Holiday Gift Ideas for Your Child’s Classroom

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Give the kind of teacher gift that really counts—one that makes a difference in the classroom.

by Elizabeth S. Leaver


After the holiday break, there’s a good chance that your child’s teacher returns to a desk full of ornaments, chocolates, and coffee mugs. While it’s true that it’s the thought that counts, it’s also true that teachers are known to spend their own money on supplies and learning tools for their classrooms—up to $500 per year, according to some estimates—which makes the holidays the perfect time to give an educational gift to your child’s classroom.

One reason parents may veer toward the tried-and-true during the holidays is they don’t always know what would make a useful classroom gift. For a large selection of truly cool holiday gifts, you can help your teacher set up a Classroom Holiday Gift List on In the meantime, we’ve culled through the items there to help create a great list of teaching and classroom supplies.

Our selections are priced less than $40 (some much lower) and are in categories guaranteed to have broad appeal. We’ve also included a section of some higher-priced items at the end for parents interested in collaborating on a gift. (Prices are subject to change.)

Art Supplies

The cases in the Clearsnap My First ColorBox Washable Stamp Pads lock together and snap apart for easy storage. Even better, the foam pads are recessed, preventing ink from staining flat surfaces. (preschool-elementary grades; $22.12)

« The brightly colored designs in Roylco’s Animals and Creature Paper lend themselves to a world of wildlife-theme possibilities, including origami, murals, masks, and more. (preschool-elementary grades; $10.99)

The Carson-Dellosa Assorted Colorful Cut Out Set includes ready-to-use cutouts of handprints, ocean animals, footprints, and pencils to encourage good behavior. Students can use the cutouts for artwork, as well. (preschool-elementary grades; $26.06)

Big stencils mean big fun! The Roylco Mega Stencils with pop-out templates come in a set of eight, making it simple for kids to have hours of fun with paint, chalk, and colored pencils. (preschool-elementary grades; $17.99)

Social Studies

« For a geography bargain, you can’t go wrong with the Scholastic Bulletin Board: World Continents. This complete bulletin board set features the seven continents and includes color-coded fact cards and photographs of animals and places that students can match with each continent as well as a complete world map and an activity guide. (early elementary-middle grades; $13.27)

Children will enjoy learning or enhancing their map skills with Creative Teaching Press Map Skills workbooks, a series that uses age-appropriate maps for practicing skills like using latitude and longitude, locating places on a grid, estimating distances using scale, and more. (grades 2-6; $11.54-$35.68)

Just about every classroom could use the House of Doolittle Laminated World Map. At 50 inches x 33 inches, the map has write-on/wipe-off capability and includes national capitals, major cities, rivers, time zones, and major peak elevations. What’s more, the heavy lamination will last for years. (elementary-middle grades; $28.55)

Bring the wonders and mysteries of ancient civilizations to life with the Didax Ancient Culture Collection, a set of three comprehensive supplemental books that provide creative classroom activities on culture, geography, agriculture, domestic life, society, religion, and more. (grades 4-7; $32.95)


Set up a Classroom Holiday Wish List for your children’s teachers


Make it real with the American Educational Products Minereal Test Kit With Minerals, a handy kit in a zipped pouch with the supplies kids need for rock, mineral, and fossil identification. (grades 4-12; $13.27)

The Dowling Magnetics Super Science Magnet Kit contains everything students need to explore the science of magnetic forces, including a lodestone, the Earth’s only natural magnet. (grades 3 and up; $23.18)

« Based on a NASA Space Shuttle experiment to study ants in zero gravity, the Fascinations Toys and Gifts Antworks Space Age Ant Habitat Set contains a nontoxic translucent gel that acts as the tunnel medium for the ants as well as their food and water source—providing hours of good (and clean) fun and instruction. (grades 2-6; $1.83)

Which planet would float in a gigantic ocean? Ganymede is a moon of which planet? Students who play WCA’s The Solar System Game learn more than 200 interesting facts about the universe by advancing through three levels of play. (elementary-middle grades; $25.99)

Teachers can use the activities in the Carson-Dellosa General Science Daily Skill Builders in differentiated instruction situations and as warm-ups, homework assignments, or extra practice in physical, space, earth, and life sciences. (grades 5-8; $12.99)


Both math and science enthusiasts will find plenty of uses for Childcraft Measuring Jars, a set of sturdy plastic jars perfect for both customary (up to a gallon) and metric (up to 300 ml) measurements. (elementary and middle grades; $18.19)

