I am a big believe in using props with lessons. Props can be extremely powerful in creating an experience and bringing the lesson to life. Think about what you are teaching about. Think about what objects or visuals could be made or brought in to help show and reinforce the topic. Students are used to doing the zombie shuffle into school each day and getting the same dose of “sameness.” So why not hit them with something different? If you are talking about a topic and abruptly stop and say, “Well, why don’t I just show you?” And you pull out a prop, students are going to become much more alert and eager to see what you are talking about. They are going to sit up and take notice. Bringing in props for a lesson makes that topic come to life. It is there, for students to experience, not just listen to. Props give students a great visual for them to connect to. They will understand and learn the material because you have provided them with a connection. In discussing the Medieval Times, I thought it would be good to have a “pillory” as a prop in my room. So I built one and brought it in. I kept it under a bed sheet for a couple days to build the suspense. The students were constantly guessing as to what it was and asking when they got to see it. This method, which is classic #tlap, builds the momentum of the lesson and when I actually did reveal it, the students were highly engaged and begging to help demonstrate it. Students remember things like this. Plus, you are providing them an opportunity to actually have an answer to the question “What did you learn in school today?” Instead of the age-old response of “nothing,” they can share that they learned about the pillory and actually got to try it.
As the school year winds down and the restlessness cranks up, it might be a good idea to think about incorporating some props into your lessons/classroom. It will help channel that spring energy into a positive channel.