I am so glad you found us! It is my mission to make teacher and staff appreciation as easy as possible for you.
This post contains everything you ever wanted to know about planning an "Out of This World!" space-themed Appreciation Week at your school. If you are in the "What did I get myself in to?! I AM FREAKING OUT!" stage and are looking for step-by-step instructions, I've got you covered. Our post, "How To Prepare for Appreciation Week," will walk you through the entire process. Be sure to download the free planning guide too!
The "catch phrase" if you will, was "Our Teachers and Staff are Out of This World!" I thought the space and rocket theme would be fun, and it was!
The Dr. Seuss and Superhero pictures were such a hit in previous years that I wanted to do some sort of picture decoration again. It adds a more personal touch to the celebration, don't you think? Instead of having a photographer come, I designed a rocket and inserted each staff member's face into the little window. I love how they turned out.
(Customizable Rockets are COMING SOON to The Appreciation Shop!)
TIP: The rockets were 12x18 which is a bit more expensive to print than an 8x10, especially when you need to print 60+. To make the posters more budget friendly, I asked the room parents to chip in a little bit out of their budgets to cover their classroom door decorations. They were happy to contribute.
Because there were 60+ rockets needing to be cut out, I asked for volunteers. Any volunteer project that can be done from home gets claimed very quickly, and many hands make light work. It would have taken hours and hours to cut them out by myself.
The Friday before Appreciation Week, I laid all the rockets out in the staff room and asked the room parents to come pick up their teacher's rocket and put it on the classroom door. (I told you, I'm getting better at this every year.) It took each of them five minutes TOPS.
Every year I evaluate the previous Appreciation Week and make modifications and improvements to my processes. This year was no different. This year, I did a much better job of getting the word out about Appreciation Week.
To increase awareness in the school community and generate some excitement before Appreciation Week (and hopefully more volunteers), posters are the way to go.
Posters are attention grabbers and serve as a visual reminder to parents who may have forgotten to read or respond to emails about Staff Appreciation Week.
Hang your posters up two weeks before Staff Appreciation Week. Hang them all around the school. Go wild! Put them at every entrance, next to the office, and anywhere parents and students congregate. The idea is not just to remind parents, but to also get the students excited. The little ones especially love to do something special for their beloved teachers.
SCHOOL EMAIL BLASTS, WEBSITE and SOCIAL MEDIA
Our PTSA created a school website this year and gave our Hospitality Committee a page of its very own! FANCY! I included information about Staff Appreciation Week plans and SignUp Genius links on the Hospitality webpage (which was listed on the posters and included in the weekly school newsletter).
Cover all of your bases. Yes, emails can get lost in an inbox, but many parents diligently read weekly school emails. Others prefer consuming their information via school Facebook pages or Instagram. Posters are great for raising awareness with the parents that go to the school. However, you also need to reach parents who are at work all day, and the families of children who ride the bus or walk to school themselves.
Get in touch with your school's communications volunteer and find out when their submission deadlines are. They can include information about Appreciation Week in their newsletters, send email blast reminders about coloring sheets, and post on the social media accounts for you.
The Time Line
You will want to print in phases unless you are REALLY on the ball and get it all done in one swoop. I don't think I have ever had everything ready two weeks ahead of time.
Phase One - Two weeks before Appreciation Week, print your invitations, promotional posters, coloring sheets, and anything else you have ready to go. Printing two weeks in advance will give you time to sort everything.
Phase Two - One week before Appreciation Week, print your customized daily event signs and food labels, along with any other posters, decorations, and printables (cupcake toppers, thank you tags, candy bar wrappers, etc.).
TIP: Ask your school office manager or secretary if you have access to the school district print shop. It depends on your district, but as long as you are printing something related to a school activity, it should be fine. Our school district print shop is fast, the prints look fantastic, and they are unbelievably affordable. Honestly, I get angry when I have to use FedEx, Staples, or a local print shop now because their mark up is ridiculous. Moving on.
The Monday before Appreciation Week, I delivered the main invitation + Blast Off Breakfast invitation + Rocket Fuel drink order form to the teacher/staff mailboxes. In the past I have passed out the invitation a week and a half in advance, and I have to say, everyone was much more prompt returning their drink labels with less notice!
NEW THIS YEAR! To streamline the lunch questionnaire process I created an online questionnaire using Google Forms. I emailed the individual staff responses to the parent signed up to make the lunch. Using an online questionnaire saved me at least three hours of data entry. I cannot believe I didn't use an online form sooner! Here is an article about creating a survey using Google Forms.
