Back to School Fun

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Back to school time can feel a little unsettling. There’s new teachers, new books, new routines. A lot of new, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be a lot of back to school fun as well!

Consider these family fun activities and ideas to get kids excited for the start of school, whether it’s in the classroom or at home learning with their siblings. Make a new tradition this year!

mom and boy holding apple pie they made together.

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It’s hard to say goodbye to the lazy days of summer. I, for one, prefer not to have obligations and schoolwork to do. My kids would agree.

However, it’s back to school we must go. We moms can soften this change of seasons by creating back to school fun that our families enjoy and look forward to.

School isn’t a bad thing. It’s a blessing and a privilege. Kids don’t always see it that way, but it is. By creating fun traditions and having a positive attitude about reentry, we can make it something we all to look forward to.

At our house, the first day back means apple pie for breakfast. I know that may shock some of you, but it’s a special occasion meal that we love. Every year we have Apple Pie for breakfast on the first day of school.

Making a Slab Apple Pie couldn’t be easier. Oh my! Just watch this video of me and my helper putting together our Back to School Pie back in 2010.

You can make your own traditions or be inspired by other people. It doesn’t matter what you do, really, as long as it’s something that you and your children enjoy together.

Ideas for Fun

It’s important to have ways to mark the passing of the seasons. Practicing end of summer traditions and back to school fun can be a great way to celebrate a new school year and transition to a new routine. Consider these back to school activities:

Make a Summer Memory Book. Record all the fun things you did over the summer so you can see all the wins! Have your kids write down their best tips for a great summer vacation so you can look back on this list next spring.

Create vision boards for the new year. Help your kids articulate what kinds of feelings and experiences they want to include in this new school year.

Let’s do lunch! Brainstorm a list of lunch box ideas so that your kids are involved in lunch prep this year. Grab the School Daze Special for more school lunch inspiration.

Shop till you drop. Make a special outing of purchasing school supplies and new clothes.

Say cheese! Take pictures in front of the house on the first day of school. It’s okay if you forget on the exact first day of school, the first week or first month are good enough! Grab these free printable back to school signs that will work for any day of the year.

Plan for snacks. Make sure you’ve got a plan for after school snacking. Have a special after school treat planned, like home-baked cookies or a trip to the yogurt shop sometime during the first week.

English muffin pizzas on a plate with veggies.

Make plans for gifts. Start a list of teacher gift ideas so that when special days and holidays approach, your family already has a plan. Kids will be more excited about this now than later.

Dinner’s on! Prepare a celebratory dinner for the end of the first week of school. Make something fun and special, like grilled pizza!

Let’s party. Brainstorm some back to school party ideas to host friends and new students your kids may meet at school or co-op. Make plans for a fall gathering. Planning can distract from any anxiety your child might be feeling.

Bake someone happy. Bake and decorate a creative cake for dessert during that first week back to school.

Organize a bus stop breakfast bash. Bring a box of donuts or nut-free snacks to share with the neighbors.

Get packing! Pack a special lunch, complete with little love notes and a surprise treat. You can even do this when you homeschool. Serve boxed lunches as a fun surprise.

flowers next journal and cup of espresso

Got a middle school student? Start a journal writing campaign between you and your teen to open lines of communication as the school year begins. This can help with social emotional learning at home, talking to your kids about how they feel and how they might notice other kids feel.

Make a time capsule. Have your kids fill out the Who Am I? questionnaire. Seal them in a mini time capsule. You could even include photos and other memorabilia. Open them at the end of the year or at this time next year and be amazed at how much everyone has changed.

Make new friends. Get to know your child’s classroom community or the other families in homeschool co-op. Make a plan with your kids to reach out to those who are new or a little bit shy. Taking baking goods, where appropriate, is a great way to break the ice.

Keep playing. Plan a weekly family activity night to keep the summer vibes going. What have you really enjoyed doing this summer? Can you continue it into the fall?


How can kids get excited about school?

School can feel like drudgery, especially for the kid who doesn’t understand why they need to study certain subjects or who struggles with friends, bullying, or confidence. Open lines of communication so you can get a read on your child’s feelings as well as his or her hopes for the school year. Keep talking so that you can get ahead of conflicts and brainstorm solutions along the way.

How do you make the first day of school fun?

Parenting is all about managing expectations and knowing your child. Have a conversation with your kids about what they are hoping for the first day of school and why. Address all the possibilities and discuss some different ways to respond if things don’t meet their expectations.

wonder woman lunch box on a wall near a wood fence.

More Back to School Tips

What works for you?

Leave a comment below and let us know what works for you.

This post was originally published August 22, 2010. It has been updated for content and clarity.

