15 Smart Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week

iStock.com/Iuliia_Syrotina_28
iStock.com/Iuliia_Syrotina_28

Whether it's a friend with a teaching job, your child's teacher, or your own professor, you probably know at least one person who spends their days at a blackboard. May 6 through May 10 is National Teacher Appreciation Week 2019, so celebrate by getting the perfect gift to thank your favorite educator for all their hard work.

1. RETRO PENS; $10

Five retro-looking pens

Kikkerland, Amazon

From hall passes to report cards, teachers have to do a lot of writing—so help them do it in style. This set of five vintage-looking ballpoint pens come in fun retro colors and write with black ink.

Find it: Amazon

2. WOODEN ANIMAL PENCILS; $9

Pencils with tops that look like animals sitting in a cup

Kikkerland, Amazon

If your teacher prefers pencils to pens, don’t worry—there are plenty of kitsch writing utensils to go around. These painted pencils look just like woodland creatures and are perfect for injecting whimsy into writing notes or completing a crossword puzzle. (For equally great writing utensils with a little less flair, check out our guide to bullet journal supplies.)

Find it: Amazon

3. NOVEL TEAS; $14

'Novel Teas' boxes on a table next to a kettle
Bag Ladies Tea, Amazon

Big readers and English teachers will definitely get a kick out these novel tea bags. As the punny name suggests, each tea bag comes with a famous quote from classic literature. The English Breakfast tea will taste even better when enjoyed with the likes of Jane Austen.

Find it: Amazon

4. NATIONAL PARKS EXPLORER MAP; $55

A map of the U.S. with trees marking the location of every national park
Seth and Maddy Lucas, UncommonGoods

Maps aren't just important teaching tools—they also make for excellent home decor. But instead of focusing on history or geography, this map shows all of the national parks in the United States and includes a handy key that identifies each one. The owner can use included tree stickers to mark off which parks they've visited.

Find it: UncommonGoods

5. BOOK-THEMED CANDLES; $22

You can’t go wrong with one of these amazing candles when you're shopping for librarians, English teachers, or general bibliophiles. Each scent is inspired by literature, whether it be a specific book (the Harry Potter novels) or a place (the Oxford library).

Find it: Amazon

6. BRAIN SPECIMEN COASTERS; $27

Glass coasters that look like they have slices of brain on them

ThinkGeek, Amazon

Each of these glass coasters shows a different slice of the brain; when stacked in the right order (don’t worry; they’re labeled to help you), they look like a full brain. The set comes with 10 coasters and will look great on an office desk.

Find it: Amazon or at one of the retailers below:

7. COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK TOTE; $20

A tote bag that looks like a black-and-white composition notebook

Out of Print, Amazon

Teachers have to haul around a lot of stuff, so give them a fun bag to use when they do it. This tote bag from Out of Print is perfect for teachers with students who still use the classic composition notebooks. (There's also a library card version.) If you’re not crazy about the tote, they also have a ton of literary-inspired pouches.

Find it: Amazon or Out of Print

8. CHAIR SOCKS; $12

Noise-sensitive teachers sometimes put tennis balls on the bottom of chair legs to keep them from making loud, scraping noises. If the teacher you know is also aggravated by screeching chairs (or maybe just concerned about the floor scratching), give them these chair socks. The set comes with four adorable cat paws that can fit on the legs of most chairs and desks. (If your favorite educator isn't into cutesy animals, there are also other more subtle designs available.)

Find it: Urban Outfitters or Amazon

9. CORK GLOBE; $55

A globe made out of cork
Suck UK, Amazon

Lots of teachers have regular globes in their room, but your favorite teacher could use something a little more creative. This special globe is made from cork and comes with its own special set of red markers that can be used to show where they have traveled or what country their students are currently learning about.

Find it: Amazon

10. Stanley Ceramivac Bottle; $35

A green Stanley bottle

Stanley, Amazon

Teachers may not have coffee pots or microwaves in their classrooms, meaning they may be stuck drinking cold coffee (or worse, no coffee at all) throughout the day. So don't give them a punny mug this year; give them the gift of vacuum insulation. Stanley's Ceramivac bottles are designed to keep beverages hot for nine hours and cold for 14, and the ceramic finish is a much-needed upgrade to the stainless steel bottle, making it a more natural drinking feel. It has a spill-proof lid and a lifetime guarantee, and it comes in a number of sizes and colors. The 24-ounce size would be a good bet, but if you know your favorite teacher is a coffee addict, upgrade to the 36-ounce version. And while the standard bottle's screw-top lid is excellent for preventing spills and keeping beverages hot for longer (and can be poured into that punny teacher-themed mug), there's also a Ceramivac sip-through tumbler.

