George Lucas Educational Foundation

Teacher Appreciation Week 2012: Gift Ideas

May is Teacher Appreciation Month and Teacher Appreciation Week runs from May 7 to May 13 this year. Educators from our online community shared their suggestions for great teacher gifts.
Edutopia Team
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Credit: Edutopia

Celebrating great teaching and learning is at the heart of what we do at Edutopia 365 days a year, but during the month of May we launched a special "Every Day in May" campaign which featured a daily tip or idea for how you can thank a teacher. Look for strategies on how you can support educators throughout the year, inspirational projects, and tons of sincere thanks for the people who do so much for our students. So be sure to check in and tell your favorite teachers!

We also want to share a gift guide that we pulled together from December 2011 for the holiday season. It was created from a poll that asked teachers what kinds of gifts they appreciated the most:

Gift Certificates

You pretty much can't go wrong with these -- about 40 percent of respondents to our gift poll said this was their favorite. (Although one Edutopia community member got so many Starbucks cards one year that she developed a caffeine addiction.) Mix it up: Consider a coffee shop, a bookstore, an office-supply store, or a restaurant.

Thank-You Notes

Some 30 percent of our poll takers said this is what they'd most like. Teachers pull out these notes for encouragement on tough days, and they save them long after the child has left the classroom. As one community member said, "Letters don't expire, go rotten, or break. They are my favorite gift!" Another added, "Letters cost the family no money, trigger no allergies, coordinate with all home-decor schemes, and do not cause weight gain!" Be as specific as you can about what the teacher does that benefits your child. To make it even better, copy it to the principal.

Homemade Gift, Edible or Otherwise

This was the favorite gift for 11 percent of respondents to our poll. One teacher known as Mr. Tom once received a handmade cup bearing the words "Mr. Tom's cup." Mr. Tom writes, "It still hangs in my kitchen."

Donation to the Teacher's Favorite Charity

A parent named Kelly says this year she collected small contributions from each parent in her child's class, and will present news of the donation to the teacher with a homemade treat (see above!) and a card (see above again -- triple play!). Also, 7 percent of poll takers picked this as the best gift.

Gift to the Classroom, Such as Books, Supplies, or Stationery

Kathy, a parent and an Edutopia fan on Facebook, likes to ask the teacher what she'd most like to have for the classroom, and then complement it by delivering a fruit or cookie basket to the teacher's lounge. Everybody wins.

Pooled Donation to a Needy Family in the School

The kids could even get into the giving spirit here, doing household chores to earn bigger donations. The educator who suggested this says, "I have plenty of mugs, candles, and hand lotions!"

Educational Tool or Experience for Your Child (Yes, Your Own Child)

Consider a great book, game, piece of software, or field trip that will get your kid excited about learning. Maybe it's even something he or she can share with the class. If it gets the kid excited about learning, that's a real boon to the teacher.

Massage or Spa Treatment

It's what we all wish for but rarely splurge on for ourselves.

Plant a Tree in the Teacher's Honor

Pick your metaphor: growth, knowledge, and nurturance. A tree represents them all.

Noise-Canceling Headphones

'Nuff said.

Got other ideas? Please share them with us -- tweet to @Edutopia or comment below!

Comments (6) Sign in or register to comment Follow Subscribe to comments via RSS

Michael Griffin's picture
Michael Griffin
Music educator and professional development trainer based in Hampshire, UK.

Have the school choir sing a special song for staff at break time. My choir composed an appropriate set of words for international teachers day (a few years ago) to the music of 'Smoke gets in Your Eyes' and the staff felt very special. Use the creative arts to transfer the mundane. A gift doesn't have to be material. If you want to hear the song, go to
Michael Griffin (

meredith's picture

that is a great idea!! i am going to pass it on to the music teacher at my school! thank you!! happy teacher's week to you!!

Ms. Bea's picture
Ms. Bea

Happy Appreciation Month! Let's celebrate every day, all year long!

Kay Butler's picture
Kay Butler
HS Mathematics and MS/HS Pre-Engineering teacher, from South Louisiana

Thanks for the recommendation, Ruth. I checked out the "Recessitate" website - it's wonderful! I plan to get a set before school starts, then I'll have my kids add cards to the set! :)

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