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  1. Having pie for breakfast is an awesome way to start the year off strong! I bet that makes them so much more excited!!! I love this idea!

  2. we do the pictures before leaving for school… and again when school is over! The disheveled/tired look is fun to compare against the first. Ha!

  3. My mother started off making homemade cookies for me and my sister every year on the first day of school. Then it was us and the neighborhood kids. Now I do the same thing with my kids and their neighborhood friends. This year were making cake cookies and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cookies.

  4. Since I read your Weekly ramble this morning, I have been in absolute dumbfounded amazement that you have 36 weeks of lesson plans all printed out and ready for 5 kids! I have 8 kids, two of whom are out of school–so 6 still at home (1 in hs, 1 in jr hr, 3 in elem, 1 preschooler), so am in a similar life situation to you–without the organization, or business! How in the world??? How do you get your kids to do their work and stay on that kind of schedule? Are you actually able to keep up with those printed 36 weeks? Don’t you ever get behind? Thanks for your help!

    1. We absolutely get behind! But, we’re able to get back on track when it’s actually written out in a linear fashion. Some of the plans are merely logs with each day’s lesson from a book listed with a space to write in the date and the score or my sign-off. It’s a way to track our progress and know where to pick up when the wheels fall off the bus.

      One of the biggest hold ups for my kids in the past was waiting for me to write their weekly lists each week. Now, they can look at each section of the binder and know what’s the next thing to work on. I wrote more about it here.

  5. I think we’ll be all over the pie-for-breakfast on our first day of school. My son is always asking me to bake, so it will be a great recipe for him. Thanks for the inspiration

  6. I have been planning new traditions for my 6 children. 4 of them are homeschooled. For this new school year, which begins on Wed., we will be enjoying Ice Cream for breakfast! This is a new traditons that begins this year and will continue till all are done with school! Plus, it is a surprise! Shhh, don’t tell my boys.

  7. We are a homeschool family and one of our “back to school” traditions is celebrating “Not Back to School Day” on the local public school kids first day of school which for us is tomorrow. We do something fun like a movie or go to the zoo or a museum since it will be less crowded and then out to lunch or pack a picnic. My kids have been talking about for almost 2 weeks and nonstop today. Then on their first day of school which is Wednesday I have prepared the annual desk treat which this year is school themed Chinese Take out containers that I bought from the Dollar Tree and filled with fun erasers and mini highlighters and some hard candy and stickers and silly bands.

  8. I will be making our girls a “school survival kit” with a bandaid, chapstick, breath mints, stick of gum, pencil ,pen &eraser. I always love taking pictures in the front yard in the morning and then at school too! 🙂
    This year I think we’ll have a special dinner or dessert or I like the warm cookies and milk idea!! I usually am at work so this year is a treat to be at home!”) It is all bitter/sweet to me.
    Thanks for a fun site and ideas:)

  9. Would you please share the pie crust recipe? I’ve never made anything like that because I hate the rolling, but you said you can just pat it down directly in the pan? I want to make one tonight!!!

  10. That looks so good. This post reminded me of the first day of school. I’m in-between right now, because I’ve graduated from college, and my son isn’t old enough to go to school… I miss that fresh start!

  11. I loved this idea so much, that when we started our new homeschool year last week, I made an apple crumble/crisp (because we don’t like crust) with homemade whipped cream and it was a huge hit! I think we’ll make it a tradition.

    Thanks for all the great tips.

  12. I was just telling my family about this apple pie for breakfast idea and now I think I am stuck with having to do it for them too! 😉 It will be fun though, and I look forward to making their first day as special as I can for them! My oldest of course had to put in her two cents and suggest other varieties of pie we could try too… like peanut butter! 😉 Pie for breakfast is right up their alley, so no matter what this will be fun! 🙂 (I think I’ll stick to the apple though so we can have at least some redeeming qualities to this awesome treat!!)

  13. no kids for us yet, but i’m in grad school (year 2 of 3 starts aug 30) and our tradition is bob evans for breakfast on the first day of school. i think traditions are the way to go! i’d rather have lazy summer days but at least traditions make the transition a little more fun. 🙂

  14. This is a very creative idea and you make it sound so easy and delicious! I loved the video! What a great idea to have a back to school tradition! Have a great school year! 🙂

  15. Apple pie for breakfast – what a great idea!

    totally giggling over here because you know your readers so well that you answered my question (and I’m sure many others) when you mentioned that this pie freezes well 🙂

    Can’t wait to give this a try – it is almost apple picking time around here and I know my family would be thrilled to be surprised by pie for breakfast some morning!

    1. @Kara @SimpleKids, during apple season, I buy TONS of apples and then make up a dozen pies (this size and traditional). Freeze it unbaked for a really easy dessert any night of the week.