Saying Thanks to Your Child's Teacher
Parents share a wealth of ideas for teacher gifts, from gift cards to spa days to lunches honoring the whole school staff.
Parent-Tested Gift Tips
- A power stapler: "They can be around $15. Just a slight touch and it goes through many pages."
- Anything homemade is a hit: "I call a co-teacher to find out the color scheme and decor of the kitchen then make a potholder or two for her kitchen." But no matter what you make, it's a great idea to put your child's name and the date on it. So even after a teacher has taught many years, they can remember who the gift came from.
- For after-school caregivers: "I made flavored popcorn and made a lot!"
- For a teacher who fishes: "Lures."
- A calendar of memories: "Have a calendar made especially for the teacher, with pictures of the students for every month. This would be a great gift to where he or she can see their smiling students faces all year."
- A decorated pillow: Start with a "blank floor pillow and a couple of fabric pens. Invite each of the students in class to trace their handprint, add their name, and write an ending to the sentence 'I'll always remember...'"
- An offer to help: "Give a coupon to come in and help the last day of school or a couple hours the last weekend before school gets out."
- Tickets: Treat the teacher to a sporting event, concert or play.
- A first edition: "I like to shop antique book stores for old first editions for special teachers. This year I got a Rudyard Kipling for a middle school English teacher we particularly favor - a splurge at $6!"
- A donation to charity: "I donated to a charity that benefited children in some way. Since then I found another organization, DonorsChoose. You can donate to a specific cause, or donate and let the teacher choose!"
- Plants or flowers: Fill a planter or decorated flower pot with packets of seeds, or buy a flowering plant for the teacher who helped your child grow.
By GreatSchools Staff
It really is the thought that counts in choosing a gift for the teacher, GreatSchools readers say.
We asked readers to share their suggestions for teacher gifts. We got lots, from both parents and the teachers themselves. Know the teacher's interests or needs, and you'll come up with a great gift, said many, like this California mother of three:
"One teacher's interest is gardening and (she) was very involved with the school's ecology learning garden. The end-of-the year gift for this kindergarten teacher was a copper watering can from a well-recognized gardening store/company, on which each child engraved his/her name (with help from a parent using an electric hand engraver). A poem about planting seeds, tending and watching them grow was also engraved on the can, by a more sturdy (parent's) hand."
Thanks to our readers, here are other teacher gifts - some lovingly handmade, some ingeniously well-planned and some creatively last-minute:
Ideas for Crafty Parents
Gift bags: "I love to be crafty, so every year my son and I make his teacher a gift," writes a California mother of two. "One of our favorite gifts was the year we made summer movie bags for his kindergarten teachers. We took two plain canvas tote bags and decorated them with fabric paints. Then we put microwavable popcorn, movie-type candy (i.e., Milk Duds, licorice, etc.) and a gift card to the local video store. Teachers spend so much time working, they need a little break in the summer."
Not your normal apple: "My daughters and I like to drink the apple juice that comes in glass bottles shaped like an apple," a father describes. "Then they paint the bottles to resemble real apples and insert a small cinnamon stick inside each. The cinnamon sticks carry a gift certificate to a local bookstore. It's still an apple idea but not another mug!"
Magnets with memories: "We have been making these marble magnets for teachers and family for years," says one mom. "Last year my then kindergartner was really capable of working on them with just a little help. They are easy to put together and you can customize them to each individual. We like to find photos of the kids to make magnets with their friendly faces!"
Jars of recipes: Another mother writes: "My son and daughter and I bought a dozen wide-mouth canning jars and made a dozen really nice teacher gifts. We poured our cookie mix and bread mix into the jars, tied colorful ribbons around the lids, and wrote the recipe on index cards edged with shape scissors. The children and I really enjoyed a couple hours having fun together and talking about the nice things (and the funny things) that teachers do."
Class quilt: A mom in Florida suggests: "Give each student in the class a swatch of cloth (square), have them draw a picture, sign their names or write something about themselves. Once all the squares are collected, simply sew them together to make a quilt. It's simple, unique and something that special teacher will treasure forever!"
A cookbook: A mother explains: "Each student copies their favorite recipe directly from a cookbook on an index card. Or have them write what they imagine the preparation of ingredients to be, as this is usually more fun. Each page of a photo album or scrapbook is dedicated to one student's recipe and portrait. The teacher can have this forever to cherish and chuckle!"
Memento of a teacher's first year: "Last year, my son had a teacher fresh out of college," writes a Virginia mother of three. "It was her first year of teaching and I wanted to give her something special to remember her very first class by. I bought a plain denim bag and a plain T-shirt from a local craft store and some printer transfer paper for dark fabrics.
"At a special Fun Day that the class had near the end of the school year, I took pictures of the kids as a class and some other shots of some of the groups of friends together. I printed them on transfer paper and applied them to the denim bag in collage form, and took the group picture and put it on the T-shirt with 'My very first class' across the top of the picture. On the bag, I put little captions, like 'Double Trouble' on a photo of two on-again, off-again friends and the 'Three Musketeers' above a threesome that is totally inseparable."
"It turned out really cute. She uses the bag this year and wears the shirt often and told me that she has never gotten as many comments on anything as she does the shirt. Hope this gives someone some inspiration for a great teacher!"
And a memento of a teacher's last year: A California mom recalls that when her son's second-grade teacher was in her last year of teaching when she conceived of this gift: "Over the period of that entire school year, I took lots of pictures during their field trips, Halloween, Christmas parties and many other activities. I gathered all the pictures.
"As a class project, I asked all the parents in his class to do a two-page dedication with their child's picture and letter handwritten by their child. It was a big scrapbook with all the 40 students! I cut out each of the different pictures I took and pasted them into the scrapbook like puzzle pieces. It turned out better than an actual school yearbook. The end-of-the-year-gift was kept a secret, and the kids did a fantastic job keeping it a secret. My son's teacher was so touched and happy when she saw it!"