As a teacher, let me assure all of you that, contrary to these declarations by smiling crafters, these items do not make the perfect teacher gifts. Not even close. Every teacher I know has a cupboard or closet dedicated to gifts given by well-intentioned parents containing plenty of coffee mugs with various designs declaring "I Love my Teacher!", lotions, candles, and teacher-themed ornaments.
Before you go shopping for your child's elementary teacher this year, please read the list below of the gifts every teacher will love!
- Children's games and puzzles for indoor recess - Mancala, Jenga, checkers, Mousetrap, Sorry, Trouble, Scrabble Junior, and Battleship are loved by children ages 7 and up. For the younger kids, Connect 4, Dominoes, puzzles, and Cootie are good choices, and Lincoln Logs and Legos never lose their appeal.
- School supplies - We love dry erase markers and Sharpies in different colors, stickers, magnets, and mechanical pencils.
- Blank note cards - For sending home notes about your child, and to thank you for the gifts we receive.
- Post-its notes - I personally go through a ton of these every year. All sizes, all colors.
- Book store gift cards - In addition to purchasing books, we can also buy CDs and DVDs for our classes on a variety of topics.
I keep many special gifts tucked in my teacher cupboard that I truly treasure. These are the notes, cards and letters from families expressing appreciation for teaching and loving their child. One note thanked me for being there for her child when she could not be, due to illness. Another expressed gratitude for lighting the light of learning in a kindergarten child who had been afraid of starting school. I also treasure the handmade gifts and pictures by the children I've taught. In one picture, a child drew the two of us standing in a flower garden full of hearts and rainbows. Another child drew us flying through space wearing jet-packs.
When I've had a challenging day of doubt, frustration, and exhaustion, or a sleepless night worrying about my students, I go downstairs to my teacher cupboard, and pull these treasures out. These gifts from the heart help me remember why I do what I do.