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Back to School Gift Ideas for Teachers

Disclosure: This post may include affiliate links. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Teachers have the most significant impact on our children outside of home. In some cases, teachers spend more time with our children than we do.
I know first hand that teachers spend a lot of their personal time and money on our children based on the amount of time I’ve spent working and volunteering in schools. That’s why I like to do whatever I can to support them.
Back to school season is an especially busy and expensive time for teachers as they prepare their classrooms. Today I’m sharing my favorite back to school gift ideas for teachers based on my experience working directly with many of them.

Throughout the year there are many opportunities to show appreciation for teachers with small gifts and treats, based on things you discover that he or she likes. At the start of the year though, you probably don’t know the teacher at all so the best gifts are those that you KNOW the teacher will need over the next few months for the classroom. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy to figure out exactly what those needs are.

a collage of back to school supplies in a purple bag or in a plastic tub with title text reading Back-to-School Teacher Gift Ideas

School Supplies

Most schools now publish school supply lists before the start of the year that list the items your child will need for the school year. Since you’re here reading this post, I’m pretty sure you’re one of the parents that makes sure you’ve purchased everything on the list. Sadly, not all parents feel this same responsibility, or they lack the resources to meet it. Every teacher I know ends up purchasing many of those mandatory supplies for their students using their own money.

One of the easiest back to school teacher gifts you can give is to simply by extra school supplies when you do your own school supply shopping. During back to school season, many items are so inexpensive that it’s easy to put together a sizable donation for very little.

You can use the published school supply list as your guide. From my own experience, I usually make sure to include:

  • Pre-sharpened pencils: Elementary school children go through pencils like I go through chocolate (it’s impossible to keep them sufficiently stocked) and if you don’t send them in pre-sharpened, the teacher has to spend time sharpening 2 dozen pencils when he or she could be working on lesson plans.
  • Dry erase markers: These get used a lot in classrooms and they’re expensive! If you can find a deal on them, stock up to help save the teacher a lot of money later in the year.
  • Pens: Teachers are writing all day long – notes to parents, grading papers, administrative forms. And guess what? Pens walk away from teacher’s desks as easily and as frequently as they do everywhere else so help teacher out by providing a good supply at the start of the year.
  • Sticky notes: All those notes the teachers are writing – many of them are on sticky notes. I like to send in a variety pack since teachers use them for several different things like where a signature is needed on a form, number of copies needed of a lesson, as bookmarks, or for a note to you on something that happened in class.
  • Glue sticks: For younger grades (K-2), teachers need A LOT of glue sticks. From 3rd grade on, students transition away from craft-based lessons to other lesson types so they use fewer glue sticks, but still use them. During back to school sales, glue sticks are much less expensive than any other time of year so these are easy to buy in bulk for the classroom.
  • Crayons/Colored Pencils: Adding color to assignments not only makes them more appealing, it triggers different parts of the brain to stimulate learning. Crayons are always a safe bet, especially for younger grades, but colored pencils are always welcome too.

Health Supplies

Classrooms are prime areas for the spread of illnesses. Once one child comes down with the flu, it’s not long before several others follow. Your child’s teacher will likely appreciate anything that helps her keep those germs at bay.

One teacher I worked with always had me wipe down the desks and chairs with Clorox wipes when she took the kids out to recess. It was the fastest and easiest way to disinfect all the surfaces those adorable little fingers had been touching all day.

An added benefit of including Clorox wipes in this gift is that it’s a dual-purpose gift. Not only does the teacher get the benefit of the wipes, but my purchase also earns them rewards that I can donate to DonorsChoose.org to help buy supplies for other classrooms in need (more information on this program at the end of the post).

Most teachers I know also keep hand sanitizer in their classrooms. Again, it’s a fast and easy way to kill germs and prevent the spread of illness.

For messier projects, hand sanitizing wipes are unbeatable. These are also great for field trips, when snack time occurs on a bus that has no place to wash up.

No matter how hard teachers work to keep germs out of their classrooms, they do eventually sneak in. That’s why tissues are another classroom staple.

One teacher I worked with shared a vitamin C drop with me each morning. It was a sweet ritual and for the year I worked with her, she never got sick, so I add them to my start of the school year gifts now.

