Back to School Teacher Snack Bar

I abandoned my traditional Teacher Emergency Kit back to school gift this year for a teacher snack bar that all the teachers at my school could enjoy. My children attend the school where I teach, and traditionally, I have made THESE KITS for my kid’s homeroom teachers. Well, my son and daughter are in middle school now (*sniff*), and they see multiple teachers throughout the day. I thought setting up a snack bar in the teacher kitchen for everybody to enjoy would be a great way to thank all the teachers.

back to school teacher snack bar teacher appreciation gift idea

Last spring during Teacher Appreciation Week, I put together a BEVERAGE BAR, and I used that same idea but with snacks. The interesting thing is that everyone commented on loving the salty snacks. I think when people bring treats for teachers, it is often cookies, cakes, muffins… I made a mental note to provide salty teacher treats more often.

back to school teacher snack bar teacher appreciation gift idea

Setting up a Teacher Snack Bar

I made Spicy Ritz Crackers, Tijuana Tidbit Snack Mix (CLICK HERE), and my daughter baked brownies. We put the mixes in cookie tins, the brownies on a platter, and set out napkins, small plates, and small 5-oz plastic tumbler cups to hold the snack mix. All the snacks were on the counter in the common teacher kitchen, and people walked by throughout the day and grabbed a little bite. The seasoned Ritz crackers were the crowd favorite. I was worried they would be too spicy but that is why everyone loved them.

back to school teacher snack bar teacher appreciation gift idea

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. melted butter (one stick)
  • 1 packet Ranch dressing mix
  • 1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 T. red pepper flakes
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 1 box original Ritz crackers

Directions

  • Let melted butter cool slightly. Mix butter, Ranch dressing mix, grated Parmesan, red pepper flakes, and garlic powder.
  • Put Ritz crackers in a mixing bowl.
  • Pour butter mixture over the Ritz crackers and gently stir to coat crackers.
  • Put crackers on a foil lined baking sheet in a single layer.
  • Bake at 300 degrees for 15 minutes.
  • Let cool and store in a Ziploc bag or airtight container.

All the snacks were gone before lunchtime! It was an easy teacher appreciation gift, and I will definitely set up something similar again.

back to school teacher snack bar teacher appreciation gift idea

Teacher Appreciation 2018

The first full week of May is National Teacher Appreciation Week in the United States. It is no secret that I love putting together small gifts or gestures of appreciation for my children’s teachers. Many people work with my kids, so I am always trying to find a gift idea that I can mass produce and is cost effective. When we start counting the various core teachers, special area teachers, and support staff who interact with my 5th and 7th grader on a daily basis, it is over 25 people.

To make sure I do not leave anyone out, I am setting up a beverage bar tomorrow for the entire faculty. I bought 16-oz. Solo cups in a fun color, pretty straws, and a selection of individual sized drinks. My school has an ice machine, but if this is something you are considering for teachers, don’t forget bags of ice too. People can drop in all day to the teacher break area and fix a cold drink to take back to the classroom.

NOTES:

  • Provide a variety of sizes and options. I purchased Coke and Diet Coke in 12-oz and 8-oz cans, sparkly flavored waters, Snapples, and a few sodas in bottles with twist off lids. A twist off lid is great if you don’t want to finish the drink in one sitting (or students return and you have to start teaching again). The smaller soda cans work well if you need a little refreshment but don’t have time for a larger drink.

  • In place of a beverage bar where people go to a common location and serve themselves, you could print a fun, individual label and attach to the Solo cup. THESE LABELS are Avery 5263, 2″ x 4″. Put a can of soda and straw in the cup and deliver to individual teachers.

  • If this is something your school’s PTA or parents’ group is considering for the faculty and staff, they could order Personalized Can Coozies with the school logo to give to teachers. There are many sites that sell party items like this in bulk for groups.
  • Depending on how well you know the teachers, you could kick the beverage idea up a level and give individual gift bags with cocktail kits. There are so many airplane sized liquor options at liquor stores now, it can be fun to give a small bottle of alcohol, a mixer, and a lime. This may not be appropriate for your school community– you be the judge. I did put together a little gift like this for the teachers returning from multi-day field trip with my daughter to Williamsburg, VA. I knew the group of teacher chaperones, and I was pretty confident they would love the gift!

