Props not only support your teaching and enhance the overall quality and effectiveness of your lessons, but they also help to add visual interest whilst engaging and motivating your learners. Props are wonderful tools for quick revision activities, and more! Follow along below as we reveal some of our most loved classroom props!
At first, you may not consider this as a prop, but having a backdrop can slide your classes from being bang-on average to being outstanding- especially when your background is colourful and clear enough to be used as a reference during class time. Backdrops should be designed with a specific age group in mind, and should at all times include your name so that your students can refer to who their teacher is. Backdrops do not need to be extravagant to be effective - they should allow your learners to feel as though they are attending classes in a lively and motivating atmosphere conducive to long-term learning.
In-hand pictures or cutouts glued onto sticks allow you to animate and or replicate what is depicted on the slides you are teaching from. These props help teachers engage with their learners in a fun and creative ways, ultimately inviting them into the teacher’s space and encouraging them to pay attention to the teacher and the slides being shared. In-hand pictures or cutouts are perfect elicitation tools for prompting learners during activity should they become stuck or guiding them through a drilling activity.
Puppets & Stuffed Animals
Puppets and stuffed animals are useful when modelling conversations, demonstrating role-play activities, or even engaging learners who may be a bit shy or reluctant to participate. Animate your puppets as best as you can by giving each a personality, voice and character. Get creative and consider crafting some of your very own paper puppets as depicted below.
Toys are fantastic to include in games or activities. For example, bringing a ball into the classroom and pretending as though you are throwing it to a learner on the other side of the screen who has to catch and then give their answer before throwing it back to you or another classmate. This adds an element of fun to the lesson and converts a boring ask-and-answer activity into something fun; encouraging learners to stay alert if they are the next to receive the ball.
The list of flashcard uses is endless, but a few of our favourites uses include grammar practice, elicitation or prompting during an activity, warm-up prediction activities during which students guess what the lesson will be based on as well as revision games after the study phase of the lesson.
Realia are real objects used to teach vocabulary in the classroom. Instead of showing students a picture of a hat, you could put a real hat on your head. Realia makes lessons more exciting and enjoyable, and by pairing realia with written texts, students are learning more comprehensively; piecing words together with their real-life object forms. Teachers may even decide to turn realia teaching into a game, for instance, if your lesson is about fruit, students could be asked to race to their kitchens and back to grab a piece of fruit before returning back to their seats.
When using props in the classroom, it is important to consider a few key aspects. Props should be clearly visible and should roughly be the size of a teachers palm in order to be effective.
Teachers should ensure that they are not obstructing a learner’s view of the prop by blocking any part of it when holding it up on display. We invite teachers to practice using props in front of their webcams. Some cameras have “sweet spots” where they focus better- allowing teachers to display something in-focus and on time should there be a possible delay in camera speed.
Incorporating props into classes whilst using TPR and operating the teaching programme you are working from may take some time to get used to, but props greatly enhance a teacher’s overall performance as well as the student’s experience and their use certainly should not be overlooked!
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