by Debbie Hodge

When you take photos on those first days of school, think about the constants and the changes. Pay attention to specific details of things your child says and/or does. Consider who else ought to be in the shots and what kinds of settings you’d like to capture.

When you make taking photos of your kids getting back to school a tradition, you end up with a great series over the years that shows the things that stay the same even while so many things are changing.

Recount the details that “show” back-to-school attitudes.

It’s one thing to say your child was excited to go to school. It’s another thing to recount the actual details as Tiffany Tillman has done on “First,” noting that she picked out her clothes and her lunch, that she woke herself up in case Mom overslept. Those specifics about behavior do the very thing that writers are advised: “show, don’t tell.” Saying “she was excited” is telling. Note, too, that there is nothing wrong with doing both: show and tell!

TITLE TIP: Check out Tiffany’s titlework. Consider a series of first school days through the years, each one titled with the name of the grade and a short comment running through a cutaway of the text.

First by Tiffany Tillman | Supplies: Digital Paper: Modern Marvel by Karla Dudley.

Include the back-to-school gang in  your photos.

If your children head off to school with carpoolers, fellow bus riders, or neighborhood walkers, grab a shot of the group — even better if you can get the bus or the school in the background.

Debbie took these photos on the second day back to school rather than the first because the first day was thrown off by the arrival of a different bus at an earlier time than expected. Debbie says, “These are all middle schoolers along with my older son who is a high-schooler–and a reluctant subject with his back to the camera. He’s a good sport, though and he did give me a look in the end.”

“Something that I notice in this photo–and that will be even more apparent when years of layouts are looked at together–is that both of my sons are lacking the back-to-school haircut the rest of the gang got. I’m a big procrastinator. My boys don’t like haircuts. And we always go back for two or three days before the labor day weekend, and we’re always still feeling like it’s summer break those first days. Labor Day weekend is haircut weekend around here.”

Bus Stop by Debbie Hodge | Supplies: Westover  Kit by One Little Bird;

Katie Scott‘s children’s back-to-school gang is mom and dad and the family carpool. Katie says, “From my perspective, the car circle is a huge part of the school year but I don’t think I’ve ever scrapbooked it, so I thought this crazy morning circus on wheels deserved a page.  Often times my husband and I drive them together and sometimes I wear my jammies (no I don’t get out of the car); but it is a complete challenge to get them off to school in the morning.  Maybe this year will be better (that’s what I keep telling myself anyway).”

“I recently introduced my kids to Ren & Stimpy videos so I used the Happy Happy Joy Joy in the journaling – since we enjoy a bit of sarcastic humor.  My son’s face shows off how he feels about the morning ride to school.  He might be more Happy Happy about the pick up from the car school process – he always says his favorite parts of school are lunch and dismissal!”

Car Circle by Katie Scott | Sipplies: Patterned Papers: Unknown; Deco Tape: DCWV; Alpha Stickers: KI Memories.

Amy Kingsford scrapbooked a special moment her boys shared before the eldest left for his first day of preschool.  Amy says, “The focus is more on my youngest son and his reaction to his brother starting school.  I used a bright color scheme and school-inspired patterns and elements to support my story and to help my photos pop on the page.”

Can I Come Too? by Amy Kingsford | Supplies: Sweet Shoppe Designs: Smart Alec; Sahlin Studio: Sunshine Alpha, Kitschy Kitchen Alpha; Jacquard Trim; Sara Gleason: Happy Little Dot Alpha; Katie Pertiet: Notebook Edge Frames; Get It Srapped: Scrapbook Page Template No. 86.

Take portraits in front of a constant backdrop each year.

Michelle Houghton says, “I always take one photo of each of my daughters in front of their classroom doors.  This gives me a really good excuse to walk them all the way in but also puts their teacher, grade and room number in the photo with them each year.  After school I get them close together for one end of the day shot.  It surprises me how much this photo shows beyond their beautiful faces.  This year we had a perfect first day for both of them, can you tell?  I can tell from their bright faces.  I have other years that are not so bright.  I kept my layout very simple with bright colors to go with their fun new school cloths and classrooms.”

If you don’t have the opportunity to walk into the school on the first day, think about what yearly constant you could include.

Back To School 2012 by Michelle Houghton | Supplies: Patterned paper, twine and paper flowers- American Crafts, buttons – Crate Paper, masking tape stickers – Pebbles

Scrapbook the end of a school day (i.e., homework).

