Top 5 Teaching Props for Online Tutoring

Since so many people are teaching online due to Covid-19, I thought I’d share the top five props that I found to be the most helpful.

  1. Mr. Potato Head

This is such a classic toy and just so versatile. I find that it is so helpful for teaching body parts (eyes, nose, ears, mouth, hands, feet, hair) to kids ages 3 to 8. Plus, you can adopt a silly voice, stick Mr. Potato Head in front of your camera, and let the kid talk to it. The fact that it is so colorful makes it eye catching, which is a must when trying to teach online to kids!

2. Balls

This is another prop that I use almost every day when teaching my students. I often ask them “do you like to play ball” or “what ball do you have/like.” I have a small basketball and soccer ball that I use to demonstrate kicking, throwing, or dribbling. Pretend to throw the ball at your camera and your student can pretend to catch it. It’s a great way to get your kids moving and on the go when online learning is just so stationary.

3. Construction paper

Okay, okay, this isn’t really a toy. But there’s just so much you can do with it. You can use it to make a toy, if you like, or draw an apple or banana or a triangle or a square to show to your students to reinforce fruits or shapes. But what I like to use it for is to show colors. Try cutting the construction paper into long strips. Do it for every color. You can then ask the student what color it is to help reinforce the material.

4. Rabbit ears

Every child loves rabbits. It’s a bonus when a teacher comes in front of the camera wearing one of these ears. It makes learning fun to have a couple of these lying around. I have Mickey Mouse ears and cat ears. Kids, especially young kids, have to look at your face so why not make it more fun by pretending to be an animal. Kids love animals. Kids especially love it when adults pretend to be an animal.

5. Teaching Clock

If you teach ESL, you will probably have to teach your kids the numbers or how to tell time. Having a play clock is the perfect way to do that. Plus, this one is super colorful and is bound to attract their attention. Point to the numbers and teach them how to say the numbers. Have the minute and hour hand point at random numbers and ask what time it is.

What are some toys or props that you use in your online classroom?

I think I know what I want to do…

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Like most kids, I’ve had dreams and hopes of what I wanted to be. The first thing I ever wanted to be was a teacher because I had some really great teachers. Later, I decided that I wanted to be a doctor, a surgeon, a veterinarian, an astronaut, a paleontologist, you name it.

I remember when I turned x-year-old, I knew that whatever I chose to do, whatever I ended up doing, I wanted to help people. My dad was a nurse and that’s what he did for a living. My mom was a homemaker and she did so much for my dad and I. I knew that I wouldn’t feel fulfilled and satisfied unless I was helping people too.

Fast forward some years, I go to college, get a degree in Communications, and start teaching online.

What I’ve discovered about myself is that I love being in the education field. I love being in school. If I had it my way, I would love to just stay in school and learn. If school wasn’t so darn expensive, then I would just opt to be a perpetual student. The thrill that I get from being in a classroom — rather online or in-classroom — is like no other.

I want to stay in the classroom setting, but would love to get paid for doing it of course. I could be a classroom teacher but I’d rather work one-on-one with students. I’d love to help high school students talk about college and their future. I’d love to help students who are having trouble with bullying or a bad grade. I’d love to just be there, a comforting presence for kids who are just trying to discover life.

I think I want to be a school counselor. I think that is the hard part. Deciding what you want to be, I mean.

The next part is deciding what graduate school to do. If you have any ideas, then please feel free to comment below.

What I’ve Learned About Money So Far

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I’m 31 years old and I’m just now learning about money. Growing up, I knew that people went to work to earn money so that they could afford to buy clothes and food and other things that you needed. My mom, dad, and my grandmother all told me to save all of my allowance money. They told me to save, save, and save some more for a big purchase instead of smaller purchases. I listened to them. Indeed, when I secured my first “real” job in my early twenties, the first thing I did was to open a savings account.

Fast forward a few years and I was able to save a small emergency fund. Dave Ramsey (you know, the financial guru) advises having at least a 3-6 month emergency fund. It is only now in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic do I realize how important it is to have an emergency fund.