For students learning the fundamentals of money, the Didax Money Sudoku Game contains everything needed to complete 10 challenging Sudoku puzzles, including 32 realistic coins, 10 full-color game boards, and an answer key. (early elementary grades; $11.99)

« You can help make learning fractions more fun with the Learning Resources Soft Foam Magnetic Rainbow Fraction Tiles, a set of 51 color-coded soft foam magnetic tiles providing a visual and tactile way to teach wholes, halves, thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, eighths, tenths, and twelfths. (early elementary grades; $11.99)

Students can learn how to spend money wisely with the Educational Insights Presto Change-O Money Managing Game, where they will travel around a game board filled with everyday financial decisions. Even better, the game encourages learning to save—the winner is the first player who saves $10. (grades 2-6; $25.99)

Teaching shapes and sizes is easier (and more fun) with Learning Resources Mini GeoSolids, a set of 32 colorful plastic geometric pieces in four sizes of eight shapes: triangular prism, cube, cone, cylinder, rectangular prism, hexagonal prism, triangular pyramid, and square pyramid. (preK-elementary grades; $14.99)

English/Language Arts

Teachers can help boost middle graders’ vocabulary and reading comprehension skills with the Didax Cloze Middle Grades Activity Books, which include more than 150 pages in a three-book set, plus a free book of spelling essentials. (elementary-middle grades; $29.35)

« Give young readers a boost with Didax Rhyming Words Matching Puzzle Cards, a 30-card puzzle set that helps students with word recognition as well as vocabulary development and rhyming. (grades K-3; $13.99)

Every kit in the set of six Educational Insights Reading for Comprehension Self-Correcting Skills Series focuses on a specific skill and contains 10 cards for each reading level (grades 2-6), with answer cards that make the activities self-directing and self-correcting—all at a bargain price. (grades 2-6; $12.99)

Writers of different levels will love improving their skills with Edupress Writing Styles Photo Prompts, sets of 32 full-color photo charts featuring three writing prompts that encourage students to practice their writing skills in different ways. (grades 2-8; $14.99)

Other Classroom Needs (and Wants)

The Califone Switchable Stereo/Mono Headphones deliver performance at an economical price for one-to-one instruction in listening centers and school libraries. The headphones are compatible with PCs and Macs as well as cassette and CD players in stereo or mono applications. (all grades; $9.99)

« The Childcraft Super Classroom Magnet Kit contains everything a classroom could need for magnetic exploration and fun. Let kids’ imaginations run wild with different shapes and pieces like wands, rings, and even magnetic marbles. (preK-elementary grades; $33.99)

One item most teachers can’t have enough of are simple forms of encouragement like these Edupress Bookmark Awards, which provide teachers with a two-in-one incentive: Each sheet is a certificate with a tear-off bookmark (preschool-elementary grades; $4.19); the Sticker Assortments Seasonal Set contains some 1,440 stickers from many themes that teachers can use to motivate and encourage (preschool-elementary grades; $25.28); and to make sure your child’s teacher is set for the year (and beyond), the Paper Magic Group Teacher Kits School Theme Reward Set contains a total of 1,430 recognition awards, teacher cards, bookmarks, and stickers with various designs (preschool-elementary grades; $18.58).

Great Group Gifts

The materials included in the Childcraft Classroom Collage Kit—macaroni, mosaic squares, buttons, sticky shapes, 1-inch straws, silly springs, pony beads, and more—guarantee many hours of creative, tactile (and probably messy) fun to young crafters. (preK-elementary grades; $62.59)

Likewise, the Roylco Big Box of Assorted Art and Craft Materials contains enough material (buttons, sticky shapes, beads, assorted paper, macaroni, burlap, sponges, felt, craft sticks, mini-frames, yarn, wood shapes, and more) for a class of 30 students to create wonderful and imaginative collages and much more. (elementary grades; $63.98)

The 446-piece Carson-Dellosa Kid-Drawn Calendar Kit allows for boundless creativity while helping reinforce months and important dates for kids. (elementary grades; $49.68)

« Where school and play meet: The K’nex Elementary Math & Geometry Building Set provides fun challenges that will help reinforce geometry fundamentals, even if younger kids don’t know it. Students can construct squares, rectangles, triangles, trapezoids, and more. (grades 1-4; $39.99)

Engage students in their outdoor world with the Learning Resources Weather Center, a three-in-one weather center that accurately measures temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure. All three tools are secured in a portable and plastic case, and each can be removed for separate use. (preK-elementary grades; $47.58)

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