We are excited to officially launch podcast lessons for elementary students! (Read the press release!) We’ve heard loud and clear the desire for audio in the elementary classroom as students are learning to read. These simpler stories will also help English language learners, as low as WIDA level 2, who use Listenwise to acquire language and access instructional content.

Why use podcasts with elementary students?

Listenwise has proven effectiveness in middle and high school, and now educators can find high-quality nonfiction audio content for lower grades. 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, podcasts offer students an appealing alternative medium for learning important curriculum content, especially helpful when teaching in diverse classrooms and remotely. 

In a recent webinar, 5th grade teacher Jim Bentley of California shared how he uses podcasts to build listening skills in his classroom:

What makes a great podcast for elementary classrooms?

We’ve taken Listenwise’s success formula and applied it to carefully selected podcasts for our younger students. As always, we have curated stories that will grab students’ attention but use less complex language and vocabulary. In addition to using high-interest content from NPR, we have sourced stories from respected podcasts focused on a younger audience, including But Why, Earth Rangers, Tumble, and Book Club for Kids. The authenticity of these real-world stories is a big motivator for kids and can bring related curriculum topics to life!

Read more about Elementary Podcast Lesson Sources.

Our short student-friendly podcasts differ from audiobooks because they are originally composed expressly for the purpose of listening and contain real-world interviews, ambient sound, and other elements that capitalize on the power of oral communication.

Here are some of our favorite lessons focused on a variety of relevant curriculum topics: 

We are also injecting an extra bit of fun for our younger learners by introducing short Weird News stories with a focus on understanding vocabulary in context. These 30-second stories with highlighted vocabulary can work well as quick “do now” or “bell ringer” activities. Examples include Penny Pyramid and Dog Runs for Governor.

Our elementary collection will continue to grow, with new Weird News and current event stories added each week.

What is in the elementary lessons?

Our elementary lessons feature the same elements as other Listenwise lessons, written at the appropriate level for elementary students. 

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

Elementary lessons have been designed for use in classroom, remote, and hybrid settings. In school 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. 

To learn how one teacher uses podcast lessons in her elementary classroom, read our blog post featuring 4th grade teacher Gretchen Hummon.

For more ideas on using podcasts in elementary classrooms, see 4 Ways to Integrate Podcasts into Elementary Instruction.

Try the lessons with your students!

Now it’s time to explore the collection of elementary lessons and current events!

Happy Listening!