Toward my late twenties to where I am now, I started realizing that putting money into the savings doesn’t help it to grow. It just stays there. It’s like a car full of gasoline in a parking lot. You can use it but the more you use it, the less you have. I usually try not to use it and try to put as much as possible into the savings.

Putting money into the savings doesn’t do anything except give you a nice little nest egg for emergencies. In order to get wealthy, you have to invest your money. Open up a Roth IRA or a 401K with your employer. Invest in some mutual or index funds. Wait a few years or longer and watch it grow. The only catch is that once you put the money in, you can’t take it out without being penalized.

I wish that I had learned about investing sooner. I wish I had learned about it in high school and college. But they don’t really teach you that. They just teach you how to analyze a paper or how to solve an algebraic equation. They don’t teach you how to file taxes, save, invest, budget, or other things that you need in the real world.

The Secret in the Basket — Part Two

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(Click here to read Part One!)

“You made it,” Candice said blankly.

The man with the cowboy hat was in front of her now. He was holding an ugly, shabby picnic basket with both hands. The picnic basket was closed. She wondered curiously what was in it. Could this be the clue, the key, that would help her find her past? A past that she knew nearly nothing about.

The man nodded. Now that he was closer, she could see that he was older than her. He was in her fifties, at least. He had a scuffed chin, brought about from years and years of shaving and hard work. He had brown, wavy hair that was parted at the side. But he hardly had any neck. His head was just connected to his big, beefy chest. He almost looked like a robot. Indeed, she expected him to blurt out something in an monotonous tone of voice. But despite that, she could tell that he was once handsome. His skin was shiny, silky even. He didn’t have a trace of gray in his fine, brown hair.

She just stared at him, waiting for him to say something, but all he did was merely extend the basket toward her.

She raised her eyebrows at him, but still didn’t take the basket. He nodded at her, waiting patiently it seemed. Until finally, she leaned forward and grabbed it from his hands. He let it slip from his hands ever so willingly. As the transfer happened, she felt not only the weight of the basket but the weight of the past ahead of her.

“Thank you,” she said, clearing her throat.

He nodded, and then made to turn away, but she shouted, “Wait, don’t go, come back!” She would have grabbed his arm, but the full weight of the basket hindered her from doing so.

Keeping his back toward her, he finally spoke in a raspy voice: “I have to go. What is in the basket unlocks the secrets to your past.”

As she stood there, struggling to process his words, the man with the cowboy hat walked away, until the sound of his footsteps on the bridge couldn’t be heard anymore.

She looked down at the basket. Slowly, she set it on the ground. She crouched down beside it so that she could open it. Holding her breath, she lifted the flaps one by one. It was dark inside the basket. Peering closely, she saw that there was a black kitten sleeping on the floor of the basket.

A kitten? How could a kitten help her? Why did she listen to the instructions in the letter, which told her to meet a man in a cowboy hat on this very bridge in the middle of the jungle?

The Meeting at the Bridge — Part One

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Glancing quickly at her watch, Candice frowned and then scurried forward. He was late. She had told him. He was late, probably for the tenth time in a row. Frustrated, she tightened her fingers over the car keys that were still clutched in her hand. He was always late. Always.

Shrugging, she walked forward. She heard the bridge squeak under her feet and she gave an involuntary shudder. This bridge was sturdy, wasn’t it? It wasn’t just going to collapse under her. She had to trust that it could support her wait. It had to. Today was a very important day.

A very important day. She was meeting him today. Only, he was late. As usual. She sighed. What could she do? Of course, the most logical thing to do was to call or text him. But he didn’t have a phone. What twenty-something man didn’t have a phone?

He didn’t. He was a man who constantly reminded her of the all-consuming power that technology had over her — and the world. He refused to be swallowed up by the incredible force of technology, no matter how shiny the gadgets were.

