Meaningful Gifts for Students when they “Graduate” from Your Band Program

Are you wanting to give your ‘graduates’ (8th graders or seniors) a gift as they leave your band program? Here’s a possibility that will mean a lot to them and be a keepsake forever.

The book The Little Engine That Could:

Band Graduate Gift

Click to enlarge

Signatures from band directors:

Band graduate gift

Click to enlarge

The more signatures from any previous band director or lesson teachers you can get on the title page, the better. 

Most of us know the story of The Little Engine That Could and probably start saying “I think I can, I think I can” in our head when we see it. The normal ‘moral of the story’ is that if you think you can do it, you try and work hard you will accomplish your goals. That’s a wonderful moral and probably the intended one – and it works great for band.

This year, however, when I gave this to my seniors I also mentioned another aspect of the story. The Little Engine was willing to help. There were other engines that came by that were more capable of helping. But they thought they were too busy or too important. It was only the Little Engine that was willing to stop and lend a hand.

I mentioned this to the students because in band we not only learn how to try hard, believe we can, and accomplish great goals.  We also learn how to help each other. We learn how to give of our time and talents to help younger students in need. We learn how to work for the good of the group.

I suggest you read this story to your band. (If you present it right, older kids LOVE hearing a good picture book every so often.) Then talk with them about these two morals. When you award the books to your students, be sure you’ve written a special, personalized note in the front cover and written the child’s name on it as well.

If you don’t have time or money to buy the book, here’s an alternative. Read them the story (find a copy in the library or Google the text) and then give them a certificate of a “Little Engine That Could” Award that says “We can do great things when we believe we can and are willing to help others.”  (Leave a little blank for a personal message)

If you’d like to use a free download of this sample award, click here – Little Engine Award. (You can laminate it to make it a little fancier and you can put signatures/messages around the white border.)

If you would like to institute a series of awards similar to this, read these other posts and make up your own certificates:
(These awards will mean more if you share the story that goes along with each award.)
The Little Red Hen Award – for students that are really strong workers and just get it done.
The Reach Higher Award – for students that aren’t afraid to reach higher (even if they fail) and set a great example for other students.
The Puzzle Piece Award – for students that come well-prepared on their part so it will fit into the whole group.
The Crayon Award – for a student who has learned to play with control, endurance and finesse – a true artist.
The Dig Deeper Award – for students that have worked through a big challenge and not given up or have overcome a struggle in their playing.
The Tortoise and the Hare Award – for students that have improved a lot – someone who starts on music early, works consistently, doesn’t procrastinate. (and possibly passes up students with more ‘natural ability.’

Related Reading:
So, I Teach Band at a Low SES School…Now What?
Teaching Clarinets to “Roll to A” Isn’t Enough
How to Have a Student Led Class with a Non-Music Substitute

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