Teacher Appreciation

It's the week of May 5th and thus begins Teacher Appreciation Week 2014. 

GET EXCITED! 

Teachers help us raise our kids. They are important in our lives. Please take the time to reach out and do something nice for your child's teacher(s). An acknowledgement as effortless as a hug, smile, and a "Thanks!" is sufficient. Want to give a gift? There are so many ideas on Pinterest and via the PTA websites. 

At our school, Mountain Shadows Montessori School in Boulder, CO, we make this a big deal. (Some might say, a bit MUCH.) But this is a school event with high participation - participation that doesn't require recruiting. I write about 35 'Thank You' cards each year.

It looks like this:

  • We put up a large school sign for the week in the front of the school.
  • We coordinate breakfast treats, tea, and coffee. A skilled Barista Dad makes cappuccinos and lattes with a Nespresso purchased by a parent as a gift to the school. Various parents bring in treats (pastries, fruits, yogurts, etc.). 
  • We coordinate lunch & dessert. Some parents cater in, some parents use their amazing culinary skills. The staff LOVES LOVES LOVES this aspect of Teacher Appreciation Week, and frankly would be happy with only lunch. There is nothing nicer than a lunch made by someone else! 
  • We accommodate allergies: gluten free, nut free, dairy free, and those who are vegetarian have options too.
  • We provide real plates, glasses, cloth napkins, utensils, bowls, coffee mugs the whole week. This adds a touch of elegance, luxury, and care. It up-levels the experience. Initially, we borrowed plates and such from various parents. But over time we have 'gifted' the school all of these items so we use and re-use them for each staff lunch.
  • We decorate with banners, paper butterflies, and bouquets of flowers to make the environment bright and cheerful. 
  • We set up a 'gift spot' designated with each staff members name. The spot stays still for the week as each day brings a new gifts. They take everything home at the end of the week.
  • Road Rules: if they don't like a flavor, design, color, or even a type of gift: they must regift it (Mother's Day is around the corner!), trade with a peer, or leave on the table at the end of the week. We encourage them not to feel obligated to keep gifts they don't want.
  • The gifts focus on things that are appropriate for a teacher or use in a classroom. All of it must be high quality and well made.   
  • Many of the gifts are handmade; curated from local craft shows, online handmade shops (examples are Etsy or Scoutmob), donated by local businesses (63rd Street Farm donates fresh lettuce and eggs), made by parents, and even students.
  • Tuesday is always a 'student gift day' in which a gift is presented by the students. There has been a variety of gifts over the years, including a canvas bag filled with handmade cards from the students and pillows made with a fabric fingerprint tree. This year was a service project, a car wash for each staff member by students and parents. Holy WOW! The car wash (the genius idea of another mother) will be talked about for years.
  • Friday is 'Apple Day'. At first - they were given a useful sticky-note pad with a shiny red apple on top. But we've become more creative with the apple theme. This year it was a Tattly apple tattoo.
  • The 2nd best gift is money. Some schools have limits on the dollar amount a single parent can give - but we've raised hundreds for teachers from parents donating $5, $10, $50 to a pot that ended in a $200 gift card for each teacher. 

See the Montessoria board for on-going gift ideas for "Teacher Appreciation". 

This is so important! Please remember to acknowledge the efforts of your teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week each year. They work so hard and deserve it. 

Thanks and have a lovely...

Daria

Click through the gallery below for examples of the food and treats described above...

Ink Block Printing for Children

Ink block printing is ridiculously fun and easy, specifically foam board printing. It's great for play-dates, classroom art, or one-on-one projects for your children. The results are stunning. I use them for homemade cards, gift tags and framed 'Grandma gifts' with a personal touch from children. 

This project is appropriate for children ages 5 and up and is something you won't be able to resist trying yourself!

Ingredients:

These are available at Dick Blick for about $40 without a coupon. It will provide you with several printings for home use or will cover a class of ~20 students for one group project. Your local arts & crafts store will have these materials as well.

  • Canvas paper: ~$6 for a set of ten 9x12" sheets, about 2-4 'pulls' (prints) per sheet
  • Basic red, blue, yellow and white water-based ink (2.5oz each) or the Speedball starter kit for ~$17
  • Brayer (Roller): ~$9 or if using for a class, check to see if the school already has several functional brayers in their art closet
  • Scratch Foam board: ~$6 for a set of twelve 9x12" boards (cut down to smaller pieces). 
  • From your home: several non-textured & non-porous flat surfaces (cutting boards or plates), paper towels, scissors, dull pencils (or a mechanical pencil with the graphite pushed in), surface protection, and aprons.
Key ingredients 

Key ingredients 

I learned the hard way that letters need to be backwards. 

I learned the hard way that letters need to be backwards. 

Too little ink. Try again! 

Too little ink. Try again! 

Daughter's signature drawing

Daughter's signature drawing

The paper texture adds visual interest.

The paper texture adds visual interest.

Cut fun edges

Cut fun edges

Green & blue with yellow added in at the end.

Green & blue with yellow added in at the end.

Instructions: 

  1. Cut your foam board in to smaller pieces, large enough for a child to draw a picture on, but small enough to fit in to a future frame of your choice. 
  2. Put your foam board on a flat surface. With the dull pencils, draw your image on the piece of foam board. Note: Letters needs to be engraved backwards to print forwards - a fun challenge for older children (including you.) You want a deep groove - it's hard to punch through these foam boards. 
  3. On the flat, non-porous surface, squirt out a good smidge of ink (1/2 teaspoon). If you want to mix colors - put them all on at the same time. Roll it out with your brayer: right, left, up, and down. It should have that sticky sound and make sure the brayer rolls. For swirly color interest (see above), finish by squirting a tiny amount of another color and roll the brayer a couple more times before inking your piece.
  4. Roll the inked brayer over your art - full coverage; corner to corner, edge to edge.
  5. Pick up your foam board from the edges and lay your inked foam board, ink side down, on your canvas paper. Place a paper towel over it. With your fingers, rub and apply a medium press all over; corner to corner, edge to edge. Give it a good press, but don't press so hard you dent the foam.
  6. With your fingernail, grab a corner and peel it up! 
  7. Set aside to dry.  Trim your prints down. I prefer a 1/4" margin.
  8. Mount on museum-grade mat board then frame your work or mount on cards.

There you have it!

Have a lovely...

I learned to write backwards! 

I learned to write backwards!