Mother’s Day Gifts for the Artistically Challenged
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5
Every child in your class surely has the “best mom in the entire world.” (I, however, know I actually have the best mother, though I don’t like to boast.) While moms and mother figures certainly deserve more than one day of adulation, at the very least we should be sure they get their due in May.
But making cutesy Mother’s Day gifts at school can be tricky when you don’t have the DIY craftacular superpowers bestowed upon some teachers. Here is my easy game plan for making photoworthy Mother’s Day gifts with your students — without breaking the bank or breaking out those squiggly scissors.
Easy-to-Paint Photo Frames
I pick up inexpensive wooden frames for each of my students to paint for their moms. You can find these unfinished frames for a dollar at Michael’s and through Oriental Trading. I collect a variety of embellishments for my students, stowing away bits of leftover craft materials in resealable plastic bags.
Painted frame supplies:
- 1 unfinished wood frame per student
- Paint (acrylic works best, although tempera will also work)
- Paintbrushes and palettes (or coated paper plates)
- Embellishments in small cups (fabric flowers, buttons, ribbon scraps, beads, sequins, shells, etc.)
- Paint pens for detail work (optional)
I first show my students a quick “slide show” of finished frame ideas. You can use this Pinterest board to share a variety of possible frame designs and decorative techniques to inspire your students. Then set them free to create masterpieces for their moms. I love how different the students' frames turn out. The most important part is calling a halt to the decorating process before thoughtfully creative designs drown under every embellishment available.
After my students finish their frames, I have them decorate a sign to hold during their photo shoot. White paper and bright markers do the trick. I snap a photo of each student holding his or her message mom. Then I print the photos on regular paper and laminate them to create a durable keepsake. (The lamination also creates a faux glass front for the frame.) I teach my students how to wrap their frames with tissue paper, and their gifts are complete!
Dear Mom …
Finally, I have my students each write and decorate elaborate cards for their mothers. I still remember that my angel-mom always said that the card was her favorite part. (Were our gifts really that lousy?) So I ask my students to take their time to be specific and poetic, putting their writer’s workshop stamina to use in their card writing. I remind my students to write about their mothers’ traits and life lessons they’ve learned from their moms — otherwise they frequently write thank-you lists that read like job descriptions. (“Thank you for folding my clothes, making great pancakes, watching my softball games, buying me new socks…”)
Clipping Caring-Coupons for Mom
For students who finish their frames or cards early, I have packets of Mother’s Day coupons copied and ready to be cut and customized. I keep plenty of the “your choice” blank coupons on hand for students who want to make up their own creative coupon messages. Students simply cut out the coupons, fill in the blanks, and then staple their coupons into a booklet.
For us teachers, mothers (and dads too, of course!) are our most important partners in educating our students. As a not-yet-a-mother (much to my parents’ chagrin), I am constantly amazed by the daily feats my students’ mothers accomplish with grace, humor, and bits of wisdom. I wish you all a happy Mother’s Day, with extra love to my mom and mother-in-law (since you two are truly the best!)
Questions? Comments? Suggestions for other Mother’s Day projects? I’d love to hear from you!