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You don’t have to give gifts to your students. You really don’t. There are a variety of ways that you can show your students that you appreciate them without having to spend a single dollar. I’ll bet you’re already making your students feel special in your day-to-day interactions with them. Maybe in ways that you don’t even realize. Still, I wanted to write this for the teachers who plan on giving gifts to their students anyway. And for the teachers who don’t typically give gifts to students but are looking for simple and affordable ways to do it this year. With student gifts, a little goes a long way, and giving them out can be just as fun for you as it is for them. Below are 5 inexpensive end-of-the-year gifts that you can give to your middle school ELA students.
As an English teacher, I’ve always geeked out over writing-inspired gifts. Maybe you’re the same way. I like getting things with quotes about writing on them, for example, or writing materials, like pens and notepads. I also have a bit of an obsession with sticky notes and other organizational supplies.
Consider giving your students a writing-inspired gift this year. This doesn’t need to be anything elaborate. A student writing gift can be something simple that inspires a commitment to writing in a broader sense. My favorite writing gift to give students are these colorful pen holders shown below. The pen holders will each have quotes about writing across the front like this one:
Download the free template here that includes everything you need to get started. These are really fun to make. All you need are scissors, tape, colored paper (cardstock works the best), and pens that you can get from the dollar store.
Another inexpensive gift idea is student cards. Giving out personalized cards is a relatively small gesture that can have a huge impact on the students receiving them. Student cards are a meaningful way to say goodbye at the end of the school year. They also make for a sentimental keepsake for students to cherish long after the year is over. But making cards for your students yourself can take time, and choosing cards to strike the right tone for the occasion can be a deceivingly difficult task…
That’s why I like to use these student cards. On the front of these cards are cheesy puns. Students will no doubt roll their eyes at these. They might even think to themselves, ah, my teacher is such a geek. But in my case, they aren’t wrong! And I know that my students ultimately get a kick out of the cards they receive from me.
For these pun cards, all you need to do is print and fold the cards. Inside, you can write notes complimenting the students’ strengths. You don’t need to fill up the whole space inside with your personalized message. Instead, I suggest keeping it short, personalized, and sweet.
Do you know what a word cloud is? A word cloud is a graphic image made up of words. These can be great ELA-inspired gifts for your students. In each word cloud, you can use the student’s name and adjectives that you’d use to describe them, for example. My favorite site to use for these is WordArt. Try it yourself…it’s free and extremely easy to use. Just follow these five simple steps:
You can download Standard PNG and JPEG files for free, but in order to get a high-quality image of each word cloud, you will need to pay. TIP: To maximize the quality of these while keeping the cost of supplies to a minimum, consider printing a few word clouds with a single piece of high-quality paper. You can frame these with simple frames for the dollar store. Or you can laminate each one. Hey, these can even be made into personalized student cards!
Celebrate your students at the end of the year with fun student awards. Student awards are a great way to reward your students for who they are, grades aside. After all, the classroom is a community where every student offers something unique. What better way to show students you value their distinct contributions to your class than with an award? They will be so thrilled to get this kind of recognition from you. Below are a few ways that you can integrate ELA content into your awards:
Alliteration Awards: Alliteration awards are made up of alliterative phrases, where each word begins with the same letter, like The Remarkable Reader Award or The Spectacular Sportsman Award.
Metaphor Awards: Metaphor awards use direct comparison to describe a student’s personality. For example, “The Cake Award goes to the student who has many layers to their personality.”
Pun Awards: As with the pun cards mentioned above, these awards are sure to get an eye-roll (and a smile) from your students. Here’s an example of a pun award: “The Eggshell Award goes to a student who always cracks people up with his or her funny jokes.”
Idiom Awards: These awards use idioms: phrases whose established meanings are not deducible from their individual words. An example of an idiom award would be The Class Act Award. With idiom awards, it’s a good idea to provide a description of why each student is getting their award so that there is no confusion (i.e. “The Class Award goes to a student who displays excellence…”).
If you’re interested, I discuss more student award ideas here.
And last but not least: bookmarks. Bookmarks are simple and inexpensive gifts you can give to your middle School ELA students at the end of the year. You might even consider creating a bookmark that has a quote from a text you read together as a class. Grab these free bookmarks for the novels, Freak the Mighty and Wonder. The bookmark, as with the rest of the gifts mentioned above, doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive. In fact, it’s better if it isn’t. Students will recognize the kind gesture of you giving them something from the heart.
I hope you found this helpful, and best of luck with the end of the year!
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