VIPKid Classroom Backgrounds – 12 Affordable DIY Options
Classroom backgrounds play an important role in setting the mood of your class. Many teachers have an elaborate design to capture and maintain students’ attention. However, for many teachers who are either on the move, budget-conscious or just starting out, having an elaborate background isn’t an option. This doesn’t mean that you have to teach up against a blank wall, though. In this article, we are going to look at 12 affordable VIPKid classroom backgrounds that you can create from things at home or for less than $10 on Amazon.
A very popular option among VIPKid teachers is whiteboards. This is because they are cheap and multipurpose. You can pick up a whiteboard from Amazon for just under $10.00. Teachers who write during their classes tend to gravitate towards this option for obvious reasons. They aren’t ideal for teachers who travel, and depending on where you have light coming into your classroom, they tend to cause a glare (not a terrible one, but it’s something to keep in mind).
2. Monthly Calendar
Monthly calendars are perfect for minimalists, as they provide a clean design. They are also quite functional. They can be used to teach ESL students days of the week, months of the year, and lots more. They are relatively cheap on Amazon or you can quite easily make your own from your whiteboard, poster board, or regular paper and a marker.
Tons of VIPKid teachers use world maps in their classroom backgrounds. Similar to whiteboards, they are also inexpensive (and more portable than whiteboards, so they are a great option for traveling teachers!). Many VIPKid teachers either choose to have the world map dominate their entire background or simply have it featured as part of their background. When choosing world maps, there are a few things that you should keep in mind. The map has to be accurate and culturally appropriate. There are some cases where the map of China is not accurately plotted out. You may also notice that Taiwan is in a different color from China in some world maps. This is a very sensitive subject, and it may cause some discomfort to your viewers, so be vigilant when choosing the correct world map for your background.
If you’re a traveling teacher or simply don’t have the time or interest in creating an elaborate classroom background, this is the perfect solution. Print off a few photos and hang them on the wall behind you. You can reference them during class or have them be purely for decoration. A small photo collage is also great if you don’t have much space to set up a classroom background.
5. Piece of Fabric
This method is pretty straightforward, yet very effective. In many cases, you probably either have a tablecloth or a set of curtains lying around. You could also use shower curtains, a flatbed sheet, or a scrap piece of fabric for this, as well. Just be sure that the colors and prints of the material you use are not too distracting. You should also consider wearing a color that provides a contrast to your background. If you don’t have a rod or wire to hang your material on, you can also find Command hooks or clips at most stores or on Amazon.
6. Vinyl VIPKid Classroom Backgrounds
As a hobbyist photographer, I’ve collected quite a few vinyl backdrops, which make perfect classroom backgrounds. You may even have a few laying around your home from various projects. If not, you can order one of these backdrops for less than $15 from Amazon. Personally, I prefer using a darker color because it helps absorb some of the lighting and reduces the amount of glare that I get on camera.
7. Wrapping Paper
If you’re a traveling teacher (and even if you’re not), wrapping paper is one of the cheapest and most portable backdrops. In addition to the changing time zones, Walter brought the issue of changing backgrounds. His solution, however, was very clever. He used inexpensive gift wrap, which he would just tape to the wall behind him. They were cheap and easy to carry around (pro tip – if the gift wrap has a busier pattern, it’s harder to tell that it was folded up in a suitcase).
8. Kids Blankets
I am a firm believer in making use of what is around me. You may be in a position where you are pressed for time, and you can go out to purchase items to use as your backdrops. If you are a new parent or have younger children, you have an extra kids/baby blanket lying around. This could be an interesting option if you’re in a pinch. Skip the rattles and teddy bears and opt for blankets with simple patterns (like stripes, polka dots, etc.) or letters on them. This background works well for your younger students.
9. Oil Drip Pan
Magnetic backdrops are quite popular on VIPKid – and for good reason. They provide a surface where teachers can easily stick on and remove different decorations or props. There are a few ways you can create a magnetic background for your VIPKid classes. One of them being oil drip pans. They are quite inexpensive and easy to find. Because they mostly come silver in color they are very reflective. To remedy this, many teachers either spray paint over them or cover them using curtains or some sort of paper, such as gift wrap or bulletin paper. Note: if you don’t have/can’t find an oil drip pan, you can use any type of lightweight sheet metal.
10. Green Screen
Like vinyl backgrounds that we discussed earlier, green screens were also my go-to background when I was just getting started with VIPKid. This was because of my background as a hobbyist photographer. I had quite a few green screens lying around. But since that isn’t a household staple for most of us, you can purchase a green screen from Amazon for just a little over $20.00. These are perfect for traveling teachers and can be used for other purposes.
For VIPKid classroom backgrounds that require virtually no effort, find a window with a great view and set up your classroom in front of it. This option can cause some lighting issues, and really only works if you are not teaching during peak or peak peak hours, which happen to be before the sun rises for most teachers. However, if you are traveling or teaching at a less popular time, windows can be a fun option because you can incorporate them into your lesson. For example, you can point to trees, grass, etc, or start a conversation about the weather and ask what it is like where your student lives.
12. Tri-fold Board
Tri-fold boards are currently my go-to option. I like these for a few reasons. One, you can set them up and take them down in a matter of seconds. Two, you can easily customize them by taping or pinning photos, maps, and 2D props to your board. Because they are curved around you, they often distribute light evenly, so that you are properly lit (take a peek at this article if you need some tips on VIPKid classroom lighting). Because they are light and compact, they make excellent travel companions. Did I mention that they are also quite inexpensive, making them the perfect option for teachers on a budget? They can be picked up for just over $10 on Amazon
Save Time with DIY VIPKid Classroom Backgrounds & More
From creating props, to VIPKid classroom backgrounds, to feedback, there’s so much to do outside of the time you allocate to teaching. And because you only get paid for the time you spend actively teaching courses, it’s always a good idea to find DIY hacks and tools to cut back on the number of hours and money you spend on work-related tasks. Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to be budget-friendly as a VIPKid teacher, so if you’re looking for other ways to be more efficient in your ESL career, start with these:
- Use free VIPKid printable props and glue them to popsicle sticks. This is way cheaper and easier than going to the store and purchasing multiple props. They are also much easier to store in your home or take with you on your travels. Download 30+ free printable props here.
- Use items you already own to create your classroom. This goes for backgrounds, props, rewards – pretty much anything you need to teach a lesson, you can do so with things laying around your house. Remember, students are only seeing your stuff through a screen, so they are not going to care if you have a brand new stuffed animal or one that you found in your attic from your adult child’s old room.
- Use feedback templates to save up to 10 hours a week on writing feedback. One of the most time-consuming (and unpaid) parts of teaching for VIPKid is submitting feedback at the end of every single class. There are thousands of VIPKid feedback templates you can use when you sign up for FeedbackPanda, so you never have to reinvent the wheel or spend hours coming up with creative feedback ideas.