Teaching students about the value of making your own handmade gifts is a powerful lesson that can stay with them for years. There’s something unique about saying you created something from scratch, and it’s special when they can then gift it to someone they care about. Crafting and making handmade items also has academic benefits. According to this article from Scholastic, when students craft and create, they are naturally boosting their critical thinking skills, resilience, fine motor skills, and even self-esteem.
It can take a lot of work and/or coordination to make handmade gifts in the classroom, but as an educator, you should know that it’s worth it. You’re giving your students so much more than just a gift they can pass on to a loved one. By making handmade gifts in the classroom, you can help them see just how capable they are while also spreading the message of kindness to others. Here are a few handmade gift projects to consider.
Make your own coasters.
Coasters make the perfect mini art project. You can say a lot on a little square, whether you want to focus on a specific message, add a photo, or just create your own design. If you want to try a photo coaster or a specific printed message, start with single tiles, which you can pick up for a good price at your local home store. Then attach the photo or art on top and seal it. For more of an artsy coaster, try a mosaic. The one you see here is from a 24-coaster kit, which includes everything you need. Students will be able to customize their design with pre-cut glass tiles.
Create your own kaleidoscope.
This is a classic art project that also makes a wonderful gift. Students of all ages can build their own kaleidoscope, customizing it both inside and out for a special person in their life. This is a great opportunity to write a special quote or message on the outside of the scope. If you want to fold this into a classroom lesson, use the opportunity to talk to students about the history of the kaleidoscope, which has now been around for more than 200 years. Other lessons you can work include symmetry, angles, reflection, and rotation. The kit available here will make 12 kaleidoscopes.
Give the gift of flowers.
Flowers are a timeless, classic gift, and when you make tissue flowers like these, they also last for a long time. The kit here includes materials and instructions for making more than 80 flowers. You could even add your own fragrance or essential oil if you want them to smell good. Add little vases, which you could pick up from the dollar store, and you’ll be set to help your students give a truly sweet, handmade gift.
Weave together your own pot holders.
Here’s another craft that has been around for decades—and for good reason! As students weave and hook with these classic looms, they’ll feel extremely accomplished when they’re done and have a pot older to give as a gift. There’s enough material in this kit to create 30 pot holders in all. This one might test a student’s patience and fine motor skills, but encourage them to keep after it a little at a time. It will help them see just how much time and care goes into some of the items that are around us every single day.
Create some word art.
Sometimes simple gifts can be the most meaningful. By having students create name or word art, they can make something truly customized. This Twisteezwire®, which is available in bulk, makes it easy for student to bend, twist, and shape colorful copper wires into shapes. You can use the wire to shape into a scripted word, or you can combine it with tape, cardboard, or other materials to form letters. This is a lovely gift for writing out someone’s name. Or it’s a good project for making word art, spelling out powerful words or phrases like DREAM, MAKE A WISH, or GO FOR IT.
Melt your own candles.
It’s actually pretty easy to make candles, which are always a fun gift idea. This candle classroom kit has enough supplies to make about 20 candles. All you need it containers, which could be upcycled miniature jars or glass containers from your local dollar store. It even includes scents, though you could use aromatherapy to create some additional ones. This would be the perfect project to get the help of a parent volunteer to coordinate. Students will love melting down the wax and then putting these together, one step at a time.
Make your own buttons.
This is one of the most cost-effective handmade gifts because you usually buy in bulk, allowing you to make buttons for less than $1 each. For this one, talk to you students about what they might want to make. For instance, they could make photo buttons or color their own design. They might even want to create or print word out with specific sayings. If you want to learn how to create your own button template in Microsoft Word, check out this video tutorial here. Students will be proud to gift this to someone special. They might even want one of their own! Get the button kit here.
Put together your own clocks.
Students will feel really accomplished when they make their own miniature clock. The kit here has everything you need to make 10 clocks. Have students customize them with art, designs, or even a collage. This is a unique gift they can really be proud to say they made on their own. Plus, you can use it in math for practicing telling time and even adding and subtracting time.