Does this sound familiar? Your children have some phenomenal teachers and you’d like to recognize them this holiday season, but you’re not sure what to give. You’ve gotten Starbucks gift cards in the past (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love a Starbucks gift card?), but you want to take it up a notch this year. What should you get? A great place to start is to ask your child’s teacher what they might need or want for their classroom. This is not only a way to personalize the gift, it also shows your interest in the classroom and the teacher. To help you out, we have also checked with some of our teacher colleagues and friends and compiled this list of innovative gifts. Use this as a conversation starter with your favorite teacher, or consider surprising them with an item below!

Art:

  • Flair Pens
  • Sharpies in several different colors
  • Flat griddle
  • Fun paper
  • Markers
  • Coloring books (especially for middle and high school, a good mandala coloring book can be great for stress relief, anxiety relief etc.)
  • Subscription to Scholastic Art Magazine

Flexible Seating:

  • Flexible seating arrangements allows the teacher to shift to an active learning environment. Check with your teacher first to see if flexible seating is feasible within the classroom, if so consider Hokki stools as way to start building this environment.

Maker:

  • Makerspace materials and supplies: You can purchase a pre-assembled maker kit but you can also get creative and make your own. This would be a great activity for your child to help with.
  • Small portable camera or device that can take photos and send via wifi so students can photograph/film and share their work.
  • Wikki Stix
  • PlayDough
  • Webby Loops book + 6-8 Loops (buy @ REI for $6-8 a loop). Awesome team building for just about any age and it will never be outdated. Easily made into a kit – just throw it all in a tub.

Sensory:

  • Qball. A portable, throwable, microphone. Perfect for jumpstarting and amplifying classroom discussions.
  • Oregon Scientific SmartGlobe Explorer – Augment Reality. This globe comes to life through an AR app on a smart device and it opens revealing the earth’s inner core, among other things.
  • Therapeutic toys are great – think kinetic sand kits, stress balls and essential oils.
  • Osmo Genius Kit. An iPhone or iPad transforms into a hands-on learning tool through the use of tangible games.

STEM:

  • Dash and Dot. These little robots pack a powerful punch and allow students to learn how to code while also learning the basics of applied robotics.
  • Board games and manipulative toys.
  • Science toys. There are a plethora of options available that can be placed on desks which encourages students to play and explore.
  • HTC VIVE. One teacher explained that this Virtual Reality (VR) headset “would be really cool to augment my ELA lesson plans, especially with writing. Students could “experience” certain activities and then write about the “experience.” Furthermore, students could tour settings of literature before diving into the text.” If you are considering a VR device the HTC VIVE isn’t the only device in town, Google Cardboard provide VR at a lower price point.

General Gifts:

  • Rocketbook Everlast Notebook. This digital notebook looks and feels like a traditional notebook with a modern twist. It’s reusable and connects to cloud-based services such as Google Drive, OneNote, EverNote, and Dropbox. Perfect for teachers, or an entire class.
  • Revisit the classroom supply list from the beginning of the year to see if your teacher is running low on the essentials (Hand sanitizer, tissues, etc). These items are always appreciated.
  • Volunteer. Sometimes what educators need most is time and help with preparing different projects, supplies and events!
  • National Geographic or National Geographic Kids Subscription.
  • Check to see if your teacher has a project featured on DonorsChoose.org, and if they do considering donating.
  • Stickers. I know what you’re thinking, but ALL kids love stickers
  • Gift cards. Teachers really do appreciate them. Beyond food gift cards think of iTunes and Google Play which would also allow apps to be purchased. You could also ask the teacher which app they would like for the classroom and see if the app lets you purchase a subscription on their behalf.

We hope this list gives you a few ideas on how can bring holiday cheer to your favorite teacher. While these gifts are certainly great, and will no doubt be appreciated, sometimes it is the simple things during the holidays that mean the most. A thank you card from your family would likely mean as much, if not more, than any of these items. If you need additional ideas be sure to come back, as we’ll be publishing gift giving guides throughout the month!

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