Did you know that Congress officially declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day? The National Education Association continued to observe National Teacher Day every year on the first Tuesday in March up until 1985 and then the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week in May. National Teacher Day is always on Tuesday of that week.
Teacher Appreciation Week 2017 – May 8 – 12; National Teacher Appreciation Day – Tuesday, May 9.
As a former teacher, I cannot tell you how much this week means to educators. The work of a teacher is never-ending. The days are often riddled with complaints, emotionally stressful, worrisome, tiresome, not very financially rewarding, and often times just plain thankless. We are the “babysitters”, disciplinarians, counselors, mentors, coaches, chaperones, nurses, advocates, friends, confidantes, champions, and stand-in parents. But we see the importance of the job we are doing, the lives we are touching, and the futures we are impacting. We take our work home every night and keep coming back every. single. morning. Why? Because we love it and we love the children! No other career in the world is as rewarding or as important (except for parenthood!) as that of a teacher.
(Yes, that’s me. Yes, I’m rolling my eyes.)
With that being said, I really don’t believe you need to spend a fortune (or even one penny!) to show your appreciation for a teacher during the year. When I was teaching, I honestly dreaded the onslaught of random store bought gifts…more dollar store coffee mugs with those foil wrapped cheap candies?! Argh. How many mugs does one teacher need?! LOL I much preferred tokens of thanks made from my students themselves. I have boxes and boxes crammed full of these special treasures stored away in my garage that I have saved from my years of teaching. But never did use one single coffee mug!
If you’re stuck on what to get or do for your child’s teacher, I have a few suggestions of the things I loved receiving throughout the year.
UPDATE: Just going through some old teaching boxes in the garage and came across this. OYE. For. The. Love. Please no more wire coffee mugs!
So here are some of the NO COST types of things I loved receiving from my students throughout the year.
Gifts from the Child:
- A photo of the child from sometime during the school year – could be framed simply with construction paper, Popsicle sticks, or in a homemade card
- A story – have your child write (or dictate to you) a favorite known story or they can create their own and have them draw a picture to illustrate the story.
- A handwritten letter – have your child write (or dictate) a sort of “Thank You” letter to their teacher, mentioning favorite parts of the school day, memorable moments with the teacher, fun field trips, or other special feelings about their teacher.
- Homemade Art or Craft Project – Holiday ornaments, hand prints, a picture, card, painting, etc.
- A Flower or Plant – from your home garden, maybe in a kid-painted recycled flower pot or paper milk carton
- Hand-Crafted “Etsy-type” Items – a knitted scarf, ear warmers, etc.
- High Five or Fist Bump – my intermediate students loved this!
Gifts from the Parents:
- A letter or short note of thanks – this is especially wonderful for a beginning teacher (or a teacher new to the school or district) as it can bolster their professional portfolio!
- A parent or other family member willing to volunteer their time or skills in the classroom or with end of year activities – even taking home papers to grade for a night is wonderful!
If you absolutely feel like you have to purchase something to show your appreciation, here are a few practical and much-needed gift ideas. Don’t panic about cost, please! You may be able to find a lot of these items around your home!
(Note: The Dollar Tree has a wonderful assortment of “teacher” supplies now like bulletin board decor, note pads, book marks, reward stickers, posters, and art and craft supplies. It’s my favorite place to grab supplies for our homeschooling projects.)
- GIFT CARDS – ($5 – $10) for popular places like Target, Walmart, Staples, Jamba Juice, Starbucks, Amazon, a local book or craft store, a movie theater, etc. Chances are the teacher will spend the gift card on things for her classroom rather than themselves, but it is still a fun gift!
- SCHOOL SUPPLIES – glue, scissors, crayons, markers, pencils, pencil boxes, binder paper, rulers, etc.
- ART & CRAFT SUPPLIES – poster paint, brushes, colored construction paper, glitter, craft sticks, sidewalk chalk, pipe cleaners, smocks, etc.
- OFFICE SUPPLIES – reams of copy paper, paper clips, white out, white board markers, chalk, thumb tacks, red pens, etc.
- OUTDOOR PLAY EQUIPMENT (recess or physical education) – jump ropes, balls, cones for field games, frisbees, play parachute, air pump, patch repair kit, etc.
- MUSICAL EQUIPMENT – recorders, rhythm sticks, sand paper blocks, kazoos, tambourines, etc.
- INCENTIVE REWARDS – stickers, small dollar store/kid’s meal toys for prizes, pencils, erasers, bubbles, etc.
- CLEANING & HYGEINE SUPPLIES – facial tissue, hand sanitizer, paper towels, Lysol wipes or spray, sponges, cloth towels, hand soap, baby wipes, air freshener, vomit powder, etc.
- CHILDREN’S BOOKS – children’s books for the classroom library – chapter books, picture books, easy readers, bilingual, a dictionary or thesaurus, etc.
- RAINY DAY ACTIVITIES – puzzles, board games, coloring books, Mad Libs, DVD movies, or other age-appropriate activities
- LANYARDS or KEY RINGS – I don’t know why, but these always seem to need to be replaced year to year, or several times throughout the year!
- PICTURE FRAMES – small picture frames are fun for displaying class photos or special projects
- MORNING JOLT KITS – a nice box of hot cocoa, a bag of their favorite coffee or tea (no mug required)
- COLLECTIBLES – take a look around the teacher’s desk and see if they collect something special: trolls, cats, crosses, etc.
There are a few things that are a little harder to gift….
- scented lotions, shampoos, perfumes, etc. – always best to steer clear of these types of gifts as personal preferences and allergies are difficult to determine (unless you know of a favorite brand or scent).
- homemade food items – I think there may be an unwritten teacher rule about consuming homemade food items. As thoughtful as these gifts may be, they are likely to be tossed with concerns of food safety, hygiene, or allergies. Unless I knew the parents extremely well, I felt uneasy consuming homemade items.
- clothing – again, personal preferences, sizes, etc.
Again, do not feel as though you have to spend a ton of money. Many of these things can be found around the house, at dollar stores, in clearance sections, or even yard sales! If you are feeling really ambitious, you can check out all of the crafty ideas I have gathered on Pinterest!
Teachers and parents, what gift ideas would you add to this list?