Tara Mckernin says, “For this back to school layout I chose to focus on that first bit of homework that comes home.  It is a struggle to get my son to do his homework and a long process to get anything done.  It’s that dreaded “I-have-homework-I’m-really-back-at-school” moment for him.  I, on the other hand, love seeing him work, watching it all come together for him.  This is back to school for me.”

Back to School by Tara McKernin | Supplies: School Words 1 by Ali Edwards, It’s Elementary Bundle from Baers Garten Designs.

Dress up standard school photos with a collaged look.

Doris Sander says, “I normally place photos so the subject is looking into the page.  On this page, however, I placed this old school photo so that it appears that I’m looking off the page.  This isn’t normally considered good design, but I broke the rules in this case to emphasize the poor cropping in that old picture.  Don’t you love those school pictures?

“I created a fun quilted background for this one in yellows and browns with a hint of green.  I was a child of the 70’s, so this color scheme reminds me of that era.  It’s also a neutral palette that lets the red in my shirt really pop.  I’ve tied that in nicely with the red in my title and a small bit of red near the journaling to create a visual triangle that holds the design together.”

Golden Tresses by Doris Sander | Supplies | patterned paper – 7Gypsies, Basic Grey, My Mind’s Eye, brads, stickers, journaling cards – Basic Grey, chipboard alphabet – American Crafts

Scrapbook your back-to-school traditions.

Jennifer Matott  says, “Back to school is an exciting time of the year in our house.  Not only do I have two children that go to different schools (one in Elementary and one in Pre-K) but I’m an art teacher and always get the “butterflies-in-the-tummy feeling” when it gets close to a new school year.”

“It’s just so exciting to have a clean and organized classroom to go to, new clothes, projects planned, and new school supplies!  To celebrate the end of the summer and beginning of a fresh new school year, I started a tradition of having a “back to school” party so that my son could invite friends over, they can find out what teacher they have, make art smocks, and play games that test their math, science and reading skills.  Lots of fun and lots of giggles.  It was so busy last year, I forgot to take photos of the festivities but I did take a few of the set up and our first arrival!  So I wanted the page to have those on it.  I also wanted an artsy feel because we did a LOT of art projects that day!”

Back 2 School by Jennifer Matott | Supplies: Cardstock: Bazzill (Kraft); Patterned Papers: Prima Marketing (Rosarian); Wooden embellishments: Prima Marketing; Stencil: Crafter’s Workshop; Fiber Paste: Golden Paints; Ink Stamp: Prima Marketing; Faber Castell Design Memory Craft PITT Big Brush Artist Pen in black, Faber Castell Design Memory Craft Gelatos

Embellish to record extracurricular activities.

Audrey Tan embellished this first-day-of-school page with school-themed elements AND  with violins since both sons take violin lessons at school.

Audrey says, “This page shows the happy faces of my boys, knowing that for this year they will be together and both lining up with their respective classes on the same school ground. On my page, apart from depicting traditional school images, I’ve included a blended musical sheet and a violin image as both of them have violin lessons in school too.”

School is Cool by Audrey Tan | Supplies: Anna Aspnes: Artsy Template No62, ArtPlay Palette Concerto; Cinzia Designs: Ready To Learn; One Little Bird: Bird Seeds V1 UK; Elise’s Pieces & Chelle’s Creations: In Harmony; Font: Follow You Into The World

Scrapbook a page with the look of your child’s back-to-school clothes.

The look of Vicki Walters‘ page is inspired by her granddaughter’s back-to-school fashion look.

Vicki says, “The little outfits are from Justice.  I thought it would be fun to do an almost-teenager-styled page to record my granddaughter’s tastes in clothes and style. I love the bold colors and cool styles with all the peace symbols and stuff–reminds me of the sixties!  It’s a busy page for a busy age.”

Back to School Time by Vicki Walters | Supplies: Anna Aspnes:
ArtPlay Palette Girl Craze, ArtPlay Palette ExLibris, ArtPlay Palette Ex Libris Add On no 1 Brushset, FotoWallets No 1; Holliewood Studios:Art Journaling 2, Stenciled and Sprayed; Fonts: JailbirD JenNa, Hippy Stamp, Book Antiqua, and Bobsmade Font

Barb Brookbank‘s “Book Smart” has a completely different look from Vicki’s page — as it should since, instead of a pre-teen girl, she’s scrapbooking a cute-as-button little boy in a blue plaid shirt.

Barb’s journaling reads: “Your first day of kindergarten and you could hardly hold your backpack it was so heavy! But you were so proud and excited and you wanted to me to take a picture of it. I happily obliged!”

Book Smart by Barb Brookbank | Supplies: Kit: Westover by One Little Bird; Font: Boopee