Best Props for Traveling VIPKID Teachers

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Props for Traveling Online Teachers

For most teachers teaching young children, props are an essential part of the process and can aid not just learning but also increase enjoyment. Which means it can be scary to think that while you’re on the road you may not have access to your favorite props. We’ve compiled a list below of a few props some of our teachers carry with them and how they manage with the extra luggage! (based on suggestions and advice from actual traveling VIPKID teachers!)

Finger puppets: these are the kind of props that will never go out of fashion and are always a sure winner in the classroom. Not only are they very light and small but they can be bunched together and packaged very easily. If worst comes to worst and you’re still struggling to pack them somewhere, you can always just wear them until you find space later. This may seem very peculiar at the airport but I am sure security personnel have more important things to look out for than finger puppets — bombs, drugs, illegal money, Justin Bieber music (I’m not kidding. Ask China).

Flashcards: again another engaging and attractive prop that is very transportable and does not require much storage or effort. One tip given by our teachers is to laminate your flash cards to protect them on your journeys. We had a humorous note from one of our teachers who put her bag down to take pictures of a glorious sunset. Only to turn around and find that a local stray dog had decided to use her bag as a bathroom – thank goodness just a number 1. That still didn’t save her flash cards though!

Plastic magnet letters: if you still remember 4th-grade science class pretty much most things in a room will be magnetic in some way. Magnetic letters can be a life saver because you can literally stick them anywhere and still explain what you need to in the lesson. You can also add some extra learning into the class by sticking them to things kids may not have seen before. For example, let’s say you’re currently traveling in London (UK) a place where some of your students may not have visited. You could take pictures of you sticking them to a red London bus or an infamous black taxi and show the pictures to your students.

Whiteboard and markers: some of you may be thinking of those huge whiteboards you see in traditional classrooms but, no, we mean the baby versions of those. Small rectangular shaped versions that are super easy to transport around and durable against the elements (maybe not dog pee!) These are perfect for trying to illustrate something to your students that you were finding difficult to explain. We all know how arduous it can be to learn new things, so providing your class with a visual will only aid the process. It also gives you a chance to show off your art skills!

Teddy bear: at first glance, you may think you read that wrong, but nope! We really mean a teddy bear! This cute little prop can serve many purposes; beginning with the most obvious which is a friendly, welcoming and familiar visual for your students to have. The teddy can also be made to be an extra student in the class, thus giving teachers a way to explain a physical concept without needing to be physically present.

Let’s also not forget the fact that in most cases, children are just excited to see other people’s possessions and belongings – especially their toys. How easily we forget that they only came into this world not long ago and many things are new and exciting. So the prospect of seeing a toy from their new foreign teacher is an exhilarating experience! Think about how different something as simple as a teddy can be for somebody who lives on the other side of the world to you. In some parts of the world “the teddy”, which is mainly an American and European construct, is an animal or even a person.

(P.s totally random fact but did you know the teddy was named after the 26th President of the United States Theodore Roosevelt? Feel free to use that in a quiz or competition with your students!)


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106 COMMENTS

  1. Hey! They’re some great tips. You forgot Erasable markers (coloured!) which can be used on almost any hard surface 😉 no whiteboard required…and blu-tac for quick poster holders – huge for travelling. My students love: tourist books, kids’ story books or movies you can project onto walls, and digital photo albums, all great for travelling with!
    Of course there’s always nailpolish for your fingernails to highlight vowels, or maths symbols. Not to mention dice and random clothing items for weather/clothing/body parts/colour teaching games. All these are easily transported, so I’m surprised none of them featured!
    But I only had 6 months in China, and I’m teaching puppies for fun now 😉 and they’re thrilled with ball games…another easily portable item ( inflatable balls…)
    This was a great, fun post with some good ideas!

  2. Finger puppets are a great idea! I’m on the lookout for a good set AND some magnet letters…not so easy to find in Okinawa Japan!

  3. I have been showing postcards or using souvenirs as props and rewards. I even showed one student what Mexico looked like outside my window upon his request! Then he showed me China!

  4. My props are flash cards, polar bear “Paul”, wooden alphabet blocks, a ball, finger puppets and small animals, and of course the dry-erase marker and small white board…

  5. I hear felt is great! Lightweight, plus felt sticks to felt so easy for rewards, ABCs, names, props, etc 🙂

  6. I’m a fan of those good ole flash cards, white boards, and teddy bears. Out of them all flash cards are my favorite because they are two sided. One side you have a number or alphebet, and the other you have a fun picture like a dog, cat, sun, or moon. Flash card can be used with just about every VIPKID lesson.

  7. A few additional items I wouldn’t travel with out are ringlight, 2 small bendable snake lights, a couple VIPKID orange shirts and my colorful butterfly headband.

  8. I love plastic page protector. I too use plastic page protector on flashcards, posters, drawings, and reward systems. I have a hand puppet and two finger puppets I am hoping to build on.

    • I once heard someone say (at a workshop actually) that they actually do not open up class slots until they actually have checked out the internet connection at the location. Once they have determined that they have a great connection then they open up their slots. I hope that this helps.

  9. I organize each lesson in a ziplock bag, putting all props and materials I will use for the lesson. remember time changes when traveling distances.

