My Most-Used Online ESL Props

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Teaching English online has been such an incredible experience! It can be so fun, challenging, and rewarding! Thankfully with VIPKid, we teachers are given a lot of freedom with how we teach our classes. We are provided with the slides to teach, but execution is otherwise up to us!

I love to supplement my classes with props. Not only do they make it more interesting for the student, but it also can really help bridge language gaps! Disclaimer: I teach levels 1-3 on VIPKid, so most of my students are lower-level, and usually a bit younger. Your list of go-to props may look slightly different if you teach higher levels! Here is a list of my favorite, most used props:

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An apple

I use a real apple! It is the most helpful for explaining “to eat” “hungry” and helping students to answer questions like “Do you like ___?”. You can say “Do you like apples?” to which they can answer easily yes or no!

A dog/cat (stuffed animals or flashcards)

These are great for making conversation! You can use them to ask if they like dogs/cats and if they have dogs/cats. I find that these conversations can help lead you into others and can help you assess the student’s speaking level.

Small whiteboard

I use my whiteboard every day! It is great for having the students spell words out loud while you write it, or explaining pronunciation, and many other things!

Letter flashcards

I prefer ones with both the upper and lowercase letter on it! I teach mainly low level students, which means I teach the alphabet (or a few letters from it) almost every day! Having both upper and lowercase is helpful so the student can become familiar with both at the same time.

Mom, Dad, Brother, and Sister printouts (Teach and Wander Shop - ‘Classroom Basics’)

These are a necessity for me when I am teaching about family! They also make good conversation starters for higher level students, as we can talk about the kind of clothes they are wearing!

Country flags

At least America, China, and Britain. There are some lessons about different countries, so having a flag gives the student a nice visual! It is also helpful for when you teach the question “Where are you from?”.

A children’s book

It goes along well with many lessons as a prop (not for actually reading), and is a good point for conversation! “Do you like to read?” “Can you read?”.

Meg, Mike, and Dino printouts (3 VIPKid characters)

These are perfect for teaching verb conjugations (he/she/it), body parts, clothes, and more! I definitely use these every day! I found mine online, printed, laminated, and taped them to old straws to make them easier to grab!

Star wand

(for granting stars to the students for doing a good job)

Depending on your personality, a girly wand like this may not fit, but I’d recommend having something for “granting” stars! My students get SO excited when they see me grab my wand!!

Emoji faces (showing different emotions, Teach and Wander Shop)

If a student is new, or in a lower level, sometimes they need a refresher of how to answer “How are you?”. Immediately grab these and act out the emotions as I show them to the students. They almost always remember after having these little reminders!

Elephant Puppet

When students are just starting out, they don’t always understand that they don’t need to repeat a question before answering it. Essentially: Me - “How are you?” Student - “How are you?” Me - “I am happy.” student - “I am happy”. Having a puppet allows you to show the student how the conversation works by speaking to your puppet!

Not included in this list are the props I use as my “reward systems”.

For super easy, fun reward systems, check out Teach and Wander Shop! I bought her “Mega Rewards Bundle” and it has been so useful! I also bought her “Classroom Basics” pack, which has also been great!

Other great places to look for props are the Dollar Tree and the Target Dollar Section. If you already have kids, it may prove to be useful to raid your kids toys for specific, one-time props! You definitely don’t need to invest a ton of money into it.

TEACHERS! What are your favorite props? Do we have any in common? I would love to hear what works for you in your classroom! We can all learn from each other!