Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tricks of the Trade: End of the Year Gifts

The end of the year is near and if you are struck with fear about what to do for end of the year gifts like I am, take a deep breath and keep reading.  You've come to the right place.

That's because this week's Tricks of the Trade theme is:

Jessica and I are hoping that this linky will help you discover some great new ideas for what to give to your students, parents, and colleagues.  I am so excited to fill up my June Pinterest board with some fabulous ideas.  I already pinned some great ones from Jessica's blog.  I have to say in case you don't know already that Jess is a creative mastermind, so you should definitely stop by her page to see her gift ideas.

Joy in the Journey

Now, for my tricks of the trade.

Student Gifts

As a first year teacher last year, I was at a loss for what to do for gifts, until my wonderful mentor came to the rescue and shared her resources with me.  Her gift idea was a little pack of Forget-Me-Not seeds, a little cup, and a poem.  Since she ended up looping with her kids to second grade, she decided she didn't need to worry about them forgetting her, so she gave me everything for the gifts.  She is so generous and amazing.
Here's what my gifts looked like last year.

I dressed up the poem a bit this year, so if you'd like a free copy, click the picture below.  

Also, I am still not sure what I am going to do this year, but I really like these baggie toppers free from Katie Jones.  I like how I could fill the bags with whatever little things I want and then add a fun topper.  

Cards for Specialists
I don't know about your students, but mine love music.  In fact, they enjoy it so much that I sometimes have to ask them to stop singing, humming, and counting out rhythms when they come back to class.  They also love art, so much that they doodle constantly even when they are supposed to be listening.  Believe it or not, my kiddos LOVE running around and playing games.  Oh, and did I mention, they get really excited about checking out library books and listening to stories? 

Sound like your kids?  Probably.  

What kids don't like specials?  I mean come on, they get to take a break from their regular teacher to be creative and active.  How awesome is that?  I actually wish that teachers could have specials too.  How nice would it be to have a daily art or music break?  Or even a time to exercise or go to the library? 

Okay, enough rambling.  My point is that specials are AWESOME and the specialists who teach them are AWESOME.  Yet, they are sadly unrecognized even though they deserve to be appreciated for all they do to enhance our kids' education and their lives by fostering creativity, healthy habits, and a love of reading.

That is why I took the time last year and am going to again this year to have the students make and write thank you cards for their specials teachers.  Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of them, but I will give you the gist of what they did.

I decided to have the kids make the cards because I wanted them to be creative and to personalize them to the specialists.  I let the kids choose which specialist's card they wanted to design, gave them a big piece of construction paper, and then let them be creative.  Each group produced a really fun and personalized card.  The music teacher's card was covered in music notes, the librarian's in books, etc.  

Once the cards were designed, I had all of the students in the class sign them before we delivered them.  The specialists were very grateful to be thanked and the kids learned that it's important to recognize and thank those who do so much for them.  I plan to do about the same thing this year as last year sometime in June.

Parent Volunteer Gifts
Confession time.  I didn't do very much to thank my parents last year.  I lost track of time and only sent a card to my Class Captains and gave some Bath and Body Works to one parent who volunteered for me every week.  She was amazing.

This year, I have had a lot more parents help out with copies, cutting out lamination, field trips etc., so I need to figure out some way to show them my appreciation.  I found some great ideas on Pinterest. 
The Teacher Wife (freebie)

From A Love for Teaching

From A Modern Teacher.
I love all of these cute ideas, especially the ones from A Modern Teacher because she has tags for different types of gifts that are similar in theme and easy to assemble.  Both her gift tags and the ones from The Teacher Wife are free, which is awesome.  You can click the links to pick them up.

So, what idea do you like best?  Which one do you think I should do?

My Favorite Gifts
Some of the biggest surprises I experienced in my life as a first year teacher last year were when I opened gifts from my students/their parents.  I am blessed to teach in a district where parents are very supportive and very generous (I know many of you do not have that), but I will still surprised that they were willing to give me so much.  I didn't feel like I deserved any of it, but I was still very appreciative.  This year, I have had the same experience so far with both winter holiday gifts and Teacher Appreciation Week gifts.

Both last year and this year, I've received are tremendously generous gift cards either generic or to stores and restaurants I love.  The generic ones get poured right back into my classroom for books or other supplies.  I have also have gotten some yummy food, cute scarves, and nice candles.

The best gifts I've been give though are the personal and homemade ones.  I always love the cute cards my kids make for me.  It's hard not to want to keep them all forever and ever.

Also, last year, my parents gave me a Vista Print picture book full of letters from and pictures of the kids.  I cried when I opened it because it was so sweet to see what the kids wrote.  I will cherish it forever as a memory book of my first class ever.

So, what gifts do you give and get?  

Grab the button below and link up to share. 

 I can't wait to get some new ideas!  

P.S. Anyone who links up will be entered to WIN 3 items of their choice from Jessica's store!


  1. Hi Becky! Found you through your linky with Jessica! Excited to be following you! Love your volunteer gifts! Just linked up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. Thanks for the gift ideas and congrats on 100 followers! I am excited to be your 102nd! Right now my goal is have to start somewhere, right?

    Two Friends In First