10 Thoughtful Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas and Gifts (Blog image)

10 Thoughtful Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas and Gifts

April 26, 2024Darri Stephens

When is Teacher Appreciation Week?

In the United States, we will be celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week this year from Monday, May 6 to Friday, May 10. There is still time to plan ahead for some ways to surprise and recognize your child’s teachers. Use these Teacher Appreciation Week ideas and thoughts gifts to show gratitude to your educators!

While teachers deserve a spotlight and standing ovation throughout the entire school year, we at Nearpod and Flocabulary make sure to applaud our dedicated educators each and every year during Teacher Appreciation Week.

What is the origin of Teacher Appreciation Week?

Did you know that it was First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt who, in 1953, convinced the 81st Congress to declare a National Teachers Day? Some say the idea stemmed from a Wisconsin or Arkansas educator who wrote letters to the First Lady asking for this day of celebration.

The teachers are, of course, among the most important people in our nation. Day in and day out they are at work preparing the future citizens of the U.S. … I have always felt that we did not give an honorable enough place in our communities to the teachers. Next to parents they are the most important people in our communities. It is quite impossible to give teachers monetary compensation alone that will repay for their devotion to the job and the love that must go to each and every child. But I think we could compensate a little more adequately the teachers in our communities if we were conscious of their importance.

Eleanor Roosevelt, 1/14/53

It wasn’t until 1980, however, that Congress appointed March 7th as Teacher Day. Five years later, the holiday expanded to a Teacher Appreciation Week, the first full week of May, with the Tuesday of that week earmarked as Teacher Day. To find out whether and how your school recognizes the week, reach out to your school or district leaders. Regardless of the collective effort, there are many ways for your family to give an extra nod of thanks to your child’s teacher this May with a Teacher Appreciation Week gift or message.

What are some U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week deals?

Teacher Appreciation Week seems to be gaining more mainstream traction, with many companies offering special deals, whether they be discounts on products or free meals, during the first full week in May. The National PTA often lists special offers and opportunities on its website. And social media influencers have helped spread the good word through the hashtag #ThankATeacher and on sites like Things I Bought and Liked to shine a spotlight on teachers’ wish lists at certain times of the year.

There are several clever ways to thank a teacher each year. Many of the ideas below are born out of what efforts my school, families, and kids gave as Teacher Appreciation Week gift ideas. Not all of my schools celebrated, but those that did came up with some creative and thoughtful tokens of gratitude that I’d like to share.

10 Unique Teacher Appreciation Week Ideas for Gifts and Celebrating

Teacher speaking on podium

1. Share public staff shoutouts to show your appreciation

I always say that teachers are the ultimate givers of gold stars, so they in turn appreciate such tokens of recognition. Public displays of thanks not only provide moments of celebration but also create a forum for sharing a variety of touching stories! Work with your school leadership team to decide how and where to showcase such shoutouts. For instance, you could have kids and families use sidewalk chalk to write on the walkways outside each classroom.

Perhaps you can decorate a classroom door (within fire code guidelines, of course). You may want to designate classroom or communal bulletin boards to share SUR-PRAISE by having everyone post a sticky handwritten note with their accolades. If your school creates and shares newsletters through email or using tech tools like Nearpod, add a teacher spotlight section!

2. Work together to coordinate lunches and treats

These gift ideas for Teacher Appreciation Week may take a bit of coordination (go, room parents!), but often schools can take a collaborative approach to thanking teachers. Consider how you might be able to scheme to deliver lunch for a whole grade-level team one day. Then, teachers are encouraged to not only take time out to eat (not always a daily occurrence!) but also enjoy a bit of relaxed downtime with one another. If your school has a staff room, set up a breakfast bar, a dessert spread, or an afternoon charcuterie board to energize all staff with a savory bite or two. Grab a library cart and a takeout container from your local coffee shop and deliver a piping hot cup of caffeine a la carte to each classroom just before school starts. Or drop off a simple care package at the end of the day with some chips, dip, and a favorite beverage to say thanks for a job well done.

3. Take on some daily duties

Three teachers chatting with each other

We know teachers wear many hats throughout the school day. For a Teacher Appreciation Week idea, work with your school’s office manager to find out which roles parents might be able to volunteer for, to help free up your teacher’s time. You might be able to step in for the traffic circle, recess duty, P.E. class, or lunchroom duty. You could volunteer to come in and teach a passion project, whether that be an art lesson, a creative writing activity, or something related to your profession. Sometimes, giving the teacher a bit of time to sit back and catch up on work or simply observe their students’ interactions is more helpful than you’d realize!

