15 Smart Gifts for Teacher Appreciation Week

iStock.com/Iuliia_Syrotina_28
iStock.com/Iuliia_Syrotina_28

Whether it's a friend with a teaching job, your child's teacher, or your own professor, you probably know at least one person who spends their days at a blackboard. May 6 through May 10 is National Teacher Appreciation Week 2019, so celebrate by getting the perfect gift to thank your favorite educator for all their hard work.

1. RETRO PENS; $10

Five retro-looking pens

Kikkerland, Amazon

From hall passes to report cards, teachers have to do a lot of writing—so help them do it in style. This set of five vintage-looking ballpoint pens come in fun retro colors and write with black ink.

Find it: Amazon

2. WOODEN ANIMAL PENCILS; $9

Pencils with tops that look like animals sitting in a cup

Kikkerland, Amazon

If your teacher prefers pencils to pens, don’t worry—there are plenty of kitsch writing utensils to go around. These painted pencils look just like woodland creatures and are perfect for injecting whimsy into writing notes or completing a crossword puzzle. (For equally great writing utensils with a little less flair, check out our guide to bullet journal supplies.)

Find it: Amazon

3. NOVEL TEAS; $14

'Novel Teas' boxes on a table next to a kettle
Bag Ladies Tea, Amazon

Big readers and English teachers will definitely get a kick out these novel tea bags. As the punny name suggests, each tea bag comes with a famous quote from classic literature. The English Breakfast tea will taste even better when enjoyed with the likes of Jane Austen.

Find it: Amazon

4. NATIONAL PARKS EXPLORER MAP; $55

A map of the U.S. with trees marking the location of every national park
Seth and Maddy Lucas, UncommonGoods

Maps aren't just important teaching tools—they also make for excellent home decor. But instead of focusing on history or geography, this map shows all of the national parks in the United States and includes a handy key that identifies each one. The owner can use included tree stickers to mark off which parks they've visited.

Find it: UncommonGoods

5. BOOK-THEMED CANDLES; $22

You can’t go wrong with one of these amazing candles when you're shopping for librarians, English teachers, or general bibliophiles. Each scent is inspired by literature, whether it be a specific book (the Harry Potter novels) or a place (the Oxford library).

Find it: Amazon

6. BRAIN SPECIMEN COASTERS; $27

Glass coasters that look like they have slices of brain on them

ThinkGeek, Amazon

Each of these glass coasters shows a different slice of the brain; when stacked in the right order (don’t worry; they’re labeled to help you), they look like a full brain. The set comes with 10 coasters and will look great on an office desk.

Find it: Amazon or at one of the retailers below:

7. COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK TOTE; $20

A tote bag that looks like a black-and-white composition notebook

Out of Print, Amazon

Teachers have to haul around a lot of stuff, so give them a fun bag to use when they do it. This tote bag from Out of Print is perfect for teachers with students who still use the classic composition notebooks. (There's also a library card version.) If you’re not crazy about the tote, they also have a ton of literary-inspired pouches.

Find it: Amazon or Out of Print

8. CHAIR SOCKS; $12

Noise-sensitive teachers sometimes put tennis balls on the bottom of chair legs to keep them from making loud, scraping noises. If the teacher you know is also aggravated by screeching chairs (or maybe just concerned about the floor scratching), give them these chair socks. The set comes with four adorable cat paws that can fit on the legs of most chairs and desks. (If your favorite educator isn't into cutesy animals, there are also other more subtle designs available.)

Find it: Urban Outfitters or Amazon

9. CORK GLOBE; $55

A globe made out of cork
Suck UK, Amazon

Lots of teachers have regular globes in their room, but your favorite teacher could use something a little more creative. This special globe is made from cork and comes with its own special set of red markers that can be used to show where they have traveled or what country their students are currently learning about.

Find it: Amazon

10. Stanley Ceramivac Bottle; $35

A green Stanley bottle

Stanley, Amazon

Teachers may not have coffee pots or microwaves in their classrooms, meaning they may be stuck drinking cold coffee (or worse, no coffee at all) throughout the day. So don't give them a punny mug this year; give them the gift of vacuum insulation. Stanley's Ceramivac bottles are designed to keep beverages hot for nine hours and cold for 14, and the ceramic finish is a much-needed upgrade to the stainless steel bottle, making it a more natural drinking feel. It has a spill-proof lid and a lifetime guarantee, and it comes in a number of sizes and colors. The 24-ounce size would be a good bet, but if you know your favorite teacher is a coffee addict, upgrade to the 36-ounce version. And while the standard bottle's screw-top lid is excellent for preventing spills and keeping beverages hot for longer (and can be poured into that punny teacher-themed mug), there's also a Ceramivac sip-through tumbler.

