VIPKid Meetup – Goodie Bags

Tomorrow, I’m hosting my very first VIPKid meetup. If you aren’t sure what that is or why they are so awesome, read this first.

In addition to teachers having the chance to meet one another and have some fun, I hope that everyone who attends leaves with some fun, new ideas to try in class. That’s why I’m so excited about the goodie bags that I put together. (Stay tuned for my follow up post to see if other people were as excited as I am!) 🙂

If you are thinking about hosting a meetup of your own, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Oh, and VIPKid does have a reimbursement process (currently up to $100.) So if you’re looking for inspiration, here’s what I’ve included. (For each item, I’ve included where I purchased it, as well as a similar link on Amazon (because a. Who doesn’t love Amazon? and b. If you purchase using my affiliate link, I get a few cents. Win-Win!)

A cute, magnetic notepad. I got these from Michael’s for $1 each. They would be great for noting your students for the next day, planning out props, or just doodling! Try this 12-pack from Amazon for only $18.99!

Ice-Cream Cone or Fuzzy Pens. This was a Dollar Tree find. First, I bought all the ice cream pens they had. Then I came back and bought fuzzy pens for the rest. Either would be great for note-taking with your new note pad, and they can serve double duty as a prop for colors! Mine were $1.00 at Dollar Tree, but try these from Amazon ($5.99 for 6.)

Dice and Dice Games. This might be my favorite thing in the bags. (Well, one of my favorite.) I got the dice in a two-pack from the Dollar Tree, and each bag includes one. I printed off the games from vipkidresources.com. You can check them out in action and get the links in this post!

Flash Cards. I picked up 3 packs for $1.00 at the Dollar Tree. I don’t think you can match this online! But I found something still affordable at Amazon. Try these for $9.99 for a four-pack.

Novelty Pencil Sharpeners. The ones in my bags are fish, because they had them in a two-pack at Dollar Tree. BUT… had I done my research online, I would have ordered THESE! I actually have one of these from years ago that makes an AMAZING prop in the level 2 unit all about your face! Mine was a giveaway from a drug rep to a nurse, but I use it ALL THE TIME.

Door Hangers. This is my other favorite item. I actually purchased some pre-decorated “color-your-own” door hangers from Michaels, but these from Amazon are cuter, and a better deal (and would prevent the pre-painting step!) To make mine, I basically painted the wooden door-hangers, then used Mod Podge to make cute, VIPKid related images. I thought these would be super-helpful if you had young children at home that you were trying to teach boundaries.

Earbuds.  Ok. These are my last favorite item. Really. I purchased bulk headphones (in orange!) from TFD Supplies. I don’t have an affiliate link or anything, but they had amazing customer service, and their headphones are just $0.95 each (with a hard plastic case.) I added a self-print 2″ round sticker, and was done!

To top off the goodie bags, I threw in some extra candy that we had around the house from a Sam’s Club pack. Here’s a pack for $8.52 at Amazon. ($0.85 each!)

I got the bags at Michael’s in a baker’s dozen for $6.99 ($0.54 each!) plus tissue paper at Walmart for ten sheets for $0.98… ($0.10 each.) At Amazon, it would be $0.92 per bag and $0.49 per sheet of tissue paper.

Personalized Iron On Decals. It just so happens that one of the local area teachers does custom iron-on decals and sells them for $4.00 each ($8 with shipping.) I thought this was a great way to support a local teacher AND give away a fun item! (I’ve blocked out her number for privacy, but if you are interested in ordering from her, let me know in the comments and I can connect you!)

Of course, the VIPKid stickers and buttons were sent from VIPKid headquarters, along with other amazing swag to raffle off!

The total cost for my bags (per person) – ~$9.89

Total cost per bag using Amazon links – ~$14.29

Inspiration  – Priceless!

I really hope that my meetup guests enjoy receiving these bags as much as I enjoyed making them. If you have other suggestions for great giveaways, let me know in the comments! It’s never too early to start planning the next meetup!

meetup bag
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Classroom Dice Games

Next weekend, I’m hosting a VIPKid meetup. I’m so excited to meet other teachers in my area, and I want them to walk away with a little bit of inspiration.  So I have tried to put together some fun and creative things in their goodie bags that will help.

One of the things that I’m giving away at the meetup is a laminated packet of dice games that you can play in class, along with a super-cute die that I got at the Dollar Tree. (You guys – these came two in a pack for a dollar!) Here’s a similar, slightly smaller version available through my affiliate link at Amazon.com.

Why play a dice game in class?

First of all, it’s fun! These kids have long, hard days so I want to make their classes with me as fun as possible. Also, games can be an excellent form of extension in class. Here’s a short video I made to show how I would use this tool in action!

VIPKid Dice Games

What types of games do you play?

There is a wide variety of games you can play with a single die in class. I’ve tried to include some of my favorites.

