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When All Else Fails, Turn to the Survival Kit!

Although the new school year may seem daunting on the first day, survival kits can help teachers and students feel welcome and inspire them to start the year on a positive note. Ingredients can include bandages, Life Savers, and pennies. Included: Ingredients for teacher and student survival kits.

Note: Before preparing or distributing any food in the classroom, make sure you are aware of children's allergies or dietary restrictions and caution children about choking hazards.

Is the first day of school around the corner? Are you looking for ways to inspire staff and students?

A back-to-school tool that has gained popularity in recent years is the survival kit for both teachers and students. These plastic or brown paper bags are filled with goodies that are fun, uplifting, and frequently tasty. Each bag includes an explanation of the significance of each item. Teachers and kids can reach in for some motivation or solace at rough moments during the school year.

These examples of survival kit ingredients were compiled from entries on a variety of listservs and Web resources. Some of these items might be used for both teachers and students.

This list of possible items for a teacher survival kit was collected by Dale Maxwell, a fourth-grade teacher at St. Bernard School in Los Angeles:

  • Life Savers: For when you've had one of those days.
  • Hugs and Kisses: To make everything worthwhile.
  • Bath salts: "To take you away." You deserve a quiet break.
  • Pipe cleaner: Flexibility is important for a successful school year.
  • Rickrack: Every school year has its ups and downs, but eventually things smooth out.
  • Matches: For those days when you feel you need to light a fire under your students.
  • Wiggly eye: Keep an eye on students to discover how best to help them. (Or, for when you wish you had eyes in the back of your head.)
  • Battery: Like the Energizer bunny, so you keep going, and going, and going. ...
  • Animal crackers: Eat these when you think your office is a zoo.
  • Jingle bell: Ring for help if you need it. We're here to help one another.
  • Present: Remember students are a gift.
  • Candy bar: Use this whenever you need a "Sweet Escape."
  • Smiley sticker: Try hard to wear a happy face.
  • Snowflake: When all else fails, pray for a snow day.
  • Flowerpot: We are here to plant the seeds of knowledge.
  • Clothespin: Hang in there!
  • Penny: You are a priceless part of [name of your school].
  • Orange: "Orange" you glad you are a part of the best school in [your town or district].
  • Toothpick: To remind you to pick the good qualities in everyone, including yourself.
  • Rubber band: To remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but they can be worked out.
  • Pencil: To remind you to list your blessings every day.
  • Tea bag: To remind you to take time to relax daily and go over that list of blessings.

Other potential survival tools:

  • Mounds: For the mounds of stuff you teach.
  • Crayon: To color your day.
  • Peanuts: To get a little nutty.
  • Band-Aid: For when things get a little rough.
  • Marbles: To replace those you lose.
  • Sponge: To absorb the overflow when your brain is saturated.
  • Puzzle piece: Teachers "complete" the puzzle.
  • Cup: For when yours "runneth over."

Survival kits for students can include some of the above ingredients, as well as these items with a note from the teacher:

  • Adhesive bandage: To remind you to heal hurt feelings, yours or someone else's.
  • Eraser: To remind you everyone makes mistakes. That's OK, we learn by our errors.
  • Candy kiss: To remind you that everyone needs a hug or a compliment every day.
  • Mint: To remind you that you are worth a mint to your family.
  • Bubble gum: To remind you if you stick with a project, you can accomplish anything.
  • Cotton ball: To remind you that this room is full of kind words and warm feelings.
  • Tissue: To remind you to help dry someone's tears.
  • Sticker: To remind you that class members stick together and help one another.
  • Star: To remind you to shine and always try your best.
  • Gold thread: To remind you that friendship ties our hearts together.
  • Penny: To remind you that you are valuable and special.
  • Life Savers: To remind you that you can come to me if you need someone with whom to talk.