I have many great teacher gift ideas. CLICK HERE for more inspiration.

 

Mason Jar Snow Globe Toppers

Bookmark this idea for next Christmas. In fact, go buy the clear plastic ornament sets at a major discount at Michael’s Crafts right now, so you are ready to make these next year. That’s what I did. Even two weeks before Christmas, Michael’s had already marked down the ornament sets to 50 cents (originally $1.29). I bought a class set, so my students could make personal Mason jar toppers to take home as gifts for their families. They are fun to make, and you can fill the jars with all kinds of treats.

Materials

  • plastic ornament in two halves (2.75″ diameter– fits 4 oz. and pint mason jar lids, regular mouth)
  • full body photo printed on cardstock that shows above the head and below the feet (printed ~1.75″ and then cut down)
  • mini trees, presents, snowmen shapes or other accessories for the scene inside the snow globe (found these at Michael’s in the snow scene section– these materials did sell out close to the holidays)
  • fake snow flakes (sold in bags during the holidays– a little different than glitter)
  • sparkly pipe cleaners
  • hot glue gun
  • Elmer’s glue

Directions

  • Remove the lid pieces from a Mason jar. Separate the ring from the flat lid part. Run a bead of hot glue around the flat edge of one half of the plastic ornament. Quickly and firmly, press the dome to the edges of the lid ring. The hot glue cools quickly, so you have to move fast. If you attach the ornament part off center, carefully pull it apart, remove the cooled glue and start the process over.

  • In small sections, run a bead of glue along the line where the plastic ornament half attached to the Mason jar ring. Press the pipe cleaner into the glue. Keep running a small bead of glue and press the pipe cleaner as you move around the edge of the ring. When you have finished the circle, let the glue cool and then snip the extra pipe cleaner length off.
  • If you want to personalize the snow globe topper, take a photo of a loved one that shows the full body and has space above the head and below the feet. Pet pictures would work well too. To look more authentic, have the subject look cold in the photo or hold hands up like it is snowing. We added props like scarves and Santa or elf hats when taking our photos. Print the photo on cardstock or another stiff paper. Set the height of the photo to 1.75″. You will cut around the shape of the body and may need to cut the bottom part of the legs off too. Cut around the entire figure and when it is time to attach to the jar lid, you can make adjustments to the height of the picture after testing to see if it stands straight inside the plastic dome.

  • Using a hot glue gun, attach the photo and scene accessories like a mini present or mini snowman foam sticker to the flat plate-like part of the Mason jar lid. Attach the objects, so they stand straight, and they should be as close to the center of the jar lid as possible. Test the height of the objects to make sure they will not get squashed down when the ring with the plastic ornament is screwed down. Cut off the the bottom of any little figures as necessary.

  • Drizzle Elmer’s glue all over the rest of the flat part of the lid and around the edges of the little figures in the center. This piece of the Mason jar lid has a slightly raised edge, and it makes it easy to fill the center area. Avoid the edges of the plate.

  • Scoop fake snow onto the Elmer’s glue and let dry.

  • Fill your glass jar with its contents. There are many fun options– cocoa mix, cinnamon sugar, soup mix, spiced nuts, candies…
  • Carefully lift the flat part of the lid with the snow scene onto the top of the jar. Gently put the domed ring over the snow scene and carefully screw the ring down to tighten.

 

Flavored Popcorn Salts Gift Idea

It’s the time of year where I like to send a small thank you to all the teachers, coaches, and other caring adults who work with my children. It adds up to more than 20 little gifts, so I am always looking for something that I can make in bulk AND will be something that the receiver might use.  I typically go for something consumable meaning the gift receiver can eat the item, or it has a one time use and then is gone.

This year, I made flavored popcorn salts. There are many recipes available and lots of cute ways to package the salts to give as a gift. I found containers that look like French fry boxes at Hobby Lobby. I put one package of microwave popcorn in each container along with a variety of mini bags of flavored salts. Even if our teacher friends don’t use the salts, most people I know will eat popcorn, and it is something that can be a good snack to make at school (although you have to be careful not to pop in a central location because the smell does linger!).

