Back to School

DIY First Day of School Photo Shoot

First day of school photos are a must-do tradition. When I was a kid, our mom stood us in front of our house or a flowered bush or something of the like. There were no fancy signs. We just had on our favorite new clothes and backpacks.

My mom wasn’t a slacker. This was pretty standard for those days.

But as mothers in the 21st century, we now have access to Pinterest and all the fun and adorable crafts we never would have thought of without a visual social media network.

The thing with Pinterest is that most of the time, when I try an adorable craft I fail. First day of school photos aren’t something to mess up though, which is why we love that Michael’s has this cute and themed—yet simple—craft to up your mom game without feeling the stress of trying not to fail at the latest and most adorable Pinterest craft.

To get your project started, you’ll only need five materials.

Canvas Panels

The base of your project will be a canvas panel. We love this multipack. It gives you room for error, and allows you to make more than one sign if you have multiple school-aged children without having to go through a messy erasing process as you’re trying to shoot the perfect pic.

Chalkboard Paint

Next, you’ll need some black chalkboard paint. You’re going to have to do two coats, giving yourself enough time to dry the board between each one.


You’ll also need paint brushes to go along with that paint. This set isn’t the cheapest, but the quality is good, so you’ll be able to use them again and again. Quality over cheapness is always a good value!


This step is optional. The board will be starkly black after you’re done painting it, so if you want to give it more of an authentic school look, you can rub the whole board with chalk and then wipe it off. You’ll want to be thorough enough that you’ll be able to read the writing you add in the next step, but not so thorough that the board is completely clean again.

And, yes, we know that most schools use smart boards or dry erase boards in the 21st century. But Shhhh! Don’t ruin the magic.

Chalk Markers

Specially designed to make writing on a chalkboard easier, these markers will ensure that, “First Day of Fourth Grade!” or whatever grad you’re sending your kid into, comes out bold and clear in your photographs.

Another difference in 21st vs 20th century parenting: you can automatically see if the photo you just shot was any good, and then commence to take tens more without worrying about running out of film.

We recommend completing this step at least the night before so you’re ready to go. You wouldn’t want to miss the bus on the first day of school!

We also love this project because when you’re done, you’re left with something functional: a chalk board that your kids can use over and over again as they play.