The Making of a Classroom

Disclosure: The links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Thank you. 

Backgrounds

Several sizes to choose from and color schemes available. There are also decorative boarders available for your classroom! Shown in picture: Vinyl Map with grommets 3’X4′

Maps

I am an affiliate for the Hey Sunshine Shop. I use these maps in my personal classroom and love them! The vinyl is very durable and the fabric is great for travel. Both hang well on the wall and the students love them. They offer up engagement as the students notice the details on the map. There is a digital version for a more economical choice! 

Whiteboard

When I first started with VIPKID and Qkids, my first background was a whiteboard. I added posters and my laminated props I created to decorate my whiteboard. It made for a versatile static background. I also could us it to play games (tic tac toe for example) with my students. I still have my whiteboard and it is still a very important part of my office.

Vinyl Backgrounds

Vinyl backgrounds are durable and easy to clean. However, they are heavy. I did find with the one I bought with Nancy it tends to sag in the middle when hung with picture hangers because they will turn from the weight. Therefore, it is suggested to either get a stand for them to hang from (there are stands for these backgrounds) or used a heavy duty nail so it can support the weight of the vinyl. One of my friends, Brooke Nowln, uses these backgrounds. I was going to buy one of these, but decided to go with Nancy’s. Just a personal decision really. You do what fits you and your personality.

Posters

Posters are another great and economical option. You can visit Staples or the nearby Dollar General Store and see what they have to offer. Maybe your town has a school supply store for teachers. A good go to poster is a map or some kind of educational poster with letters, numbers, etc.

Lighting

Ring Lights

The best option and recommended by most online companies. The ring light delivers a good cover of light to your face with less incidence of shadows. They can come in broad spectrum lights as well which make them truly the best choice. Broad spectrum lighting provides the most natural looking lighting.

LED Bulbs

This is a good cheap option when starting out and in a pinch. Good to have on hand for travel or when you need lighting quick or your just don’t have a lot of space. I put LED bulbs in my home’s ceiling fan that hung slightly over but in front of me in my bedroom. They provided the amount of light I needed to make it look great!. However, I did have to use other smaller lamps to take care of the shadows the ceiling fan either created or couldn’t combat.

6" Ring Lights with tripod

The best option and recommended by most online companies. The ring light delivers a good cover of light to your face with less incidence of shadows. They can come in broad spectrum lights as well which make them truly the best choice. Broad spectrum lighting provides the most natural looking lighting. This particular set is very popular among YouTubers and online teachers.

18" Ring Lights with tripod (What I use)

The best option and recommended by most online companies. The ring light delivers a good cover of light to your face with less incidence of shadows. They can come in broad spectrum lights as well which make them truly the best choice. Broad spectrum lighting provides the most natural looking lighting. This particular set is very popular among YouTubers and online teachers. I have found this light can hold its own and it s good one to start with. I store it away in my office when not in use and it is out of sight. Very easy to use and set up.

Ring Light, ESDDI 18inch Dimmable Brightness Bicolor 3000K-6500K Led Ring Light with Stand and Phone Holder, Soft Tube, Carrying Bag for Camera, Smartphone, YouTube, Vlog, Makeup, Portrait Shooting (What I use)

I also use these lights and have found them to create a much nicer overall lighting when paired with the 18″ ring light. Both the 18″ ring light and these lights can be stored away easily so that they do not clutter a room when not in use. They also set up very quickly and easily.

Props/Rewards

Ice Cream

One of my most popular and useful props is this ice cream toy. They love the ice cream! Even the older students enjoy the ice cream prop. It can be used as a reward, to review vocabulary (colors, food, taste, etc), counting, etc. Definitely worth the money.

My Little Pony

The little girls love these! Plus, you can go over the colors with them, ask them what kind of animal it is, and where the animal lives. A very popular toy. Many of your little students will run to go get their Little Pony to show you! Great way to engage and build a relationship.

Hot Wheels - Super Heroes

The little boys love these! Plus, you can go over the colors with them, ask them what kind of vehicle it is, ask if their mom or dad can drive a car, and where they drive the car. Super heroes are a very popular toy. Many of your little students will run to go get their toy cars, trucks, etc.  to show you! Great way to engage and build a relationship.

Story Cubes

A great way to improve conversational and story telling skills. Story Cubes work well for all levels, English Speakers, and ESL. Just randomly pick a cube as a secondary reward, ask the student to create a sentence about the cube, and add it to the other cubes. I usually award five secondary rewards during a 30 minute period. At the end of class, have them create a story using all the cubes. 

Flash Cards

The most used prop for an online teacher. I have flash cards sitting in a box right next to me (see organization/storage for the box I use). Great for platforms like VIPKID. Especially, when you have a trial and don’t know what to expect!. They are a quick and easy go to for those moments when you need to teach letters, animals, shapes, colors, numbers, and more!

Balls

Balls are more than just a prop to show for the vocabulary word “ball” or the verbs “to throw” and “to catch”. Balls can be used to show “small”, “big”, “less”, “fewer”, “more”, “this”, “that”, “these”, “those”, and the list goes on. I cannot tell you how important a set of differently colored and sized balls can be a life saver in a pinch. I was so surprised with the many ways I found to use balls in the ESL classroom. You can get the faces balls (works great for teaching emotions too) and/or the sports balls (helps with teaching and asking about sports).

Organization/Storage

Accordion File Folders

THIS! These file folders are a life saver for organizing your day of teaching. You can mark each file with the time of the classes you usually teach then fill each pocket with the required props for that lesson. You can put 2D and 3D props in my 24 pocket file folder. Learn more about teaching back to back lessons with this video: click here. The 13 pocket file folder is great for travel. Just put those flashcards and 2D props in the spare pockets and you’re organized and ready to go!

Really Useful Boxes

The Really Useful Boxes collection of stackable containers are exactly that. You can connect them to each other and carry them easily from one place to another. They vary in size so you have a size for all situations. Definitely a great investment that keeps you organized.

The Index Card Box

This box comes in handy in more ways than one. It can hold your flashcards. It can act as a prop for shapes, describing shapes, and even to show different prepositions. Plus its small enough to set next to your computer which makes it easier to grab what you need and put it away.