Back-to-School Feast and Family Theme: Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel

A back-to-school feast and family theme is a great way to kick off the school year for your kids. This tradition is something they look forward to every year and helps them to be excited to go back to school.

School starts tomorrow!  And you know what that means….

…it means that we should have had our Back to School Feast tonight, but since the university already started and my husband teaches Tuesday nights, we had it last night instead.

This starting school on Wednesday thing has me thrown for a loop!

After visiting both the Ingalls Homestead and Nauvoo, IL this summer and seeing exactly how hard the pioneers had to work, my husband and I wanted our theme this year to center around work. Because, as great as my girlies are, the work ethic is lacking a bit.

(We won’t talk about the whining that accompanies any work they do.)

So, we chose Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel, which is a reference to one of the LDS Hymns and happens to reference both work and pioneers:

Put your shoulder to the wheel, push along!
Do your duty with a heart full of song!
We all have work, let no one shirk,
Put your shoulder to the wheel!

This theme is also a natural extension of last year’s theme (I Will Go and Do: I Can Do Hard Things).

I decorated with the rope that the girls made at the Ingalls Homestead, some candles like the ones we learned how to make in Nauvoo, a plate from Nauvoo, and of course, our framed theme.

(Scroll to the end of this post to download the theme for yourself)

On the menu were beef and potato stew, corn bread and rice pudding. How’s that for a pioneer feast?

On Saturday night, I realized that I had not started on any sort of crown or head gear for the feast, which has been the tradition. Then I just figured I’d not bother this year. That was not a good decision, apparently, since my oldest daughter (a SEVENTH grader now!) told me how excited she was to see what kind of crowns I made this year.


So, I whipped up some bonnets.

I realize that I am lucky that I know how to sew and have enough experience to be able to make up a pattern after sort of looking at a few pictures online. I made them as simple as possible and they did turn out rather cute.

Each one only took about 15 minutes start to finish, so I was happy about that. I was also happy that I used up some of my endless supply of craft supplies and fabric.

But I was happiest that the girls liked them, and also looked adorable wearing them, even though these pictures are sort of crappy.

Middle daughter, going into 4th grade:

Oldest daughter, going into 7th grade.

And youngest daughter, going into 1st grade.  With her daddy, who spent dinner talking like he was from 1862 and making the girls laugh at their Pa.

After dessert, we had our traditional time for Father’s Blessings.

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints we are thankful that our dad holds the priesthood and can give these special blessings to the girls as they begin school. Many, many LDS families do the same thing, and I know I always looked forward to the guidance that I received when my own father gave me father’s blessings before school started…all the way through college!

And that was our 2012 Back to School Feast.  I can’t believe school is starting tomorrow!

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Love it! I can't believe those bonnets only took you 15 minutes…
Feel free to make one for me.


I teared up a bit when I saw your theme. That was my family's theme growing up (part of this could have been because it was one of the couple of hymns my siblings played). 😉

Jana Faith

That is precious! What a beautiful family tradition. Your girls are sure to treasure these memories.


I love the theme you picked! The bonnets are so cute.