  • Draw with me: Each time the student earns a reward, you (and maybe the student) get to draw a part of a picture. Based on what number you roll on the dice, that will determine how you should *try* to draw it. Note “try” is the key word. I’m not much of an artist, but that makes it even more fun!
  • Conversation starters: These can be great for older students in particular. You roll the dice, and you ask them a question, or they ask you a question!
  • Action games: These are excellent for younger, wigglier students. Each time they roll the dice, it will tell them a specific action to do. These can be customized to a specific lesson (Are they learning about farm animals? Act like a cow, horse, sheep, pig, etc.) Or they can be pure fun (dance party, high five, etc.)

Extension Ideas

I mentioned that these can be excellent forms of extension. At the simplest level, it gives your students experience counting. They can say the numbers or count the dots. If you are drawing, it can be a good opportunity to practice shapes. You can customize the games to be lesson-specific (and if you run out of ideas, there are plenty of others out on the Internet!) My favorite rewards are those that get the kids thinking about the lesson in new and different ways!

Where can I get these?

If you don’t happen to be coming to my meetup, don’t worry! You can download these yourself at https://www.vipkidresources.com/. This is an amazing site by Jennifer Anderson with a variety of props and rewards.

How can I customize this for other uses?

I would have loved to have used this type of game when I was a corporate trainer. I personally would have the game posted or written on the whiteboard at the beginning of class and set goals for the day. Each time we met one of our goals, I would draw part of the picture on an easel, and every student could draw on a large post it. For the dice, I probably would use something like these!

I hope you found this helpful. Have you tried this in your classroom? I’d love to hear how it went in the comments!

If you are new to VIPKid and would like some help getting started, I’d love to be your mentor. Let me know how I can help you through the application process!

Attending a VIPKid Meetup

There’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone!

VIPKid has been one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done. And they pay me for it! But let’s face it, people just don’t understand it!  How many times have we heard:

  • Wait, do you speak Chinese?
  • You do it on your computer?
  • You sound like you’re talking to your students again…
  • That better not be another picture of a cute kid!

Even those who are most supportive of us just don’t understand what it’s like to form these bonds with students and their parents across the globe.

Because our students are not in a brick and mortar school, we can’t just pop into the teacher’s lounge when we want to talk to someone.  So where do you go for support, help, or collaboration?

Many of us turn to online communities, which are GREAT.  (I’ll list some of my favorites in an upcoming blog post.) But there’s just something about being able to have a live, face-to-face conversation with someone.

Fortunately, VIPKid realizes this and encourages teachers to participate in local meetups!

What is a meetup?

Straight from the VIPKid suport center, “Meetups are a great way for teachers to gather and share their ideas or teaching experience with one another. Attending one can not only improve your daily routine, but the useful tips and getting to know other teachers will certainly provide a boost to your teaching business that only require a positive outlook and basic social skills!”

How can you find a meetup near you?

VIPKid lists all meetups on their community events page. You can search by city/state or zip code to find a meetup in your area.

What can you do at a meetup?

Anything you want! In all seriousness, every meet up is different. Meetups are hosted by VIPKid teachers, and so they will be different based on personality, location, time of year, and attendees.  I have been to two meetups, and both were fun but very different.

My first meetup was hosted by Teacher Beth. It was hosted at a Mexican restaurant and we ate dinner. The atmosphere was informal, and it gave teachers (and a few prospective teachers) a chance to talk to one another, get to know each other, and share stories about their classes. Of course, there was a swag giveaway, and I won my first Dino!

My second meetup was just this month and hosted by Teacher Kimberly. This one was in a private room at a coffee shop. A few of the same teachers were there, but many new ones. This one included an icebreaker, plus some targeted discussions about tips for new teachers, the Teacher App, the application process, recruiting, and even a demo of Google Slides. Kimberly had made goody bags for all attendees, and –  you guessed it – there was swag! (This time I won a cute dragon Dino and a Dino-topped pencil!)

Both of the meetups resulted in new, local friendships and a lot of fun.

A few common themes that I’ve seen before include:

  • Prop Swaps: Teachers can bring extra or gently used props they no longer need and trade with others. It’s a great way to get new ideas for props or re-home some of your own!
  • Crafting or Painting Parties: These are fun, and they can serve double duty as classroom decorations after you’re finished.
  • Escape Rooms: I’m planning my first meetup in August, and it will include an escape room. Why? Because they are super fun! It’s also a good chance to work together and teambuild.
  • Meals: Of course, we all have to eat. Why not grab a bite and swap stories at the same time?
  • Family Fun: Theme parks, picnics, bowling, and parks can all make for a family-friendly day where everyone can have fun. Not only can teachers have fun sharing stories, but their kids can commiserate about mom or dad stealing their toys as props, and spouses can share their favorite (or least favorite) VIPKid tales too!
  • Festivals, Museums, or Tours: We all enjoy learning about other cultures. Often, teachers will get together for local Chinese festivals or others. It’s a great chance to learn and have fun with your fellow teachers.