Find it: Amazon or Backcountry.com

11. Modern Moose Wall Clock; $48 to $48

A clock shaped like a shark hangs on the wall above a desk

Modern Moose, The Grommet

Both teachers and students spend a significant amount of the day glancing at the time, so make looking at the clock more fun. Modern Moose's whimsical pendulum clocks come in a fox or a shark design, while the table/wall clocks also come in the shape of a robot, a moose, a sock monkey, or an owl, as well as a cutesy take on the standard cuckoo clock.

Find it: The Grommet

12. Rocketbook Everlast Smart Reusable Notebook; $30

A Rocketbook notebook with drawings in it on a desk

Rocketbook, Amazon

Teachers go through a lot of paper each day, but taking notes doesn't have to add to their carbon footprint. The Rocketbook Everlast notebook works with any Pilot FriXion pen or highlighter and can be used to beam notes to cloud services like Google Drive and Evernote. Once the pages are filled up, the notebook can be wiped clean with a damp cloth and used again.

Find it: Amazon or Walmart

13. Cleaning Supplies and Wipes

A child's hand pulls a wet wipe out of a package.
iStock.com/AdamRadosavljevic

Classrooms full of children can be a germaphobe's nightmare. Help your favorite teacher and their students stay clean and germ-free by helping them stock up on wet wipes, hand sanitizer (Touchland's pocket-sized sprays would look great in a gift bag), screen cleaner (this dual-sided gadget would do the trick, as would this spray), and surface cleaning wipes and sprays.

14. Amazon Prime; $39 to $119

A hands holds an open Amazon box
iStock.com/AdrianHancu

Yes, Amazon offers gift memberships to Amazon Prime. Give your favorite teacher access to free shipping, thousands of music playlists, a ton of free e-books, and other Prime perks that would be useful both inside and outside the classroom. All you have to do is enter your favorite teacher's email address. If the recipient already has a Prime membership, your gift doesn't go to waste, either—it converts to a regular Amazon gift card. You can gift a three-month membership for $39 or a full year for $119.

Find it: Amazon

15. Pop Chart Lab's 100 Essential Novels Scratch-Off Chart; $26

Perfect for literature lovers, Pop Chart Lab's 100 Essential Novels scratch-off poster features classic classroom reading like Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, Catch 22, and 1984. Your favorite teacher could use it to track their own reading list or incorporate it into their English curriculum—after the class finishes a book, they can scratch away the gold foil to reveal a design inspired by the book. If your favorite teacher covers other subjects, Pop Chart Lab has plenty of great graphic explorations of fields other than literature, too. Hard-core grammar nerds will love its sentence-diagram charts and parts of speech visualizations, while history teachers might be more into the diagrammed Declaration of Independence and science teachers might prefer Pop Chart's take on the Periodic Table of Elements or the Chart of Cosmic Exploration.

Find it: Pop Chart Lab

A version of this post first ran in 2016. It has been updated to reflect current availability as of May 2019.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

Make Taking Out the Trash Your Easiest Chore With This Self-Sealing Trash Can

townew
townew

“What died in here?” is a question most homeowners (and renters) have asked themselves at some point after discovering that their kitchen trash can is no match for the festering odor of raw chicken trimmings, rotting cantaloupe rinds, balsamic vinaigrette runoff, and everything else that they've discarded that week.

The folks at Knectek Labs have invented a trash can that’ll ensure you never have to ask yourself, or anyone else, that question again. The multi-talented gadget, called townew, not only seals in odors, it also seals and changes the trash bag for you. All you have to do is press a button, wait a few seconds for townew to seal the bag, then toss it in the dumpster while townew replaces the bag for you.

Townew is also smart enough to detect when the trash can is overflowing (which is always your roommate’s fault and never yours, of course) and will lift the entire top compartment in order to seal the bag without any spillage.

To open the lid, simply wave your hand over the top of townew; it’ll stay open for several seconds and close automatically. Need it to stay open for longer? Tap the button on the front of the machine and townew will keep its lid open until you tap the button again. When the bin is full and it’s time to take out the trash, hold the button for three seconds, and townew will seal the bag for you.

