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DIY Student Made Gifts for Parents

student made gifts for parents DIY calendar

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With the holidays right around the corner, don’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute for a parent gift.  Student made gifts for parents or family don’t have to be complicated or messy.  In fact, they can even have academic value too!  These DIY Christmas gifts are just what you need to help your students create a holiday gift for their family that they will be proud of and excited to give.

student made gifts for parents DIY calendar

DIY Student Made Gifts for Parents

Helping students make a Christmas gift for their parents or family is a great way to teach them about giving to others.  As elementary students, buying or making a gift is often something that cannot be done without help from a parent.  And . . . if a parent has to help with their own gift, that takes some of the fun out of gift giving.  So help your students out and have them make a special gift for their family that will love surprising them with.

While most of our students celebrate Christmas, there are many that do not.  When choosing a gift for the students to make, it is helpful to choose something that is not holiday themed.  This way all of the students can have fun creating and giving the gift.

Here’s 5 DIY student made gifts for parents that are easy to do in the upper elementary classrom!

1. A DIY Photo Frame

I don’t know of a single parent that does not like receiving a photo of their child.  That goes for grandparents too!  Giving the gift of a photo in a decorated frame is a great student made gift for parents.  With the technology we have available to us, a smartphone is all you need to take a nice photo.  Send them off to print in as little as an hour and you’ve got the base for a great gift.

First thing is to find a location for taking the photos.  Natural light always works well so recess makes a great time to take pictures.  If the playground does not provide a nice backdrop, then consider the classroom or hallway.  You can always add some creativity to the photos with fun photo props or a colorful background.

Once you have pictures you are ready to let your students create or decorate a frame.  These inexpensive craft frames make a great base for students to decorate.  Let your students decorate with paint, glitter, sequins, stickers, pom poms, patterned paper, sticks, colored tape, whatever you like or have handy!   Just check out these crafty frame ideas from Mom Junction!

crafty frame ideas

You can also have students create the frame using popsicle sticks!  These cute popsicle stick frames were made by Squigly’s Arts & Crafts.  You can even find a how to video on their site!


student created picture frame

2. A Family Calendar

student made calendar for parentsA calendar is an excellent gift for family members.  It’s not only practical and useful, but it also provides lots of opportunities for personalizing.

This 12 month calendar kit is a great no prep option for you.  All you have to do is copy the pages.  Your students will do the rest!

On each page, there are a variety of images and decorations for students to color in.  There is also a box where students can add a family photo or draw a picture.

Students can fill in the Important Dates box with the dates for holidays or they can leave it blank to be filled in by parents each month.

While the Things to Remember space can be left blank as well, students can also fill it in with a few sentences that relate to the photo or drawing that is on the same page.  This is a great way to connect the creation of the calendar to student writing time.  Encourage students to write a draft and then edit it, challenge them to write with vivid descriptions, or even connect the writing to learning about the use of captions in non-fiction texts.

Depending on how much time you have before the holiday, this could be completed in just a couple of days, or over the course of multiple weeks.  It makes a great morning work or center activity too!

You can grab this calendar kit in my store at Teachers Pay Teachers.  And as a bonus, you only need to purchase it once, but you will get an updated calendar to use year after year!  Each year I will update the calendar templates so you will have a go to family gift for as long as you want to use it!

student made calendar

3. Create a Class Magazine

create a class magazine cover with canvaInstead of individual gifts, let students contribute to a class magazine.  With this idea, each student contributes writings, drawings, pictures, recipes, book or movie reviews, poems and more to put together a class magazine that will be loved by students and parents.

These different writing activities could be built into morning work, the writing center, or whole class writing lessons.  If done as a lesson, students will be exposed to a variety of writing styles as they learn how to do each of these activities.  A great way to engage your students in writing!

To put together the final magazine have students submit one or two of the items above to be included in the magazine.  These could be from previous assignments, or they could be created just for this purpose.

Let the class work together to design a cover, or use a website like Canva to create a realistic looking magazine cover for free. I created this cover in just a few minutes using one of their free magazine cover templates!

The final magazine could be simply copied and bound together, or join teams with the technology teach to add in some technology fun!  Students could learn about layout, typing and other important technology skills as they put the magazine together.  If you go this route, Canva has templates for a variety of page layouts that match each magazine cover!

4. Create a Gingerbread House

Gingerbread House Project Based Learning UnitWhile gifts that don’t directly reflect the holiday are safest, gingerbread is less Christmas and more winter!  And if you can connect the creation of the gift to learning time, even better.  This Create a Gingerbread House Project Based Learning activity is filled with lots of learning and fun!

With activities for language arts and math you will love knowing that your students are working on important skills.  While this activity is purely done on paper, you could extend the activity at the end and create simple gingerbread houses in the classroom.

Students could wrap up this PBL project by building their own graham cracker gingerbread house.  Graham crackers make great walls and roofs without all the baking or the need to buy expensive gingerbread house kits.  You can even attach the graham crackers to milk boxes from the cafeteria to make them more sturdy!

Then provide students with frosting (easy to make with powdered sugar and water) and a variety of candies and let them get to work.  Your students will love bringing to life the house they designed as part of the project based learning activity.  And when they are finished, students can take them home as a gift for the parents!

This will definitely be a little messier than some of the other gift ideas, but it is sure to add some holiday magic into the day.  And after working so hard for a semester a little mess is definitely earned.  If you want to build graham cracker gingerbread houses here’s a great video to get you started.  There’s lots of other too!

5. Create A Coupon Book

A great way to teach our students about giving is to let them know that gifts don’t always have to cost money.  In fact, giving our time to help others is a wonderful gift too!  Students can use this idea to create a book of coupons that they will give their parents.  Using 3×5 notecards or small pieces of paper, students can write out and decorate a variety of gifts for their parents.

A great way to get started with this is to provide a few ideas, then let the class brainstorm even more.  Once there’s a long list of ideas, encourage students to choose 10 to put into their coupon book.  They can choose ones from the list or something they think of on their own. Here’s some ideas to get you started:cooking dinner for mom

  • one extra chore with no complaining
  • cleaning-up the kitchen after dinner
  • cooking dinner or helping
  • one day with no computer time – family time instead
  • breakfast in bed
  • sweeping off the porch
  • shoveling the snow
  • movie night – parents’ choice
  • read a book to mom or dad
  • new art for the refrigerator

The options are really endless.  Encourage your students to think about things their parents would really enjoy.  Time together or extra help around the house are always good places to start.

Once the coupons are made, just add a cover, staple and you are ready to go!

Student Made Gifts for Parents – the No Stress Way!

These fun DIY student gifts for parents are great ways to help your students and teach them about giving too!  With so many options that you can connect to academic skills, it’s easy to incorporate them into the lesson plans too!  Pin this to your favorite classroom Pinterest board so you can come back for more ideas!

DIY student gifts for parents

Shelly Rees

Hi, I’m Shelly! Thank you for being here. I love helping third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers with fun and engaging activities that require no to little prep! Let me help you by taking some of the stress and work off your plate.

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Hi, I'm Shelly

Hi, I’m Shelly! Thank you for being here. I love helping third, fourth, and fifth grade teachers with fun and engaging activities that require no to little prep! Let me help you by taking some of the stress and work off your plate.

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