10 Unique, Useful and Fun Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week (No More Coffee Mugs!)

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Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8-12) is coming up!

As an elementary teacher, I have received so many thoughtful gifts from students and parents during the school year, and especially during Teacher Appreciation Week.

Teacher Appreciation Week is a great time for parents, students and communities to show their appreciation for the hard work that teachers do every day. This year, as a Reading Specialist, I get to see so many K-5 teachers, and so many of them go above and beyond to make sure students are getting a high quality and worthwhile education. They deserve so many thanks!

If you are looking to thank the teachers in your life with a gift, but are tired of coffee mugs, candy and gift cards, here are 10 easy, fun, and useful ideas that I know so many teachers would love:

1.  Decorate a Teacher’s Door – The last two years that I taught second grade, parents came in and decorated every teacher’s door for Teacher Appreciation Week. You certainly don’t have to coordinate that, but you could go in one evening and decorate your child’s teacher’s door. I love it because it shows that you know and care about them as a teacher and as a person (for example, my class knew I lovelovelove owls, so the parents did an owl theme on my door). This can be a super inexpensive way to show how much you care and appreciate your child’s teacher. (Cost – under $10)

2. A 1 year subscription to education.com – Make sure your teacher doesn’t already have this, but this would be a gift that any elementary teacher would appreciate! There are worksheets, games, and activities for every grade level/topic/subject you can think of, and there are also interactive reading and math games that the teacher can let students play. Teachers are always looking for new ways to engage students, and having access to this for a year would be awesome! (Cost – $90 – This is a little pricier, so this is a good one to have a group of parents go in together to get, or to have as a classroom gift if your school/room parents/PTA does something like that.)

3. Adopt an Animal (symbolic) – Two years ago, my room parents collected money from students and families who wanted to participate, and they adopted a symbolic owl from the World Wildlife Fund. I got a cute stuffed animal, a fact card about owls, and an adoption certificate to display in my room. Because I love owls, this was such a thoughtful gift. It showed that my students and their families valued my interests, and I love that the gift gave back to something I care about! (Cost – $55)

4. Time Timer – My Time Timer was a gift from my parents and students in my second year of teaching. This is my favorite thing in my classroom by far! It’s a large (12 inch) visual and auditory timer. When you set the timer, the minutes are covered in a big red insert, and as time counts down, the red goes away. For young students (I wanted to say students with certain needs, but really this just works for everyone!) it gives them a visual to understand how much time they have to work on something. I use it for independent work time, for stations, and for fun games. When time is up, there is a beeping alarm to let students know that it’s time to clean up or move to the next station. I love it, because it meant I didn’t have to keep verbally reminding students how much time was left (and at the young elementary age, they don’t understand how long 5 minutes is anyway). This would be an absolutely wonderful gift for any elementary teacher! (Price – $35)

5. Supply Tree/Cake – A supply tree or cake is similar to the diaper cakes you see at baby showers. Supply trees are towers of school supplies. There are numerous images on pinterest of these cool supply trees. These are great, because school supplies are relatively inexpensive, but teachers purchase so many of these things all year long on their own, and for them it really adds up. This is a way to help a teacher get set up for next year without having to spend so much of her own money. Usually students are responsible for bringing pencils, markers, crayons, and scissors, so I would recommend supplies like: post-it notes, notecards, highlighters, dry erase markers, dry erase boards/strips, chart paper, labels, name tags, stickers (kids love the smelly ones!), and glue sticks. (Price – varies, depending on what you add to it!)

6. Homemade Jam (or any other homemade treat!) – I know so many teachers who treasure homemade things like jam or jelly or bread. It’s simple and inexpensive for you, but it is so personal and thoughtful for any teacher to receive. I still count the homemade jams I’ve received as some of my favorite gifts! (Price – under $5!)

7. Chalkboard Vinyl and Wet Erase Chalkboard Markers – I love these things! The vinyl is awesome because teachers can cut it and stick it to whatever surface they have available. They can stick it to walls, desks, notebooks, or cardboard (to make their own dry erase boards). It’s removable, too. And the chalkboard markers are so bright and fun, and the wet erase wipe off so cleanly! Chalkboards and dry erase boards are expensive, so a teacher would appreciate this alternative in her classroom! (Price – under $20 total!)

8. Help Stock Classroom Store – Many teachers use a classroom store to help motivate students and promote positive behavior. Often, student earn tickets or pretend money to spend at this store. The things in a teacher’s classroom store – like little toys/trinkets/treats, etc – are usually purchased with her own money. That can get expensive, but it means a lot to both the teacher and students to continue doing. So, a great thing for a parent (or group of parents) would be for you to go to Target/Walmart/Dollar Tree and purchase some items that you think kids would love to purchase in the store. Talk to your child and ask if they do a store in their classroom. If they do, this would be a great – and very affordable – option to help appreciate your child’s teacher and the things he or she is doing in your child’s classroom! (Cost – varies; it’s entirely up to you!)

9. Mobile Inkless Printer – This is by far the most expensive idea on here, and is really only usable if you’ve got a number of families (or if you do class gifts) wanting to contribute. But, it would be so cool for a teacher to have this! The printer doesn’t require any ink, which is nice because she wouldn’t have to keep replacing expensive ink. As a teacher, I would love to be able to use this to have a class photo wall, to do projects, to take pictures of student for holiday gifts they’re making, etc. If you’ve got a higher budget, this would make you the coolest classroom ever! (Cost – $100)

10. Cards Written By Students and Parents – This is my absolute favorite thing to give teachers and to receive as a teacher. I have so many cards that students have made me, which I love. And I truly relish the sweet cards and notes that parents have given me, because it is so nice to hear that I’m making an impact on their child and his or her education. This option can be free, but any teacher I know would treasure this! (Cost – free!)

What other unique gifts have you given as a parent or gotten as a teacher? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. Lane & Holly @ With Two Spoons

    I usually give teachers gift cards with strict instructions that they can only be used on themselves-not their classrooms/students. My son’s teacher this year and I share a love of cooking so I’ve been able to get her a few of my favorite cookbooks.

  2. meredithamand

    Thanks for the great ideas! I always seem to panic at Teacher Appreciation Week and have to scramble for a gift!

  3. Megan @ The Many Little Joys

    I love how practical these suggestions are. As a former teacher, I totally agree with your recommendations (although I taught middle school, and those teachers don’t get the same kinds of gifts as the elementary teachers). Still, these are things I WOULD have loved. 🙂

  4. oliviakplay

    These are such great ideas. I think I’m going to get my teachers the chalkboard and chalk!

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