We gave a mix of 3 salt flavors– Bacon Parmesan, Buffalo Ranch, and Mexican Hot Chocolate (my favorite). I read through a handful of recipes by doing a Pinterest search and then clicking through to the websites. I used recipe ideas from THIS WEBSITE and THIS ONE. For our popcorn packets, I bought “light” microwave popcorn because that type usually has the lightest amount of salt and butter flavor. You need the least amount of salt and butter as possible to start because the flavored salts are SALTY, so use sparingly. Of course, you could always pop your own popcorn from scratch and control the salt amounts that way.

I printed THESE LABELS for the mini bags. I used my favorite 3″ x 5″ bead bags that I get from Michael’s Crafts and Avery labels 8160, size 1″ x 2 5/8″.

The salts can be sprinkled on meat, eggs, or anything to which you would normally add salt. Based on the few blog posts I read, it is really easy to create new combinations so think about flavors you enjoy and start mixing! If you want to take this idea and make the gift a little more substantial, add a movie gift card for your local theatre or a gift card for Redbox.

BTS Parent Night Handout

It’s BTS season. For most of us with school aged children that means some sort of meet-the-teacher parent night with lots of handouts. Since I am a teacher too, I know the BTS parent night handouts have valuable information in them– when to wear PE clothes, lunch procedures, HW procedures, acceptable pencils… We all receive these pamphlets with key classroom information that get dumped into that junk drawer in the kitchen. For the past few years, I created a flip book and attached a magnet to the back, so parents could hang the booklet on their refrigerator in plain sight. I still like that idea, but I was getting tired of making them, and my pages never lined up correctly (which bugged my OCD nature to no end).

BTS parent handbook meet the teacher night

This year I folded mini pocket folders with card stock and inserted individual cascading pages by modifying my old flip book file. You can see the headings of each page of information and pull out that insert to get the information you need. I think these folders will still get dumped into the kitchen junk drawer, but I like the construction of them, the final size, and the way you can view the information headings.

To Make the Folders:

  • Use 8 1/2″ x 11″ card stock. Cut cardstock to 7 1/2″ x 11″ size. I found Astrobrights cardstock paper that was double colored, so each side has a coordinating color. It makes the final pocket folder more interesting.

  • I have a paper scorer to make guidelines where I need to fold. You could use a ruler to measure and fold by hand. Set the paper in landscape direction. You will fold along the long edge of the paper at 5 1/2″ (bottom of the paper folds up 2″). You will fold the paper in half at 5 1/2″ down the center.

  • After pre-folding, open the paper flat and cut a skinny triangle along the 2-inch flap. The tip of the triangle will be 2-inches into the paper at the 5 1/2″ fold. This will allow the bottom flap to fold up neatly without bending or buckling in the center.

To Make the Printed Inserts:

  • I created THIS TEMPLATE in MSPowerPoint. There are 10 slides (plus one slide with teacher notes) with editable textboxes in different sizes.
  • Fill the textboxes with the essential information for your classroom.
  • Each slide page is 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″. I printed on 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper, so lots of cutting is involved. Print the pages and cut to the correct sizes with a paper cutter. All pages will be 5 3/8″ wide. The heights vary by 1/2″. The tallest page is 5 1/2″. The shortest pages is 3 1/2″. You could add one more pair of pages for a total of 12 pages (6 on each side), and the shortest page would be 3″.

  • I cut the width of the pages first. Then, I cut near the header next. For me, if I lined up the paper at 7″ on the paper cutter, it would cut at the perfect place above the header for all pages. After that cut, I would flip the page and cut my varying heights beginning with my largest page (5 1/2″is the tallest; 5″ is the next height; 4 1/2″ is the next… down to 3 1/2″).

  • Cutting the pages down to size is time consuming, but I think the final result is well worth it!
  • As a final step, print or write a title on the front of each folder. I printed a label on 2″ x 4″ Avery shipping labels and then cut the labels to 2″ x 2″ because I liked the square shape on the folder covers (and I happened to have that label size in my massive paper supply).