Simple Teacher Appreciation Gift Idea

Next week is National Teacher Appreciation Week! Mark your calendars and shout out a thank you as you head through carpool line. If you want to do a little more to show some appreciation, you can borrow my idea. I always try to put together a small thank you gift for all of my children’s teachers, so they know that I do recognize the work they do each day. This year’s teacher appreciation sirsee is not too grand but remember that it does not have to be big or showy (or expensive) to be enjoyed. The purpose is to let educators know that their work is noticed.

My kids and I made mini clipboards for Post-it notes and added Papermate Flair Pens in fun colors. Teachers go nuts for the Flair felt tip pens and even if they don’t have a pen preference, all teachers use marking pens and Post-it notes, so I am fairly confident the gift won’t end up in the trash.

Materials

  • 3″ x 3″ Post-it notepads (colors that match your coasters)
  • 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″ cardboard drink coasters (see notes below)
  • 1″ binder clips (or one size bigger)
  • Papermate Flair pens, assorted colors

Directions

  • Remove the back paper from a Post-it notepad. Center the Post-it to the top edge of the coaster. Press the Post-it and attach.
  • Add binder clip to the top of the coaster and Post-it notepad to secure. Leave the “handles” folded up.
  • Print a message for the top page. It is possible to print on Post-it notes and attach as the top sheet of your notepad gift. Use THIS TEMPLATE for a Post-it message. For complete directions for printing on Post-it notes, CLICK HERE.
  • Tie curly ribbon around the middle and slide a pen under the curly ribbon to complete the gift set.

Notes

  • You can use coasters with cork backing too. I had a really hard time finding coasters that were not made of stone and super thick. They can be ordered online, or you can visit your local watering hole and ask if they will donate to your teacher appreciation cause. The cardboard coasters are easy to cover with scrapbook paper, and then you can choose your color scheme.
  • While we were on the coaster hunt, Miss Priss found mini clipboards with attached notepads and a magnet back at Michael’s Crafts for $2 a piece. We bought every one they had and supplemented with the few pink cardboard coasters I did find.

For more teacher gift ideas I have used in the past, CLICK HERE.

Orphans in Children’s Literature

Have you noticed how many favorite characters in children’s literature are orphans or have absent parents or missing parents or neglectful parents? What is the draw? If a book character does not have a parent, then he or she does not need to follow certain rules that a parent might put into place. The characters can take off on an adventure at a moment’s notice. They can try something risky without fear of parental punishment. It’s attractive for young readers because they can follow an imaginary character who has total independence and freedom.

Imagine Harry Potter hunting down Voldemort had James and Lily Potter been alive. Without a parent imposing rules, the book character is free to take risks, and readers can join the adventure from the safety of their homes. Even though the stories may be sad or scary (or both), young readers love to read about a character who is close to their age and triumphs over adversity.

There are so many great children’s books with protagonists who are true orphans or close to it. In addition to Harry Potter, here are a few more orphans-in-literature suggestions.

  • The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mandy by Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Molly Moon series by Georgia Byng
  • The BFG by Roald Dahl (and many other books by Dahl)
  • Loot by Jude Watson
  • The False Prince by Jennifer Nielsen
  • A Series of Unfortunate Events series by Lemony Snicket
  • The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John A. Flanagan
  • The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler Warner
  • Ballet Shoes series by Noel Streatfeild
  • Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
  • Ms. Rapscott’s Girls series by Elise Primavera
  • Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters by Lesley M. M. Blume
  • Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder
  • Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
  • The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
  • Anne of Green Gables series by L. M. Montgomery
  • The Mysterious Benedict Society series by Trenton Lee Stewart

Mini Cakes and Breads

mini-pound-cake-gifts

We have science fair and Valentine’s Day on the calendar this month. A trip to Michael’s Crafts was inevitable. We hit the store yesterday, and after we completed our lap through all of the craft and school supply aisles, a small end cap display with Valentine baking supplies happened to catch my eye. Mini paper loaf pans– with hearts! Does it get any better? Mini + baking + holiday craft all in one.

mini-loaf-pans-package

I bought the last two bags of mini loaf pans and immediately came home to make small breads and cakes. I baked this Savory Rosemary and Pine Nut Bread in 12 of the pans and a “faux” chocolate chip pound cake in the other 12 pans I had (recipe below).

mini-bread-and-cake-gifts

We wrapped the mini loaves in 3″ x 4″ clear plastic treat bags and used a twist tie to close. I printed labels for the bags with a small heart motif, and we will be delivering these little treats to my children’s teachers for Valentine’s Day. They make a great teacher gift because they are a single serving and are easy for little people to carry to school and deliver.

