If you’re an ILP volunteer, you’ll need to bring at least 1 suitcase full of teaching supplies to use in your ILP lessons (unless you're volunteering at the European orphanage) — the question is, what supplies should I bring?
Hooray! You’re getting ready to spend a semester volunteering in Europe or are packing your backpack up for a semester volunteering in Central America. It’s beyond exciting. Keep this in mind when you’re packing up: you’ll need to make room in your suitcase for some teaching supplies — but don’t worry, we can totally help you with that.
We have a lot more information here; you might be interested in our guide all about lesson ideas, free teaching supplies and advice for Elementary Education Teachers).
Alrighty, onto supplies. You should know that supplies are what you’ll be using to teach your ILP lessons — so anything useful for a kitchen activity (like bags of marshmallows) to an arts and crafts activity (so, construction paper and glue-sticks galore). If you’re creative, you can make anything into an ILP lesson — here are a few ILP lesson plans to help you get an idea of what supplies you might need.
Alright, now onto the real question.
What Type Of Supplies Should I Bring?
Anything and everything can really be incorporated into an ILP lesson with a little creativity. International Language Programs does have a supply list you can access here but you do not have to follow our suggestions. You’ll notice a very long list of everything from dice and straws to Q-tips and scissors. The suggested list is just to get you started and to have something to share with your family and friends who might have items they can donate to you.
As a head’s up, it’s a good idea to bring lots of the “single-use” items on this list (things like construction paper, tape, glue, paper plates, and cotton balls) because one you use them, they are done, unlike a clothespins, rulers or scissors which can hang around in the supply room from semester to semester. Most likely, there will be a big bin of things like scissors and rulers already at the school from past volunteers (unless you're volunteering at a brand new school, then bring anything you can!).
Where Can I Get These Supplies?
Do not spend a lot of money on your supplies! If you ask around, you can most likely get all of your teaching supplies for free. Every semester, we have volunteers who haven’t spent a penny on ILP supplies or store prizes. (Here’s the difference between supplies and prizes …. you’ll need to bring both). When I was volunteering, I got all of my supplies for free, just by asking. I actually ended up with more than I could fit in my suitcases.
We often have volunteers who got supplies donated and it ended up being more than they could fit in their suitcase, so they give the leftovers to us. That means we usually have supplies ripe for the taking at the ILP office for those who need it. Just give us a call if you're in the area (Orem, Utah) and we can let you know if we have supplies at that time that you can come grab.
If you do need to go out and shop for a few supplies (we really suggest asking your friends and family first!), we’ve put together a list of places to get supplies for cheap.
+ A Couple Other Things To Know
You do NOT need everything on the ILP supply list! Like we mentioned before, bringing supplies that are single use are very helpful, so pick and choose what you ask for.
Generally, ILP teachers tend to use a ton of construction paper (seriously, bring a ton!! ), paper plates, paper bags, yarn, tape (all kinds of tape and glue — bring a lot!!), but you can also check in on your ILP City page to see what supplies your school might need in particular.
You will be sharing with your ILP group. Most ILP groups put everyone’s supplies in a storage room to share, which takes off the pressure of bringing everything you might possibly need for your lessons. We don't suggest coordinating supplies because that can get complicated and if you're getting supplies donated you can't really be picky anyways. It tends to always just work out if everyone brings about a suitcase full to contribute.
They do not have to be new! This is a huge thing to keep in mind. Don’t feel like you need to go out and buy brand new supplies. Raid your parent’s house for children's books you don't need anymore, go through your uncle’s work desk for extra pens and notepads, ask Grandma and neighbors if they have half-empty boxes of crayons and tape you can bring to the kiddos. We’d rather your hard-earned money goes towards vacations or yummy gelato in Italy rather than on new boxes of popsicle sticks.
Make sense? If you do have any questions, you can for sure reach out to an ILP representative about all your questions — supply related or not. Just click that button!