Menu

6 amazing gift ideas for great teachers

Teachers spill on which end-of-year presents mean the most.

6 amazing gift ideas for great teachers

It is that time of year again! School is starting to wrap up and as a parent, you may find yourself wanting to give the teachers something special. But before you make your best cookies or fudge, let’s think about what the teachers really want or need!


I am a parent coach now, but I spent almost six years as a teacher. I have seen gifts come and go, and here is truth: I was grateful for every single gift. Yes, even the “World’s Best Teacher” mugs. Yet, looking back (and seeing my children’s teachers now), I know that some gifts absolutely stand out. So, here is a short list of some great gift ideas (and a few of gifting no-no’s!).

FEATURED VIDEO

  1. A hand-written note or picture from your child and you, the parent! The best teachers work tirelessly, and never truly know their impact. When you specifically make note of how a teacher helped your child or your child recounts his favorite memory, it is deeply gratifying for that teacher.
  2. Gift certificates to Amazon. Teachers will often spend their own money to buy supplies for the classroom, so it is very much appreciated when a teacher can buy something for her or his own family.


  1. Food that you think that teacher would enjoy. A mom have me a great idea of giving a nice baking pan with the banana bread in it, with the recipe attached. A beautiful fruit basket, a box of soothing teas, an assortment of gourmet chocolates, and of course, something your child helped make is always appreciated. Remember: Your teacher may be receiving quite a bit of food, so make it small, healthy, and delicious.


  1. A gift certificate to a book store is always a treat for your little one’s hard-working teacher.


  1. A gift certificate to the local coffee place is lovely, especially when placed inside a nice travel thermos.


  1. Flowers are lovely, but difficult for your teacher to transport home (vase + water + car = spilling). A beautiful indoor plant in a pot (think orchid) is appreciated, as well as a small pot of herbs! What a delicious and useful gift for any teacher.


  1. Stay away from gifts of clothing or jewelry…it often creates another job for your teacher if they need to return it.
  2. Stay away from mugs, unless it is a nice travel thermos. Chances are, your teachers have plenty of mugs at home.
  3. Avoid craftwork from your child. While you may love it, your teacher doesn’t know where to put it!
  4. Chances are good that your teachers have plenty of stationary, so unless you really know their aesthetic, I would not give stacks of personalized paper.

Whatever you give, be sure to include a personal note and give a big hug (if your teacher is the hugging type!).

In This Article

    14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

    $30

    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

    $75

    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

    $40

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

    $120

    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

    $30

    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

    $100

    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

    $40

    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

    $121

    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

    $100

    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

    $45

    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

    $179

    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

    $100

    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

    $33

    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

    $88

    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

    Shop

    Tips parents need to know about poor air quality and caring for kids with asthma

    There are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    When wildfires struck the West Coast in September 2020, there was a lot for parents to worry about. For parents of children with asthma, though, the danger could be even greater. "There are more than 400 toxins that are present in wildfire smoke. That can activate the immune system in ways that aren't helpful by both causing an inflammatory response and distracting the immune system from fighting infection," says Amy Oro, MD, a pediatrician at Stanford Children's Health. "When smoke enters into the lungs, it causes irritation and muscle spasms of the smooth muscle that is around the small breathing tubes in the lungs. This can lead to difficulty with breathing and wheezing. It's really difficult on the lungs."

    With the added concern of COVID-19 and the effect it can have on breathing, many parents feel unsure about how to keep their children protected. The good news is that there are steps parents can take to keep their children as healthy as possible.

    Here are tips parents need to know about how to deal with poor air quality when your child has asthma.

    Minimize smoke exposure.

    Especially when the air quality index reaches dangerous levels, it's best to stay indoors as much as possible. You can find out your area's AQI at AirNow.gov. An under 50 rating is the safest, but between 100-150 is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups, such as children with asthma. "If you're being told to stay indoors, listen. If you can, keep the windows and doors closed," Oro says.

    Do your best to filter the air.

