This year, Teacher Appreciation Week runs from Monday, May 5th to Friday, May 9th, and it’s coming up fast. Go beyond gift cards and food baskets and show your gratitude with appreciative gestures, like volunteering to read for story time or supporting the teacher’s favorite cause. Whether you’re a Teacher Appreciation Week newbie or pro, our list has the most innovative ways to warm a teacher’s heart.

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Photo credit: U.S. Army via Flickr creative commons

Prep Yourself With Their Faves
If you’re a little lost on your teacher’s faves, you might have to do a little digging. Have him or her fill out a little questionnaire to find out things like their favorite coffee drink, type of flower, place to shop, lunch spot – anything that could help you figure out the best way to show your appreciation. Pst… don’t forget any of the substitutes teachers, gym instructors, librarians or other mentors that your little one has raved about.

Do a Little (Extra) Homework
Of course if your kiddo is at the homework age, he or she always giving 100%, but this week let them take it to 110%. Have them finish off their big assignment with a sweet thank you note. It can be about how much fun they’re having or what they loved learning — when their teacher start grading, it’ll definitely make their smile grow twice as big.

Restock the Stationery
Find out if your kiddo’s classroom is running low on supplies like construction paper, glue, pencils or other types of stationary goods. Work with a local business to see if you can buy these things in bulk, or get together with all the parents to pitch in and get ink and toner for the staff room. This is one gift that’ll keep on giving.

Organize a Work Party
With Teacher Appreciation Week falling in the first full week of May each year, Spring and weeds are starting to bloom in our yards. If your teacher has a yard, get a group of parents together from class to get his or her yard in tip-top shape for Spring (with permission, of course!). Pull weeds, get the out of reach trimming done, give the grass a fresh mow and clean out all the dead leaves from winter. Bring along some flats of pretty new flowers to fill up pots or add some new color to the flowerbeds.

If you’re living in a big city, get together with some other parents and offer to help clean up the classroom. A little therapeutic organization can go a long way for a teacher.

teacher-kid-interaction

Photo credit: Pat Belanger via Flickr creative commons

A “Tail Gate” Brunch
Teachers have number one fans too — your kids! Show off your love for their work by hosting a tail gate party in the school parking lot (with permission). Serve fresh coffee, juice, breakfast snacks like scones and donuts to the busy teachers who are at the school bright and early.

A Homemade Bouquet
How sweet would it be to have each child bring in a little bunch of flowers from their own yard or from the market that are all collected to make one big gorgeous bouquet? And even sweeter – have each student bring the flowers directly to the teacher in the morning to put a huge smile on her face and then have a parent collect them to make a bouquet.

Give to the Cause
Does your teacher have a cause that’s near and dear to his or her heart? Maybe he’s raising money to run in the next local charity marathon or spends the weekends helping out at the food bank. Find out what he’s dedicated to, beside your kids, and ask what you can do as a class to help support him.

teacher-apprecation-week-story

Photo credit: U.S. Department of Education via Flickr creative commons

End the Week with an A+
Of course nothing says thank you like a grand gesture that’ll can be used over the week (or into the year). Maybe this is a gift certificate for some spa pampering or reservations at that restaurant she loves, but rarely goes to. Try to think of something that will extend into the weekend so that your teach comes back to school on Monday still feeling the love. Get other parents from the class to pitch in for a round of golf at his or her favorite course, or some tickets to the nearest sporting event or concert.

For a lower-cost option, have everyone in class bring in something to put together a Weekend Pampering Basket – pedicure and bath supplies, maybe a bottle of wine (if appropriate). some of her favorite treats (or, make your own), a gift certificate to the local movie store, and some magazines. The key to Teacher Appreciation Week is finding the special things that your teacher loves and turning those things into ways you can show your appreciation.

teacher-in-classroom

Photo credit: Audio-Luci-Store via Flickr creative commons

Other quick tips to make appreciating your teacher a breeze
If you’re bringing in food, don’t forget to double check on preferences and allergies first – Vegetarian? Vegan? No nuts? Sneeze attack-inducing odors?

Plan ahead! If there isn’t a committee already in place for your class, get one going. Tackling a week’s worth of activities and treats for your teacher is much easier if everyone takes on a little something. Use an online sign-up tool like Bringit to make sure every detail is taken care of.

Decide as a class if you’re going to have someone collect money in advance to purchase the things you need, if you’ll just have each family contribute actual items, or a combination of the two. Be clear about how much money you may need from each family, what it will be used for, and when you need it by so that you can plan accordingly.

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If this is your first year working on Teacher Appreciation Week, keep things simple. Use the strengths of your fellow parents and remember that sometimes the best gestures of appreciation are the thoughtful little things.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week to all the fabulous teachers in our children’s lives! How will you make this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week even better than last year’s?

—Katie Kavulla