Free Gifts to Give to Students December 03 2010

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Whether or not you personally celebrate Christmas, this time of year provides opportunities to build relationships and rapport with students in your classroom. Aside from the hustle and bustle, stress, testing, assessments and discipline, there isn't a lot of time we can give to students to just be.

Giving gifts to your students doesn't mean that you need to go out and buy a bunch of meaningless items. Here are suggestions to not only give your students gifts, but to make these presents meaningful and help strengthen your relationships with students.

Why Give Gifts?

Gift giving is an important cultural tradition that also serves additional purposes:

  • Gift giving provides a way to show students you care
  • It teaches students how to both give and receive
  • Is an example of how to be resourceful when giving to others
  • Provides ways for students to see that tangible things aren't the only gifts available to give

When you give your students a gift during the holiday season, you're an example to them in a variety of ways!

The Gift of Choice

Some teachers create coupon books to give out to their students, providing them with choices. Potential coupons include:

  • Lunch in the classroom with one to three friends
  • Listen to a (prescreened) CD during work time
  • A night of no homework
  • Five bonus points on any assignment
  • Choose your own seat for an afternoon (make this one extra fun by offering your chair as an option!)

There are many more options to consider when putting together a coupon book. Think about what motivates your kids to do their best, and include these little incentives in your coupon book!

The Gift of Time

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Moments in the classroom not attached to schoolwork are few and far between. Schedule a couple of hours during the afternoon before break to spend time with your students.
Make the afternoon  special by drinking hot chocolate and decorating gingerbread cookies or graham cracker houses. End the afternoon by reading from a favorite picture book, like The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.

The Gift of Reading

There are many places to get books that don't cost a lot of money. Teachers often use points saved up from book order programs to get free books, and thrift stores usually have quite a variety for very little money. If you have younger kids, these Sight Word Readers Variety or Classroom Packs come out to about $2 a book, which is a pretty good deal.

Wrap up each book with a brief note or poem, and use the afternoon to host a read-in with school buddies - kids will love the opportunity to read their books right away!

My Personal Favorite...

I love to use humor in the classroom, and this little gift provides a great opportunity to do just that. Put six to ten brown jellybeans or M&M's in individual (fancy, if possible) small plastic or fabric bags and tie with ribbon. Leave a bag of this reindeer or penguin "poop" on each desk, along with the following poem (written by yours truly) -

A cute but careless reindeer (penguin)
Visited your desk
I'm sorry to report
He (she) left a little mess!

Your kids will soon figure out what the packaged candies represent, and they will LOVE it!