Emergency Supplies

By “emergency” I don’t mean actual emergencies (the school should have most of those covered) but the minor emergencies that threaten to ruin a teacher’s day.

At least once during the school year, every teacher either forgets to pack a lunch or simply doesn’t have time to make one before heading out the door. The school lunch is a great fallback but what if the forgotten lunch day falls on hot dog day (if that actually sounds good to you, just substitute in something that doesn’t)? Wouldn’t it be nice if some thoughtful parent had provided you with a microwave-ready bowl of soup that you have waiting for you in your desk?

Then there are those days that your sweet tooth is demanding to be satisfied and the only option available is the collection of trans fats, calorie-laden snacks in the vending machine. Luckily, that super friendly parent who brought you a back to school gift bag included some individually wrapped chocolates so you can curb that craving without feeling guilty the rest of the day.

A parent is coming in for a conference right after school and as the teacher is jotting down some last-minute notes, she notices her dry, chalky hands (the after-effect of all that hand washing and hand sanitizing to keep germs at bay). Thank goodness she has a bottle of moisturizing hand lotion on her desk (another thoughtful item from her back to school gift).


Since I like to make my back to school teacher gifts as helpful as possible, I incorporate that theme into the presentation of the gift as well. I have all year to put together something adorable. Back to school season is about functionality. I do attach a small card with a note to let the teacher know why we are bringing in extra supplies. Here’s a copy of the printable card if you’d like to use it (I’ve saved it as a large image so you can print whatever size card you like best:

Happy New School Year Gift Card


One thing most teachers can always use are storage bins or crates. They use these to hold extra supplies, keep their classrooms organized, for sorting, and for transporting items to different classrooms.

These back to school teacher gift ideas in a plastic tub will be much appreciated by your child's teacher

Sometimes I place all the items in a reusable bag in lieu of a traditional gift bag. They are generally sturdier, provide ongoing benefits to the teacher (unlike the paper gift bag that gets discarded), and gives me a worthwhile reason to whittle down my ridiculously large collection of these bags.

Instead of a disposable gift bag, use a reusable shopping bag to deliver your back to school teacher gift

More Information on Clorox for Schools

In addition to helping keep classrooms germ-free, Clorox is helping supply students in need.

Between 7/12/16 and 9/30/16, purchase any qualifying Clorox, Glad or Hidden Valley product(s). Then, choose to participate in the Offer or the Donation program. If you choose to participate in the Offer, your Offer will be fulfilled 10/31/16. If you choose to participate in the Donation, Clorox will donate $1 for every $5 spent to DonorsChoose.org (up to $100,000 in donations). For all details, including a list of qualifying products, see the Program Terms www.cloroxforshcools.com. For details about DonorsChoose.org, visit DonorsChoose.org.

So, whether or not you decide to include Clorox wipes in your back to school teacher gift, don’t miss this opportunity to earn rewards for yourself or for others (if you choose to donate the rewards). All you have to do is:

  • Buy it  Buy any Clorox®, Glad® or Hidden Valley Ranch® product.
  • Snap it – Snap a pic of your receipt.
  • Upload – Upload your receipt to earn a donation or cash back ($1 for every $5 spent on qualifying products up to $5 in rewards).

To learn more, visit their website at www.cloroxforschools.com.

5 thoughts on “Back to School Gift Ideas for Teachers”

  1. This time of year, we are so focused on supplies for our kids. But, I’m thankful for the reminder to support the teachers who spend 8 hours a day with our kids, too. What a great list of ideas.

  2. DIXON TiCONDEROGA pencils are THE BEST PENCIL in the world! So happy to see them in your BTS boxes. Really really really. Even before I ever worked for that wonderful company, I loved that the graphite core does not smear, the real rubber eraser actually ERASES! They are a bit more expensive, but worth it… buy them on sale!

    • Maire, I agree completely!! Other pencils can be much less expensive, but they also break easily, smudge badly, and the plastic coating around the wood peels off or makes it difficult to sharpen. Ticonderogas are my favorite and preferred by all of the teachers I know. And yes, I stock up during BTS sales because otherwise, they can be a little pricey. Thanks for taking time to leave a comment!


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