That first day of school each year with new clothes and a nervous smile is a great opportunity for a picture to remember this rite of passage. A sign for your child to hold can help mark the occasion with some fun details. The great thing about signs is that there are a million different ways to do it, and most of them are fairly affordable. You can go for the deluxe option and buy a hand-lettered, custom chalkboard sign, or you can take the more inexpensive route of a printed piece of paper. Both options and everything in between are all great! Like any project, it’s about what works best for you and your situation.

If you would like to do something re-usable but not as expensive as a chalkboard, this “first day of school” picture sign is easy and affordable. Feel free to customize it as you see fit. Oh, and have fun!


  • Sign (I searched Pinterest and found a ton of free ones available for downloading.)
  • A matted frame (This one is from Walmart.)
  • Chalk markers (These are also from Walmart.)



Step 1: Place your sign in the middle of your mat so it is centered in the frame. I used a sign that had fill-in boxes for the details to make each picture more special. This sign had writing to the very edge, so I had to use glue dots to affix it to the outside of the mat instead of within the mat.


Step 2: Place your matted sign in the frame.


Step 3: Use your chalk markers to fill in the blanks! You can also use colored chalk markers around the border (on top of the mat) to include fun details such as the child’s name, year, classroom, etc. Just make sure you consider the color of your print and mat when you buy your chalk marker so you aren’t buying white to write on white.

NOTE: Chalk markers can be tricky to get started, so make sure you follow the directions. For the ones I bought which are pretty standard, here are a few tips:

  1. Shake the marker vigorously.
  2. On a piece of paper, press the marker tip in repeatedly. This help moves the chalk liquid from inside the marker to saturate the tip of the marker. Don’t give up: it make take several dabs before you start to see the liquid color on the tip!
  3. Store the marker horizontally per the instructions.


Why chalk markers? Because they can be used on glass and erased as needed, so they aren’t a permanent solution. Just use a napkin, paper towel, or even your hand to wipe off the liquid chalk. See?


And you’re done! It is actually that easy.


To customize your picture even more, how about these suggestions:

  • Have your child write their name at the top over the mat each time. Over the years you can watch as their writing changes and becomes more legible and personalized. Aw, growing up!
  • Let your child decorate the mat and / or frame each year, replacing it with a new one the next year. This lets them participate and share some of the things they like, such as seashells for a memorable summer at the beach or musical notes for a love of music. It also shows how their style develops over time.
  • Why stop at the first day of school? You could use this same idea for holidays, vacations, birthdays, etc. If you’re making a photo book, it’s a great cover page!

Happy event-ing!