Back to School Toys

September 12, 2011

On the night before school started, each of my kids found a new toy on their dinner plate. For Baby June, we chose this Loopty Loo. I’m a diehard B. Toys fan! I love the colors they use, and their toys are always such a huge hit with my kids.

For the other five kids, we chose these games. Confession: a big part of why I chose them is because I have a hard time resisting the irresistible cloth packaging. Another reason is because I was already familiar with Bananagrams and knew it was lots of fun. Lastly, every game is either letter or number based, which I thought tied into “school” pretty neatly. Too clever? Or just the right amount of clever?

It was a small token, but for the first time ever, my kids were less than 100% enthusiastic about the first day of school (they were understandably nervous about their French), and I figured any unexpected gift might help them feel cheerful and brave, or give them something to look forward to after school.

How about you? Do you have any special traditions for Back-to-School? Have you seen the feasts Nie Nie holds each year? So cute!

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{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Anna September 12, 2011 at 6:51 am

I think it’s just the right amount of clever! We always have a back to school dinner consisting of alphabet soup, letter breadsticks and a fun dessert. After dinner we give them a school cone (a German tradition) full of fun school supplies and school goodies! It’s the highlight of going back to school for them!


2 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 7:06 am

I LOVE the idea of serving alphabet soup. I think I need to copy you, Anna!


3 Bek September 12, 2011 at 7:48 am

Our tradition is that the kids can have anything they want for breakfast on the first day. It takes off some of the nervousness of the first day. The kids spend lots of time debating and choosing what they want. We have had steak, ice cream, sausage biscuits, lasagna, you name it. The only tricky thing is making 4 or 5 different breakfast on the same morning. :-)


4 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 7:54 am

What a fun mom! I’ll bet your kids adore that tradition, Bek. I love that lasagna has made an appearance.


5 Lisa September 12, 2011 at 7:51 am

I’ve always made banana splits for my kids on the first day of school. I rationalize that it is somewhat healthy (bananas, fruit, dairy) and they get to join in, helping to make their creations. It is very festive, it makes the morning extra special, and sends them off to school with big smiles on their faces. It’s an annual tradition.


6 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 7:55 am

So fun! I would rationalize that exactly the same way. : ) What a smart way to turn the day into a celebration.


7 Diane @ kitchen-dreams September 12, 2011 at 8:33 am

Yours is a great idea! My school related traditions for my now recently-graduated-from-college children, were to take them for ice cream on the LAST day of school, and while in high school I’d make them a big breakfast whenever they had important exams.


8 Ashlea Walter September 12, 2011 at 8:36 am

Love it – clever indeed! And I had no idea there were other Bananagrams-type games out there. My husband and I happily play hours of it in the wee hours of winter. Wren loves to tinker with the letters too…


9 the mrs September 12, 2011 at 9:05 am

The games are a wonderful idea!
We host a “Sundaes on Sunday” party the Sunday before school starts.
It started years ago with just the neighbors on our street and has grown to the whole neighborhood this year. It’s always a huge success.
We left one state where they’ve kept up the traditon and started anew here and one of my friends has even taken the tradition to Japan!
It’s just a nice way to get to know our neighbors & show each other’s children just how many folks are really there to support and watch out for them.


10 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:11 am

Such a great idea! What lucky neighbors you have.


11 Heather September 12, 2011 at 9:27 am

Who is that big baby girl in the photos?!! It can’t be Baby June! :)
Gabrielle, she is adorable!
I think that is a great treat for your children. It puts a nice positive spin on the night-before anxieties, and as you wrote, gives them something to look forward to!
I really like NieNie’s back to school traditions, too! I hope to incorporate something like that when my children become school-age.


12 The New Diplomats Wife September 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

these are all such lovely ideas, and what a touching way to make this an occassion.


13 kiera September 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

I knew I could count on you, Gabrielle! I just sent my 4 year old to school (kindergarten) for the first time! It’s been an awfully weepy experience for her, but especially me. I’d love to hear how your kids’ first day went! Great idea, btw. I’m starting to regret not thinking to give her a gift!


14 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:09 am

Kindergarten can be so emotional! As much for the parents as it is for the child. : )


15 Beth Skillman September 12, 2011 at 10:32 am

The Skillmans love Banana Grams! A great game for families who travel frequently too. We will have to check out some of the others. Our tradition for our daughter began with a character I drew on a note for her on her first day of school. The character was a little girl with pigtails and a big smile. Our little girl is a big girl now, but I still draw the character on all the notes I leave in her schoolbag on special days or days I know might be challenging for her. It may embarrass her someday, but I sure hope not!


