day. Check here for lyrics:


To rock around the living room on this school theme day try to find the song “Teacher Teacher” by 38 Special on your favourite music provider.





Teach your child the “Thirty Days Hath September” nursery rhyme.  I still find it useful. Check here for the poem and history:







You can find many free colouring pages online by using your favourite search engine and typing in “School Coloring pages” or print out my School Bus Coloring Page.





Write out one or more of the following questions in the family notebook or on a piece of paper to glue in your family scrapbook:  Write: What do you think will be the most fun thing about going back to school (or going to school)? What do you like about school (or what do you think you will like about school)?  How will grade (?) be different from last year? What are you looking forward to the most about school? What are you worried the most about school?


 Choose the level of your child:

¨     Toddler – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and have your child draw a picture of the answer

¨     Preschooler/Kindergartener – discuss the answer(s) out loud first and write the answer down for him/her leaving one word for him/her to write out himself/herself with your help. You could also encourage him/her to draw a picture as well.

¨     Early Grade School – have your child either write out the answer himself/herself (encourage phonetic spelling) without your help, or offer to help with spelling each word out loud one word at a time.

¨     Grade School – have your child write a sentence or two on his/her own and then read over and discuss the response.  (You decide whether to correct the spelling or not)

¨     Older Child – have your child write a longer response (paragraph).

¨     As A Challenge – instead of a question ask your older child to write a story about a mysterious first day of school.




Print out my School Supplies Word Search:


Easy School Supplies Word Search or Moderate School Supplies Word Search.


Check here for the answer keys:  Easy Word Search KEY or Moderate Word Search KEY.





Raid your child’s bookshelves to find any books about going to school.


Go to the library with your child to find some books about school.


Go to the library on your own to find books about going to school to have already on hand for your theme day.  Many libraries allow you to go online and search for titles based on subject (type in “School” under children’s books).  Reserve them if you can to save time.



If you have a child who is going to school for the first time and is nervous you may want to try some of these books:


· I Love You All Day Long, by Francesca Rusackas and illustrated by Priscilla Burris, Harper Collins publishers, 2003 – Little own the pig doesn’t want to go to school because his mother won’t be with him, but Mommy reassures him by stating all the times she will love him throughout the day.

· The Kissing Hand, by Audrey Penn and illustrations by Ruth E. Harper and Nancy M. Leak, Child & Family Press, 1993 – Chester raccoon is very sad about going to school because he’d rather stay home with his mother but she shares with him a secret – the power of the kissing hand – and kisses his palm so that whenever he needs reassurance at school he merely has to rub his hand on his cheek.

 NOTE: Interestingly enough, before I had even read this book I did a similar thing for my son as I drew a happy face on his hand in pen so that he could look at it whenever he needed to during preschool and know that I loved him and was thinking of him and would be back to pick him up soon.

· Llama Llama Misses mama, by Anna Dewdney, Viking, 2009 – This rhyming story of little Llama Llama (in two other books) has him very shy and sad on his first day of nursery school but he learns by the end of the day that school can be fun and it’s ok to love his Mama and school.


Here are some titles that would fit for different school levels:

Preschool/ Nursery School/Kindergarten:

· Miss Bindergarten Gets Ready for Kindergarten, by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff, Dutton Children’s Books, 1996 – In this story Miss Bindergarten, a dog, prepares her classroom while the alphabetical students (various types of animals) perform their own tasks to get ready for their first day of school.


· My First Day at Nursery School, by Becky Edwards and illustrated by Anthony Flintoft, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2002—A little girl on her first day of nursery school discovers that after a day of fun she doesn’t want to go home.


· Ready, Set, Preschool!, By  Anna Jane Hays and illustrated by True Kelley, Alfred A. Knopf, 2005—This is a great book for children going to school for the first time as it has a collection of stories, picture games and poems about going to preschool and about the basic concepts learned there (shapes, colors, counting. And it  even has an educational guide for parents.


· Who Will Go To School Today? , By Karl Ruhmann and Illustrated by Miriam Monnier, North-South Books Inc., 2002 – Sam doesn’t want to go to school so he thinks perhaps his stuffed monkey Timbo can go in his place, but when he tries to reassure the monkey and tells him about all the things he will do Sam decides to go after all.


First Grade:

· First Graders From Mars Episode 1: Horus’s Horrible Day, by Shana Core and pictures by Mark Teague, Scholastic Press, 2001 – The first in this four book series has the nervous Horus (a green alien) starting first grade and noticing how different it is from kindergarten.



· Double Trouble in Walla Walla- by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Salvatore Murdocca, Carolrhoda Books Inc., 1997 – This family favourite of ours has a little girl overcome with a case of talking gibberish and it’s catching too as the teacher, principal and the nurse all end up talking just like Lulu.


