Brilliant Prop Ideas for Less Than $5

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Get your glue sticks out, it’s time to get creative! 

There are probably two phrases that make up 60% of your average school kid’s vocabulary, “It wasn’t me!” and “When will I need to use this in real-life?” Ok, that might just be a personal reflection on school, but nevertheless, we’re about to help answer that second phrase.

Remember cutting up pieces of paper (crocodile eats the spaghetti style) and sticking bits of cloth onto other bits of cloth with the kind of enthusiasm only a 5-year-old can muster? You’re about to put those skills to use in real-life!

The best thing about making props yourself is not just saving money, but also the fun and fulfillment that comes with channeling your creative side into something useful. These 4 prop ideas are perfect for a rainy Sunday afternoon, and if you’ve got a bored nephew or niece milling about, you can get them involved too!

An Interactive Felt Reward Board

Felt is a remarkably versatile material for crafting. With a texture softer than your cat and with enough colors to put a peacock to shame, felt can be used in a variety of ways to make the most beautiful artworks. But even just simple cutting and pasting with felt can create some impressive results, check out this landscape or this one.

For this prop, you’ll need:

  • A few pieces (sheets) of colored felt
  • Cardboard
  • Glue
  • A strip of Velcro

Stick a large piece of the felt onto the cardboard to create your background. If you want, use different colors to create rolling hills, or trees. In the example below we popped a cut-out rabbit in. Once you’ve glued together your “scene”, you can start creating the numbers.

In our example, we used carrots to represent numbers. Because, rabbits probably can’t count, but if they could, they’d probably have used carrots to learn with. The important part here is not too glue your carrots to the scene… this will result in your student having only one number to learn, which will almost certainly be problematic in real-life.

Instead stick the “scratchy/hook” side of the Velcro on your carrots, and discard the other side of the Velcro. The scratchy side will adhere to the felt. Voila!

A Personalized Wall Clock to Tell the Time

Have you been using your regular wall clock to teach your students with? Fiddling with the big and small hands only to forget about it later and suddenly exist in a place where time is arbitrary and every dentist appointment is inevitably missed?

No more. This simple clock idea can be made in minutes (is that a pun?) and you can even get it looking like a work of art (don’t overdo it a la Persistence of Memory though, else once again your student is going to have a tough time down the line)!

For this prop, you’ll need:

  • One paper plate
  • 2x ice cream sticks
  • Color paints
  • A thumb tac or thin nail

The best part about this prop is that you can decorate multiple paper plates with your paints, and swap out the “hands” (ice cream sticks held in place by the thumb tac) anytime you want!

Teaching Plurals with “Flash cards”

Here’s a clever one you probably never thought of. Do you remember those insanely cool interactive children’s books where you can move the elements on each page? Like this overly-ambitious pelican here. Using a similar technique, you can create fun and interactive word games.

Just like this:

For this prop, you’ll need:

  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Pens

If you want to make your life even easier, just use Post-It notes. With Post-Its you only need to stick one side on a board or piece paper, while making sure you fold it correctly to cover the right part of the word.

Homemade Whiteboards that Anything But White

Who says whiteboards need to be boring? In fact, who says whiteboards even need to be white? A little while back we posted a blog about using whiteboard paint to turn your wall into a creative canvas. Some of you may have thought that was a little extreme, so we came up with a slightly tamer method to achieve whiteboard excellence.

Take a blank piece of paper, and laminate it. That’s it.

Ok, ok. That’s a little bit cheeky we’ll admit. It’s both boring and white, which we promised it wouldn’t be. But actually, using a laminating machine to create whiteboards opens up a whole new realm of possibilities. Instead of having a whiteboard in the classical sense, what about creating sets of themed boards for all sorts of different classes and lessons?

It’s as easy as searching online for great images that have a lot of empty space in them, printing them out, and laminating them. Like these:

We bet you’re feeling inspired now. If you have your own clever prop ideas, feel free to share them in the comments below!