Really, the sky is the limit. The goal is to have fun and enjoy spending time with your fellow teachers (and of course, get some cool new VIPKid swag.)

Can prospective teachers attend a VIPKid meetup?

Absolutely! Just keep in mind that they are designed for existing teachers, so if you are interested in an actual recruiting event or something that is designed for prospective teachers, Coaching Days might be more appropriate.

Like I mentioned, I will be hosting my first meetup in August, so I’d love any tips and tricks. I’ll be sure to blog about it along the way. And if you’re local, I’d love to see you there!

Happy teaching (and meeting!)

dino dragon 2

The Virtual Water Cooler: Staying Social While Working from Home

Working from home, we miss out on those quick “water cooler” discussions where we bump into someone and chat for a few minutes.

If you follow my blog or know me personally, you know that I love working from home. I’ve written about The Five Secrets to Working From Home, and I apply them every day since I work from home for my main job in customer service and also my side hustle teaching English online.

However, working remotely, especially if you do “shift work” in early or late hours, can be very lonely. If you live by yourself, it’s easy to go days without ever seeing someone else. In my case, I live with my husband and one of my sons. If my husband is traveling for work, it’s not uncommon for my son to leave for school or work while I’m teaching in the morning, and come back after I go to bed at night.

Fortunately, this doesn’t have to result in isolation or lonliness. I have three easy suggestions for how to stay connected socially in a work-from-home environment.

Meet up.

With VIPKid, teachers organize local meetups. There is a page posted in VIPKid’s online community where you can search for local meetups, or you can host your own. Many companies do the same, hosting Friday afternoon happy hours where remote employees can come together to bond. This is my #1 tip because there is nothing quite like face-to-face time with your colleagues. They understand what you deal with on a day-to-day basis and can relate to you better than most people. If your company doesn’t offer something like this, start it yourself! Perhaps you are the only employee in your area, so this isn’t possible. If so, check out meetup.com. It’s totally free, and when I signed on today, two different networking events related to my industry immediately popped up. You could also look for other types of clubs to participate in after hours. I am a big fan of Toastmasters International. It allows you to improve your public speaking and leadership skills while networking on a local, regional, state, or even national level.

Host a virtual lunch date.

If you can’t meet up face-to-face, you can still introduce some social time in your schedule. Do you get a lunch break? Have lunch with a friend over video! If you don’t want to eat on camera (I get it.) Schedule a 5:00 Friday video call. Work talk is banned. I did this with two of my closest friends from work. We scheduled it on our calendars as though it were a “real” meeting, and we caught up on our families and lives.  It was so much fun, and it was a great way to start our weekend. Working from home, we miss out on those quick “water cooler” discussions where we bump into someone and chat for a few minutes. It’s important to nurture those relationships, even if we have to be creative to do so. If your company doesn’t provide video conferencing like OfficeSuite, Microsoft Teams, or Skype, check out a free software like Zoom and do it yourself!

Connect online.

My honors project for my degree in communications was predicting how the internet was going to change our tried and true communications models. At the time that I wrote it, we really had no idea just how much they would really change. (For perspective, this was pre-Facebook, pre-Linked In, and yes… pre-MySpace. I’m old.)

Today, there are so many ways to connect virtually. You can pick one based on your own personal communication style:

  • Linked In: This is my top choice for professional relationships. Not only can you “post” and share updates with one another, but you can blog, do recommendations, and join groups based on your interests.
  • Facebook: There are so many options on Facebook, and I bet you can find a group to fit any circumstances! I am a member of at least six different VIPKid groups and have even created my own (Amelia VIPKid – Teacher Central).
  • Twitter: My oldest son is a man of few words, so the idea of short and sweet messages has always appealed to him.
  • Instagram: If you are more visual in nature, Instagram is a great way to connect with photos and videos. It’s especially easy to connect if you use hashtags to target your audience and follow others.
  • Pinterest: It’s not just for crafters! You can find an almost addictive amount of ideas all neatly organized by enterprise on Pinterest.
  • You Tube: This is a favorite platform of many VIPKid teachers. It’s not my favorite because I don’t love how I come across in videos. But some people love it!
  • Snapchat: Yes, I’ll confess. I enjoy Snapchat. I don’t use it much but I get a kick out of the different filters. If you are a creative type, this can be a good way to bond and/or create content that your fellow co-workers can enjoy.

Ultimately, you need to find a method or a platform that works for you. Working remotely, it might take some intentional efforts to stay connected socially, but trust me when I say that it’s worth it.

Have you found other ways to stay connected while working from home? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Are you hoping to break into the “work from home” world? Let me know how I can help. VIPKid is always hiring and I would be happy to assist!