4. Collect classroom supplies

On average, classroom teachers spend over $700 a year on classroom resources and materials. Use this week to restock classroom supplies, even if it’s toward the end of the school year. Teachers regularly run out of Clorox wipes, pencils, whiteboard markers, glue sticks, or sticky notes. Plan ahead and ask your teacher for a wish list. The items might be everyday goods like Kleenex, or perhaps they need a piece of equipment you all could chip in for (every year, I yearned for a handheld vacuum!). For any materials or asks that are outside of your classroom’s budget, assist your classroom teacher in submitting a Donors Choose request to help support classroom needs or projects.

5. Curate educator benefits and deals

It is easy to forget that local and national companies offer educators exclusive discounts or freebies all year long. Do a bit of sleuthing and see what advantages you can shortlist for them. Perhaps you can ask some local community stores and restaurants what they can do for your teachers as Teacher Appreciation Week ideas. Most teachers can share an ID card, a school-based email, or an ID.me teacher profile as proof that they are a classroom teacher or member of the school’s staff.

Two teachers

6. Make a donation

Teachers tend to be the giving sort, so speak their love language by making a donation in their name. Maybe you could donate a favorite book with a customized bookplate to the school or local library. You could donate pet supplies to a local shelter for the animal lover. Or perhaps you could volunteer your family’s time to a cause near and dear to their heart like feeding the homeless or cleaning up a community park or beach.

7. Give a gift card

A teacher’s passion does not come from a high salary incentive, so sometimes the small token of a gift card can go a long way. The gift card doesn’t have to be of huge monetary value; a $10 card toward coffee or a bookstore is meaningful. We know teachers rely heavily on the ease of Amazon and Target. Or you might want to get creative—one of my favorites was a gift card to the car wash as thanks for a “sparkling year!”

8. Consider a gift that keeps on giving like subscriptions

Another gift suggestion for Teacher Appreciation Week is to give your teacher a subscription that they can enjoy month over month. It could be a subscription that benefits the whole classroom like Highlights Magazine or the New York Times. It could be a subscription that the teacher might personally enjoy, like a favorite magazine, Audible, or streaming video service. Or it could be an annual membership to Barnes & Noble or Costco, where educators can get exclusive discounts and offers all year long. You could also find a classroom tool that teachers rely on (like Nearpod, wink, wink) and gift them an annual subscription or upgrade their membership to more premium access (like Nearpod Gold or Nearpod Platinum).

9. Remember, pictures say a thousand words!

As Teacher Appreciation Week falls at the end of the school year, it is the perfect time to memorialize the 180+ days in an informal yearbook. You may want to send out an email asking families to contribute photos they may have from the classroom or from school events. You can curate these into a digital slideshow (Smilebox), print them for an old-school photo album, or have them bound into a hardcover book (Mixbook). If you don’t feel like you have enough photos, volunteer to take the teacher’s photos and have them documented into a printed version on their behalf. Also, many online companies offer products that can include notes of gratitude and drawings to create a multimedia scrapbook.

10. And don’t forget, it’s the little things …

While not necessarily a novel idea, one day of the week, my students would bring in a flower or two to create a classroom bouquet. While I silently thanked all the gardens from which many were picked on the way to school, it was fun to see who chose which type of flower, and the result was a long-lasting classroom flower arrangement that brightened my desk.

Three teachers chatting during a Nearpod professional development

Similarly, many such Teacher Appreciation Week ideas from students do not take much time or money. Create a coupon template and have each child create a “Good for one ______” coupon for their teachers. They will end up with a printed coupon book chock full of hugs, cleaning, or treats to redeem in the future. And who doesn’t like a video Teacher Appreciation Week message with a shining face sharing some sweet sentiments? It’s often the thought that counts most!

Start using these Teacher Appreciation Week 2024 gift ideas

“Thank you” are two powerful words, and they don’t need to be saved until May or the end of the school year. It is meaningful for us all to recognize just how impactful and important teachers are in a child’s daily life. Think back—I’m sure you can remember your favorite teachers and can probably articulate quite easily why each is so memorable as inspiration for a teacher appreciation gift. Take those five days in May to show just how much your teacher means to your family. As most teachers will say, “Show, don’t tell!” Remember, even the smallest gestures go a long way!

Foster a love of learning in every student with Nearpod. Teachers can sign up for free below to access and create interactive lessons. Administrators can schedule a call with an expert to unlock the full power of Nearpod for schools and districts.

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