mini-cake-size

Chocolate Chip Pound Cake

Ingredients

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 1 small box instant vanilla pudding
  • 1 small box instant chocolate pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 6 oz. chocolate chips

mini-cakes-ingredients

Directions

  • Stir cake mix and pudding mixes together in a large bowl.
  • Add eggs, oil, and water. Beat by hand until smooth.
  • Stir in chocolate chips. You can coat the chocolate chips with about 1/2 T. flour before adding to the batter to keep them from sinking to the bottom during baking. If you are making mini sized cakes, use mini chocolate chips.
  • Pour into a greased and floured bundt pan. If you are using the mini paper loaf pans, you do not need to grease or flour the pans. You will fill the mini pans about halfway.
  • Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. If baking the mini size, reduce baking time to ~30 minutes.
  • Cool 20 minutes and remove from pan. If using the mini pans, leave in the paper pans.

mini-cakes-filling-loaf-pans

Notes

  • The mini paper loaf pans can bake in a temperature up to 400 degrees. They do not need to be greased. To get your bread or cake out of the little pan, you unstick the corners and pull the sides away when serving.

mini-cake-side-view

If Montezuma had an Instagram Account

instagram-historical-figures-4

If Montezuma had an Instagram account, what would he say when Cortez arrived in 1519? My fourth graders have some ideas. We are finishing our study of the conquests of the Inca and Aztec empires and have been reading about Cortez, Pizarro and the events that took place in the 1500s when the Spanish arrived in Mexico and Peru. Students took the information they had about Cortez’s encounter with the Aztecs and Pizarro’s contact with the Incas and created Instagram posts from the point of view of the leader, the conquistador, and a common citizen or soldier. The students wrote comments that shared knowledge of the time period as well as demonstrated point of view and perspective.

instagram-historical-figures-5

In order to create the Instagram posts, I shared a template with the students in PowerPoint. It had a permanent background with text boxes layered on top. The students clicked in the text boxes to create the usernames and three comments. The first comment was from the Inca or Aztec leader. The second comment was from the conqueror, and the last comment was from a person who would have been at the scene. The students were also allowed to create related hashtags.

instagram-point-of-view-activity

After students typed their comments, they printed the Instagram post. I set up the template, so the Instagram post filled the left side of the paper only.

instagram-template

Using a paper cutter, I cut the paper into a strip about 4 1/4 inches wide. I also trimmed about 1/2 inch off the top. I cut colorful construction paper into strips that were 4 3/4 x 11 inches. With scissors, the students rounded the corners of the construction paper. They also had the option of rounding the corners of the printed Instagram post. They glued the Instagram post to the construction paper centering the white strip closer to the top of the paper. With a Sharpie, the students drew a circle for a home button at the bottom of the construction paper to complete the effect of an iPhone.

instagram-historical-figures-close

Students colored a profile picture and drew a scene that matched the comments. The details in the drawing were based on information from the readings and unit of study.

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The finished Instagram posts have been so much fun to read and have made the material much more personal for the students. The activity idea is great because it can be adapted for almost any historical figure or time period you may be studying. CLICK HERE to make a copy of the electronic template via Google Docs. If you would like a PDF version of the template and have students handwrite their Instagram posts, CLICK HERE.

Fresh Ideas for Publishing Student Writing

fresh-ideas-for-teachers-roommom

Students can always write or type on a plain piece of paper for their writing, but what is fun about that? If you want student writers to really feel proud of something they wrote, publish it on special paper or in a unique way. It makes the writing stand out and look fresh. Ignite students’ interest in their writing by showing them how professional their writing can be.

native-american-magazines

One of my favorite ways to publish student writing is on glossy brochure paper like THIS ONE by HP that has the same texture as a magazine. The printed product has a quality finish to it that makes it seem as if we went to a professional publisher to print. I won’t even make teacher marks on the paper when grading! It’s that special. We recently completed a magazine article style writing project, but you could complete any style of writing. To see more about the magazine feature article activity, CLICK HERE.

state-brochure-samples-with-letters dsc_1484

Another fun paper option is a cardstock weight tri-fold brochure paper like THIS ONE. The paper is pre-scored, so when you are ready to fold, it bends into 3 even sections every time. I opt for the matte finish on this one, but the tri-fold paper is available in glossy finish too. We created state brochures that we folded and mailed to our school alum. The final product looked like a real mass mailing from a legitimate business. We were all impressed.

narnia map and journal sample

If you don’t have access to a color printer (or any printer), antiquing paper can be fun. I usually have students type their writing and choose an old-fashioned looking font. We print with a laser jet printer (ink-jet will smear later) and then stain the paper with wet tea bags. If you do not have a printer, or you would prefer that the students hand write the assignment, you can stain the paper first and have students write by hand after the paper dries. For full directions about staining paper, CLICK HERE.

For more fresh ideas, click the logos in the picture below.

 

Cinnamon's Classroom Amy Mezni Kirsten's Kaboodle ELA Buffett Mrs. Russell's Room The Room Mom Study All Knight Brittany Washburn Miss Stefany Meredith Anderson Image HTML map generator

Interested in winning a Fujifilm Instax camera with 2 film packs?

Instax or Polaroid type cameras are a great FRESH tool for any classroom. CLICK HERE to enter our Rafflecopter Giveaway. Giveaway ends Thursday, 1/19/17 at midnight. Open to U.S. residents only.