Yeah, I get it. You JUST got hired to teach English online for VIP Kid and are wondering, well, what the heck do I use for props? And no, VIP Kid doesn’t currently provide any props of their own, but nor do they require you to purchase any (although they do ask you to have some for the interview – you can always make those, though). However, they certainly make teaching (and traveling) easier!
Or, you’re wanting to start traveling (as soon as that whole, you know, pandemic thing comes to an end) and are like, I can’t bring everything with me, so what SHOULD I TAKE WITH ME?
Do not fear, fellow VIP Kid teacher! Before you stuff your suitcase full of Dinos or throw away all your hard earned cash, let me assure you: You do NOT need to choose VIP Kid props over an extra pair of shoes or spend hundreds on things you’ll probably never use.If I’m being honest, I don’t use as many props as I used to because I feel like it can kinda take away from the lesson at times, and some of the kids really don’t seem to care anyway.
Plus, when I’m teaching back to back to back lessons, I just don’t have time during the 5 minute break in between lessons to reorganize everything. That time is used for jotting down notes that I’ll later use in feedback (idk how anyone has figured out how to finish it during or right after the lesson – I’m still on team #doitlater).
I’m also usually able to find things around the house if needed most of the time, too. Need to show a student what a cube is? Great, I’ll use a tissue box! Lesson on food? I’ll grab an egg from the kitchen.
Being a VIP Kid teacher is a great job for a digital nomad! You really don’t have to take too much with you, and you can pretty much teach from anywhere as long as the wifi is strong enough.
Here are my favorite VIP Kid props that I drag along with me:
Like, at one house sit in Germany the wifi wouldn’t even load the VIP Kid website! That was scary. But I popped in the ethernet cord and it fixed things right up.
I don’t use it everywhere, as the wifi is usually strong enough. But, it has helped on occasion. So, totally up to you!
I have a giant 100 foot one, but I’d recommend just getting a shorter one. I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought it haha as I’ve never even come close to using the entire length of it. This ethernet cable is 25 feet, which is what I’d purchase instead if I could go back in time.
You may even want to get a shorter one; I just went with a longer one since I was traveling with a friend, and oftentimes the router/ethernet outlet (is that what you call it?) would be in the living room. I didn’t want to annoy her every time I sang the alphabet, so I’d just hook up the cable there and run it into another room where I could close the door.
LAPTOPS & CHARGERSYes, you read that correctly – laptopS. I currently travel with two laptops (I’m extra, I know). I didn’t originally PLAN to have both with me. When I first became nomadic, I only brought one, but it ended up having some issues and I had to borrow my friend’s computer for a few weeks before I could get to an Apple store. Luckily, we were traveling together and she didn’t need it much so it wasn’t an issue. Next time I returned home, I also packed my old computer as backup and it’s saved my butt a couple of times.
I’d definitely recommend having some sort of backup just in case. Like what if you spill water on the keyboard, drop it, or it gets stolen?? I know some teachers take an iPad and laptop with them; as of April 2020, you can still teach classes on an iPad. However, I’ve heard that might be changing soon so just keep that in mind!
At the very least, just ensure there’s a coworking space or library nearby that you can use a computer at if needed.
I use 13-inch 2011 and 2017 Macbooks, and both have worked fine.
I also have a European Mac adaptor for both chargers which isn’t necessary, but nice to have since I’m in Europe 90% of the time. Just makes life a little more convenient.
HEADPHONES WITH MICROPHONEI personally don’t think you need a headset, and it would be really annoying to travel with. Any earbuds with a microphone will do! I use my Apple ones and haven’t had any issues or complaints from parents.
SOLID COLORED SHIRTI don’t necessarily think you NEED to have an orange shirt (I just happen to have one) and I don’t recommend buying one, either. Any solid colored T-shirt/sweater will do, bonus points if it’s bright! I usually alternate between orange and red.
Here’s a secret: Neither are solid shirts – they both have designs on them! However, I just turn them around for teaching, so I’m wearing the solid back part as if it’s the front 🙂
Win win! Then you don’t have to buy or bring something you won’t wear outside of teaching 😉
WHITEBOARD & MARKERS
A whiteboard is arguably the MOST necessary item you’ll have in your teaching career. A whiteboard can become ANYTHING. You can use it to draw pictures to extend the lesson or for rewards, and it helps explain concepts better in class.
If you really only want to buy one prop, let this be it!
LAMINATED PAPER PROPS
These take up almost no space at all and I just stuff them in a bag; you can separate them into different bags if you want to stay more organized. You don’t NEED to laminate them, but of course they’ll stay nicer longer if you do.
