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 a "Building a Brighter Future" LEGO-Inspired 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!
Making Our Staff Feel Like "The Special"
I know I say this every year, but this is my new favorite theme. It is colorful and fun, and I've spent the last few months with the song, "Everything is awesome! Everything is cool when you're part of a team," stuck it my head. You can't help but smile with that running through your head all the time.
This year, I had one daughter in elementary school and the other in middle school. After being at our elementary school for so long, it was disconcerting to walk into the middle school and not know a single soul. Even after six months, I still had no clue if the adults I was seeing were teachers, staff, or visiting parents. Not a clue. I'm sure parents at EVERY school feel that way at some point, and so I wanted to make it very obvious who our staff members were during Appreciation Week.
I love how the “Master Builder” badges turned out. Not only do they make staff members easy to spot, it is a little something extra to make them feel like "The Special" all week long. After all, not just anyone gets to wear a Master Builder badge! (I used these name badge holders.)
On Friday afternoon, I put “Master Builder” badges in the staff mailboxes and sent out an email asking them to wear the badges during Appreciation Week. (They come in two different versions: One with “Building a bright future, one student at a time,” at the bottom, and one without.)
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.
Deliver invitations (shown above) to the staff mailboxes anywhere from a few days to one week beforehand. Unlike years past (hold on to your hats!) our LEGO inspired Appreciation Week does not have pre-ordered coffee drinks for breakfast, or individual staff lunches prepared by parents. There is nothing for the staff to return so the invitations don’t need to be delivered any earlier. Cha-cha-changes!
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, send the students home with “I Think You Are Awesome because…” pictures to color for their teacher. In addition to the coloring pages being sent home, if your school sends out a weekly newsletter, include a blurb about Appreciation Week and a link for parents to download and print additional copies. On Monday, the students will present their pictures and notes to their teachers, and a (pre-arranged) room parent will hang them on the classroom doors.
TIP: 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.
This was so much fun. I made two different sets of posters this year, "Master Builder" posters and "Everything Is Awesome" posters. We hung them all over the school. Don't you love a good cohesive theme? 12x18 posters are so inexpensive to print at our school district print shop, and look fantastic. They are such an affordable and fun decoration!
We have the following posters available in our shop:
Welcome Master Builders + Our Master Builders Are The Best in the Universe
Everything Is Awesome Because of Our Teacher
Everything is Awesome Collection (Teacher, Staff, Secretaries, Principal)
TIP: The “Everything is Awesome because of our Teacher” posters can be hung up on the classroom doors on Friday after school, or you can ask each classroom volunteer to hang it up along with the coloring sheets on Monday. If you do hang them on Friday, recruit some help. You would not believe how long it takes to hang up one poster per door by yourself. It’s not the quick ten minute job you think it is. (I speak from experience.)
STAFF ROOM DECORATIONS
I created giant LEGO bricks on the walls of the staff room to serve as a backdrop for the entire week. I can't take credit for the idea. I found it on Pinterest. It is SO EASY. I used the giant rolls of paper from the art room (if you are allowed - I was) to create giant LEGOs on the wall. Then attach paper plates in the same colors with tape to complete the look. I used extra plates that I purchased for the Assembly Stations!
Another reason I love this LEGO inspired theme is the ease of decorating. The four colors associated with LEGO are red, yellow, green, and blue. It is beyond easy to find napkins, plates, cups, and utensils in these primary colors. You can mix and match them all week long. This year, instead of disposable tablecloths, I purchased two red fabric tablecloths from Amazon. They were the same price as disposable, and looked so much nicer. Add some white serving dishes for consistency and you are all set! I purchased multiple white three-compartment serving dishes and reused them for every Assembly Station. They were so handy!
MINI-FIG PHOTO BOARD
How cute is this little guy?! I painted him. You can find assembly photos and instructions here. This little dude was the star of the week. The kids LOVED having their pictures taken with him. I moved him around the school throughout the week. He was the best publicity ever!
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.
This Assembly Station format of the events this year made it the easiest Appreciation Week I have ever coordinated, hands down. The volunteers were happy because there was no meal prep. They simply needed to buy the items requested for the Assembly Stations. The staff was happy because they could build their meals exactly how they like them. If someone wanted a taco salad instead of a taco? Done! Perhaps someone had a gluten sensitivity? Skip the muffins and have a yogurt parfait for breakfast instead! 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
One of my favorite elements of this theme is the flexibility. Just like building with LEGO bricks, you can create and customize your Appreciation Week anyway you want to using the individual pieces of the collection. I started out designing “Assembly Stations” for our Appreciation Week specifically, but the list grew. Every year I get requests to create custom event signage for other schools. For instance, “Can you make a sign that says SUPER Lunch instead of SOUPer Lunch?” I try to accommodate custom design requests, but it is simply not possible during Teacher and Staff Appreciation season. This time around I planned ahead and created Assembly Stations for every Build-Your-Own food I could think of. Some you will see pictured in my other Appreciation Week posts, others you can see in our shop.
This Appreciation Week theme is completely flexible. You can duplicate my event exactly, or do something completely different. Regardless of the Assembly Stations you choose, it will be AWESOME!
This post is getting looooong, so I am going to break it down day-by-day. For our "Building a Brighter Future!" Appreciation Week, we had the following events. Click the links to read about the prep, budgeting pizza for 60 people, our first coffee cart, and more!
How to Build a Lego-Inspired Appreciation Week
How To Build a Mini-Fig Photo Board
Snack Assembly Station
Taco Assembly Station (Taco Tuesday)
Everything is Awesome...Because of Coffee Cart
Breakfast Assembly Station
"Pizza" of Resistance
Dessert Assembly Station
More Appreciation Goodness!
The "Building a Brighter Future" LEGO-Inspired theme is just one of the Appreciation Week themes I have planned over the years. You can use one of these themes for next year!