Mother’s Day tends to sneak up on us every year, so this year we’ve made an effort to show some of the best Mother’s Day ideas we’ve created over the years. It’s funny how we always know when Mother’s Day will be, but it’s in that rush near the end of the school year, so it tends to be something we can do quickly and fairly inexpensively.
While we’ve called this post “mother’s day” but we are very careful to include all types of parent roles throughout the year. It is important to know who is in your classroom and know if there are parents, guardians or even foster parents. Have these conversations early.
So, what types of projects do we to for any parent or guardian appreciation do we create? Read on.
Mother’s Day is Not a Contest
Remember, parents and guardians just want their children to give them a hug and kiss, so anything you do will be appreciated. There is no need to go into debt trying to create a huge gift that children can take home.
Each year, this sneaks up on us. This is partly because we teach in upper elementary and it seems like teachers in the lower grades are better at keeping things like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day on their radar.
Here are the Most Appreciated Mother’s Day Gifts We’ve Made
First of all, we should prefect this that all of these gifts can be made for any occasion, any time of year for anyone. They work for any parental role and most are inexpensive enough that students can make extras for bonus parents.
When we have included the cost of a project, this is the total cost for the entire class. So if it says $5.00, it means that you would pay $5.00 and that would be the full amount for the whole project. We have only calculated costs for items that you wouldn’t normally find at school or in your classroom. Regular art supplies and paper are not included.
Last Minute Magnets
We have done this one on a Friday afternoon before Mother’s Day because we forgot about it. It’s not recommended, but it can be done if you are in a pinch.
Cost: $0 if you repurpose your classroom old magnets or $5.00 for a package of small magnets.
Time: About 20 minutes for picture taking, 10 minutes to print and 20 minutes for students to make them special. It works best if you take photos one day and then make them the next day.
Take your students outside (better for the lighting) and line them up against a blank wall. Have students, in groups or two or three, jump up into the air while you snap a few photos.
Print these in basic black and white so that each student is about 7-10 centimetres tall. Hand them out so students have one picture for each person they will be gifting them to.
Students glue the picture onto a piece of cardstock or thicker paper. They cut out the picture around the body so no background shows.
Use coloured pencils to colour a few parts of the picture. For example, one student coloured just her dress and another coloured just her lips and eyes.
Once the pictures are coloured and cut out, we laminated them. Students trimmed the film off the edges. If you don’t have a laminator, you can use clear shelf lining or even clear packing tape. If none of these are possible, no worries, but they will be more durable with some sort of protection on them.
Use hot glue to attach flat magnets to the backs.
Now your students can gift themselves as a magnet.
Flowers in a Jar
This is a project that requires you to plan ahead-about a month before you plan to send them home. This means if you are making this gift at a time when seeds are not available, you might have to rethink what goes in the jar.
Cost: $10 for potting soil and seeds.
Time: About 30 minutes for students and 20 minutes for teachers, but you have to do this one at least a month before you want them so they are growing. The hardest part of this project is keeping the plants alive. One year I just went out and bought bedding plants after an unfortunate cold snap.
Each student brought a glass jar (like a spaghetti sauce or pickle jar). We painted the outside of the jar with tempera paint mixed with Mod Podge. After painting, we added a clear coat of acrylic spray to stop the stickiness. We filled them three-quarters full of potting soil and students planted mums in their jars. We kept them in the window so they would grow.
The dollar stores sell packages of canvases, so you will need to plan this one out a few days before you need them to give you time to purchase the canvases, find the painting supplies and let the art work dry.
Cost: $35.00 or so if you use dollar canvases that are about 8×10. $5.00 for a clear acrylic spray.
Time: 1-2 hours of painting and drying time.
Give students some paint and let them go wild. Parents love a frame-worthy piece of art.
Over the years we painted many different things. One year we painted abstract works and then wrote poetry over top with black Sharpie. Another year we painted simple branched trees and then added colourful fingerprints. We made a version of this another year where painted trees and then glued buttons onto the branches.