I just googled the images, printed them on cardstock, and was lucky enough to use the laminator machine at work before I departed for my new ~nomad life~.
- Fruit – I use these in lessons about food, and as a reward.
- Family with mom, dad, brother, sister – I use this in the old Level 2 trial classes, as well as in the early Level 2 regular classes.
- Sports (football, soccer ball, basketball, badminton) – I use these to find out student likes/dislikes, as a reward, in Level 2 courses, and in Level 1 trials. They’re also helpful to explain the difference between soccer and football – they learn British English, so they call “soccer” “football”
- Transportation (car, train, plane, taxi, bike)
- World map (If you use a map of China, it has to be VIP Kid approved because there are some politics surrounding Taiwan. So, I just don’t use a map of China at all to avoid this)
- Clothing (shirt, pants, dress, shoes, socks, jacket)
- Birthday (happy birthday sign, present, cake with candles)
- Gold star
- Shapes (triangle, square, rectangle, circle, trapezoid, parallelogram)
- Flags (China, USA)
- Meg, Mike, and Dino characters
- Months on an index card
- Days of the week on an index card
FINGER PUPPETSI love these animal finger puppets. They’re fun to use for rewards, or to extend the lesson. The younger students especially love them! I often use them in conjunction with my animal flashcards (linked below) to show the student the name of the animal.
FLASHCARDSI use these alphabet flashcards for lessons with younger students and for Level 1 and 2 trial classes.
If you really don’t want to buy any new ones, you can also just make your own! I use Aa-Cc the most (Level 1 & 2 trial classes), as well as Mm/Nn (one of the Level 2 trial classes). However, you will probably end up using each letter at some time or another.
I also LOVE these animal flashcards and use them so often! They make great rewards and are helpful explaining different animals to younger students.
Def get a selfie ring light! They don’t sell the one that I bought anymore, but this one looks similar. Really makes all the difference.
Plus you can use it to take epic selfies of yourself later! *Insert hair flip emoji*
Lots of traveling teachers buy giant maps that they hang behind them. I happened to have an alphabet poster that I bought in college thinking it was cool and vintage lol. Now it’s part of my classroom! I couldn’t find it online, but here’s a similar alphabet poster.
I usually also hang my teacher name beside me. I just printed this on cardstock, laminated it, and covered it with stickers. If I feel like my background needs a little more excitement, I’ll also add some animal flashcards!
You can also just print different pages out online, or try and create a virtual background on ManyCam. I haven’t gone the virtual route because you usually need some sort of “green screen” behind you and it’s easier for me to just use my poster.But whatever you do, be wary of using strong command strips! Or be sure you at least know how to peel them off the wall correctly. I didn’t and accidentally took a chunk of paint off the wall at a house sit in Berlin. Luckily the owners were cool about it, but now I just use tape because I’m so paranoid about that happening again!
If you’re in a bind (it happens to the best of us) and need to teach from Starbucks or the airport, just cover yourself in AR stickers. The panda one is my favorite (I feel like it covers a decent amount of the background), and the students seem to like it, too! To use AR stickers, click the “face” icon on your video picture.
I had to do this in Thailand when I totally spaced and booked some classes on a day that I had to switch accommodation. I scoured reviews online for the biggest Starbucks in the area, found a quiet corner, and taught 2 classes! It was totally fine and thankfully I didn’t get any negative feedback, nor did the employees seem to care.
Ok, it’s 2020 so I’m pretty sure everyone has a phone by now. But here’s what you can use it for:
- Show students photos or GIFS from the internet to help explain concepts or rewards.
- Hotspot in case your wifi goes out. Turn your hotspot on, then connect your computer! I’ve done this once and it worked well.
- You MUST download the VIP Kid app. It’s a lifesaver! It has an alarm that goes off 15 min before your class (annoying but helpful, especially if you’re a heavy sleeper and need to set multiple alarms; it literally doesn’t shut up until you turn it off), can show your class schedule, you can open and close slots, see your payment, and so much more!
If you’re interested in teaching for VIP Kid, too, feel free to reach out! I’m more than happy to answer any questions. And if you’d like to use me as a referral (full disclosure, I get a little kickback if you do this) I’d be more than happy to help coach you through the hiring process!
I can explain how VIP Kid works, help you practice for your interview, tell you exactly what VIP Kid is looking for so you can get a higher base pay, and send you a list of helpful tips and props I use for trial classes (what you’ll most likely be teaching when you first start).
Here’s my referral code: KELSE0243
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