An Easy, Heartfelt Thank You for Classroom Volunteers
Figuring out something to thank volunteers, chaperones, support teachers and others who helped my classroom each year used to be something that I spent quite a bit of time on – trying to find something sufficiently heartfelt and meaningful without breaking the bank or spending hours upon hours hand-writing individualized thank you notes. However, one year I stumbled on the following idea, and it is now my go-to every year.
It is the perfect mix of personal, heartfelt, low-cost, and easy! Can’t beat that!
Not to mention that I get comments all the time from the people our class gives our thank yous to saying how much they LOVED our gift!
So with the end of the year approaching in just a couple months, I’d love to share this volunteer thank you idea with you so you can use it, too! It is a photo of your class holding up large letters that spell out thank you mounted on a fun background paper with all the students “signatures” on it. In my experience, recipients love hanging it up as a memento of the year!
I created and printed out a set of large letters spelling out “THANK YOU!” (I know you have so many important things to be doing with any spare moments you have, so if you want some ready-made for you, I have them available on our Teachers Pay Teachers store.) There is one huge letter per page of printer paper. I then cut out and mounted each letter on individual pieces of construction paper or cardstock. Alternatively, you could print the letters directly onto fun, colored cardstock (such as this multi-colored cardstock pack or this brights cardstock pack). I love colored cardstock as it makes the printable look so fun and engaging, but I can still print in black and white and save on ink. (Always a good thing, right?!) Light and bright colored cardstocks work best to allow the black letter outlines to show up. I keep these letters year after year and reuse them with each new class I have.
Take a class picture with the front row of kids holding the “thank you” letters.
Have your picture printed at your favorite photo-printing place in a standard 4 x 6 size. (I’m a fan of Costco Photo for their excellent prices, but any photo service is great.) Be sure to print one copy of the picture per person you want to thank, so if you are thanking 3 volunteers, print 3 pictures or to thank 40 people, print 40 pictures.
Next, I use my printable where I’ve marked off a 4” tall by 6” wide rectangle in the middle of an 8.5” by 11” piece of paper. My students and I all sign our names somewhere on the paper around the outside of the rectangle.
Now take your signed paper and photocopy it onto colored cardstock. (If colored cardstock isn’t an option, even white copy paper could do but colored cardstock looks so much nicer and is stiffer to let the recipient prop it up on their desk or some other special spot.) Make one copy for each volunteer you’d like to thank.
Last, glue your thank you picture into the top of the marked off rectangle and you are ready to give it to your lovely volunteers! It is such a cute way of saying thank you to everyone that has helped and supported our class over the school year!
A few tips to make it easy and smooth1Don’t try to do this the day or two before you need to give the thank yous! Inevitably, you’ll have 3 kids absent and your class picture won’t really be a “class picture”. Plan ahead a bit if at all possible and choose a day when all students are present to take a class picture. 2Be very clear from the beginning that, unfortunately, everyone won’t hold a letter but everyone will be in the cool thank you picture. I pick popsicle sticks with the kid’s names on them to fairly choose 10 kids to hold the letters. (one child doesn’t hold a letter but is the “space” between the words.) 😉 3Model for all the children how to hold the letters before getting everyone set up for the picture. You might hold up a letter in front of your face to show that it doesn’t work for a picture and then hold it down in front of your chest to show that’s what works best in order for my face to be seen in the picture. 4I speak from experience that every year there’s a least 1 or 2 children holding a letter who get silly and goofy while we are trying to take the picture. Now I always preemptively tell the class that if your stick is picked and you are holding a letter, you have a very important and serious job making sure that “Thank you!” looks great in our picture. If anyone is goofing off during their important job, I will pick another stick to find someone who will give it their best. 5A last preemptive tip: Be sure to talk with your class about how big they should write their names. If you don’t (and maybe even if you do!!), inevitably someone will write their name giant-sized across the paper and there will be no room for anyone else to sign. You may want to tell your students if you don’t want them drawing a little picture with their name, as well. If I don’t tell them that we are writing our names but not drawing pictures, at least 40% of the kids decide to draw a heart or rainbow or flower or … next to their name. That’s fine if you don’t mind, but if you leave it up to them it likely will happen. BONUS I also love to make some extras of these and give them to the wonderful support staff at our school to thank them for everything they do for our classroom, my students and me each year! The children love giving the special thank you picture/card to the various staff at school. Over the last couple weeks of school, I pick sticks to choose a student to present each staff member with their thank you picture. Even though one student is giving the person the card, that student says “this is from all of us” and the whole class calls out “Thank you so much!”
Here are some ideas for staff to give thank yous to:
- Any pull-out or specials teachers, such as librarian, computer/technology teacher, PE teacher, music teacher, science teacher, art teacher, etc.
- Support teachers who work with some or all of your students such as a classroom or student aid, reading or math specialist, instructional support teachers, student teacher, etc.
- School admin and support staff such as your principal, custodians, secretaries, etc.
Are you going to try this thank you idea? Do you have any great ideas for volunteer thank yous that you love to do? I’d love to hear — please share!