Gifts from the Heart: Teacher Appreciation Week

A+ Teacher Gift Ideas

This week, we’ve invited a special guest, Marcia Gresko, our product development lead and a former teacher herself, to share some wonderful suggestions for how to tell your favorite teachers “Thank you!”  

Vases carefully constructed from #2 pencils. Baskets brimming with scented candles and lotions. Homemade gourmet goodies, from salted caramel sauce to buckets of pretzels hand-dipped to look like apples!

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, the time to thank the hard-working professionals who have such an influence on our children. The average elementary school student spends 943 hours a year in school. That’s a lot of time with teachers!

As a teacher for 15 years, I’m here to tell you that I marvel at your craftiness and appreciate the gift cards. What I am also here to tell you is NOT to worry if you’re not crafty or are on a budget. What I have framed, kept in albums, and treasured over the years are the heartfelt, hand-written notes from parents and students. My husband, a high school math teacher, has notes and drawings proudly taped to the windowsill above his computer. It truly is “the thought that counts.”



Here are two ways to work with your child to create personal and memorable messages to teachers while also learning some simple poetry forms. Win-win!

Cinquain Poetry

Cinquains have five lines and a specific structure.

  • Line 1    1-word title (noun)
  • Line 2    2-word description of subject (adjectives)
  • Line 3    3-word words ending in –ing that describe actions (verbs)
  • Line 4    4-word phrase that expresses feelings or adds to description.
  • Line 5    1-word synonym for title (noun)


[ Download Teacher Appreciation Cinquain Poetry Template ]


Acrostic Poetry

An acrostic poem uses the letters in the poem’s topic to begin each line. All the poem’s lines relate to or describe the topic.


 [ Download Teacher Appreciation Acrostic Poetry Template]

When your child is done with his or her poem, have your child illustrate it.

And, if you’re really determined to craft something cute, you and your child can always create a custom frame for the poetry gift. Glue colorful magnetic letters, puzzle pieces, crayons, even buttons to an inexpensive frame, or create a simple frame from wooden rulers.

Check our Teacher Appreciation Week Pinterest board for more A+ teacher gift ideas.


Finally, if any of this seems overwhelming, a simple, heartfelt note is lovely!

Change It Up! CaringBridge

Thao CaringBridgeEach month at EI, a different team member chooses a non-profit organization and uses our Change It Up to collect funds around the office. At the end of the month, EI matches whatever the team has donated and sends the contribution to the non-profit. We feel great about doing our part to help groups who are doing so much to help so many!

In April Thao Truong, EI’s eCommerce Manager chose to range funds for CaringBridge, a non-profit organization that offers free, personalized websites to people facing various medical conditions, hospitalization, medical treatment and/or are recovering from a significant accident, illness, injury or procedure.

Thao has a special connection with CaringBridge – she used to work there! Says Thao, “I had the pleasure of working at CaringBridge, a social network that helps you stay connected during a health journey. In my time there, I met families facing health challenges, like cancer, that were encouraged by being able to connect online with their network. Caretakers and patients created a blog-like site, which made their lives easier because the site kept family and friends updated and, inaddition, they got an outpouring of emotional support.”

CaringBridge launched in 1997, when founder and CEO SonaMehring had a premature baby. Concerned, her friends asked her to let them know what was happening. Instead of making dozens of emotional and time-consuming phone calls, she decided to create a website. The same night her baby Brighid was born, so was the idea that became CaringBridge.

CaringBridge functions thanks to the dedication of more than 2,500 volunteersandgenerous supporters who gave more than $8.19 million in time and resources in 2013. To contribute to CaringBridge or to learn more, please visit

7 Simple Steps for a Stellar Night of Stargazing

Celebrate Space Day

It’s Space Day – time to go galactic! Grab your telescope or binoculars and head outside tonight for some stellar springtime stargazing. Although any clear night is a good night for stargazing, the spring sky offers a great view of some very special constellations that are sure to dazzle your family. Follow the seven simple steps below for a stellar night of stargazing that your family won’t soon forget!

  1. Choose a clear night and a wide open space! It’s tough to see stars through clouds, haze, or fog but the night sky sparkles when it’s clear.
  2. Set up at dusk. Pull out your blankets, pillows, and sweatshirts, find your flashlight and check the batteries before it gets dark. If you’ve got binoculars and/or a telescope, this is the time to take them out and set them up. If you don’t have a telescope, we recommend purchasing a children’s telescope and/or binoculars, like the Nancy B’s Science Club™ Binoculars and Moonscope – both are easy to use and come with journals packed with activities perfect for getting kids involved in science.
  3. Don’t forget the snacks! Score a star-shaped cookie cutter and go wild! Press out star-shaped PB&Js, ham & cheese, or grilled cheese sandwiches as a main course. Snack on five-pointed cheese and cucumber slices. And for dessert? Star-shaped brownies and Jello or Rice Crispy Treats pressed into stars and crescent moons.
  4. Start simple – with the moon! Although it’s easiest to see the stars and constellations on a moonless night, the moon is the largest and brightest object in the sky – a great starting place for kids. Next, search for a planet. How do you tell the difference between a planet and a star, you ask? Given their distance from the earth, stars appear to “twinkle” (small changes in the earth’s atmosphere create variances in the way we see the pinpoint of light given off by the star) but planets in our solar system, which are much closer to Earth, appear to give off steady light.
  5. Close your eyes. It’s easier to see stars and constellations when your eyes have adapted to the dark, so squeeze your peepers tight and count to 200. Then try to spot The Big Dipper and The Little Dipper (both visible year-round from the northern hemisphere). The Big Dipper is highest in the sky and the star at the top of non-handle side of its “bucket” leads the eye directly to Polaris, the star that starts The Little Dipper’s handle.
  6. Arc to Arcturus and Speed on to Spica! This simple rhyme will help you find two of the special springtime constellations. Starting at The Big Dipper, follow the handle to the first bright star, Arcturus, in the constellation Bootes. Continue the handle’s path to a second bright star, Spica, in the constellation Virgo. Arcturus – an orange giant – is the brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, and Spica – a blue giant – is the brightest star in Virgo.
  7. Flashlight fun! When you’re done gazing at the springtime sky, lie back and relax. Enjoy the evening outdoors with your family, and have some fun with your flashlight! From shadow puppets to spooky stories, everything’s more fun in the dark!

