First Day of School & a Giveaway! (Now Closed)

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firstdayMy daughter started 4th grade this week. I can hardly believe I just typed those words. Just yesterday, she was taking her first steps, or so it seems. Now, her head is nearly at my shoulders and she can practically wear my shoes!

First day jitters were not an issue for my social butterfly. Although Sara may say she is sad that summer vacation came to an end, I know she was secretly counting the days until she could return to school. The day was harder on me as her mom!

The night before, I made sure everything was ready for the big day. Special outfit, new backpack, and a nutritious lunch. Sara was so excited she could barely sleep.  But I knew she needed her rest, so I enforced a strict bedtime.

Sure enough, she bounced out of bed in the morning as I groggily started my coffee maker. She was ready in no time at all, and wolfed down her breakfast.

After the traditional first day photos, we walked those few short blocks together to the campus. Now a 4th grader, she is the oldest grade at her school, and I could see that she carried herself with a new confidence.

She eagerly greeted her friends in the hallway, and stopped to give the librarian a hug. It warmed my heart to see her so happy to return. At her classroom door, I anticipated a nervous hug, but instead she waved casually and walked right in.

What a change from just one year before! There were no parents lingering at the door, no cameras (besides mine). I stood at the door and watched her find her desk and calmly sit down. I wondered how she could seem so calm, yet MY heart was pounding with anticipation.

Fourth grade is a whole new world. I felt my heart break a little as I realized she does not need me as much anymore. My girl is growing up. I summoned her over and gave her a long tight hug and a kiss. She grinned widely and returned to her desk, ready to start the day.

I walked home slowly, and reflected on the young lady she is becoming. The house was strangely quiet while I sipped my coffee.  As sad as I am to see her changing, I am so thankful for her energy and eagerness to learn.

Going back to school is an exciting, fun and sometimes, hectic time. To calm the butterflies and build your kids’ confidence, Hallmark has put together this great resource to encourage moms like you. Just for sharing a bit of advice, you’ll be entered to win a prize package valued at $500! You can check it out over here.

On to the giveaway! I have a $50 Gold Crown Gift Card from Hallmark for one lucky reader.

Congrats to the lucky random winner, #116, Nikki!

For a chance to win:

1. Leave a comment below sharing how you make the first day of school special (initial entry). If you are reading via email or in a reader, please click through to the post to enter.

For Bonus Entries (leave a separate comment for each):

2. If you are a subscriber or follower (thank you!), leave a separate comment. You may subscribe for free updates via RSS or email and leave a comment telling me you have done so.

3. For a third entry, add Keeping the Kingdom First to your blogroll or add my badge to your sidebar. Leave a separate comment with a link to your site.

This contest will close on Friday, September 4th, at 11pm CST. The winner will be selected by and contacted via email. Contest open to US residents only.

Good luck, and thank you for entering!


This post and giveaway were sponsored by Hallmark.  The thoughts and words are all mine!


  1. Misty says

    I don’t have any in school yet, thank goodness, just reading about my friends kids going breaks my heart a little. But when the time comes I think we’ll do a special breakfast, and pictures on their first day to scrapbook, and I will eagerly await their return.

  2. Mellisa W. says

    I always let me son pick a favorite thing for breakfast and my husband goes to work late so we can both take him to school.

  3. Stacy says

    I don’t have any kids in school yet but I am passing on what works for me before I go to my classes. I put songs that motivate me like the Black Eyed Peas ” I gotta feeling”.

  4. says

    My little girl just started daycare at age 3. We read “The Kissng Hand” and I gave lots of kisses in her hands to help her through the day! We also had a special breakfast and then prayed on the way to school.

  5. Felicia says

    On the first day we of course get pics, but she is allowed any breakfast she want’s (within breakfast restrictions of course). This year I fixed her hair so pretty and she went “rock-glam.”
    .-= Felicia´s last blog ..Time Out on K-Mart Super Doubles=( =-.

  6. Cherese says

    We ate my daughters favorite breakfast and took lots of pictures. She loves to pose for pictures now even at 4.

  7. Daniell says

    To make the first day special I made checker board Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches with white and wheat bread for my darling puplis. When they returned home for school we went to our new annual first day of school sweet spot, Honey Hut. Once there we sat outside at a picnic table, talked about the first day of school while enjoying our scoops of ice cream.

  8. Melanie says

    We always take the 1st day of school pictures and I walk my girls to their classrooms and take pictures in their desks. I have a special snack waiting for them when they get home.

  9. Stacey verguldi says

    My daughter is just starting Kindergarten and I have no idea how to make the first day special. I know we’ll take lots of pictures and my husband is working from home that day to see her off to school with us.

  10. Tia says

    We have a later starting day so we enjoy a special breakfast the first day of school! Since I have 4 kids in 4 different schools morning is a tad crazy once the eating is done! This is my first year with all kids in school! Yikes!!
    .-= Tia´s last blog ..Bath & Body Works – Free Lip Product with ANY Purchase! =-.

