The GOA Gift Guide 2020: 16 Ideas for the Educators and Lifelong Learners in Your Life

How might we help the educators in our lives feel inspired, fulfilled, and appreciated, especially this year?

For many of us, a well-deserved break is fast approaching. At GOA, we are wrapping up the first semester of our school year, creating new learning experiences for students and educators for 2021, and looking forward to a few weeks of a slower pace to focus on new projects and creative endeavors.

It is also the holiday season in many parts of the world, a time to celebrate the people in our lives and those who do so much in service to others. To close 2020, we put together a GOA Gift Guide, curated for educators by educators.

Table Topics

Simple, fun ways to connect.

image of table topics box

Both for educators seeking prompts to connect students and for teacher friends and families living a new normal spending their days together and looking for ways to enliven dinner time, Table Topics offers a variety of versions of their question boxes for various age groups and gatherings. These little wonderings can extend understanding, invite storytelling, and hopefully lead to some much needed laughter. (Becky Green, Associate Director of Professional Learning)

Buy Books from Independent Sellers

Small businesses need our support now more than ever.

Image of Oprah's recommneded Black-owned bookstores

If you're purchasing books as gifts, your local bookstore or Oprah's list of Black-owned bookstores around the U.S. would be great places to support. I'm on a murder mystery kick and just bought Frances Metzman's The Cha-Cha Babes of Pelican Way through the Amazon-battling startup Also, Uncommon Goods is my go-to spot for unique gifts. For example, check out these pretty terrarium candles, these free Shakespearean soiree printouts, or this collection of teas thrown overboard during the Boston tea party! (Alexis Hope, Program Coordinator)

Coloring Books

A screen-less way to relax, for kids and adults.

image of national geographic coloring book

Learners of all ages will get much needed breaks from screens and work with adult coloring books. There are lots of choices, but these printables from National Geographic are free and educational for kids or adults. Pair this with some nice colored pens or pencils and you have a relaxing gift for any educator or learner. (Bonnie Lathram, Director of Professional Learning)

Gmorning, Gnight!

An inspiring book for families.

image of Gmorning Gnight cover

As we all could use a little lift and inspiration this holiday season, I highly recommend Gmorning, Gnight! Little Pep Talks For Me & You by Lin-Manuel Miranda and illustrated by Jonny Sun to adorn a coffee table or desk. For a feel-good gift, you could also add to any educator’s collection of tote bags by checking out FEED. They offer tote options at various price points that will help to fight childhood hunger. (Kelsey Hall, Associate Director of School Engagement)

Custom Playlists

Give the gift of curation.

image of custom playlist infographic

Ever have time to relax but end up spending all of it trying to decide what to watch, read, or listen to? For those who could use some time to unwind (every single educator), put together a playlist of favorite podcasts, articles, books, or shows from the year and include content that has kept you entertained, inspired, or informed. Extra points for creativity and thoughtfulness! (Deepjyot (Deep) Sidhu, Associate Director of Professional Learning)

Puzzle Huddle

Puzzles that affirm diverse children.

image of puzzle huddle offerings

My daughters love working on puzzles together; Puzzle Huddle creates beautiful products that affirm diverse children. They have also been playing their favorite game Who’s She?, a wooden board game about women who changed the world. Also, check out the Midtown Scholar Bookstore, my local happy place. Currently, I have Llama Destroys the World under the tree for the kids and How Much These Hills is Gold on my nightstand for me. (Ellen Hartman, Associate Director of Learner Experience)

99% Invisible City

A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design.

image of the cover of book 99% invisible city

The educators in your life have likely spent much of their time in front of screens the past nine months. Give them an experience that provides a break from those screens and gets them out of the house. Embark on an urban scavenger hunt with them, using Roman Mars’ 99% Invisible City: A Field Guide to the Hidden World of Everyday Design as a reference. Together, become anthropologists of your built environment and navigate seemingly familiar streets with a fresh perspective that will restore and renew. (Sara Tahir, Associate Director of Professional Development)