Find it: Amazon or Backcountry.com

11. Modern Moose Wall Clock; $48 to $48

A clock shaped like a shark hangs on the wall above a desk

Modern Moose, The Grommet

Both teachers and students spend a significant amount of the day glancing at the time, so make looking at the clock more fun. Modern Moose's whimsical pendulum clocks come in a fox or a shark design, while the table/wall clocks also come in the shape of a robot, a moose, a sock monkey, or an owl, as well as a cutesy take on the standard cuckoo clock.

Find it: The Grommet

12. Rocketbook Everlast Smart Reusable Notebook; $30

A Rocketbook notebook with drawings in it on a desk

Rocketbook, Amazon

Teachers go through a lot of paper each day, but taking notes doesn't have to add to their carbon footprint. The Rocketbook Everlast notebook works with any Pilot FriXion pen or highlighter and can be used to beam notes to cloud services like Google Drive and Evernote. Once the pages are filled up, the notebook can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and used again.

Find it: Amazon or Walmart

13. Cleaning Supplies and Wipes

A child's hand pulls a wet wipe out of a package.
iStock.com/AdamRadosavljevic

Classrooms full of children can be a germaphobe's nightmare. Help your favorite teacher and their students stay clean and germ-free by helping them stock up on wet wipes, hand sanitizer (Touchland's pocket-sized sprays would look great in a gift bag), screen cleaner (this dual-sided gadget would do the trick, as would this spray), and surface cleaning wipes and sprays.

14. Amazon Prime; $39 to $119

A hands holds an open Amazon box
iStock.com/AdrianHancu

Yes, Amazon offers gift memberships to Amazon Prime. Give your favorite teacher access to free shipping, thousands of music playlists, a ton of free e-books, and other Prime perks that would be useful both inside and outside the classroom. All you have to do is enter your favorite teacher's email address. If the recipient already has a Prime membership, your gift doesn't go to waste, either—it converts to a regular Amazon gift card. You can gift a three-month membership for $39 or a full year for $119.

Find it: Amazon

15. Pop Chart Lab's 100 Essential Novels Scratch-Off Chart; $26

Perfect for literature lovers, Pop Chart Lab's 100 Essential Novels scratch-off poster features classic classroom reading like Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Catch 22, and 1984. Your favorite teacher could use it to track their own reading list or incorporate it into their English curriculum—after the class finishes a book, they can scratch away the gold foil to reveal a design inspired by the book. If your favorite teacher covers other subjects, Pop Chart Lab has plenty of great graphic explorations of fields other than literature, too. Hard-core grammar nerds will love its sentence-diagram charts and parts of speech visualizations, while history teachers might be more into the diagrammed Declaration of Independence and science teachers might prefer Pop Chart's take on the Periodic Table of Elements or the Chart of Cosmic Exploration.

Find it: Pop Chart Lab

A version of this post first ran in 2016. It has been updated to reflect current availability as of May 2019.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

11 Patriotic Products to Celebrate the Fourth of July

Amazon
Amazon

Whether you’ll be lounging by the beach or grilling in your backyard this Independence Day, don’t forget to show off your all-American spirit with a little swag. Here are 11 products to help you celebrate Fourth of July—all of which would pair nicely with your collection of presidential bobbleheads.

1. Declaration Of Independence Signatures Mug; $15

Mug decorated with the signatures from the Declaration of Independence.
CafePress, Amazon

The names of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence are on display on this ceramic coffee mug. Studying the signatures each morning might inspire you to perfect your own John Hancock.

Find it: Amazon

2. Stars And Stripes Cufflinks; $55

Cufflinks with images of stars and stripes on them

Cufflinks Inc., Nordstrom

Brighten up your wardrobe with a splash of American pride. One half of this cufflinks set is striped red and white and the other is blue and spangled with stars. Together they make a patriotic accent piece.

Find it: Nordstrom

3. Fireworks Light Show Projector; $41

Portable fireworks light projector.
Uncle Milton, Amazon

If you want a low-hazard Fourth of July that still delivers thrills, consider getting a light show projector. When it’s pointed at a wall, the device displays vibrant fireworks animations accompanied by realistic sound effects. And it works indoors, so you can count on your Independence Day party ending with a light show no matter the weather forecast. (There's also a Disney version available for just $20.)

Find it: Amazon

4. Inflatable Cooler; $14

Inflatable American flag cooler filled with ice and drinks.
Fun Express, Amazon

When preparing for a picnic or barbecue this Fourth of July, don’t bother breaking out your tiny roll-away cooler. This 54-by-28-inch inflatable trough holds enough bottles and cans to keep your party going well past sunset. Once the cooler has been drained and deflated, it folds neatly for easy storage.

Find it: Amazon

5. American Trivia Cards; $15

Even players who paid attention in American history class might find this game challenging. Each box comes with 150 cards of United States trivia. Some questions—like what was the first state to grant women the right to vote—highlight important moments in our nation’s history. Others—like how many columns the Lincoln Memorial features—are a little more random.