Townew is manufactured with acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, an engineering-grade plastic built to withstand humidity and temperature changes as well as chemical and physical impacts, so it won’t let a mid-summer heat wave stink up your kitchen and it won’t get demolished by your mischievous dog. It’s the same plastic that LEGO uses for many of its bricks—and if you’ve ever stepped on one of those, you know just how durable it is.

Just once a month, you’ll have to do two small tasks: replace townew’s recyclable refill ring, which contains 25 trash bags, and charge its 2000 mAh battery for 10 hours.

A townew trash can in an office
townew

The 15.8-inch-tall trash can comes in teal or white, and its sleek, tech-chic design will blend seamlessly with the decor of any room. Indiegogo’s early bird special includes the trash can and four refill rings for $70—shipping is free, and estimated delivery is scheduled for this September. Check out other buying options here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don’t return, so we’re only happy if you’re happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

7 Useful Products With a Lifetime Guarantee

iStock.com/billnoll
iStock.com/billnoll

It’s worth it to splurge on a new pair of shoes or a set of good knives if you know they'll last forever—or if they don't, that their maker will repair or replace them for free. Here’s a round-up of seven useful everyday items that come with a manufacturer's lifetime guarantee.

1. Le Creuset Cookware

A Le Creuset cookware set
Le Creuset's five-piece cookware set in cherry
Le Creuset, Amazon

We know that $350 seems like a steep price to pay for a 5.5-quart Dutch oven. However, plenty of cooking enthusiasts are willing to shell out top dollar for iconic French cookware manufacturer Le Creuset’s enamel cast-iron pots, casserole dishes, and skillets.

The colorful kitchen tools are attractive and durable, plus they distribute heat evenly. An added bonus? Each item comes with a lifetime limited warranty. "Defective cookware will be replaced free of charge, or replaced by a similar product or one of equivalent value if the product is no longer in production," Le Creuset’s website states.

Of course, you can’t just swap your grandmother’s ancient Le Creuset casserole dish (or the one you bought on eBay) for a new model if it chips or breaks. You have to be the item’s original owner. The warranty also "does not cover damage from abuse, commercial use or other non-consumer use, neglect, abnormal wear or tear, overheating, or any use not in accordance with the cookware instructions provided with the utensil." In other words, it needs to be obvious that the cookware has worn down with consistent use (and that you didn't accidentally scorch it in a kitchen fire).

Get one of the brand's signature Dutch ovens (or a five-piece set) on Amazon, Sur La Table (which regularly runs sales on its pricier cookware) the Le Creuset website, or at these other retailers:

2. Zippo Lighters

A black Zippo matte pocket lighter
Zippo, Amazon

We’re not endorsing smoking, but portable butane lighters can be useful if you’re camping and need a quick and easy fire source. Plus, many people find flicking a lighter’s tiny switch to be less intimidating than lighting a match.

If you do plan on purchasing a lighter for household or outdoor use, make it a Zippo. Founded in 1932, the iconic company’s trademarked slogan is “It works or we fix it free." No matter how old or damaged your pocket lighter, you can ship it to Zippo. They’ll promptly repair or replace it—but keep in mind that this warranty only extends to real Zippos, and not toward counterfeit lighters. (Factories in China reportedly make around 12 million fake Zippos a year.) Wondering if you own the real thing? The Wall Street Journal produced a handy video back in 2011 that teaches you how to distinguish a genuine Zippo from a fake.

Get one of Zippo's genuine Windproof Lighters on Amazon for $10 and up.

3. JanSport Backpacks

A black JanSport backpack
JanSport's SuperBreak backpack
JanSport, Amazon

If the trusty JanSport backpack you purchased in high school is starting to look a little threadbare, you can send it—or for that matter, any one of the brand’s packs, bags, or luggage items—back to its warranty center in Alameda, California. Depending on the damage, JanSport will repair it, replace it, or refund it.

Repairs will take anywhere from four to six weeks, depending on the season, and while you pay the initial shipping charges, JanSport absorbs the bag’s return costs. However, JanSport doesn’t claim responsibility for “direct, incidental or consequential damages." Your pack's wear and tear should stem from good old-fashioned use—not because, say, it got shredded by a luggage carousel.

Get one for yourself from JanSport's website or on Amazon, where the classic SuperBreak model is currently $33. It's also available at Backcountry.com ($36) and Walmart $32 and up).