Spray the work with clear acrylic paint if you’ve used watercolour or Tempera to keep the paint from cracking and falling off the canvas.
The best results are when you have time to make these a few weeks before so they are not rushed.
If you need more specific art projects, we have several different sets of projects for any time of year (and many work for Mother’s Day).
Canadian Artists Inspired Projects” The Bernadette McCormack piece is a great one for a gift.
Indigenous Artists of Canada Inspired Projects
Winter Art Projects: There are several painting projects in this set that make great gifts.
Geography and Landscape Art Projects: Students can easily turn these projects into a personalized version which makes a great gift.
Plants Inspired Art Projects: This one contains a few different pieces that include flowers that can make nice gifts.
Recycled Art Projects: We made the love robots as our gifts for Father’s Day last year and they were a BIG hit.
Light and Shadow Inspired Art Projects: There is a glass jar project that can be easily converted into a lovely gift any time of year in this set.
Cost: $5.00 for clear acrylic spray.
Time: an hour or two depending on the length of the walk and how much time is needed for drying. They need to dry overnight between the washing and priming stage and the actual painting stage.
Take students on a walk through your neighbourhood to find nice round rocks.
Have students wash the rocks and then paint them with a coat of white paint. Let these dry at least overnight. We had our students write their names with a pencil (so that it won’t run if it gets wet) on a piece of paper towel. Students can place their rocks on the paper towel for drying without mixing up which rock belongs to each student.
Turn the rocks into a favourite animal or paint some loving words on it. Ladybugs, flowers and hearts were very popular on our rocks.
When it’s dry, spray a layer of clear acrylic over the rock to protect the paint. If you have time, the more layers, the better.
Letters to (Insert Loved One Here)
A beautiful hand-written note can be a wonderful keepsake.
Cost: $10.00 for writing paper if you choose to buy some.
Time: 1-2 hours for the best possible quality.
This one is our favourite. We helped our students write a letter to their mothers or special female role model.
They expressed thanks for all the things they’ve learned from them. Students are brilliantly expressive in describing everything from learning to use the toilet to learning family card games. We helped brainstorm a list of ideas and then let students write their notes. Some students chose to write a rough draft before making a good copy, but this is isn’t as important as the sentiment of the letter.
We purchased some decorative writing paper with matching envelopes. For the most affordable option, consider collecting paper towel rolls. Students can roll up their letters and wrap the rolls with tissue paper or add a little ribbon.
If you have a bit more money to work with, finding cheap frames so students can frame their letters is another option.
This is the gift we heard from parents about the most. Mothers tuck these letters away to read when their children become unbearable teenagers who know everything.
Mother’s Day Ideas Adapted From Other Times of the Year
These are Christmas-themed ideas, but they can be easily adapted to other times of the year.
- Fingerprint Art: Use little fingerprints to make all kinds of wonderful creations like cards or ornaments.
- Recycled Paper Ornaments: Use leftover paper from newspapers, fliers or magazines to created folded paper ornaments.
- Recycled Cork Ornaments: Put all those wine corks you have laying around your house to good use and make some new ornaments.
- Wooden Christmas Ornaments: Use wooden pieces to create adorable characters that you can hang on the tree.
- Recycled Can Characters: Collect metal or cardboard cans with plastic lids (like the one’s hot chocolate or coffee comes in) and turn them into adorable holiday characters.
- Simple Christmas Tree Art Projects We Love: These simple-to-make and create art projects are perfect for the teacher with limited art skills or time. While these focus on Christmas trees, they can easily be turned into less Christmas decor more forest or nature lover versions.
Mother’s Day Can be a Difficult Day
Remember, Mother’s Day can be a difficult time for families where there has been divorce or loss. Use your best judgment and remember that any role model can receive these gifts. Allow students with step-parents to create gifts for their stepmothers or caregivers. If they are low-cost, the time and effort will go a long way.
What did you give your mother or female role model as a child? Do they still have it? Let s know in the comments below.