Anatomy of an Elementary School Yearbook

Elementary school students give themselves a high five for their yearbook planning efforts

This is the time of year when all those shared photo folders are filling and your spreads are mostly blank. It’s time to build the book. And if you don’t know where to start, check out a sample yearbook ladder to see how one of our Treering schools organizes its book. 

Principal’s Letter

Some of the best advice I ever received on principal letters came from a veteran adviser: “Connect to the theme.” The yearbook theme serves as the unifier between all the clubs, activities, sports, and classes that take place throughout the year. So it makes sense that, as the leader of the school, the principal’s message both unifies and sets the stage for that theme. Incorporating the theme is a way to also recognize the hard work of your yearbook team and a subtle show of support.

When meeting with your principal, communicate:

  • The desired length
  • Any talking points your want him/her to address
  • Deadline (really, you want to give roughly two weeks)

Depending on your relationship with your principal, you may be able to present a first draft for him/her to finesse. Generally speaking, the principal’s letter appears at the opening or closing of the book or in the staff section.

Classroom Photos

Photographs of students working in the classroom give a true portrait of their day. (Lame pun intended.) American students spend roughly a quarter of their day in school. Let’s showcase their contributions and celebrate their achievements. 

Elementary School Events

Fundraisers, dances, parades–oh my! These all-school events showcasing your student body’s unity are must-haves for your yearbook, as are the class distinctions: 5th/6th grade trip, 100th Day of school, faculty vs. parents soccer game, reading buddies, etc. 

Don’t feel like you have to devote a double-page spread to each! One spread can feature all the class parties, and another the fundraisers. 

A lunchtime spread, like this, is an easy way to increase your coverage of students. This example added 40!


Just as the academics photos are valuable, so are the in-between moments when students are at lunch or during transition periods. Playgrounds and lunchrooms are daily photos ops for volunteers and teachers to snap these carefree moments. You may want to include photo collages between grades (i.e. upper and lower school recess and lunch) or as the perimeter for autograph pages.

We love this combo of class portraits and candids.


Much of your elementary school yearbook will be portraits–these tend to take up an average of 40% of the book! You can organize these:

  • By grade and feature some fun facts about each group (e.g. miles run at the Jogathon)
  • By grade and teacher with classroom candids sprinkled in

Heads up: this is where you want to be extra diligent with your proofreading strategy. We suggest handing out your PDF proofs to each teacher to approve or hanging them in a conspicuous place to make sure names and classes are correct.

Extra Ideas for Your Elementary School Yearbook

Table of Contents

In an elementary school book of 20 pages, will you need a table of contents? Probably not. If you want to help guide your readers, add a small one to your title page. Larger books should divide themselves into sections. A table of contents is a great place to drop in some extra photos of students.

Special Recognition for Promoting Students

Parents love bragging about their children. (Present company included!) If they are not adding copious custom pages, they may appreciate the opportunity for a recognition ad. You’ll appreciate the opportunity to raise some additional funds for your program.

Because you know your elementary school community best, you know what they will want in the yearbook. We’re here to help!

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