Depending on the age of your students and the topic of lesson, having online classes with children can be a challenge at first. Our intuitions, habits and teaching routines can be thrown off a bit in the beginning, until we get used to this new way of connecting with each other. Below is a list of useful classroom tools that are great not only for online classes with children, but also for in-person sessions.
Finger Puppets: Available on Amazon and relatively inexpensive, finger puppets are a great way to make online classes with children more fun and engaging. You can use them to playfully practice pronouns and conjugation, as well as animal names, colors, singular and plural etc. The possibilities are endless.
A wonderful way to structure and scaffold lessons, build up excitement and keep a child engaged is with stickers, and specifically, 3-D or foam stickers. They are easier to attach and remove quickly, and you can simply use double sided picture hanger tape to replace the adhesive once it loses its stickiness. Next, find fun backgrounds (an underwater scene, a farm, a jungle, a construction site, etc.), print each on an 8 x 11.5 piece of paper, stick the print in a plastic binder sleeve and have fun. Many dollar stores have a great selection of stickers, as do arts and craft stores such as Michaels or AC Moore. Often, stickers come in themes (fish, animals, food, etc.). You can use the stickers to build up a fun reward system, build up a story or to practice vocabulary.
A dry erase board
Also relatively inexpensive, dry erase boards and markers are a great, un-messy way to draw, write, circle sight words, practice spelling, etc. They work really well for online classes with children, as the teacher can quickly draw and write on them, and then show the student. You can also combine tools: Stickers and dry erase boards work very well together, as dry erase markers and sticker backgrounds.
If you play an instrument, such as the guitar or the recorder, then you are probably already using them in class. They help bring songs alive in class, they create a warm and playful atmosphere in class, and children love it. However, if you do not play an instrument, don’t worry. Your vocal cords are a wonderful instrument, and there are several inexpensive, easy-to-learn instruments, such as toy xylophones, melodicas or recorders that help you make your lesson more musical. And if that does not go well, that is also great. Because…
…humor and laughter are wonderful ways to make a class more engaging and upbeat. Time flies when you are having fun, and it really is true! Humor enriches the class and helps with content retention. So, have a laugh!
Dollar stores and most arts and craft stores have a plethora of inexpensive but wonderfully effective and creative toys, such as hand-sized puppets, balls, hats, dice, etc. that make excellent classroom tools, especially for online classes with children. Dice can be used for counting, math and playing games. Many stores also have large foam dice that you can write on with dry erase markers, which are great for practicing short and long vowel sounds or syllables. Different balls can be used to practice talking about geometrical shapes, colors, likes and dislikes, etc. Legos can also be great for practicing shapes, colors and counting.
As you would in your physical classroom, and online classroom can be just as beautifully decorated. Once again, dollar stores and craft stores are your best friend for finding things like maps, flags, and posters. A wonderful way to create an engaging classroom background is to take inspiration from the seasons and upcoming holidays. This also helps us create an organic schedule for when to change the classroom scenery a bit.
Do you have any more ideas about how to make online classes with children more fun? Feel free to share.