Online Teaching Props to Keep in Your ESL Classroom

ESL Teacher Props to Have on Hand at All Times

Online teaching props are a mainstay as an ESL teacher – right up there with TPR. You need props to keep the kiddos engaged throughout the lesson. In fact, you may find yourself in a face-off with a kid who has literally no desire to be in that class with you, and the only thing you can do is bust out the props and put on a show like no other in hopes you can keep them at least a tiny bit engaged for the next 20 minutes. Check out this list of online teaching props you should have in your classroom.

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White Board

If you only have $10 or less to invest in your ESL props and you’re looking for the most bang for your buck, this is it. A whiteboard is perfect to have around because it can act as a thousand online teaching props in one. Use it to draw anything that you need, including letters and phonic sounds to move lessons along more seamlessly. Most of the whiteboards on Amazon come with at least one marker, but it doesn’t hurt to have a multi-colored pack and some backups around just in case one chooses to go out in the middle of class (it happens)! Bonus: if you get a large magnetic one, it can serve as your background, too.


Another one of the best ESL teacher props for your classroom is the oh-so-helpful fake microphone (or real microphone, if you happen to have one lying around the house to use as a prop in class)! But if you’re like most of us, you’ll need to create your own “microphone” out of materials that you’ve got on hand, or that can be purchased easily from the dollar store or Target, etc. It’s super simple to make one out of things you should have at home already, like a toilet paper tube and foil and/or duct tape.


Puppets can be very helpful as online teaching props when you find yourself trying to connect with that shy little 4-year-old girl who has never even heard so much as a word of English before. Having one (or a few) of these can help relax your students and keep them engaged, even if they have no idea what you’re saying at this point.  It’s not a bad idea to stick with the classics that are likely to pop up in many ESL companies’ lessons, such as a bear or tiger. That way, they’re likely to have a stuffed animal that’s similar, which creates a bridge for you to connect with your student.


Flashcards are another fantastic prop to use because they transcend the language barrier. Again, having a standard set of flashcards that contain things you are likely to come across on multiple platforms is a good place to start. By keeping just the necessary ones in your classroom, you can easily find the cards you’ll need for each specific lesson and you won’t have to spend a ridiculous amount of time sifting through a shoebox of unnecessary props that you don’t use.

Up next: What to wear to stay cool and comfortable while teaching online.

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