Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead book cover

May is the time to celebrate and lift up the mothers and mother figures in our lives. But rather than just limiting our celebration to one day, let’s make a DIY Mother’s Day gift that lets them know how much we appreciate them every day.

I love to kick off most kid projects with, you guessed it…a book! While there are many incredible picture books for this special day, I am particularly fond of A Chair For My Mother by Vera B. Williams. Most other Mother’s Day books focus on the emotion of love, the bond between parent and child, and simple acts like hugs and spending time together. This book is a unique narrative about a girl, mother, and grandmother who lost everything in a fire. It shows a community coming together to help people in a hard situation, and three generations of women dreaming and working together to support a loving mom. It’s a beautiful story with colorful illustrations that has a constant place in my home and classroom libraries.

In A Chair For My Mother, the characters save coins in a huge jar to one day buy a special chair for the mother to relax in when she comes home. That’s the inspiration for our Mother’s Day activity, but instead of putting coins in the jar, we’ll put love notes! Writing can be daunting for kids—they might love to read, but when asked to spell something on their own, they freeze. Through doing this activity together and giving it a personal purpose, writing becomes something a child wants to do. 

DIY Mother's Day Jar materials


  • A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams
  • A jar (clean it out and let dry completely before beginning)
  • Yellow, pink, and green paper (or any three colors!)
  • Scissors
  • Pencils, markers, and/or crayons
  • Ribbon or twine
  • Hole punch (optional)

Cost: Nothing, if you can get the book from your local library. Upcycle a cleaned-out food jar and reuse any scrap of ribbon you can find (you don’t need much). If you don’t have materials on hand, you should be able to get all the craft supplies for under $10.

A Chair for My Mother

Step 1: Find a favorite chair, cozy on up, and read aloud A Chair for My Mother to your little one!

DIY Mother's Day Jar step one

Step 2: Cut out a bunch of strips of each paper color, making sure they’re wide enough to write on. I recommend cutting about 10 of each color, but any number is fine. It’s about your child’s comfort level with writing and the amount of time your family has to spend.

DIY Mother's Day Jar step two

Step 3: On the yellow strips, help your child write encouragements. Encouragements are statements that can brighten someone’s day without being moment- or person-specific. Examples: “You’ve got this!” or “Have a great day!”

DIY Mother's Day Jar Step three

Step 4: On the pink strips, help your child write things they love about their mom or loved one. If your child is younger, it can be a single word like “hugs.” The older your child, the more complex their comments can be. Upgrade to “gives me hugs” or “Mom gives me the best hugs.” Adjust to your child’s skill level! 

DIY Mother's Day Jar step four

Step 5: On the green strips, let your child draw pictures. They can be silly scribbles, tiny rainbows, pictures of your family, or anything else they want. Let them express themselves however they please.

DIY Mother's Day Jar step five

Step 6: Fold all of the notes in half and place them in the jar. Put on the lid.

DIY Mother's Day Jar

Step 7: Tie a ribbon or string around the jar and attach it to a tag with the recipient’s name on it. Now it’s ready to share!

Remember, the writing doesn’t need to be perfect! If your child needs help sounding out words or asks which way a letter faces, you can help them. However, allowing them to sound things out and make mistakes is all part of the learning process, so don’t stress out when vowels get dropped or there is a backwards R here and there. It’s about progress, not perfection.

And letting mom or other loved ones know how much they mean to your family—that’s the most important part of all.

Share with us on Instagram (mention @mayasmarty or use the hashtag #litrich) or in the comments what you put in your jar. And remember, keep your DIY Mother’s Day gift a surprise until the big day. Mum’s the word!