Top 10 Inexpensive Ways to Show Your Teacher Appreciation

A teacher isn’t just an instructor. They are a mentor, a guide, a counselor, a protector and a large part of the village kids need to grow up grandly. This May, show your teacher appreciation without breaking the bank.

Teacher Appreciation - Teachers are Tired of Apples. Inexpensive ways to show your teacher love.

Parents – We’ve compiled a list of our favorite and unique gifts that kids can give their teachers without spending a lot of money. These gifts give thanks as well as come from the heart.

Kids – Teacher Appreciation Week is just around the corner (May 5 – 9). It’s time to show your teacher how much she/he meant to you this year.

Teacher Appreciation - Top 10 Inexpensive Teacher Appreciation Gifts | Steve Spangler Science

Teachers Don’t Want Apples

When choosing the perfect gift that not only says “thank you” but also “I am indebeted to you” and “I love you,” think about ways to personalize it and stand out from the crowd. Year after year, teachers are flooded with apples, ornaments, trinkets, candles and lotion.

And pass on making them cookies or bread or anything else homemade. They’ve seen where those hands of yours have been. You also may not be aware of all of their dietary restrictions.

We aren’t saying teachers don’t appreciate every gift that is given to them by a student, but we know a lot of teachers and know what makes their heart melt and keeps that gift on their desk for years and years…

1. Write a Letter to Your Teacher
Tell your teacher how much she has meant to you this year. Include what your favorite memory of class was or something he did to help you be a better person. To turn your letter into a real keepsake, visit the dollar store and frame it.

Teacher Appreciation Gifts - Write a letter to your teacher

2. UV Bead Secret Message
Purchase a 2-3 UV Bead Color Packs along with glue and a frame without glass. You can also use something as simple as a piece of cardboard. Glue down one color of beads to spell out or create your message and then glue down the other color or colors to fill in the background. Inside, your message will appear all white and boring. In sunlight, a magic message will appear.  

Teacher Appreciation - Secret Message with UV Beads from Steve Spangler Science

Teacher Appreciation - Secret Message with UV Beads

3. Give Your Teacher a Scrapbook 
You can make your own or ask your entire class to get involved. Ask each student to fill out a sheet of questions about their year and the teacher, then put it all together in a book. Or design your own book using your drawings or photos from the year. Thinking IQ offers some suggestions for questions along with sample titles.

Teacher Appreciation - Make Your Own Scrapbook from Thinking IQ


Extra Bonus Idea  – Take your scrapbook online. Check out A free service that allows visitors to upload photos and notes and then delivers a big digital poster for the honoree. Did we mention it’s free?

Teacher Appreciation - Woo Hoo For You - Digital Scrapbook where everyone can share a photo and a message.

4. Give a Plant in a Special Container
Garden Centers are beginning to offer a wide range of inexpensive flowers and flowering bulbs. Buy a plain clay pot and decorate it.

Here’s a cute idea from Tip Junkie 

Teacher Appreciation - paint a pot with flowers from Tip Junkie

Or give your plant a “science” twist and place it in Jelly Marbles. We hydrated a handful and then placed a daffodil complete with bulb inside a vase. The bulb will stay hydrated as the Jelly Marbles dehydrate and can be replanted outside.

Teacher Appreciation - Flowers in Jelly Marbles

5. Share a List of Why You Are Thankful for Your Teacher
There are many different templates, like this one from Giver’s Log that makes it easy. Or create your own work of art that includes a list of why you are thankful.

Teacher Appreciation - I Love My Teacher from Giver's Log

6. Make a Video
Is your handwriting not where it should be yet? Or are you more of a visual student? Most smart phones have nice video cameras and there’s a lot of easy editing software like iMovie. Write, direct and star in your own movie depicting a favorite lesson or funny moment in class. You can also invite your friends to play themselves in your movie. Or just sit down, hit record and film yourself telling your teacher why they mean so much to you.

7.  Quench Their Thirst or Surprise with a Favorite Snack
Pinterest has lots of ideas on simple ideas for this. We’ve shared our favorites below.

Bottle of water and drink flavor from Blue Eyed Blessing
Teacher Appreciation - Water and Drink Flavor

Creative Treat and Card from Funky PolkaDot Giraffe
Teacher Appreciation - Sweet Candy Notes from Funky PolkaDot Giraffe

8. Give the Gift of Supplies
Teachers spend a lot of money out of their own pockets to fund their classrooms. Why not give them a creative gift that involves a few supplies? Here’s one of our favorites from The Happy Scraps.

Teacher Appreciation - Give the Gift of Supplies from The Happy Scraps

 9. Simple Tie Dye with Sharpie Markers
Sharpie Pen Science is one of our favorite and popular activities using color science and tie dye. Did you know the permanent Sharpie marker ink is actually removable with rubbing alcohol? It will take marker off of floors, walls, skin and other hard surfaces. Draw on 100% cotton, and the rubbing alcohol will grab the color molecules and spread them around. Create tie dye designs on t-shirts, pillows, pillow cases, aprons or anything that is made of 100% cotton.

Teacher Appreciation - Tie Dye Pillows with Sharpie Pen Science

10. Paint Your Own Pottery
There are many shops that offer paintable pottery. Spend an afternoon and decorate a personalized piece for your teacher. Here’s a plate that a teacher received over 20 years ago and still uses it to serve her homemade goodies.

Teacher Appreciation - Paint Your Own Pottery Gift

Bonus Gift Idea – Write a Secret Message
Write a note using an Invisible Pen on a white piece of paper. Just keep track of where you are writing. It may be best to turn off the lights, turn on the Black Light and write out your message. The secret lies in the fluorescent material in the ink. This material is invisible under normal light conditions but lights up under ultraviolet light. Don’t stop at secret messages, draw pictures, make signs or create posters – anything you draw will show up under the black light.  Invisible marker ink can be removed with soap and water.
Or try these secret message techniques >

Teacher Appreciation - Secret Message Letter

Don’t forget to check out our Pinterest Teacher Appreciation board. It’s filled with tons of ideas for teacher gifts.

Follow Steve Spangler Science’s board Teacher Gifts & Appreciation on Pinterest.


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  1. […] Get out there are start appreciating your teachers! If you are also looking for inexpensive ways that kids can honor their teacher without breaking the bank, check out our list of teacher gift ideas. […]

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