16 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:09 am

I hadn’t thought of that, Beth, but you’re right! The games are very portable. No big boxes.


17 Dee September 12, 2011 at 10:39 am

The instant my baby saw June with her toys, she yelled “mine!”. The games look adorable. I’ll have to check Target for them, I see B toys there all the time.


18 Delia September 12, 2011 at 10:46 am

I love, love your photos of baby June….and really all of your photos are great.
Have you previously given photo tips on your blog or is that something you can do in the future? Basically share with us what lens you use, whether you shoot on full automatic or manual mode…..all thoselittle tips that get you such clear pictures with awesome bokeh.


19 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:08 am

Thanks for the compliments, but truly, I’m such a novice! I use a Canon 50D with 50mm 1:1.4 lens. I generally keep the dials on the factory settings and use it like a point and shoot. The lens is so good! It’s hard to take a bad picture with it.

I’m learning more and more about how to use my camera. Someday I hope to be a confident photographer.


20 AnEmily September 12, 2011 at 10:48 am

June is…turning into a toddler!! An adorable one.
This is the first year my sons were excited to go back to school. It’s a new school that they love. Made me much less stressed, for sure!


21 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:06 am

Seriously! I think it happened just this week. She is literally toddling around everywhere. : )


22 Andrea@Fancy That! September 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm

What a nice idea. I remember feeling like new clothes and pretty school supplies gave me a little confidence boost when I was nervous about the first day of school–which I frequently was being a rather quiet kiddo.


23 PrintArtKids September 12, 2011 at 1:54 pm

On the first day of school, I take a photo of each of my kids holding a sign that says, “First Day of “X” Grade” with the date. I do the same on the last day of school. It’s amazing to see how much they grow from September to June!


24 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:05 am

What a neat record that will be! Do you put all the images in one photo album?


25 cheryl September 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

We celebrate by having the Back Pack Fairy come. We leave out our back packs, She pays a visit to our house & fills the back packs with school supplies, new jammies, favorite school snacks, etc. I love the idea of a back to school dinner!


26 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:05 am

The Back Pack Fairy sounds like a genius idea!


27 se7en September 12, 2011 at 2:45 pm

We have the same games – well the apples, pears and bananas… every Monday is game day and everyone chooses a game and someone always chooses these – they are the best!!! My mom and I are addicted to bananagrams and we play long after the kids have retired!!! You are such a fun mom… I have never thought of back to school games – I thought being back at school and all the lovely new books (we homeschool!!!) was the fun!!! Clearly I need to raise my “game” and a new standard has been set for next year!!!


28 Diana September 12, 2011 at 5:09 pm

YOu are an incredibly thoughtful Mum Gabrielle and I still marvel at how you even have time to think let alone order these toys! What a super idea and I will now use it with my little one :))


29 Ashley N September 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I am in love with B toys too. They don’t look too babyish which I like, and are really fun. I got my daughter the bead bucket after seeing it on your website and it has been one of my daughter’s all time favorite toys- so thanks for the inspiration!


30 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:04 am

We didn’t bring our Pop It beads to France and they are the number one toy we miss. : )


31 This girl loves to Talk September 12, 2011 at 8:44 pm

I love that our school year in Australia starts at the end of january! It means every year I get to see the northern hemisphere’s back to school ideas and I can keep them in mind for when ours happens a few months later! Thanks for the ideas, we have been doing a back to school dinner ala Nie Nie for about 3 years now and I love it. even though our back to school isnt long past christmas maybe I can think of some lovely educational toys as gifts – great idea!


32 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 6:04 am

I’d really like to live in Australia for a year and experience the flipflop of seasons!


33 Amy3 September 13, 2011 at 10:27 am

I’m getting such great ideas! I always pick my daughter up at dismissal the first day and we do whatever she’d like. That usually means hanging out at the park and getting ice cream. We do the same on the last day.

But I’m really loving the idea of back-to-school dinners and whatever-you-want breakfasts on the first day. (Apparently it’s all about food with me!)


34 Corina September 14, 2011 at 6:46 am

lovely idea…bookmarking for next year! We already have banagrams but have yet to play it…putting it on the agenda for the weekend! We have a tradition of the school bustop photo, there’s something about that big yellow bus…and this is the first year my twins have joined the gang. It’s wonderful to look back and see how all the kids in the neighbourhood have grown. We do the last day as well.


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