  10. Very interesting! I am going out of town next week and I’m booked! I was wondering what I was going to do for my background. Thanks for all of the ideas.

  11. Those are great ideas! Thanks. My biggest concern, though, is where to get good, fast internet service….definitely not in a hotel room.

  12. Great ideas!! I just went to the beach and used the beach say background. I took my flash cards and some of my favorite props! And of course my orange t-shirt.

  13. I have a giant panda shower curtain and push pins that have hooks on the bottom. This can be set up anywhere.

  14. I love that I bought a lot of these already when I was just starting up — I really like the idea of a teddy bear to show movement. I hadn’t thought of that!

  15. These are all great ideas. I will be traveling in the next couple of weeks and these traveling teaching ideas will come in handy.

  16. I would like to hear more about places where you can teach when you don’t have a hotel. AND do hotels have strong enough internet?

  17. This would be such a great help to me during the summer because this is the time that I travel the most.

  18. I always wonder about lighting? Also if you have little kids how they find a place where kids wont be screaming in the background.

  19. I don’t bring anything with me except my iPad and stand. I use my physical movements as a reward…I do the Happy Dance and involve the kids. I sometimes bring my magic hat…(a battery powered hat that moves and plays music with the touch of a button). The kids love it, and it keeps my life simple when traveling. I don’t have to remember to bring anything, and I don’t have to worry about set up, take down, or leaving something behind.

  20. These are terrific ideas. I am hoping to travel soon. I am more worried about thhe internet service while traveling than I am the props.

  21. I made up an emergency kit with some fun travel props; and had to use it when my internet went out recently and I ran to McDonalds! These are some great ideas and I’ll add to it!

  22. We’re taking a three week RV trip at the end of September and I plan to teach along the way at our different stops! Thanks for the great ideas!

  23. I’ve always been too nervous to try teaching anywhere besides my own home. I don’t want to have any Tech issues, internet connection issues, or anything. I would hate if I recieved a bad parent feedback. However, all these ideas make it seem more possible. Maybe one day I’ll get out of my comfort zone and try it! I don’t know.

  24. I would love to be a nomad! For now, the most adventurous I am getting is trying to teach from my upcoming beach vacation. Here’s hoping my condo has great internet!

  25. Great ideas fellow teachers I’ll be trying my first travel class next weeks. Scared. I use a PC not a laptop so I’m taking my husbands laptop So scared something will go wrong. But grateful for those of you who have done this and give great suggestions

  26. Great ideas. I like to put all my props in plastic shoeboxes w lids prepped and ready. With a dry erase marker, I write their name and time of class (for the idea from VIPKID FB post.)

  27. We were on vacation for 2 weeks and I did not miss a class. I had a wifi scare when our condo service was not working. I called our provider and changed our plan to a higher GB hot spot. It worked great. May cost me a bit in the end, but I never missed a class.
    I teach Level 1 only right now. I put things in plastic bags to travel. I took my little paper puppets(Mike, Meg etc), 1 stuffed animal, 1 silly headband($tree), a map background($ tree–used sticky tack so would not hurt any wall surface), flashcards, and a reward system(1 girl and 1 boy). I have all my rewards on magnets and stick them to a circle cookie sheet. Traveled well and was easy to keep all together. The bags layed flat while packing and nothing was damaged. I stayed on schedule and had fun. I taught my classes on the deck of our condo looking out at the pool and watching the sunrise. It was so cool to be working while on vacation.
    One tip make sure you check the time of where you will be. You still teach on your HOME time not where you are traveling!!!
    Thanks VIPKID!!!

  28. Finger puppets are awesome. I order mine from philosophersguild.com and while the kids just think they’re funny and silly, the parents occasionally recognize who they are. They’re super small, 10 of them can fit in a makeup bag.

  29. I always carry my iPad to use as a back up. Also, sometimes if possible I find creative places to teach so that I can share some Americana with the children.

  30. These are great ideas! I always bring my monkey puppet and then use my white board for banana rewards…the kids love to give their bananas to my monkey to eat!

  31. Step by step drawings(already drawn lightly in pencil on white paper INSIDE a protective sheet) are a favorite with my students. Each time I draw more, I let them choose the color. You can draw anything related to the lesson and/or their interests. Since I don’t draw well on the spot, this helps me a lot!!!

  32. My favorite is to use nature in my backdrop if possible. I love to take the kids on my traveling journey with me….not on a bus of course, but once I reach my destination.
    The children love to have class with a lake or the woods in the background. They love to see the things that we get to see when we travel. You can use almost anything wherever you are to incorporate it into your lesson. 🙂

  33. Would the experienced teachers please share more knowledge on how they overcame spotty wifi issues while traveling?

  34. I love using my manycam and a small green screen cloth to hang behind me then I can have any background I use my digit rewards and flash cards then I do not have to bring a lot with me. I always have my magnet letters for blending and my small white board and marker ( one for the fridge for a grocery list)

  35. The most important element of my mobile VIPKID classroom is the hotel ironing board!! WIthout exception, the ironing board hanging in the hotel room closet is the perfect height for my laptop and the limited props I travel with. In fact, when I returned home after two months traveling across America recently, I bought an ironing board for my home classroom. It adjusts for standing or sitting and holds just enough stuff for 7-8 classes in a row. Most important, it was inexpensive! Loving the VIPKID life!!

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