· Froggy Goes to School, by Jonathan London and illustrated by Frank Remkiewicz, Viking, 1996 – The Froggy series is a cute one.  In this fourth book, Froggy  is nervous for his first day of school.


· A One-Room School, by Bobbie Kalman, Crabtree Publishing Company, 1994— Part of the Historic communities series this nonfiction book uses both photographs and illustrations plus lots of factual text to examine what it was like to go to school  long ago.


· This School Year Will Be the Best!, by Kary Winters and illustrated by Renee Andriani, Dutton children’s Books, 2010—Children make wishes about what the hope will happen in school.


· This is the Teacher, by Rhonda Gowler Greene and Illustrated by Mike Lester, Scholastic Inc, 2004 - Structured like “The House that Jack Built” this story shows all the crazy things that happen one day at school.






Materials: An apple cut in half lengthwise, a piece of white paper,  scrap paper, paint, waxed paper, face cloth for dirty fingers, newspaper or plastic for covering the table, old t-shirts or art smocks .


Step 1: Have your child pick the colour of paint he/she wants to use.

Step 2:  Show your child how to press the apple half in the paint and press it onto the worksheet to leave an apple print (you may need to press it on scrap paper to rid the apple of excess paint).

Step 3: Let your child stamp the apple half in the paint and on the worksheet.

Step 4: Let the picture dry then put it on display or glue it into your Family Theme Day Scrapbook.





Materials: Clean plastic lid from an empty margarine or yogurt container etc., paint and paint brushes, waxed paper, face cloth for dirty fingers, newspaper or plastic for covering the table, old t-shirts or art smocks,  permanent marker, hole punch, string.


Step 1: (Parent step) cut the plastic lid into the shape of your child’s choice (heart, diamond, circle).

Step 2: Have your child paint one side of the lid however he/she chooses to cover up the lettering.

Step 3: leave to dry.

Step 4: Once it is dry, write your child’s information on the other side of the plastic lid.

Step 5: (Parent step) hole punch the lid to make two holes side by side.

Step 6: Thread the string through the holes and tie to your child’s school bag.




This is a great thing to have as it houses things like pencils, pencil sharpener, erasers, glue-stick, ruler...anything your child might need when doing homework.  When my son does his work after school he knows where the box is kept and pulls it out so he doesn’t have to ask me continually “Where can I find a pencil?”


Materials: Empty shoe box, assorted stickers, scraps of coloured paper, white glue, cloth for sticky fingers.

Step 1: Cut scraps of paper to appropriate sizes to cover any lettering or pictures on the shoe box and glue into place.

Step 2: Use stickers to decorate the box.





Materials: Coloured paper (red, green and brown), a pipe-cleaner, googly eyes, white glue, glue stick, child-safe scissors.


Step 1: Cut the red paper into an apple shape or simply a circle about the size of a coffee mug rim.

Step 2: Cut a stem out of brown paper and glue to the back of the apple shape using a glue stick.

Step 3: Cut out a leaf shape from green paper and glue near the stem using a glue stick.

Step 4: Make two hole punches through the apple, one near the edge one closer to the middle but on the other side of the apple.

Step 5: Have your child choose a colour of pipe-cleaner for his/her worm and thread it through the two holes starting with the hole nearest the middle. 

Step 6: The end of the pipe-cleaner near the edge will be the worm’s head.  Help your child roll the end of the pipe-cleaner into a head.

Step 7: Glue two googly eyes onto the head.  If your child wants you can glue a small sliver of pink paper to the head as well to make a mouth.

Step 8: Cut out a rectangle from coloured paper (your child’s choice) and glue the back of the apple to the paper.








Make some Whole Wheat Pancakes for a great start to the day.  Be sure to freeze extras for school mornings.





Baked  Apples:


Ingredients: Apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, butter, (optional: crushed walnuts or pecans).


Step 1: Preheat the oven to 375ºF.

Step 2: (Parent Step) Dig out the core and seeds of each apple using a paring knife and spoon.

Step 3: Fill each hole with raisins and sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Step 4: Put a small amount of butter on top of the raisin filling.

Step 4: Place the apples in a high rimmed baking dish and pour enough boiling water in to cover the bottom of the dish.

Step 5: Bake for 30 minutes or until tender.

Step 6: Let it cool a bit before digging in.  You can serve each apple in a bowl and pour some cold milk over it.


Muffins : Bake some together for lunch bag treats.  You can find many different recipes online or in your favourite cookbook. Wrap each individually with plastic wrap and freeze together in a re-sealable bag.  Put frozen muffins in the lunch bag at night when you are making lunches and by noon the next day it will be thawed.





