With the holiday season approaching, many parents and teachers are scrambling and just looking for a break. We’ve been thrust from in-person to remote to hybrid learning and really have reached our capacity when it comes to anything new. We are in crisis mode. As such, with the holidays coming up, I’m posting the following items and ideas as gift options for either that parent, student or teacher needing some support.
The Box of Emotions
Let’s face it, we are all living in a “glass case of emotions” as Ron Burgundy famously stated. Sometimes, we need prompts to help all of us understand how we all feel being trapped in the same house together for the past 9 months. The Box of Emotions (Walmart $18.29) is just that. For those households struggling with their feelings or for the person just trying to make sense of their emotions, these could be good table topic cards.
Throw Throw Burrito Extreme Outdoor Edition
We’ve all gotten tired of staring at the same 4 walls at this point. It’s time to head outside no matter what the weather. We’re also tired of all the arguing and fighting between kids and parents, so why not take that emotion and head outdoors to throw giant inflatable burritos at each other? Throw Throw Burrito‘s new extreme outdoor edition (Amazon $29.99) is called “A dodgeball card game” that combines a go-fish-like card game with the joy of getting pegged in the face like dodgeball. No need to keep those emotions in a box….get them out with a fierce burrito overhand to the face.
Eero Mesh Wifi
Bandwidth is a valuable commodity in the remote learning household. Everyone is jostling for position on the next Zoom call and can’t all be hovering around the lone wifi router in the home like a moth to the internet flame. Mesh systems spread the wifi signal out to multiple points throughout the house, leveling the bandwidth load and making connectivity issues a thing of the past. For my money, the Eero Mesh 3-pack system (Eero $174-$599) helped our household from going completely apocalyptic when remote learning started. The basic system ($174) met all of our needs and has gifted us with 100Mbps to all devices (*speeds dependent on local Internet Service Providers)
Fitbit for Kids
With no in-person school, it’s easy for kids to relax and avoid any type of physical activity. They don’t have to get up to run to school, no more recess, no more physical education except for the occasional Go Noodle lesson on zoom. We tell our kids to “go play outside” whenever they have a break in between classes, but the truth is, we don’t know how much (or how little) physical activity they are really getting. This kid-appropriate FitBit (FitBit, $59.99) might be just the thing to track the movement of your 6-year old or the lack of movement from your 12-year old.
How Teachers Swear Coloring Book
Color therapy has been a trend over the recent years for adults to help setting their minds into a more meditative state. Teachers struggling with feeling stretched thin are really struggling with self-care when they have to teach in two places at once. As much as they would love to just sit down and binge-watch The Crown, they really need a break from the screen as well. This fun How Teachers Swear Coloring Book (Amazon, $6.99) is a great way to help your favorite teacher distress by discovering “clean” swear words hidden in everyday coloring patterns. Shut the front door!
Echo Dots to help with reminders
Parents already have to juggle their own work schedule, but now they are trying to figure out when kids are supposed to be on their next zoom class. Sometimes, there can be an easy button. We installed Echo dots (Amazon, $29.99) in each of our kids rooms when remote learning started. Not only does it allow us (and Amazon) to listen into what they are learning, we can have it remind them which class they need to be on next. For an added bonus, we can also make announcements throughout the house to help save our own vocal cords from yelling “IT’S TIME TO LOG ON” over and over again.
A stand to turn your phone into a document camera
For those teachers teaching at home (or at school) it can sometimes be a challenge to hold up a book or set of instructions to your webcam while trying to manage 30 kids on a zoom call. Using a simple stand like this Tryone Gooseneck Phone Holder (Amazon, $14.89) can help you multitask with ease by bending the camera in the direction you need. This stand can also double as a night-time reading tool or a way to record hands on science or cooking experiments.
An Online Course on Remote Teaching Tips & Tricks
Teachers are at capacity in many ways, but they are also constantly trying to improve their craft. Looking for strategies while also trying to teach all day can be exhausting. The Remote Learning Coach (Teachable, $125) is a jam-packed, self-paced course full of resources and ideas for remote teaching and learning. From engagement strategies to community-building ideas to delivering remote assessments, the course delivers a series of short entertaining videos along with activities and opportunity to reflect on current practices. And, because I happen to know the author personally, if you use code Thanks2020, you’ll get 20% off! 🙂
A larger monitor
Both students and teachers are having to do a lot of work on sometimes small-form screens like iPads or Chromebooks. Even many of the laptops on the market average a 13″ screen which doesn’t really provide the necessary screen real estate for the teacher or student trying to do a lesson while also participating in a live video call. This Samsung 32″ Curved monitor (Walmart, $189) provides ample screen space for the teacher juggling video calls with a Nearpod lesson or a student trying to listen along while working on an online project. Like most monitors, all you need is a HDMI cable to make your life a little bit easier.
Time for a drink?
Drinking is not the best form of self-care, but sometimes, it’s our only option. This clever little covered tumbler (Etsy, $18.95) is a great way to say thanks to your child’s teacher (or yourself). As it is insulated, it can double as a place to either put in your favorite morning drink or your favorite evening drink. And with the added protection of the lid, you don’t have to worry about spilling your beverage of choice all over your laptop when you are grading assignments while catching up on the latest episodes of the Masked Singer.
BONUS: Mega-virus killer for the classroom
Even though I just posted this article, I stumbled across this amazing device from Meteor Education called a CASPR. It’s a little compact unit that kills 99.9% of surface viruses and doesn’t use any chemicals. Better yet, it is silent, which would make it the perfect little unit for an in-person classroom or learning pod. One unit covers 1500 sq. ft! I spoke with someone recently that was using the unit, and apparently they use the same tech that’s found in high-risk ICU rooms. Might be something to consider going forward….
Remote teaching and learning has been hard. But hopefully, by sharing some of these gifts with those that you love, you can help reduce some of that struggle and help that struggling parent or teacher make it to 2021 and beyond. I wish all of you a happy holidays and new year. We can do this together!
Stay safe and stay sane.