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An Ode to Teachers and a Handmade Thank You Gift for Teachers

DIY trinket trays with air dry clay embellished with beads

Teachers no doubt shape the lives of their students in a multitude of ways. With a word that’s thoughtful or sharp, they can make or break a student. A good teacher is a rare gift that not everyone is lucky to experience. They nurture, educate, and inspire beyond their own classrooms. 

I haven’t had any memorable teachers, mostly because I had to change many schools growing up, so I never knew anyone long enough. But there have been plenty of mediocre ones along the way who did their jobs in class and nothing more.

In my son’s very short academic life so far, we’ve seen him experience three different schools. He started in a small Montessori school at 3 ½ years. He enjoyed it thoroughly from Day 1. Unfortunately, we had to shift cities after just 4 months.

Most of the Montessori schools in India are not purely so. They do add in touches of regular school work. The schools we visited showed us notebooks of their 5-year-olds writing the same sentences repeatedly. I did not want writing forced on my then 4-year-old, who didn’t like sitting in one place for long. 

We now had some options for alternative schooling near where we lived, so we decided to opt for that instead. One of the places we visited wowed us with its no-frills approach and its philosophy of letting kids be kids with minimal adult interference. 

When our son started crying after a few days of attending school, we assumed he was having a hard time adjusting to a new place. The school also brushed it off, saying he’ll take time to get used to it. 

Only when the online sessions started after a few months, we realised why he wasn’t interested in the school. At school, the younger kids were left on their own to play and sometimes fought with each other. The online sessions were also just one teacher speaking with the kids on mute. Trying to talk to the teachers about making it more interactive was futile because I was told that something was wrong with my child if he was getting bored in class. I was so disappointed.

I decided to homeschool our son, which was not ideal because I run low on patience most days. We tried it for a few months and made some progress. However, it wasn’t a long-term solution.

Then someone mentioned another school with a similar alternative education philosophy that we’d liked earlier. Since classes were still online, I thought we could give it a try as we’d be able to gauge if they would be able to live up to our expectations. 

There was a world of difference between this session and what we had experienced in his previous school. The classes were interactive, engaging, and fun. Slowly as the lockdown period eased, they had a few in-person meets, which were even more fun for the kids. Our son was finally looking forward to the reopening of school.

This school is more transparent and communicative about what’s happening in class. More importantly, the kids love going to school. As of now, they’re still just playing, but they do have organised lesson plans like pre-writing activities, cooking skills, and learning teamwork. 

The teachers genuinely enjoy their time with the kids and come up with ways of making the day more interesting for them. When we ask him what he did all day, he says play and play all day! What better way for a child to learn than through play? 

I can see our son learning to make his way into the world without having a set of ideas forced upon him. He’ll make mistakes along the way, but his teachers (and we, his parents) will be there to guide him on his journey. 

Handmade Gifts: Thank You Trays

Kid crafting and painting a trinket tray to gift to his teachers on the last day of school

Since our son will be graduating to the next class, we wanted to thank his facilitators for making this last year so meaningful for him. These trays made with air-dry clay are super easy to make and something that will actually get used.

  • We used Fevicryl Mouldit Clay
  • Prepare the clay as per box instructions
  • Roll it flat about a centimetre thick, making sure it’s even all over
  • We went with an uneven look, but you can shape it if you want
  • Let it dry over an upturned bowl or glass
  • It dries in a few hours, but we waited for a day before working on it
  • We primed the surface with gesso
  • You can directly apply paint, but gesso seals the clay, and a white base layer makes your final colours look more vibrant
  • We used just one coat of regular acrylic colours and let it dry for a day
  • Some embellishments like Kundan mirrors can enhance the look of your piece
  • Finally, add a layer of varnish to seal your work. This ensures the longevity of your piece
  • A little hand-written note and some ribbons complete the gift
trinket trays and thank you notes for teachers at the end of school year gifts

Thank you to all teachers who touch the lives of others every day. We don’t always notice teachers’ efforts or impact on our lives, but they do so in many ways, and we are forever grateful.

Note: Some of the links are part of an affiliate program, which means that if you click on a link and buy something, I might receive a percentage of the sale, at no extra cost to you.

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