Thursday, May 29, 2014

End of Year/Volunteer Appreciation Gifts

This year, I wanted to do something special for my students' end of the year gift.  I, of course, searched Pinterest for ideas and found inspiration for not only my students' gifts but also my classroom volunteers' gifts.  For my students, I decided to surprise them with an encouraging, personalized word cloud in a frame:
In order to put these together, about a month before school ended, I told the class that we were going to complete an encouragement activity.  I asked them to take out a sheet of paper, write their name at the top, and then number from 1-15 (because I had 15 students).  Each student is assigned a number in my class, so I asked them to mark through their own number in the list.  The children had to pass the papers around the classroom (of course, I did this very orderly), think of a positive characteristic for the person whose name was listed at the top, and then write this encouraging attribute next to their own assigned number.  Since I know all my students' numbers, I could easily tell who had not yet signed someone's paper.  Also, the students were not allowed to repeat words, so occasionally, I'd have to say, for example, "Oh!  Numbers 9 and 14, you both said this person was 'Awesome' so you need to change this.  We can't have repeats."  I encouraged them to stay away from "blah" words like nice, sweet, great, awesome, etc.  The kids took this task very seriously and many of them pulled out a thesaurus!
Once all the papers were completed, I collected them and did NOT let the children see their own papers.  How mean!  I told the class, "Don't worry; I'll let you see them another day."  They continued asking about them each week.  I finally said, "Okay.  You'll see them on the last day of school."  Groan.  They were not impressed, but I knew they would love what I was going to do with these lists! 
I used to create the word clouds.  I printed them out and cut them to fit an 8x10 frame.
On the last day of school, I placed the gift bags on the students' desks, but the children were not allowed to open their bag until everyone arrived.  I chose gift bags of blue and yellow (our school colors), which were reminiscent of the first day of school when I decorated each desk with blue and yellow balloons and a welcome bag:
Last Day of School
First Day of School
I loved hearing the delighted "ooohs" and "aahhs" from the children as they opened their gifts.  They seemed to enjoy reading the positive words their classmates had written about them.  It was a sweet way to end the year.
Oh, yes!  I also added a little something extra to the bags of the students who were stuck on Space Shot with me during our Space Camp Trip:

On another note, let me share my volunteer appreciation gifts with you.  This year, I had three main moms help out in my classroom.  I gave these ladies homemade pomegranate hand scrub...and I may have made a batch for myself too!  I attached a note that said something like, "Thanks for lending a helping hand this year.  Now, please enjoy this homemade pomegranate hand scrub."  I also personalized Thank-You cards for them.  I appreciated their help so much this year!
The hand scrub was super easy to make, with only two ingredients, and it smelled delicious!  I simply combined sugar and Dawn dishwashing liquid (the pink kind with Olay hand renewal) until the consistency was like a scrub.
Voila!  As I said at the beginning of this post, Pinterest was my inspiration.  If you'd like to check out my Gift Ideas board, click HERE.  To see my End of the School Year board, click HERE.

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