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Teaching Materials - On Hand Items


In the past we have written articles on teaching material, my personal favourite one being 'The Minimalist Teacher'( where we talked about trying to teach with no materials or limit it to chalk/board or pencil/paper as a challenge to broaden our teaching methods. This time, we will go in the opposite direction and talk about 'on hand items', while still keeping it minimal.

First, what are on hand items? It could be interpreted two ways. One is teaching material or items we have in our immediate surroundings in the classroom. Two is a particular teaching material or item we always keep on us no matter what grade, lesson, or level we are teaching. We'll go with the latter definition.

Some examples that come to mind immediately would be the humble deck of cards (see how versatile they can be:, a sheet/booklet of stickers (for rewarding learners), rubber stamp and stamp pad (same reason as stickers), soft bean bag (for many communication games, time bomb, warm ups and cool downs), music player and speakers (if you're the type to incorporate songs in your lessons), tablet (flashcards, presentations, audio, video, almost everything here), a dice or two (almost as versatile as playing cards)... you get the picture.

You may already have a repertoire of on hand items, and understand how useful they can be inside and outside of the class. The only requirement that an on hand item must have is versatility, and if your personality is part of it then that is a bonus.

My latest on hand item I keep with me recently is a deck of... noun cards with pictures. For example, 10 sports, 10 foods, 10 countries, 10 stationery items, 10 facilities, 10 school subjects, 10 insert desired category... the number of nouns and categories can of course be tweaked to your liking, but I've found that 10 to be a good number.

So, what to do with these cards? I'll let you figure that out. What I suggest though is to go through all grammar points, target language, target phrases and expressions, it doesn't matter if it's elementary, middle, or high school, and come up with a game/activity where you CAN'T implement these noun cards.

An added bonus to the set I made is that they were drawn/written on the back of a regular deck of playing cards, so it doubles up as that too... and we all know how wonderful the humble deck of cards is.

Use this idea as the starting point to search and personalize your on hand item. It will take time, and a lot of trial and error, but you will feel so liberated when you discover your soul mate of a teaching material!

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