Year-End Gifts for Teachers

I’m not a fan of asking other parents to contribute money for teachers’ gifts.  Especially at the end of the school year, when everyone has giving fatigue.  Or is just fatigued, period.

But I have asked for parents’ help gathering year-end sentiments from their children to the teacher.  For a kind of class thank-you note.

Last year, it was 5 sentences on a sheet of paper that each child completed, described here.  I bound the questionnaires together (nothing fancy – something that the kids would do, with a title handwritten by my daughter) and let the kids present the book to their teacher during the last week of school.  They were pretty proud of themselves.

But I did notice that few kids (these were kindergarteners) came up with thoughtful responses to all 5 sentences.  So, this year, I printed out the same thoughtstarters on cardstock, one per half sheet, and sent 5 different cards home with each child.  The children could choose one (or two or all of them) to fill out and return to me.  I also suggested that the parents could write a note, and a few did.  Then I mixed up the cards, tied them with ribbon and put them in an art caddy.

I contributed filler that I thought the teacher would appreciate, including M&M’s printed with her favorite sports team logo and personalized notepads from  The other room parent added a gift card purchased with the balance of our class fund (to which all of the parents contributed at the beginning of the year).

Here are some of the children’s year-end sentiments:


Snack Bag Class Portrait

My Sample

The idea for a fun tribute sign for Teacher Appreciation Week came from another great art lesson at Art Projects for Kids.

Two other moms and I had 30 minutes with our daughters’ class while their teacher enjoyed a special luncheon.  I remembered coming across APK’s Self-Portrait Painting, hoping I’d have a chance to do it.  But, we didn’t have time to paint.

Since the doodles I make on my daughter’s snack bags have become a popular topic of discussion in the classroom, I thought the kids would have fun making their own snack bag drawings.  (My daughter, in fact, had been bugging me to do a “snack bag art lesson,” so I selfishly hoped this would appease her.)

Before class, I cut a bunch of bags in half and spent time laying them out on poster board.  I wanted enough panels for all of the children, plus more to spell out the message, “We love Mrs. Smith.”

Of course, any paper could be substituted for the snack bags – I’d probably use cardstock with Sharpies.

Three instructions – (1) With a black Sharpie, write your name clearly on the bottom. (2) Then, draw a picture of your head.  If you have space add something you like (butterfly, baseball, musical note, etc).  (3) Then, add color with colored Sharpies.

Ed Emberley came in handy, too.  His step-by-step instruction makes drawing quick, easy and highly rewarding for 

kids.  (Paper, markers and an Ed Emberly drawing book make a great birthday gift.)  I recreated 4 pages from Ed Emberley’s Drawing Book of Faces on big, white paper and hung them up for optional reference.

As each child finished, we used rubber cement to stick his bag to the poster board (2 pieces, stapled together and trimmed to fit 30 bag halves).  Those who finished early made portraits of the kids who were absent or drew the panels needed to spell out the message to their teacher.

This project brought out the children’s sweet side, too.  Despite my planning, we still ended up with space for extra panels (clearly, math is not my forte!).  On their own, several kids made drawings of things they knew their teacher liked, like her favorite baseball team.

A happy accident and wholly attributable to the kids, it was the first thing she noticed.
CP Snack Bag Portrait

Homemade? Nuts!

For Teacher Appreciation Week at our school, the parents were asked to send in “homemade goodies” today.  I don’t bake.

But my mother-in-law gave me this easy recipe for “Cinnamon Sugar Pecans” that I pull out every time I need to pretend that I do.  The middle of March is probably too late for them (they make a great holiday treat), but they’re delicious and, well, my options are limited.

1 egg white
1 Tbsp. water
1 pound bag of pecan halves (4 cups)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  Mix egg white and water well.  Stir in pecan halves.  In another bowl, mix sugar, salt and cinnamon.  Stir in nuts to coat.  Spread out on cookie sheet (cover with tinfoil for easy clean-up).  Bake for 45 minutes, stirring every 15 minutes.

A very similar recipe is also here, on

Now, if these don’t count as “homemade,” please don’t let me know.

Teacher’s Favorite Things

Our county’s public schools celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week next week.

If you’re in a position to do something special for your child’s teacher, it’s nice to know their likes and dislikes first.  As Room Parent, I try to get this out of the way at the beginning of the year – I ask my children’s teachers if they wouldn’t mind filling out a questionnaire like the one below.  If they agree, I’ll send out copies of their completed questionnaires to those parents who have expressed interest in that kind of info.  Somehow it feels more helpful and less tacky if it’s done as part of the start-up routine rather than right before a birthday or holiday.

This year, since Teacher Appreciation Week is such a big event at our school, we’ve circled back and asked the teacher if she has any new needs for her classroom.

Teacher’s Favorite Things

What is your favorite:

  • Color?
  • Treat or Snack food?
  • Drink?
  • Flower?

Where do you like to shop?

Where do you like to dine out?

What are your hobbies/interests outside of school?

Do you collect anything in particular?

Is there a special charity or cause that you like to support?

What things would make your classroom a better place for you?

What is your favorite teacher supply store?

Is there anything you prefer not to receive, or that you simply have too much of?  Or are you allergic to anything (in regards to homemade goods, scents, or plants)?

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

Made by Kids

A couple of years ago, my son’s preschool teacher assembled work he’d done into a book for him to bring home.  For the cover, she’d had him write his name on construction paper, using a different color for each letter, and then she cut out the letters and glued them onto a piece of cardstock.  It was adorable.

As a Room Parent, I’ve used this technique several times now, as a cover for a collection of notes, cards or pictures from children to their teacher.

At the end of the school year, the parents of the children in my daughter’s kindergarten class elected to give the teacher individual gifts.  So I asked each child to fill out a questionnaire (“I love my teacher because…” and “My advice for the new kindergarteners is…”) and bound them together.  The book gave the children something to present to their teacher as a class at the year-end party.

I especially like it for Thanksgiving, after children have typically spent all of November talking in their classrooms about what they’re thankful for.  Yet it’s unusual for teachers to be honored at this time.

Charmingly imperfect.

And it says – this is from your students, not their parents.