  11. says

    My son is a Senior this year and for the past 13 years(since preschool) I always take the first day of school off. We have a special breakfast then it is off to school. It is a wonderful feeling watching your child walk through those doors.
    .-= Stephanie´s last blog ..Everyday Living =-.

  12. Anne says

    I have a brother who is 12 years younger then me… When he was in about the 3rd or 4th grade and I was home from college.. I brought hime to school… He asked me to hug and kiss him around the corner so his friends would not see. Now I am a Mother and my 13 year old daughter says it to me ALL the time! Kids never change!

  13. Amy Starr says

    My kids aren’t in school yet, but I plan to have a special breakfast, pictures, and some good tight hugs! I am looking forward to that day!

  14. Heather says

    We go for coffee. I homeschool through 8th grade – so my first day of sending is their first day of highschool. It’s kind of ridiculous to drive your 15 year old to high school, and drive home crying. . . . LOL!!! Ugh. But we go for coffee the first day. For 12 years now of first days for all three – we head for a latte, and then off to high school.

  15. Bobbi Sue says

    My 2 1/2 year old will be starting on Tuesday…I’m sure pictures and the usual breakfast will be on the agenda…then as a “treat” we’ll go to Donald’s as he likes to call McDonald’s!

  16. Angel S. says

    We always take a picture in front of the same tree in our yard to compare the years and do a height check on the wall on the first and last day of school as well as birthdays.

  17. says

    We always made the first day of school special by getting new shoes a special outfit and for some reason, my girls always wanted me to make then chocolate chip muffins on the first day of school, so I did! They had their little (HUGE) back packs all ready and we waited at the bus stop! Took pictures…. MEMORIEs….. ahhhhh

    Thanks for a GREAT giveaway!
    .-= Leslie M.´s last blog ..Fairytale Dozen Brownies Giveaway~ The Brownies Dreams are made of! =-.

  18. Tina Barker says

    I always make a big breakfast with something special like french toast and take lots of pictures.

  19. Laura Shepherd says

    The key always to a smooth first day back at school is organization ahead of time. The organizing includes making sure you have all your school supplies together, backpack/lunch prepped and of course a new outfit, with camera battery charged and ready. Also, leading into the first day back at school we typically do something extra special that weekend before to celebrate a new year of opportunities. Then, we do walk her in and have our hugs & kisses. I still get so excited about the beginning of each school year. LOVE it!

  20. Denise says

    We always have a special breakfast…..take pics…..i leave a special note in lunch box….then for dinner that night…..favorite foods for a special party to celebrate and time of sharing what happened on the first day…..

  21. Amy Vicknair says

    I put there favorite full size candy bar in their lunch box. Its a big hit because they don’t ever get candy for a snack.

  22. Melissa says

    To make the first day of school special I tuck a “mommy loves you” note inside his lunch box.

  23. says

    Thank you so much for sharing your daughter’s first day and your feelings about it! My daughter (first and only child) starts school in two weeks so I’m soaking up other’s experiences. Yours reminded me of a Hallmark story, so it’s very fitting that you are giving away a Hallmark gift card.

    Wow, just had a thought, I bet Hallmark has “back-to-school” cards. That would be a fun tradition to start – giving a card – and it would make a wonderful keepsake.

    I’m going to stop back later to get more ideas from your readers – thanks, again.
    .-= Janet Carpenter´s last blog ..Win a 5-in-1 Tasty Baker at icefairy’s Treasure Chest =-.

  24. Vicki Hornsby says

    My child is grown but I could use a Hallmark gift.
    I would make sure that his clothes were laid out and ready for him. Bath the night before so he would not have to rush. I would always take him the first day and take care of his lunch money and walk him into the school. Story/ on the first day of my high school 10th grade I made a grand entrance by falling up about 3 steps to land at the feet of the “in crowd”, saying hello to each other. I was helped up by the “king” of the school and we became good friends all through high school.

  25. Tamara B. says

    I always make their favorite breakfast food in the morning and in their lunch boxes I always leave a little note with a smiley face on it with love Mom xoxoxoxo.

  26. Julie Cutshaw says

    Well, I have cared everday for my only grandchild since he was 2 weeks old while my daughter and his Dad work so that means I too take him to school and picj him up each day. I try my best to be his rock and good example so he can be strong and have self confidence in his self. But the full day of kindergarten is so much differant and harder on the little ones now to be just suddenly away from the people they were with everyday for so long to have to now to cared for by a new & hopefully trusting caring adult. Not to mention the overwhelming fear & stress of a big school with big kids around him. So my way of helping my only grandchild who is 5yrs old and started kindergarten Full Time :-( on the first day was to surprizing put a Ernie (from seesame street) tiny card in his snack bag with a big smiley face on it when he opened his bag for snack time. He has loved Ernie since he was a baby and anything Erniw cheers him up & it reminds him of me since I’m the one to actually start him on Ernie and of course mamaw always was ernies voice to bring him to life. That & lots of hugs & kisses of praise at the school days end letting him know he did a great job!