She sighed, rubbing her thumb over the latest Samsung Galaxy phone. She had just bought the latest one with her hard earned money and she was so proud of it. It was sleek and beautiful and glossy. It was safe to say that she was in love with her phone.

She took a few more step forward, and as she did so, she heard the floorboard creak beneath her feet. She tried to ignore it, focusing instead on the trees around her. The color of the trees signaled the near end of summer. But it was still hot, blisteringly hot. That thought reminded her of how hot it was. She wiped her glistening forehead with the ends of her sleeves, a habit that she had since childhood.

Oh, why did she have to live somewhere so hot? As soon as this thought crossed her mind, a light zephyr blew over the bridge. She paused to embrace this light wind, a bit of respite from the heat. But as quickly as it came, it was gone and all she was left with was the hot heat.

Sighing, she walked forward, much more quickly this time. She could see the end of the bridge from her position. She just had to go a few more steps and then she would wait. Wait for what? she thought.

Wait for him, she answered. She had to because he had the answers to everything. He was going to bring her something that, he said, would unlock the keys to her past. She was adopted so she didn’t know much about that. But after today, that would no longer be the case.

Finally, finally, she was the end of the bridge. She looked down and had to suppress a shudder. She really was so high up. It was just her, the bridge, the trees, and this godawful heat. She really hoped that he would hurry up.

And just as she thought this, she heard the sound of some footsteps on the bridge that could only mean one thing: it was him.

She slowly turned around, ready to greet him. She was ready to meet the thing that held the answers to everything.

She saw him wearing a huge cowboy hat, with a wide brim. She let her eyes wander down to the little basket he was carrying in his arms.

What on Earth was in that basket?

(to be continued)

The Five Best Things About the Coronavirus Pandemic

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Yes, you read the title right. The year 2020 has been the craziest, strangest year so far. In so many ways, it has sucked ever since we were pushed into lock down and quarantine mode, many of us forced out of jobs, and lacking basic supplies such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

But no matter how crazy and crappy something is, it is always good to look on the bright side. It’s awful having to wear a mask to the store or being stuck inside all day, but there is a silver lining. Never fear! So, without further ado, here they are:

1–Reconnecting with family

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The past few years, we’ve all been so disconnected from people, especially the people who are supposed to be the closest. We live, share a space with these people that we love, and yet we often fail to connect with them. We are all too busy texting, playing games, facebooking, or whatever-ing on our phones. Don’t be ashamed. We’ve all done it. You’d be sitting in the living room with your spouse and kids but you wouldn’t be exactly present. Why not? Because you, your spouse, and even your kids are all on the tablet, phone, or the TV, absorbed in these fictional, virtual worlds.

Since Covid-19 happened, it has allowed many of us to just stop, step back, and enjoy the people and things around us. When the world stops, like it did back in March, we started to enjoy the simple things more.

I know I did. I just had my baby boy just two months when we were forced into lock down. Because of Covid-19, I was able to really enjoy him. When life stops and you find yourself at home every day, all day, you can’t help but start to appreciate the things and people around you better. A whole lot better.

2–Picking up a hobby

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With so many of us out of work and school, it gave us so much free time. I noticed a lot more people on Facebook, just lurking and posting. I imagine people hunched in a corner of their room, humped over their phones, trying to pass the time away on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. I know I’ve been guilty of it.

With so much free time available to us, this is the perfect time to pick up a hobby. Learn something you’ve always wanted to learn but never had the time because of work or school. Now with no work or school, it is the perfect time. Start a blog, a YouTube channel, or learn a new craft. Learn how to knit or crochet and make a nice scarf for your loved one for Christmas. Sit by your window and paint a picture of what you see.

During lock down, I’ve been reevaluating myself, trying to figure out how to better myself. I’ve started blogging again (yay!) and hopefully will keep at it forever and ever (fingers crossed). I’m looking at ways to generate more income, such looking for some side hustles (I’m seriously planning on becoming a notary agent).