Spend some time learning instead of teaching.

image of annie leibovitz master class

Reviving a past idea because the selections just keep growing: Masterclass has incredible courses from experts in almost any field you can imagine. From photography to cooking to song writing, a pro will break down the way they think about and approach their passion. I recently took Annie Leibovitz’s photography course. (Michael Nachbar, Executive Director)


Donate with confidence on behalf of others.

image of give well logo

This year has made it clear how many organizations and people need support, and donations on behalf of others make wonderful gifts. GiveWell does deep research on charities, recommends certain charities based on that research, and publishes what they have learned. If you are giving on behalf of someone, they have even created acknowledgement letter templates that you can customize and send to let someone know a donation has been made in their name. (Eric Hudson, Director of Learning and Design)

Tell Tale

Family games have never been more important.

image of tell tale game

One of our favorite family games is Tell Tale which inspires lots of creative storytelling and animated back and forth. Perfect amount of goofy. Buy it at your local game store and make an even bigger difference. (Robin Pinné, Assistant to the Executive Director)

Cook and Grow

Take a culinary journey.

Traveling may be on hold this year, but you can take your favorite educator on a culinary journey with these expertly curated, woman-owned brands! Shopping small and local is more important than ever and the GivingBroadly guide makes that easy and delicious. Or, if you’d rather play with your food, I recommend checking out a Smallhold Growkit for easy to grow, fun to watch, and delightful to consume mushrooms! (Emily Hamlin, Associate Director of Students and Schools)

Remember and Plan for Trips

Someday, we will travel again.

image of scratch off map of United States

Scratch off world maps for your classroom or at home! Showcase all of the places students from your class have been too/are from, or, identify all of the places that you have been or are planning to go once the world opens back up for travel! I also really like the World Bucket List. (Carly Caplener, Program Assistant)


Working from home doesn't have to mean sitting down all the time.

Image of Standstand desk

As everyone has learned, working from home means more time sitting. It's a reality that hit all of us at GOA very hard. For teachers bouncing from in-school to at-home and back and forth, something light and portable to help get them on their feet is critical. One of my favorite tools that tackles both problems is the elegantly designed STANDSTAND. Your 2025 self will thank you. (Lucas Ames, Director of Operations)


Subscribe to get someone outside.

Image of alltrails app as it appears on an iphone

Encourage the educator in your life to disconnect and recharge in the great outdoors with an annual subscription to the AllTrails app. Perfect for planning a hiking or camping trip, the app features 10,000+ trails across the globe. As a member of 1% for the Planet, AllTrails also donates 1% of annual sales to nonprofit organizations focused on protecting wild places. (Amanda Burch, Instructional Designer)

When You Love a Dog (or Knitting)

Gifts for pet-lovers and knitters.

A fan of learning new things, I (and my family) are hands-on learning how to raise a dog and are realizing the truths in When You Love a Dog (published by a Seattle-based company). Get the book and a dog. If you prefer the products of animals, rather than the animals themselves, learn (or relearn) how to knit. This pattern (plus two skeins of yarn and one pair of needles) from the charming PURL SOHO is all you need. (Susan Fine, Associate Director of Faculty)

Online Yoga

Encourage wellness by starting a yoga practice.

Give yourself some zen and peace of mind by embarking on a new yoga practice! Maybe team up with someone you care about to inspire each other and start a practice together! While there are lots of great, free offerings out there, Yoga with Adriene is a favorite of many. She has literally hundreds (possibly thousands?) of offerings and her signature tagline is “find what feels good.” Who doesn’t love that? (Jessica Gould, Teacher and Coach)

GOA's mission is to reimagine learning to empower students and educators to thrive in a globally networked society. We offer passion-based online courses for students as well as courses, trainings, and programs for educators and school leaders. For free resources on online and hybrid learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, visit this landing page.

Be a part of what's next.
Let's talk.

Contact Us