Linda Leiva, a consulting teacher for early childhood in Auburn, has taught elementary students for more than three decades, and during those years she’s received numerous gifts from her little learners. A personal favorite, however, wasn’t even purchased

“It was a knickknack ‘from the dump,’ expertly wrapped by a six-year-old,” she recalled. “The gift-giver even confirmed the location of his acquisition!”

She’s also received mugs – some with coffee gift certificates stuffed inside and others with holiday themes including her favorite – gingerbread. Holiday pins, adorned with Santas, angels, pumpkins, pilgrims and snowmen, have been popular items over the years.

“And I’ve received a wide variety of gift certificates to everywhere,” she related. “One year, from one class, I was given five spa-type gifts they just knew I needed that!”

Based on personal experience and chats with her colleagues, Leiva says with certainty that books for the classroom and a “flu-management kit containing soft tissues, germicidal wipes and hand sanitizers for classroom use” are certain to please.

Here are some other suggestions culled from a variety of resources:

An electric pencil sharpener.

Pens of all shapes, sizes and colors, including ball-point, Sharpies, pens for overhead projectors and dry-erase boards, highlighters, markers, crayons, etc.

Volunteer to help with a holiday party, field trips or other tasks, or lead a craft project yourself.

A scrapbook or photo album, with signatures and notes from the students, decorated with stickers, pictures, poems and drawings.

Bottles of bubbles to turn an otherwise humdrum day into a festival.

Modeling clay for craft time.

Scented candles or wax burners.

A small tree or plant that can be transplanted outside.

A notepad adorned with drawing by the student and the words, “From the desk of ” The original work of art can be turned into a notepad at a local copy shop.

A personalized name stamp and ink pads in various colors as well as a few picture stamps from the local craft store to round out the package.

A cookbook of easy-to-make dinners.

Prepaid phone cards (Good deals can be found at discount warehouses.)

A seed-planting kit so teachers can get a head-start on their gardens, either at home or in the classroom.

Gift certificates to local restaurants.

A gas card

A box of thank-you notes, return-address labels and postage stamps.

A magazine subscription.

Tickets to a minor league baseball game or some other sports activity you know the teacher likes.

“A Night at the Movies” – video store certificate, candy, soda and popcorn.

A jar of homemade mix for cookies, brownies, spiced teas, hot chocolate, etc. Check out the Internet for ingredients and instructions if layering is involved.

Specialty pancake mix with a bottle of REAL maple syrup.

Homemade goodies because teachers have homework, too, and not a lot of time to bake.

A selection of “well done!” stickers for student achievement recognition.

An apron or smock to protect the teacher’s clothing while immersed in hands-on classroom projects.

Other ideas are certain to spring to mind, but Leiva says to keep in mind that some of the best gifts of all are smiles they receive from the children and a word of gratitude from their parents!

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