When it comes to my VIPKID classroom, I am a minimalist. I have found that the longer I teach, the more efficient I get with consolidating my prop usage and cutting the classroom clutter. I also teach mostly L3 and up, so it is not as much pressure to be a nonstop dog and pony show. Many of my props came from Goodwill, but my particular brand of laziness requires easy props that might not always be found thrifting.
Some absolute necessities that are usually easy to find at the dollar store are a couple of dry erase boards, markers and some alphabet flashcards. You could literally get by with just those items, but here are a few things I spent a little extra for and I am glad I invested in.
1) Magnetic Tin Sets
I love love love these. I have a set for faces, clothes, shapes, and furniture. I use them in lessons and as reward systems. I think these were one of my best investments. They are easy to keep together and don’t take up much space.
2) Magnetic Tape
I soon discovered that I could save some serious money by creating sets of magnets myself for various units that I couldn’t find sets for. I also made some pretty sweet rewards. I printed them out, glued them onto index cards to make them less flimsy, cut them out and stuck some of this magnetic tape to the back. I like this tape because it is a good width and you can tear it off of the roll just like regular tape. I have made several sets of magnets and still have over half the roll. I found these AWESOME FREE graphics from Mimicry that made making these sets so much easier. They have everything from food to faces. I particularly loved the ice creams and cupcakes for easy rewards.
3) Supplemental Flash Cards
You can get by with just the basic alphabets, but with Target’s dollar spot and cheap Amazon cards, there’s no reason not to splurge a little. I have flashcard sets for wild animals, farm animals, colors, time, multiplication, and division. I ALSO have a couple of sets for early finishers like “spot the difference” and “complete the word” style cards that are easy to integrate into lower and higher level conversations. Here are a few sets worth taking a look at.
4) A puppet!
Even upper level students can be coerced to smile with a halfway decent puppet from time to time. They are great for encouraging role playing with younger kids and setting up conversation patterns for those little stinkers that won’t stop repeating. I personally love the selection from Manhattan Toy Company because the mouths are quite obvious when they move. And they are a little wacky looking. AND you can find them for as little as $7.95 on a good day.
5) A super duper awesome low effort reward system.
This was probably one of my most frivolous splurges, but it has paid off big time. I use this reward every single day and it doesn’t get old. It works for young an old. I use these emoji magnets, and number them 1-12 on my white board. I printed and taped a huge cellphone with a blank screen on the whiteboard. They get to choose an emoji number to add to the screen as they get rewarded. Zero effort and prep time, and the kids love it. I have two separate sets so I can switch it up.
So there you have it. I like props that don’t take up much space and don’t require any real thought or explanation. You REALLY don’t need that much stuff. It is hard not to go overboard at first, but you will find as you go along less really is more. I hope this helps!
Did you miss my first blog about setting up your lighting and background? Check it out HERE.