End of Year Teacher Gift

If you are new to TheRoomMom, you may not know about a fixation I have for teacher gift giving. I love putting together small appreciation gifts for my children’s teachers throughout the year. For our end of year teacher gifts, I don’t even pretend to think about new ideas any more. We repeat the scratch off lottery ticket gift that we have been giving to the teachers and staff at our school for the past three years.

The part we do change is the receptacle we use to deliver the lottery ticket. This year we made mini pocket folders with cardstock weight scrapbook paper. They are easy to make, and it was fun choosing the paper and coordinating washi tape.

Mini Pocket Folder Materials

  • stiff scrapbook paper (5 1/2″ x 12″)
  • tool to score paper (I have THIS ONE)
  • double sided tape in an E-Z dispenser, .27″ width (like THIS)
  • scissors
  • labels (~2″ x 2″)

Directions

  • Set the paper in a landscape direction. Using the tool to make score lines on your paper, press a line at 2 3/4″, a line at 6″, and a line at 9 1/4″. Fold the paper in half along the 6″ score line. Open the paper and fold the two outer edges towards the middle. The decorative side of the paper should be on the outside.

  • Near the top of one flap, trim the corner. Start about one inch from the outer fold at the top of the paper and cut down at an angle to cut a triangle. Take your triangle scrap and flip it over to use as a guide to cut the triangle on the other side of the folder.

  • Run an adhesive strip at the bottom of the paper on the outer flaps.

  • Press the flaps down to attach the bottom of the paper together to form the pocket.
  • Stuff the pocket folder with your materials. We filled with three $1 scratch off lottery tickets, but the pocket folders are a good size for gift cards or even a thoughtful note.
  • Attach a label on the front cover. I printed Avery 2″ x 4″ labels and cut the sides down to make the labels ~2″ x 2″. You could also print on plain paper, cut apart, and glue to the front of the pocket folder.
  • Seal the folders closed with a piece of washi tape or a sticker.

To see my other ideas for making lottery ticket– or gift card– holders, CLICK HERE or HERE or HERE.

Greek Salad

I live in South Carolina where the weather changed from almost uncomfortably warm to hot and humid some time last week. During the oppressive heat season, the only foods that appeal to me are fresh and crunchy and light. As a result, we have been eating variations of a Greek salad quite a bit lately.

The reason I love the Greek salad so much is because of the dressing. When you search Greek salad dressing recipes, there are many options. I took a few recipes that were similar and combined parts using the herb combination I liked best. The finished dressing is tart and tastes great with steak or chicken. If you are looking for a light summer meal, put together a chopped Greek salad. Leave the dressing off and make some individual portions to bring to school or the office for your teacher or work lunch. Add the dressing when you are ready to eat.

Dressing Ingredients

  • 2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
  • ~1 t. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 t. freshly ground pepper
  • 1 t. Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 T. fresh lemon juice
  • 5 T. red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 t. dried basil leaves
  • 1 t. dried oregano leaves

Salad Ingredients

  • Romaine lettuce, chopped (enough for people you will be serving)
  • peeled cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • grape tomatoes halved or quartered
  • thinly sliced purple onion
  • crumbled feta cheese
  • grilled steak or chicken, thinly sliced
  • pita chips

Directions

  • Mix together dressing ingredients and shake in a jar or use a whisk to combine. Set aside.
  • Put chopped lettuce in a serving bowl. Top with cucumbers, tomatoes, and purple onion.
  • Mix salad dressing again if it has separated and pour over salad. Toss well until ingredients are covered evenly with dressing.
  • Sprinkle feta crumbles on top.
  • Serve with sliced meat and pita chips.

Notes

  • Other ingredients you could add are calamata olives or mild banana peppers.
  • I like my lettuce chopped into small pieces because I think it tastes better that way. The dressing really covers well.
  • This makes a great teacher lunch. Assemble in individually sized tupperware with the dressing on the side. Pour the dressing over when ready to serve, put the lid on firmly, and shake.

For more great salad options, read about my favorite FRIED CHICKEN SALAD or TACO SALAD.

Writing Tall Tale Short Stories

It’s the end of the school year. I don’t have time to start and finish a quality novel with my students and complete reading comprehension and writing activities to support good “thinking” about the book. We get interrupted often during the last few weeks of school, and I don’t have reliable blocks of time. To maintain continued reading instruction, I switched over to short stories. Tall tale short stories to be specific. They are hilarious, and we have loved every minute of it.

One of the key traits in a tall tale is the use of exaggeration or hyperbole. Hyperbole is used to solve the story problem in a funny way. To really cement the tall tale characteristics in the students’ minds, they are writing their own tall tales. We will add their creative stories to our end of year writing portfolio as the final writing piece. It will be the perfect fourth grade writing finale!

To get the students started, we brainstormed everyday problems students might have. The students had lots of ideas. There is the common problem of not wanting to do weekly chores at your house (inspired by Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout by Shel Silverstein and Mrs. Piggle Wiggle books). We have school problems such as bookbags that are too heavy or teachers who give too much homework (inspired by A Fine, Fine School by Creech). We also discussed pet problems (inspired by Those Darn Squirrels! by Rubin).

Once students had a place to start, they completed THIS BRAINSTORMING PAGE to gather their ideas and map their story plot. Students identified key events in their story and then made choices about how they could exaggerate the events to create humor. Using a side by side chart to outline the story plot helped the students maintain a believable “voice” while writing. It reduced the likelihood of a story that was so ridiculous that the reader lost the meaning. I’ve been conferencing with the students, and while there are some stories that are more successful than others, most make me laugh out loud.

To download my tall tale creative story brainstorming page, a rubric, and lined paper that could be used to handwrite the story, CLICK HERE.

To see the tall tale stories we used and to purchase activity ideas for tall tales, CLICK HERE to visit my teacher store.

Extension Idea

  • We typed our essays in MS Word, so I was also able to incorporate a lesson on formatting a document. Students changed font and font size. They centered the title and changed the spacing to double space. They also added images and learned about wrapping text around an image.