best elementary podcastsWe are excited to share our rapidly growing collection of podcasts for elementary students! We’ve heard loud and clear the desire for audio in the elementary classroom as students are learning to read and transitioning to reading to learn. These simpler stories also help English language learners at WIDA level 2 and greater to help them acquire language and access instructional content.

We continue to hear from educators how helpful it is to use audio content with their younger learners to provide engaging, meaningful instruction that builds reading and literacy skills.

“In all the research, intervention, instruction and curriculum development I have done with teachers in my building and around the district in the past 20 years, we have recently found listening comprehension to be a place we have underutilized and underestimated in its effectiveness in reaching and developing literacy. We have been thrilled to have found Listenwise this year in our pursuit to effectively increase our listening comprehension within our curriculum.”

– Elementary School Principal, IN

Why use podcasts with elementary students?

Listenwise has proven effective for improving listening comprehension in middle and high school, and now educators can find high-quality audio content to use in the elementary classroom as well. 

Listening is important in elementary classrooms. Podcasts offer engaging resources for teaching and assessing listening and speaking skills, and they can also help teachers and students address reading and writing standards. In addition to supporting literacy, using podcasts for elementary students offers them an appealing alternative medium for accessing important curriculum content, which is especially helpful when teaching in diverse classrooms. For native English speakers, “listening comprehension outpaces reading comprehension from early childhood through at least middle school.” This makes audio storytelling a great medium for advancing comprehension, building background knowledge, and introducing more advanced vocabulary.

Elementary teachers who use Listenwise are skillfully incorporating elementary podcasts into their classrooms to build on literacy strategies. Read one example of how Gretchen Hummon, a 4th-grade teacher in Massachusetts, used the Listenwise Bird Mystery podcast lesson to address instructional goals in both ELA and science

Jim Bentley, a 5th-grade teacher in California, shared how he uses elementary podcasts, also using the Bird Mystery lesson, to develop his student’s listening skills, in this webinar (see below at 8:10): 

What makes a great elementary podcast lesson?

We’ve taken Listenwise’s successful formula and applied it to carefully selected podcasts for elementary students. We offer high-interest, less complex podcasts from a variety of well-respected podcasts specifically produced for younger audiences, including Earth Rangers, Tumble, and Book Club for Kids

Read about all of our elementary podcast audio sources and learn how you might use them in your classrooms in our blog.  

Our elementary podcasts differ from audiobooks because they are originally composed for audio (rather than print), expressly for the purpose of listening. Many contain interviews, ambient sound, and other audio elements that capitalize on the power of listening.

The elementary collection includes three types of lessons:

  • Standards-aligned lessons
  • Current events
  • Weird News

Standards-aligned elementary lessons feature podcasts that address popular curriculum topics in ELA, science, and social studies, such as how authors develop their story ideas, unique animal adaptations, and the Lewis and Clark expedition. They include an additional student-friendly synopsis to spark elementary students’ interests as well as the elements found in secondary-level standards-aligned lessons, written at an appropriate level for elementary students:

  • Graphic organizers to focus listening,
  • Vocabulary lists, 
  • Auto-scored listening comprehension quizzes,
  • Teacher’s guide with instructional activities to use before, during, and after listening, as well as additional vetted materials, such as paired texts.
  • And more!

Weird News stories, published every Sunday, feature  30-second podcasts that tell fun stories about unexpected happenings. Each brief podcast includes highlighted vocabulary words that are incorporated into comprehension and discussion questions. For example, stories such as Cat’s Great Escape, Beekeeper Police Unit, and Alligators Help with Social Distancing offer intrigue, humor, and great opportunities to learn academic vocabulary in context. These stories are perfect for “do now” or “bell ringer” routines. An elementary educator uses a scaffolded retell strategy with Weird News podcasts in her classroom. 

Current events feature news stories grabbed from the headlines that are relevant, interesting, and instructive. Current event podcasts appropriate for elementary students are published weekly. The Wednesday Current events story includes an auto-scored multiple-choice quiz. Timely stories like Hugs, Elbow Bumps, and Other Pandemic Greetings, World Bee Day, and Space Junk Cleanup Mission are chosen for their high engagement value. Our weekly Kid News feature provides audio stories about current events curated especially for elementary students.

Try podcasts with your elementary students!

Our elementary podcasts allow for flexible use in classrooms, hybrid, and remote learning. They can be used with any computer configuration, from one-computer classrooms to one-to-one classrooms. They can be used with the whole class at once, in a station-rotation model, or with students working independently on their own computers. Materials such as listening organizers and listening comprehension questions are designed to be either printed or used online. Lessons and quizzes can be assigned through Google Classroom, and quiz data can be tracked through a data dashboard. 

Begin using Listenwise in your classroom with any of these 4 ways to integrate podcasts into elementary instruction