Before we jump in, let me point you to another resource: "Student Coloring Sheets for Appreciation Week." This topic deserves a post of its' own. Coordinating coloring sheets is not hard work, but it can be time-consuming. Also, parents can be squirrelly (myself included) and need constant reminders. Be sure to read the post and download the free planning guide and checklists. I have learned from my mistakes and fine-tuned the process over the years.
Here is the short version of coloring sheet preparation:
- Bring the school secretary some coffee or a treat (very important) and ask for an updated student headcount for each class. Do not use the school directory. Students come and go throughout the year, and the numbers most likely will not be accurate.
- Get a manilla envelope for every class, and place a coloring sheet for each student inside. These Rubber Finger Tips are the best things ever for sorting giant stacks of paper. They will save you hours of sorting. I'm not kidding.
- Coordinate with the room parents regarding pick up of the manilla envelope, distribution of the coloring sheets, parent communication, etc. (All of this is covered in-depth in the post I linked to up above.)
The Thursday before Appreciation Week, an "I Think You Are Out of This World!" coloring sheet was sent home with every student. It included instructions asking them to please color the rocket, write a note to their teacher, and return it to school on Monday.
NEW THIS YEAR: At the bottom of the coloring page instructions I included a link where students could download and print extra copies. The link was also included in our school newsletter which gets delivered via email on Sunday mornings. I didn’t have a single person frantically emailing me on Sunday asking for a copy.
Put decorations up on Friday afternoon, before Staff Appreciation Week. This year, instead of one giant poster in the school foyer, I printed a half dozen 12×18 posters that were hung on exterior doors around the school to remind everyone about Staff Appreciation Week, and let them know where to find additional coloring pages. I also created “Mission Specialist” signs for the front office staff, and a “Shuttle Commander” sign for the principal.
Extra “I Think You Are Out of This World because…” coloring sheets were available in the office for students to color. Many of them wanted to make pictures for past teachers, the music teacher, librarians, etc.
This year I recruited volunteers to decorate with me. I didn’t bother last year because I thought I would zip through everything in an hour…tops. Wrong. It took me almost three hours to put posters up. This year it took less than 30 minutes. Many hands make light work.
Sign Ups + Coordinating Volunteers
As with the coloring sheets, coordinating your incredible army of volunteers is worthy of a blog post of its' very own. Be sure to read "How To Prepare for Appreciation Week," for step-by-step instructions on coordinating committee and room parent volunteers.
Here is the short version of volunteer coordination:
- As soon as you know the dates for Appreciation Week let your committee and room parents know. Coordinate with the school secretary and/or office manager at the beginning of the school year to confirm the "official" week.
- Two months before Appreciation Week, send a reminder email to your volunteers. Mom-brain is real. I appreciate all the reminders I can get. I'm sure I'm not the only one.
- Create separate sign ups (using SignUp Genius) for each of your five events + decorations + coloring sheets + coffee cart.
- Email your committee one month before Appreciation Week with links to all of your sign ups.
- Two weeks before Appreciation Week, reach out to volunteers that have not signed up yet. Include room parents in the email. They are on the ball and always willing to help.
It goes on. Like I said, read the other blog post and download the free worksheets and checklists. It really isn't that difficult, but you will have a lot of balls in the air. Checklists are your friend.
SignUp Genius is also your friend. If you have planned other appreciation lunches and events throughout the year, you can duplicate those events and just tweak the details. EASY!
Update: A few years after this event, SignUp Genius rolled out TABBED sign ups. You can now create one glorious Appreciation Week sign up with tabs for each event. It is organized and beautiful. There is an additional fee for this feature, so I upgraded my account for a few months leading up to Appreciation Week in order to have access. You can read more about how I created a tabbed Appreciation Week sign up here.
The Daily Events
Instead of one ridiculously long post, I am going to break it down by day for you by day. During our "OUT OF THIS WORLD!" Appreciation Week, we had the following events. Click the links below to read about the prep, decorations, reserving a food truck, and more.
I laid the groundwork and purchased supplies for each of the events ahead of time to make the daily set-up quick and easy.
TIP: Our local party supply store will donate a percentage of sales to our school. Yours might too! I give them the school name at checkout, and voila, instant fundraising. Every little bit helps, right?
I created a color scheme for the week, which you can see in the pictures: orange, bright green, black, and silver. I purchased table cloths, paper plates, paper cups, utensils, and napkins in those colors and used them throughout the week. Any leftovers from one day were carried over to the next.
I stashed all of the daily supplies in the staff lounge, under the table where we would be setting up each day. They were hidden and easily accessible. Win-win!
More Appreciation Goodness!
Space is just one of the Appreciation Week themes I have planned over the years. You can use one of these themes for next year!