Articles for Teachers:
Using Props in the ESL and Language Classroom
by Lucille Lever
Visual, tactile props stimulate the eye and mind and result in creativity in the
classroom. Lessons in which props are used are more memorable for the
Visual props are an essential item in a drama or language classroom. Items such as
pictures, cereal box cartoon characters, magazine cut-outs, crafts, toys, add
focal points to the lessons to stir imagination.
An extremely effective prop is fabric. The magic of colors and large arrays of
textured textiles are very exciting. Teachers can use props not only in drama
and language lessons but also in other classes such as geography and history.
Textiles can brighten up a presentation, and make the subject matter more real
in a student’s mind.
Here are some ideas of how to use fabric for effect:
Drama Class Ideas
Notice that many of the above activities can be the starting point for a presentation,
review, oral or creative writing classes, and can also be used as part of a
presentation in which students are tested through creative writing.
History, Geography or Social Studies Lessons
Students working on historical characters can be told to find a picture of rooms,
clothes, etc. from a particular period and recreate them in
Use fabric to create the clothes worn by different ethnic groups in countries being
studied in the geography courses. Recreate a costume. Bring some pictures and
get the students to try and copy the ideas.
Collectible Props for the Classroom
Teachers are encouraged to start a collection of all kinds of ties, bows, elastic,
pieces of lace, and any sort and size of fabric that will bring out something
in the imagination of the students. A trip to the local fabric store may surprise buyers looking for a bargain of scraps of a variety of materials.
Teachers do not have to sew. Accessories that hold things together from sticky tape,
duct tape to safety pins, hairclips and elastic stretchy bands are available to
hold the items together without a permanent mark.
Some important items to keep in a prop costume box:
It is recommended that creative teachers start collecting bits and pieces of
fabric and accessories for their lessons. Don’t be shy to use these items in
lessons other than drama. Colors and props are memorable and fun, so adding
them to classes will connect ideas and imagination with subjects that sometimes
seem less tangible, difficult or boring.
What’s better than a memorable lesson?