If you’re looking to buy a gift for teachers, you’re better off asking yourself, “What do teachers need for their classrooms?” As you’re probably well aware, most teachers furnish their classrooms from their own pockets.
Teachers are notoriously Pinteresty and love to visit each other’s classrooms, get ideas, and make things pretty and homey. Some teachers don’t have the discretionary spending for going nuts on their classrooms, especially if they’re the primary breadwinner for the family or a single mom.
Here are some things teachers need from Amazon, since you’re probably a busy mom. Let’s face it – Amazon is fast and easy!
Read More: What to Do When Your Child Hates School
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What do teachers need for their classrooms?
Every campus provides basic office supplies for the teacher, but most don’t provide the cutesy stuff. In other words, you can visit the supply closet for basic yellow Post-It notes, manilla file folders and paper clips, but not anything FUN.
When your whole world is that classroom for 9 or 10 hours a day, having pretty things helps the mental state.
Here are some cute supplies and decor that are also super functional.
A Classroom Essentials List
Here are 45 encouraging Bible verses for teachers. Maybe you could attach one to your gift, if your child’s teacher is a Christian.
TPT Gift Card
I know gift cards seem impersonal, but teachers LOVE them! Teachers Pay Teachers is the perfect way to gift something practical that will actually save her time AND money. TPT is a place to get resources in the form of worksheets or projects instead of having to create everything from scratch.
Plastic crates don’t seem like much, but they’re so useful in a classroom. They’re sometimes used for filing. More commonly, they get turned into seating by attaching a piece of plywood and fabric to the top. Other teachers will use them as baskets for backpacks and supplies in older schools without great storage.
I can get any student of any age to attempt a difficult assignment in exchange for one of these cheap, but large stickers. Kids love putting them on water bottles, Chromebooks, lockers, and more. They peel off pretty easily, so administrators don’t mind. It’s crazy how hard some students will work for a little positive reinforcement.
Cool Things for the Classroom – Bonus Fun Items!
Things Teachers Don’t Need
I’ll be honest – I’ve always been wary of writing posts about bad teacher gifts get because I don’t want to seem ungrateful. Teachers have a bad enough rap as it is, without someone like me being bratty about a gift.
But the truth is, you’re a lovely person and you came to this post because you want to be generous (likely on a budget), and you want to get it right. I think I can help.
Sammiches and Psych Meds has a pretty helpful post. It’s definitely more direct and abrupt than I would be, but it’s all true. You can read her post about all the most popular types of teacher gifts and how they are often received.
I’ll add another to the list and just pray you don’t hate me – homemade food of any kind.
I love sugar, but there are all sorts of reasons I won’t eat food prepared by parents.
First, I’m gluten-free, and I don’t pass on much sugar to my kids. People just have lots of dietary restrictions and preferences that they aren’t vocal about, so it’s hard to get it right. But even when I was a desserts junkie, I didn’t eat homemade food from kids.
We know lots of students are eating from kitchens with rodents and cockroaches. It breaks our hearts, but it also causes us to sometimes lose our appetites when imagining eating something from an unknown home. You can love a child to the moon and back without feeling confident in their family’s standards (or ability to provide) for hygiene and food safety.
You don’t need to be offended by this if your kitchen is sparking clean. It’s a matter of decision fatigue that causes all of us to just make a blanket decision to not eat any stuff from our students’ kitchens. If you send it as a gift, most teachers will smile graciously and probably even lie about how delicious it tasted in the thank you note. But there’s about a 90% chance it’s going in the trash, and I’d love to spare you the effort.
For many of us in lower income communities, it’s pretty rare to receive a gift from students. My favorite gifts are ones my students have made for me, no matter how childlike and silly they might seem to parents. One time, I got a can of Chef Boyardee from a child who wanted me to try his favorite meal for Christmas. Those are the gifts a teacher never forgets.
What do teachers need for their classrooms? Practical stuff with a dose of fun and whimsy, usually. Remember that the average teacher spends about 9 hours a day in her classroom without many breaks. We want a beautiful space that feels like home. Hopefully this post gave you some ideas!