Happy Holidays! Last week I shared a gift guide for teachers, showcasing what teachers really want for Christmas. That crayon wreath on Pinterest is pretty cute, but teachers like other things, too. If you missed it, you can catch it here.

This week, I'm sharing a gift guide for students from their teachers. Many of the ideas below are inexpensive or even free. Most are experiences rather than things. During the holiday season, people tend to lose track of the reason for giving—to show someone you care—and get caught up in the "stuff" of holidays—presents, presents, presents.

Don't worry. Many of your students will get plenty of candy, fidget spinners, and video games this season. Show them you care and love them in other ways (besides feeding into the fidget spinner craze).


1. Books


Scholastic has a fantastic selection of books for your students. Many are only $1-2 and there are options for all reading levels and interests. When I taught 3rd grade last year, I picked out books for each one of my students based on their interests. This year, my 2nd grade class loves the Old Lady Who Swallowed a… books so much that I bought them each their own copy of There Was a Cold Lady Who Swallowed Some Snow. Simple, easy, and, if you have enough points, pretty cheap (or free!).


2. Read-ins 



Fun days full of pajamas, slippers, feel-good books, and a roaring (youtube) fireplace can be and excellent way to show your students how much they are loved. Nothing says "you're special" like a feel good story.


3. Create classroom decorations together


During your holidays around the world unit, you could easily have each student create an ornament from each place and hang it in the room. It doesn't have to be on a tree. Hang it from the ceiling and make the room look like a holiday wonderland. Or create a display for each of the different cultures. Not sure how to begin? Ask your students. They're FULL of great ideas.

Want to take them back in time? Teach them how to string popcorn and hang it around the room. Just be sure to warn them about the pokey end of the sewing needle.

Just before winter break, have them help you un-decorate the room and send ornaments home with them to hang on their own trees.


4. Enjoy the first snowfall


If snow doesn't cancel school where you live, have a game plan ready for the first snow fall. Read a book about snow. Make snowflakes and hang them around the room. Have a "snowball fight" by writing questions on paper, crumpling them up into a ball, throwing them at each other, then opening them up and answering them. No snow where you live? Make your own by mixing flour and baby oil. The room will smell amazing and your students will love the "moon sand" like effect.


5. Have a hot chocolate day


Spend the day with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. Need to warm up the water? Bring in a coffee pot and pour the hot water and chocolate mix in the cups. No microwave or stove needed. Play games with a chocolate or wintery theme. Make marshmallow shooters to get the marshmallows in the cup (without the hot chocolate in them!).


6. Share words of encouragement


I am sure you already tell your students how amazing they are. But taking the time to write it down and giving each student a card telling them how special they are is an incredible gift. Younger students may or may not really appreciate this gesture, but your older students will. And they'll remember you forever for it, too.


7. Teach them how to give to others


One of the best gifts you can give a child is to teach them how to give themselves. In our classroom, we do the Twelve Days of Giving, right up to winter break. Everyday the kids are excited to see how they can give to others that day. It's an exciting, humbling, and empowering lesson for students of all ages to learn how they can be a part of the giving, and not just the receiving. A valuable lesson to learn at any age.

I hope you found some valuable ways to show your students you care about them. Children need so much more than toys and junk food this time of year. Teaching them that there are other ways to show love and how they can do it as well is a wonderful gift to give them.

Have a wonderful holiday and stay sweet.