    According to Oro, a HEPA filter is your best bet to effectively clean pollutants from the air. Many homes are equipped with a built-in HEPA filter in their air conditioning systems, but you can also get a canister filter. Oro says her family (her husband and children all suffer from asthma) also made use of a hack from the New York Times and built their own filter by duct taping a HEPA furnace filter to the front of a box fan. "It was pretty disgusting what we accumulated in the first 20 hours in our fan," she says.

    Avoid letting your child play outside or overly exert themselves in open air.

    "Unfortunately, cloth masks don't do very much [to protect you from the smoke pollution]," Oro says. "You really need an N95 mask, and most of those have been allocated toward essential workers." To keep at-risk children safer, Oro recommends avoiding brisk exercise outdoors. Instead, set up an indoor obstacle course or challenge your family to jumping jacks periodically to keep everyone moving safely.

    Know the difference between smoke exposure and COVID-19.

    "COVID-19 can have a lot of the same symptoms—dry cough, sore throat, shortness of breath and chest pain could overlap. But what COVID and other viruses generally cause are fever, chills, vomiting, diarrhea and body aches. Those would tell you it's not just smoke exposure," Oro says. When a child has been exposed to smoke, they often complain of a "scrape" in their throat, burning eyes, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain or wheezing. If the child has asthma, parents should watch for a flare of symptoms, such as coughing, wheezing or a tight sensation in their chest.

    Unfortunately, not much is known about long-term exposure to wildfire smoke on a healthy or compromised immune system, but elevated levels of air pollution have been associated with increased COVID-19 rates. That's because whenever there's an issue with your immune system, it distracts your immune system from fighting infections and you have a harder time fighting off viruses. Limiting your exposure to wildfire smoke is your best bet to keep immune systems strong.

    Have a plan in place if you think your child is suffering from smoke exposure.

    Whatever type of medication your child takes for asthma, make sure you have it on-hand and that your child is keeping up with regular doses. Contact your child's pediatrician, especially if your area has a hazardous air quality—they may want to adjust your child's medication schedule or dosage to prevent an attack. Oro also recommends that, if your child has asthma, it might be helpful to have a stethoscope or even a pulse oximeter at home to help diagnose issues with your pediatrician through telehealth.

    Most importantly, don't panic.

    In some cases, social distancing and distance learning due to COVID may be helping to keep sensitive groups like children with asthma safer. Oro says wildfires in past years have generally resulted in more ER visits for children, but the most recent fires haven't seen the same results. "A lot of what we've seen is that the smoke really adversely affects adults, especially older adults over 65," Oro says. "Children tend to be really resilient."

    This article was sponsored by Stanford Children's Health. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

    Our Partners

    Ask Motherly: Can you *really* work from home with a newborn (and no childcare)?

    Motherly's co-founders answer the newborn care question on nearly every new working mama's mind.

    Essential gear for working from home with a newborn

    Baby Bjorn

    Bliss Bouncer

    $250

    A lifesaver. I once took a phone call from a White House aide on a breaking news story while rocking my baby in this seat with my foot. Deadline: Met. Baby: Content. (Read my full review on The BabyBjorn bouncer; it rules).

    Tula

    Explore Carrier

    $179

    Keeping baby close. Moms are obsessed with the The BabyTula Explore Carrier for good reason. It's an all-in-one carrier (no infant insert required!) that you can use with your little one for up to three years. Just strap baby in, prop your laptop on your kitchen counter, and catch up on emails while your baby snoozes close to mama. This was my secret weapon when I was working full-time without childcare.

    We also suggest working with your partner, if you have one, to make the most of both of your time. Try blocking out a few mornings or evenings to go heads-down, while your partner watches the baby all morning or puts the baby down at night. You'll find yourself with extended focus time for work—which can feel amazing. And nobody is more efficient at work than a mom with a kid they're desperate to go snuggle. (Seriously: It's been proven that working moms are the most effective employees of all.)

    Good luck mama. We're cheering you on.

    Keep reading Show less
    Work + Money