If you have been following my travels, I recently returned from spending five months in Morocco. In my opinion, being able to travel and still work, is one of the bests perks of teaching for VIPKID. But one of the hardest parts of my trip was packing for it.
This was my first time living in a foreign country, and I wanted to bring everything. Since I overpack for even a weekend trip, I didn’t know how I was going to fit everything I might need for five months into one large suitcase and one carry on bag. In addition to needing to bring things like clothes, shoes, and shampoo, I also had to figure out what props I should bring for teaching.
Since I didn’t have a lot of space, so I really had to narrow down which props I used the most and could get the most use out of.
1. Red Apple
One of my all-time favorite props is my fake red apple. I knew I had to bring it with me to Morocco. It’s easily portable, and I can use it for multiple things:
It’s also pretty small and hard to break. Durability is important to think about when traveling. If something is really fragile, it most likely will break when you put it in your suitcase. Remember that most baggage handlers on airplanes are pretty rough when tossing your suitcase into the cargo hold.
2. Star Wand
For me, my star wand is always a must! I use it for every level, even my level 5s and 6s. When trying to figure out how many props to use during a class, it is recommended that you use at least two (three for Pre-VIPKID). Using the star wand helps me meet that quota. Sometimes, I find it difficult to think of props for higher level classes, so my star wand is an easy way to meet that requirement. It’s also fairly small, sturdy, and easy to fit into my bag. My star wand is actually made of wood, but I wrapped colored tape around the handle and stuck gold stars onto the star part to spice it up a bit.
3. Circle Card
When I first started teaching with VIPKID over a year ago, I made a big card with a circle on it. The word “circle” is written in the middle of it. It’s a great prop to use when trying a student to circle something. I hold it up and make a circle motion with my hand, while saying, “Circle! Circle! CIRCLE!”
It’s also another prop that I often use to meet my “two prop minimum” quota. Flashcards on sturdy card stock are great for traveling and easy to make. They don’t take up much space, and they can be stored flat. Be aware, your props might get dirty or ruined. As you can see in my picture, the circle card is in pretty bad shape, and I really should make a new one. Don’t bring any props that you would be heartbroken if they got lost or ruined.
4. Flash Cards
On Amazon, I found a box of flashcards that are perfect to use with VIPKID. It’s called “Basic Vocabulary Photo Cards.” It comes in a square box that is about 3 inches by 3 inches. It is divided into sixteen categories of flashcards and includes things like shapes, colors, home, community, clothes, and animals. It was a little expensive, but so worth it. I also can use the box for teaching “cube” in the higher level classes. This box of flashcards is highly portable and so easy to travel with. You probably could just bring it as your only prop and be good to go for 90% of your classes.
5. Meg, Mike, Dino, and Teacher Puppets
These four characters are the most common in the VIPKID curriculum. If you can fit them into your suitcase, I would recommend bringing them along. Be careful, though, because they can rip or get folded really easily. My Meg actually lost a leg, arm, and pigtail during my trip. Make sure you have a good way to store them by maybe putting them in some sort of container.
The last prop that I brought with me was my fake microphone. I originally had one that was a container of bubbles shaped like a microphone from the Dollar Store. Now, I use an amazing 3D printed microphone that was sent to me by an amazing fellow VIPKID teacher.
I use my microphone in most of my Level 2 classes. It’s great for singing the Hello and Goodbye songs, along with teaching students when they should speak to answer a question. I also use it to teach the verb “sing.”
I had a confession to make. For the five months that I taught in Morocco, I didn’t use a VIPKid classroom background. I just had a blank white wall behind me. I kept wanting to make a background, but it just managed not to happen. I feel really lucky I didn’t get any complaints. I really don’t recommend doing that.
When traveling, your background doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. Most students really don’t even care about your background as shown by my experience. What’s most important is giving high quality lessons by connecting with your students, using TPR, and making learning English fun.
For a simple background, you can print out one or two pictures and paste them up behind you. Some people make a tri-fold board background, although you need to budget the space for it. Another option is to hang up a pretty piece of fabric behind you. Just make sure it’s not distracting or too busy. Try to keep it simple.
Avoid Large Stuffed Animals
Right before I left for Morocco, I finally got my Dino in the mail. I was so excited to use him in my classes, but I had to make the hard decision to leave him at home. He is fairly bulky, and I didn’t want to lose him. It is probably best to leave stuffed animals and too many toys at home when traveling.
Take advantage of the fact you can travel with VIPKID. After living in a foreign country where I didn’t speak the language, it made me a much better ESL teacher. I can relate so much better to my struggling students, and it made me much more patient with them.
And whether you’re traveling or not, we encourage you to download our free kit of more than VIPKid printable props to help improve your teaching!
Teacher Caryn EU