You already know how incredible your children’s teachers are: They work long hours preparing lesson plans and grading assignments, and dedicate their careers to our kids. That’s why it can be tricky to nail down the perfect gift for the end of the school year without breaking the bank.
One easy option is to give your child’s teacher simple but practical supplies for her and the entire classroom. A federal Department of Education survey released last year found that 94 percent of public school teachers say they spend their own money (a whopping $479 on average) on classroom supplies without reimbursement.
With these inexpensive gifts, you and your child can remind a teacher just how much you appreciate her in a practical way she’ll love. (Pssst, check out our handpicked list of books to stock up the classroom library, too.)
1. A New Classroom Dictionary
Between writing essays and research papers, students constantly need to look up the spellings and definitions of new words. Regularly updating worn-out dictionaries or buying extra copies for the class to share can be difficult, so help your child's teacher by gifting a new reference book he can put to use daily.
Gift Pick: Merriam-Webster Children’s Dictionary (Grades 1-4)
This must-have for elementary school classrooms features 35,000 updated words, phrases, and images, and will help your child’s teacher explore new topics with his students.
2. A Game for Students
Rainy days often mean indoor recess, which challenges teachers to entertain energy-filled kids inside (as we all know, that’s no easy task). Give them a helping hand with a fun, educational activity that can be used to keep students occupied and learning.
Gift Pick: Learning Mats: Sight Words (Grades K-2)
These colorful mats and word tiles help students practice key skills such as reading common words, matching sight words, and writing sight words. Your child’s teacher will love that it combines core reading lessons with hands-on fun!
3. Colored Pencils
From the stacks of drawings your kids proudly bring home, you know that classrooms go through tons of colored pencils and other writing utensils. Help your child’s teacher restock the classroom supply, but opt for a set that comes in a reusable container to make it a little extra special (and useful) in the long-term.
Gift Pick: Silver Robots Colored Pencils Tin (Grades K and up)
Give boring colored pencil boxes an upgrade! This 24-pencil set is packed in a decorative reusable tin covered with funky metallic robots.
4. An Educational Puzzle
If your child loves a particular topic he’s learning in school, help him pick a puzzle about it to give to his teacher. It’s something his teacher can use with lesson plans for years to come, and she’ll always be reminded of your child when she does!
Gift Pick: Ingenio North America Map Puzzle – Bilingual (Grades Pre-K-3)
Elementary school teachers typically teach the geography of North America in social studies, and this six-square-foot puzzle makes learning it fun with 48 durable pieces to assemble.
5. A Book About a Great Teacher
Contribute to the classroom library by helping your child choose a book about an admirable teacher like his own, and encourage him to include a note such as, “She reminds me of you!”
For the Experimental Teacher: The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor (Grades 1-3)
Nobody encompasses interactive learning quite like Ms. Frizzle — which is why a pick from The Magic School Bus series is a flattering gift for any stellar science teacher. In this read, Ms. Frizzle takes her students on a thrilling underwater adventure.
For the Teacher With All the Facts: Ms. McCaw Learns to Draw (Grades Pre-K-3)
Does your child have a teacher who seems to know everything? Gift this book about Ms. McCaw, who is bubbling with incredible facts, from how plants grow to why stars shine. The only thing she doesn’t know: how to draw!
For the Sweet, Patient Teacher: Miss Nelson Is Missing! (Grades Pre-K-2)
It can be easy for students to take a wonderfully kind teacher for granted, until she’s swapped for someone far less friendly. That’s the moral of this story, which teaches the value of the golden rule when good-natured Miss Nelson is replaced with a vile substitute.