It’s International Dance Day – Let’s Boogie!


The family that dances together… well… they have a lot of fun together! This weekend, why not turn on some tunes and throw a rockin’ dance party for your family? Below are some great ideas to get your little ones moving and grooving. Don’t forget the camera!

  • Learn a line dance! Search YouTube for the Chicken Dance or the Electric Slide or add some Spanish flavor with the Macarena and bust a move – together. Not only does dancing improve cardiovascular health and build muscle tone, but it also increases flexibility, balance, and coordination.
  • Rock it – robot style! Throw on Devo’s Whip It! or Styx’s Roboto and show off your best mechanical moves. If you want to impress your older kids (or redeem yourself after showing off your mad moves), rip Daft Punk’s Robot Rock to prove the robot is timeless!
  • Play the blues, riff some reds, and shred those yellows! Get little ones rocking – to tunes they’ve composed! – with Magic Moves® RainbowJam™ an awesome dance toy for kids! Mini maestros touch the wand to a color to hear its musical note, touch multiple colors to compose their own masterpieces, or sing and dance along to nine jammin’ color songs! Different musical styles – from rock and Latin to jazz and country – keep kids moving and grooving.
  • Everybody FREEZE! Freeze dancing is always a kid favorite – and it’s perfect for preschoolers, combining physical movement and body control. Playing is simple. Someone mans the music and everybody rocks. Stop the music and everyone freezes! No need to send wigglers “out” – just turn the tunes on and try again.
  • Throw back – all the way back! – to the 50’s! Pull up some Chubby Checker on Pandora and try The Twist. Then search Dee Dee Sharp’s Mashed Potato Time and follow along with the steps below:
    1. Stand with your legs shoulder-width apart.
    2. Snap your heels together.
    3. Snap your heels outward so your toes are pointing toward each other.
    4. Repeat!
    5. If you’re up for a challenge, try the steps above, but lift one leg to the side as you snap your heels outward (snap heels together, snap the toes of one foot back in as you lift one leg to one side, snap the heels back together, and lift the other leg to the other side).


Indoor Activity Games: Teaching With Fairy Tales

Tell A Story Day

Supplement story time with these great, hands-on, indoor activities for kids! Below are some playful ways to bring the timeless tale of The Elves and the Shoemaker to life. You know the story – the elves surprise the shoemaker and his wife with beautiful new shoes to sell in their shop and in turn, the shoemaker’s wife sews tiny little elf clothing as a thank you. A good deed is always rewarded!

Indoor Activity #1 – Shoe Shopping Collage
Have a collection of catalogs, magazines, or flyers sitting around?  Encourage your child to cut out pictures of shoes, sandals, sneakers, boots, or other footwear. Discuss when and where the different types of shoes are worn. For example, sandals are usually worn in warm weather, while boots are worn in cold or rainy weather. Then get out the glue and construction paper and create a Shoemaker collage!

Indoor Activity #2 – Shoe Art
Kids love hands-on play! Salvage one of your child’s outgrown shoes and create a DIY designerdecoration for his or her room. Or decorate a pair and use them as bookends! Here’s how:

  1. Prepare the shoe by spray painting it a bright or glittery color.(Parents should probably manage this step!)
  2. Help your child gather decorative items such as beads, feathers, rhinestones, sequins, glitter, pom-poms, and other small, lightweight treasures.
  3. Your child can create his or her own couture masterpiece by using Use sticky craft glue and a Popsicle stick or disposable brush to apply items to the shoes.
  4. Let dry thoroughly and display!

Indoor Activity #3 – Thank-You Card
Discuss how the elves helped the shoemaker and his wife and why the shoemaker and his wife made the elves clothing. Ask your child to name someone who has helped him or her,and create your own special thank you notes! Decorate the outside of a manila folder with crayons and markers and write the words your child dictates as a thank you note inside.

Indoor Activity #4 – Sole Rubbings
Check your family’s closets for shoes with different types of soles and gather a few white pieces of paper and peeled crayons (have your child help you peel afew if you don’t have them on hand – it’s a great fine motor developer!). Then, show your child how to lay a piece of paper over the sole of a shoe and rub the side of the crayon over the paper to reproduce the pattern on the sole. Compare and contrast the different patterns the soles make as well as the different lengths and widths of the shoes.