Mini Clipboard Gifts for the Win!

This time of year always seems to be busier than any other time of year. Yes, I know the beginning of the year is busy, too, but I still think the end is busier. Maybe it's because it is almost summer or because I have a little less energy, but there is so much to do! 

A few weeks ago, I started trying to decide what I wanted to do for Mother's Day gifts. When I taught first grade, I made the Spa Moms that Fluttering Through First Grade created. They were adorable! However, first grade still makes those, so I needed to come up with something new. 

Last year, we tried doing thumbprint heart keychains. I saw the idea on Pinterest and thought, "This looks easy! I teach THIRD grade now! They can do this without any issues." Well, they did turn out okay, I wouldn't stamp it with a Pinterest FAIL, but they definitely weren't a gift I wanted to try again.

So, I looked and looked for a new idea. I saw tons of ideas. Some looked too simple or boring. Some were too complicated to pull off with 23 kiddos. I know. I know. I need to just do something quick and move on, but one of the things I love most about teaching is the opportunity to be creative. Boring wasn't an option, but complicated wasn't an option either. Then, I saw it! Clipboards! I checked on Amazon and found mini clipboards in bulk. I was able to order clipboards Sunday afternoon and had them at school by lunch on Tuesday. If you are wanting to do the same (even for a gift outside of Mother's Day), then look on Amazon. I got thirty clipboards for $30. 

Now, the photo I originally saw had a photograph of the kid attached. They made the clipboard into a frame. While I loved the concept, I didn't want to figure out how to take 23 cute photos and get them printed. Instead, I decided to have my kiddos write letters. Once my kids wrote their letters, I laminated them and trimmed them up. The kids then decorated envelopes. The kids and I all agreed that moms always keep letters, so by laminating them the ink wouldn't smudge and their third grade handwriting would forever be saved for their moms to read over and over.

Once the letters were done, we moved to the clipboards. I asked several parents to come in on the day we did the clipboards to help. While I hated ruining the surprise, I knew I needed some extra hands. 

First, the kids chose their scrapbook paper after we had a little talk about these being for their moms - not for them. One trick I learned is I got the paper booklet that is 6 inches by 6 inches. This meant that we did not have to do a lot of trimming. It also saved money. If you go to Michaels, make sure you take a coupon and a teacher badge. That will help even more!

Then, I helped each kid pick a paint color that would blend well with his/her scrapbook paper and they painted the front and the back of their clipboards. One thing we did to make this easier is we painted the front first. This meant that when we flipped it to the back, it could lean on the holder portion of the clipboard. Another thing we did to help drying time is we made sure the kids had very little paint to start with. We told the kids to make sure that they did not have any excess paint on the clipboard. This allowed the clipboards to dry within fifteen to twenty minutes.

After this, the kids put Mod Podge on the clipboards and placed the scrapbook papers they chose on top of it. We worked hard to get this smooth. Several kids got frustrated because of the wrinkles. I would suggest to make sure you have some extra scrapbook paper and even an extra clipboard or two. If your kids take this as seriously as mine did, you will end up with a few in tears because they want so badly to make it perfect. Also, make sure that you put plenty of Mod Podge. You will want to cover the entire board. We tried to not put much on the first few boards and the paper kept popping up on the edges. If you cover the board with the Mod Podge, it will not pop up.

When you finish placing the paper on the clipboard, you will do another layer of Mod Podge. This will allow the paper to be sealed onto the clipboard. The Mod Podge will need time to dry, so make sure you have a table where you can lay the clipboards. One thing I do is keep an old plastic tablecloth to lay things on. If you lay clipboards with glue or paint onto newspaper, it will stick. Trust me! DO NOT USE NEWSPAPER! 

Once the clipboards are dry, you can add ribbon to them. For 24 clipboards, it took me close to five full rolls of the wide ribbon. While ribbon can be expensive, remember you can use leftover rolls, ask parents to send in ribbon, or watch for a sale. I know Michael's does a lot of sales where their ribbon is 50% off. If I know I'm going to be doing certain crafts with my kids, I tend to grab it when I see it on sale. Also, be sure to grab some odd patterns and plain ribbon. Remember, it is okay for them to look a little quirky. That's what makes them neat and original.
Finally, I had two parents come back and put the clipboards into bags for me. One tip I'll give you with this is be sure to have a sample done. It makes it so much easier. Your parents want to help, but if you have a vision, make sure that they have a visual. 

While these were Mother's Day gifts, I do think these would work for so many types of gifts. You could make them End of Year gifts for volunteers, Valentine gifts, birthday gifts, etc. They could even be gifts for family members or a fun birthday, summer, or church activity for kids. I did have several adults to help me with passing out materials, trimming paper, and squirting paint, but my kids did everything themselves except adding the ribbon and wrapping the gifts. 

I hope you have fun creating!


  1. Very cute! Do you have an inexpensive source for the clipboards?

  2. I found the small clipboards on Amazon 30 for $30. This is a little more than I usually spend, but I already had all the other stuff leftover from other projects throughout the years.