4. Craftsman Tools

A 193-piece tool set
Craftsman 193-piece mechanic’s tool set
Craftsman, Amazon

While Craftsman also makes work clothing and lawn and garden equipment, the brand is most famous for its hand tools. Most of them are advertised as having an unlimited lifetime warranty, meaning they'll be repaired or replaced free of charge if they're no longer in tip-top shape. (For a full list of which tools qualify, visit Craftsman’s website.)

Stores take Craftsman's warranty pretty seriously. In 2009, Consumer Reports’s website, the Consumerist, wrote that a California man was refused a full warranty when he visited Sears and tried to trade in some of his grandfather’s old Craftsman tools. (At the time, Craftsman was controlled by Sears Holdings, though it has since been acquired by Stanley Black & Decker.) The man was reportedly denied replacements because some of the tools had rusty sockets.

He sent an angry letter to Sears, and one of the corporation’s vice presidents, David Figler, replied by issuing a statement to the Consumerist: "Craftsman tools have a heritage of performance and trust,” Figler wrote. “I want to assure you and your readers we stand behind the warranty—complete satisfaction—period.” He assured the website that he had communicated with Sears's sale associates to rectify the error.

Check out Craftsman's products at Amazon, Lowes, or Sears. You can get a 230-piece Craftsman mechanic's tool set on sale for $99 at Sears right now.

5. HARDENCO Jeans

A pair of denim jeans
HARDENCO's 010 Jean

Founded in 2010, HARDENCO (also known as Hartford Denim Co.) is a small, old-school clothing manufacturer in Connecticut that produces raw denim jeans. Made by hand on antique sewing machines, they're designed to last forever. However, since all jeans rip and fray, the company's clothing also comes with a lifetime of free repairs. (On their website, the company. explains that it gets the chance to “improve our work and get to know our customers a little better" by mending your pants gratis.) And if you own a pair of worn jeans that weren't made by HARDENCO, they'll still fix them up for you for a charge.

The company's classic jeans are $285.

6. Eagle Creek Bags

An Eagle Creek cargo backpack
Eagle Creek's 60-liter Cargo Hauler

All products sold by the California-based outfitter Eagle Creek—which happens to be one of our favorite eco-friendly brands—comes with what it calls a "no matter what" warranty. "Eagle Creek is synonymous with quality," the company's warranty page assures customers. "Every buckle, zipper, and fabric choice is meticulously selected and then analyzed after rigorous lab testing. After it’s built, we take it to the road to make sure it can handle real-world travel abuse. And it does." If anything does go wrong with your bag, you can send it back to Eagle Creek, which will repair or replace it for you. (However, the guarantee doesn't apply to accidents that fall outside the scope of "normal use" of your duffel bag or pack: " For instance, Eagle Creek wheels can withstand cobblestone streets, but are not built to be run-over by a train," the company warns.)

If you're not sure where to start with Eagle Creek, our favorite product is the Cargo Hauler duffel bag, a water-resistant duffel with removable backpack straps, an inner divider to keep your stuff organized, and lockable zippers. When it's not in use, it can be folded up to fit in its own front pocket, making it easy to throw in a larger suitcase if you're planning on returning with more stuff than you're taking. (It also makes it a cinch to store once you get home.) It comes in 40-liter, 60-liter, 90-liter, and wheeled 110-liter options.

Eagle Creek also makes a ton of other travel essentials, from packing cubes to airplane pillows to laptop bags. You can check out all its offerings here.

7. L.L. Bean Boots

If you own a pair of L.L. Bean boots, chances are they’ve outlasted every other pair of footwear in your closet. The durable rubber-and-leather shoes are hand-stitched in the company’s Brunswick, Maine factory. They’re designed to survive every single camping trip, rainy day, or hiking excursion—but if they don’t, L.L. Bean will let you trade them in for a new pair, no questions asked, for up to a year. In fact, this policy extends to every single store purchase.

"We stand behind all our products and are confident that they will perform as designed," the company writes on its website.

Up until early 2018, L.L. Bean's famously generous return policy—which didn't even require a receipt—was good for the entire lifetime of the company's products. Apparently, enough unscrupulous customers abused the program (buying items from garage sales and then returning them for full credit, for instance) that it cost the company as much as $250 million in one five-year period. As a result, the no-questions-asked lifetime guarantee now only applies to products purchased before 2018.

However, when it comes to product defects, L.L. Bean is still true to its original policy. If you bring a product in that has a defect or has broken down due to poor craftsmanship, the company will still consider it for a return regardless of the purchase date.

Shop the company's beloved boots for men, women, and children here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

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