Autumn and the whole back-to-school rush always caused mixed feelings when I was growing up. On the one hand there was the excitement of a new fall wardrobe and reconnecting with my classmates. But at the same time there was a lot of anxiety about the impending school work, and the worries about whether my friends remembered me and would they eat lunch with me in the coming year.
So before the whirlwind of the new school season takes hold, help your grade-schooler ease back to school by hosting a Back-to-School Party during the final weeks of summer. Invite some of your children's classmates that they haven't seen since school ended, in addition to friends with whom they did play throughout the summer. And for those parents who feel a little too overwhelmed by the pressures of getting ready for the fall to plan a party, consider it a personal celebration of the end of summer and the return to a normal schedule!
The Party Plan
In planning activities, decorations and food, I've worked with the images that September brings to mind including school buses, school supplies, and apples for the teacher!
- Prior to the party, have your children make large collages of back-to-school images cut from newspaper circulars to hang around the room.
- Suspend real or construction paper apples from the ceiling.
- Print, enlarge and color this coloring page for a school bus. Make copies of it to use as a wall decoration or suspend it from the ceiling. You can also cover it with clear contact paper and use it as a festive placemat.
- Make a School Bus Cake with this easy recipe.
- Alphabet and number cookies (one of the activities listed below.)
- Provide a lunch sack for each child using brown paper lunch bags. Fill them with an apple, juice box, mini raisin box, bag of chips and pre-made sandwich (could be peanut butter and jelly, ham and cheese, bologna). As a fun touch, cut sandwiches out using school bus or apple cookie cutters.
- Bobbing for Apples - who says you can only do this at Halloween parties? All of autumn is apple season.
- Apple Craft Projects - Select one of these Apple Craft or baking projects from Sherri Osborn, About Guide to Family Crafts.
- Prepare the children for the inevitable first essay by playing a game of charades with the theme "What I did on my summer vacation."
- Organize a Scavenger Hunt for school supplies. Cute supplies can be found at Oriental Trading Company.
- Make and decorate pencil holders using clean and dried frozen juice cans. Cover with heavy construction paper and let the children decorate them using stickers, paints, crayons, etc. The children can use these to bring home the school supplies they found in the Scavenger Hunt, and any other goodies you send home with them.
- Get them thinking about their letters and numbers again by baking and decorating alphabet and number cookies. Cookie cutters can be purchased at Kitchen Collectables, which has a huge selection of cookie cutters with kid themes including a school bus, numbers and letters.
- Make a Back-to-School Time Capsule with instructions from Family.com, and let the children archive their best and worst summer experiences. You might want to ask parents to bring along photos from the summer to use in this book.
- Play the Alphabet Game, a fun letter game to warm up those brain muscles after the long summer break.