Resources for making your own graduation year t-shirt

Back-to-school photos with our graduation year t-shirt

If you like the shirt I made (pictured above), I’ve got good news for you! With just a few simple supplies, you can make one yourself.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Freezer paper (also available near the aluminum foil and plastic wrap in well-stocked grocery stores)
  • Fabric paint or any acrylic paint + textile medium (a great option if you already have regular acrylic paint around from other projects)
  • A t-shirt (you can often get these inexpensively at craft stores, so if you’re going to get paint anyway, look there)
  • An iron
  • Something to cut the stencil out of the freezer paper (can be as simple as scissors or an X-ACTO knife, or as complex as a Silhouette Cameo—which is what I used, but certainly wouldn’t buy just for this project!)

The basic process is pretty straightforward: cut a design out of freezer paper, iron it on to your t-shirt (freezer paper has a plastic coating on one side that adheres to the fabric when you iron it), apply paint to the gaps in your freezer paper stencil, peel it off, and then iron again to “set” the paint.

For detailed tutorials, check out these excellent blog posts:


Obligatory P.S.: if you’re pressed for time or are just not that into crafty things, we also have graduation year shirts for sale. 😉

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Starting in Kindergarten: back-to-school photo series ideas

If you have a little person starting pre-school or kindergarten, you’re in the enviable position to pick a photo theme that can serve you all the way through high school graduation!

The result is a photo series that will capture the changes and growth that happen every year in a way that’s fun to look each time you add a new image—and will be a family treasure for decades to come.

My top two photo tips

(I was going to give you three because it sounds better, but really, these are the two that matter most.)

  1. Take the photo the day before school starts. The first day of school tends to be chaotic as everyone is figuring out the routine and maybe even having nerves. Give your kids (and yourself!) the gift of a stress-free photo session.
  2. Get on their level. Squat down and keep the camera at their eye level, unless you’re intentionally trying to make them look tiny or huge. 😉

Now, on to the ideas!

Use the same prop

A graduation year T-shirt

This is the idea that started this website—I saw the concept on Pinterest and got together with some friends to make our t-shirts… and then it took an embarrassingly long time to figure out (with confidence!) what year to put on the t-shirts. Hence the calculator! 😉

Back-to-school photos with our graduation year t-shirt

The idea is as simple as it gets: just start with a t-shirt that’s large enough to fit your eventual high-school senior. Hopefully. 😉 We used a men’s large. You can make the shirt, like we did, or just buy one.

A basic chalkboard

I love this idea because it takes almost zero prep.

Simple chalkboard back-to-school photo

Use the same theme

Holding a picture of the previous picture

Want to get all meta? Check out this idea:


Favorite books

Keep the theme but include different (or not!) books each year, based on the current list of faves.

Back-to-school books

Answering a question

I love how this one not only provides a theme but also features their own handwriting.



There are a bajillion different ways you could use this idea, but a list of favorites is a quick and easy starting point.

Chalkboard interview

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