  27. Faith says

    My son has not started school yet, but I am already nervous about the idea. I can tell you what my mom did when I was growing up though. She always laid out our new outfit, made a special breakfast and took pictures. It’s fun now to look at those old photos! Thanks for all the great ideas :)

  28. Lori says

    We like to have a big breakfast and a special dinner out to celebrate the first day of school.

  29. Sedonia Lemay says

    For my daughter first day of school we usaully get up early and go to Denny’s for breakfast because that is her favorite place for breakfast. This year I made her breakfast at home. I made pancakes in the shape of the letter V and the number 4. The letter v because that is the first letter of her name and the number 4 because she was starting the 4th grade I have to say she really loved it.

  30. says

    I remember my oldest daughter’s first days of school. Now she’s experiencing her first year of college. It does seem to pass quickly and slowly at the same time. Now, I’m starting over with the firsts for my next generation of school. I normally just make the first day special by them having a new backpack and an outfit that the love. I normally talk about the first day for weeks, but the night before I like to have a it’s time for school talk. I didn’t get to do that with my middle children (the one going to kindergarten and the one going to kindergarten readiness) because they were with their father.

    No nostalgia here…at least not too much… I am so ready for the empty nest. :)
    .-= Petula´s last blog ..Breezes Resorts =-.

  31. Priscilla says

    a new outfit or a their ‘favorite’ outfit…photos…something for breakfast that isn’t boxed/cold cereal.

  32. Carol W. says

    To make the first day go smoother, I’d always have a clearly marked stand-up name card and basic supplies labeled with students’ names at each desk. This would give the pupils a welcome to the class, and it would definitely help me, the teacher, to start learning those names!

  33. Marie says

    This question brings back great memories. My children are out of elementary schoool now but when every new school year started my husband and I would simply put an encouraging note inside their lunches on the first day and tell them how proud we were of them. It helped with the first day jitters. :)

  34. JK Topp says

    Special book the night before, special breakfast, special lunch with a note of course, and a treat when they get home. Dinner on the red plate for our son who started kindergarten.

  35. Cher says

    A special poem: Good, better, best, never let it rest until your good is better and your better is your best!

  36. Michelle says

    I’m just like you in getting everything ready and a lunch to go. Are special thing well everyday is we all gather at the front door and do a group hug and say a prayer. It as if all fears are pushed away with a simple prayer EVERYDAY @ the front door:)

  37. maria says

    what a great prize, I love hallmark!! We always take pictures on the first day of school and scrapbook them together. They get a kick out of it!!
    .-= maria´s last blog ..truTV Black Gold House Party Recap =-.

  38. Kari says

    I don’t have kiddos yet, but my mom would make me a special lunch with a handwritten note on my napkin with the ‘i’ in my name dotted with a heart. So sweet!

  39. Betsy Mod. says

    I let him pick out a special backpack, shoes and lunch pail to start the new school year!

  40. Tara Bucci says

    I know moms tell me not to rush it…but I can’t wait for these days! I always get so anxious for the next big step! :)
    .-= Tara Bucci´s last blog ..NESCAFE Tasters Choice Coffee =-.

  41. Pam T. says

    When they are younger I like to send silly knock knock jokes in their lunch box or backpack for the first week.

  42. says

    I am starting the first year of school (preschool ) with my boys, so I don’t really have any tricks up my sleeves yet. I’d love to start collecting some great ideas, though!

  43. says

    I think my kids favorite memory was when I did a scavenger hunt the day before school started. I hid all of their school supplies and gave them clues as to where they could find them. I also included a little treat for each of them to find.
    .-= Renee Rouse´s last blog ..Combating High Diesel Fuel Prices =-.

  44. Sharon J. says

    We try to have a calm morning. We make sure that everything was done the night before so everyone is ready early and can eat something before school.

  45. Cait says

    Hello, I’m a college instructor, and I think it’s incredibly important to make the first day of school special – even in college! I arrive early and make sure I greet each student. I also assist students with finding their way to classes and with scheduling difficulties.

    Thanks for hosting this contest!

  46. jay says

    We are new to this but we took pics. and let him pick out shoes that he was needing anyways-not necessarily b/c of school.

  47. says

    My kids aren’t in school yet, but if they were, I’d go all out that day. Special breakfast.. and a surprise when they got home!

  48. Kathy Rambousek says

    As homeschoolers, our first day is a bit different than most. I try to start the day off well with a special breakfast and morning snack.

  49. Annmarie W. says

    My children love school, and couldn’t wait to get back this year. They wear their new outfits that they picked out to wear on the 1st day. And I have cookies waiting for them when they arrive home.

  50. says

    My daugther is not quite school age yet, but to make it special, when she does go to school, I think I would help her pick out her outfit, make her favorite breakfast. Get her a special treat for after school and scrapbook the day on a page. :)

  51. Melinda says

    I prep the day before having them pick out their outfit, have a nice breakfast get them up early enough to be nice and early for school and I always take pics of them on their first day!!