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).

Back to School Teacher Emergency Kit 2017

Since my children started attending elementary school, I have been cooking up some little back to school teacher emergency kit to give my kids’ homeroom teachers on the first day of school. Each year, the kits are a little different, but the contents are always based on items I need at school but don’t always have. I usually change up the bag or box to hold all of the items, but this fall, I am returning to the plastic bead box with removable divider slots that was the first container I ever used.

The Box: I purchase the bead storage boxes from Michael’s. It has ten slots with removable dividers. I remove a few of the dividers to make sections of the box bigger depending on what I have that needs to go in the box.

The Contents: Below is what I included in the kits this time. You could also consider adding things like mints, a good Flair pen or Sharpie pen, travel sized lotion, Advil or Tylenol, mini Windex wipes for electronics (I have seen these at Target), a Tide to Go pen… I browse the travel-sized aisle at places like CVS and Target for inspiration.

  • cough drops
  • safety pins
  • soda money in quarters
  • Blistex
  • Pepto Bismol chewable tablets
  • tweezers
  • disposable toothbrush and paste (one time use)
  • emery board
  • Band-aids
  • hair bands
  • dental flossers

The Labels: I printed THIS 2″x 4″ label for the lid of the box using a Red Cross style logo to make it look like an emergency kit. I created a table for the inside of the box and printed it on cardstock. Using a paper cutter, I cut it down to fit the inside lid and attached it with clear tape. I wanted the “map” on the inside to look like one of those lists they have in the big chocolate candy boxes, so you know what kind of chocolate you are eating. Here is a copy of the Teacher Emergency Kit Map.

To get more inspiration for Back to School Teacher Emergency Kits, take a look at some of mine from previous years by clicking the links below.

Teacher Emergency Kit 2012

Teacher Emergency Kit 2013

Teacher Emergency Kit 2014

Teacher Emergency Kit 2015

Teacher Emergency Kit 2016