English Muffin Mini Pizzas:


Ingredients: A package of English muffins , tomato sauce (or pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce), shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, red peppers or any other favourite pizza toppings.


Step 1: Slice each muffin in half and lay on a baking tray. (NOTE: if you have more time toast each one in the toaster or on the broiler.  Toasting makes the bread less soggy, but even if you miss this step they are still delicious).

Step 2: Spread tomato sauce onto each muffin (for more flavour add dried Italian spices and garlic powder to the tomato sauce before spreading).

Step 3: Top with pepperoni and red pepper or any other favourite toppings.

Step 4:  Sprinkle shredded mozzarella on top.

Step 5: Cook in 350ºF oven for 10 minutes or more, until cheese has melted.

Step 6:  Freeze extras for lunch bags by wrapping with plastic wrap and placing back in the original English Muffin bag.  Put frozen pizzas in the lunch bag at night when you are making lunches and by noon the next day it will be thawed.





Wheels on the Bus Pasta – Make your favourite pasta sauce but serve it over wheel shaped pasta if you can find them.





Make an apple crisp or any type of apple cake (if you make apple cake you can individually wrap pieces and freeze them for lunch bag treats).








Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, especially if you’re in school as it provides energy and helps prepare your brain for learning. If you’ve got picky eaters as I do you may want to brainstorm with each child to come up with a list of foods they like for breakfast that are agreeable to you as well.  Print out a copy of my Breakfast Brainstorm Worksheet and come up with some morning food ideas together.


NOTE: You could also make a list of various healthy breakfasts yourself and then have your child pick the ones he/she likes.  Try to offer a fruit, a grain and a protein with breakfast.





Brainstorm with your child using my Lunch Bag: Food Groups Worksheet to come up with ideas to help you and your child make healthy lunches throughout the school year.





Discuss with your child the place he/she wants to use for homework – desk, kitchen table, etc..  Decide on the time your child will do homework, too.  We’ve found that after a snack and before dinnertime works well.







Explore options in your community and ways to help the schools around you together from hot lunch programs to community gardens, to buying new books for a school library to volunteering, see what is needed.




Sometimes kids don’t look forward to going to school. Remind them of how fortunate they are to be attending school by talking about children in other countries who do not have the facilities or opportunities to go to school.   Here are two ideas:


Read the children’s book Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth, collages by Susan L. Roth, Dial Books for Young readers, 2009. This book chronicles Greg Mortenson’s first project in Pakistan to build a school for the children of Korphe and has gorgeous textile collages as illustrations. A portion of the royalties from this book goes towards the charitable organization Central Asia Institute to build more schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  There is also a Young Reader’s Edition of Three Cups of Tea and of course the original nonfiction novel three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time. OR Look at starting a Pennies for Peace champagne at your child’s school to raise funds for these schools at



Another option is Kimmapii Kids a charity that can fill and deliver a satchel of school supplies to children of Peru for only $20.  Check here for more information:





Q: Why did the teacher need to wear sunglasses?

A: Her students were so bright.


Q: What school supply is always tired?

A: A “nap”- sack.


Q:  Why did the music teacher need a ladder?

A: He wanted to reach the high notes.


Q: What did the pen say to the paper?

A: Is my answer write?



Who’s There?


Dewey Who?

Dewey have to go to school today?







Search through your child’s DVD/ video collection (or visit your local library before hand or the Video Store) to find your child’s favourite shows with a school theme.


Try to find videos or DVD’s from these Series:


· The Magic School Bus

· Timothy Goes to School


Here are some specific titles:

· Blue’s Clues: Blue Takes You to School

· Sesame Street: Ready for School


* Older kids may enjoy watching any of the Harry Potter series which are shows about a wizards school.





Shopping for school supplies together is a good pre-school activity.  Plus, there is something wonderful about looking at all those brand new supplies that gets actually kids excited about school.

Shop for a first day of school outfit together and then go out together for lunch.



Label school supplies with your child by using  sticker labels found at a stationary store or by using permanent marker.



Visit the school: If your child is going to a new school this is always a good option.  Phone the school to make arrangements in advance for a tour.



Apple Stamps

Homemade Bag Tags

Homework Supplies Box

Apple Bookmark

Baked Apple

English Muffin Mini Pizzas

are perfect to freeze and use in lunch bags.

My son (aged 7) made up this craft of a classroom.  Ask your child to create his/her own school inspired picture.

Photo: C Wright

Back to School!

Lunch Bag Ideas Printable

Involve your child in healthy lunch planning!

Breakfast Ideas Printable

Make mornings easier by involving your child in the planning.