Find it: UncommonGoods

6. U.S. Navy Blanket; $200

The U.S. military has been going to Faribault Woolen Mill Co. for its blankets for over 100 years. This one is crafted from 100 percent wool and weighs 3.5 pounds. The design is inspired by the blankets supplied on Navy ships—and if it’s tough enough for the Navy, you can bet it will withstand a Fourth of July picnic. We like the gray version, but it comes in several different styles and colors.

Find it: Faribault Woolen Mill Co.

7. American Flag Cornhole; $90

Two American flag cornhole boards with bean bags.
GoSports, Amazon

Baseball faces some stiff competition from cornhole for the title of No. 1 American pastime. This lawn set includes four blue bean bags, four red bean bags, and two boards decorated to resemble the American flag.

Find it: Amazon

8. U.S. Map Cutting Board; $20

Wooden cutting board in the shape of the U.S. map.
Totally Bamboo, Amazon

This 100 percent bamboo board eschews the traditional rectangle shape in favor of the outline of the American mainland. You can either keep it in the kitchen and use it as a cutting board or bring it out to the party as a serving platter for fruits, cheeses, and other hors d'oeuvres.

Find it: Amazon

9. Boston Tea Party Tea Sampler; $15

Six piles of loose-leaf tea.
Solstice Tea Traders, Amazon

A sip of one of the teas in this sampler will put you in touch with your inner revolutionary. Each of the six loose-leaf varieties—bohea black tea, oolong, congou black tea, souchong, singlo, and hyson—was among those tossed over the sides of British ships during the Boston Party. Whether you drink the tea or chuck it into the nearest harbor is up to you. (If you're looking for something to put on display, UncommonGoods also sells a slightly pricier, more elegant option with five teas.)

Find it: Amazon

10. State Map Prints; $27 and Up

A poster featuring a colorful map of Wisconsin
Bri Buckley, Society6

These unique prints by Bri Buckley highlight the beauty of each U.S. state in vibrant color. Each state map is available in both a modern and a vintage style, and like most Society6 art, the design is also available on tapestries, shirts, pillows, tote bags, and more.

Find it: Society6

11. Bald Eagle Pool Float; $15

A man and a woman ride a bald eagle pool float
Swimline, Amazon

Cool down the patriotic way this Fourth of July. This massive 8-foot-by-6-foot bald eagle pool float can fit up to two people comfortably, and will look great floating around your pool during your backyard barbecue.

Find it: Amazon

A version of this article first ran in 2017. It has been updated for 2019.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Turn Your Phone Into an Instant Camera With KODAK's New Handheld Printer

KODAK
KODAK

Instant cameras are all the rage, but when you're already carrying a high-end camera everywhere you go in the form of your smartphone, the idea of carrying around an extra gadget might seem like more work than it's worth. You don't have to choose between the convenience of your phone's camera and the fun of having a tangible memento. KODAK's new SMILE digital printer combines all the fun of using filters and image editing on your phone with the delight of having a printed copy of your photo.

Blue, green, black, red, and white KODAK SMILE printers printing photos
The KODAK SMILE line of instant digital printers
KODAK

The handheld Bluetooth printer—which is roughly the same size as KODAK's SMILE instant digital camera—lets you edit photos on your phone, then print your image instantly on 2-inch-by-3-inch sticker paper. Using the KODAK SMILE app, you can add Instagram-esque filters; rotate images and change contrast, brightness, and other characteristics; and add stickers, text, doodles, and borders.

Most uniquely, you can add augmented reality elements to your photos, so that when you (or someone else with the KODAK SMILE app) point the app at the physical print, the image is replaced by a short video clip. The effect is something like the moving photographs in Harry Potter—you can surprise your friends by asking them to view a photo through the app's AR function, then watch their delight as the still image begins to move.

The KODAK SMILE app
KODAK

KODAK sent Mental Floss both the SMILE instant camera and the SMILE printer to test, and while there's a lot of fun in snapping photos on an instant camera and accepting whatever weird flaws that photo might have (though you can do some light editing on the SMILE camera before printing), in our opinion, the breadth of image-editing features and convenience of being able to print photos you've already taken on your smartphone makes the digital printer the better option if you're trying to choose between the two.

This is especially true if you're going on vacation or trying to capture a night out on camera; it's just easier to whip out your phone rather than break out another camera, and it's easier to edit photos on your phone than to manipulate photos on the SMILE instant camera's small screen.

Blue, black, green, white, and red KODAK SMILE instant-print cameras
The KODAK SMILE line of instant-print digital cameras
KODAK

The SMILE printer is available on Amazon and Walmart for $100 and comes in five different colors: white, black, blue, green, and red. The SMILE instant-print digital camera is also $100 on Amazon and Walmart and is available in the same colors.

While the camera and the printer both come with a starter pack of sticker-backed ZINK photo paper, you can get 50 refill sheets for $24 when you run out.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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