3–Starting a creative enterprise

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Since lock down has begun and people have been encouraged — even forced — to wear masks in all public places, many creative enterprises and ideas have sprung up. Remember the college student who invented the clear mask to make it easier for the deaf and hard of hearing to be able to lip read? Or the hundreds — thousands, maybe even millions — of people who’ve started sewing masks, and then selling or giving it away to friends and family?

Yes, the Coronavirus has absolutely sucked, but it has made way for all of this creativity to blossom to help make other people’s lives blossom. Thinking of this makes my heart soar. Yes, there is hope. There are so many people who are doing things for the betterment of others. That is something to celebrate especially in this individualistic world.

4–Using technology in new ways

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So many people went sent home. Some were fortunate enough to be able to stay home and work remotely. Some weren’t. As the new school year starts back up, people are choosing homeschooling or virtual schooling for their kids. People are using apps such as Zoom or Skype to have work meetings, classes, and more.

Before Covid-19, technology was already so advanced but now we are being forced to use it more just to survive. Before it was just optional. Now, it is a requirement. Now we’ve had to shop online, use apps for curbside pickup and have work Zoom meetings in our underwear and dress shirt. We should be thankful that technology has evolved so much to allow us to do this. Imagine if we still had the technology of the early ’90s. Imagine how much different and hard it would be to survive.

How have you used technology during this pandemic? Do you find that you’ve used more or less of it?

5–Cleaning Up the Earth

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Just weeks — maybe even days — after we were forced into lock down mode, I saw news articles about less pollution and cleaner air. This is so remarkable and so amazing. It is no secret that the Earth is in trouble. It’s good that Covid-19 forced us into our homes. We needed it just to let our beloved Earth — our home — heal. It makes me wonder if perhaps we should all stay home regularly — once a month or once a year — to help save and clean up the Earth. What do you say?

What do YOU think is the best thing about the Covid-19 pandemic?

What I Fear the Most During the Coronavirus Pandemic

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  • I fear that kids today will see mask wearing as the norm. They walk into a Walmart or a Target and see faces that are half obscured and covered. They no longer see people laughing and smiling. All they see is the fear in people’s faces as they stay apart from one another.
  • I fear that kids today will now grow up distancing themselves from their peers and other people around them. We are teaching them to stay away, stay apart, and don’t touch. This mentality is bound to affect them as they grow up.
  • I fear that this will last for years, bringing about even more deaths.
  • I fear that life will never go back to normal.

What do you fear most about the pandemic?

5 Best Reasons Why You Should Get Your Child a Piggy Bank

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1–Teach ’em to save

It’s never too early to teach a child to save money. Teach them that it’s often best to save for a really nice huge toy rather than a few cheap toys. With every dollar or coin added to the piggy bank, it’ll give them motivation to earn more. Besides, who doesn’t love to hear the “clink” of the sound of change as it hits the bottom of the piggy bank?

2–Teach ’em to invest

It’s not enough to just save money. Sure, it helps to put that money into a high-yield savings account and at 2% compound interest they’ll earn a handful of cash. But also show them how to grow their money by investing. Invest some of it in mutual funds or ETFs, let it sit for a few years or a decade, and watch it grow. Imagine what a learning experience it would be for the child as they watch their money work for them.

3–Teach ’em math skills

Use their money to teach them about percentages. Teach them about interest and compound interest. For the younger kids and toddlers, teach them the names of the coins and amounts. Teach them to add or subtract using money.

4–Teach ’em to set goals

Ask your kid what they want to buy now. And then, turn around, and ask them what they would like five, ten, or even twenty years from now. Show them how much these things cost. Make a plan and show them how they can achieve these financial goals.

5–Teach ’em to budget

Show your kids how much you have to spend on food and then take them to the grocery store. Have them look at different brands and products. Encourage them to help you find ways to get the most for the budget. Encourage them to figure out how to stretch the budget.

So, go get a piggy bank. Here are some of the BEST piggy banks that I’ve seen on the market:

Do you have a piggy bank? Do you find that it helps you to save money?