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May 24, 2013

Tips for Using Sing and Spell Effectively in the Classroom!

Tips for Using Sing & SpellTips for Using Sing & Spell


Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting a wonderful school in Los Angeles Unified School District called Maple Primary Center to do a staff development presentation on how to use HeidiSongs Sing and Spell the Sight Words program most effectively.  As I prepared myself for this presentation, I realized that it had been a while since I sat down and tried to identify what it is that I was doing in my classroom with my materials that help me achieve success with my students!  But once I sat down, re-defined it, and wrote it down for the presentation, I knew that this would make a good blog post for anyone else that may also want to know how to get the best out of their Sing and Spell CD’s and DVD’s.  Some of these suggestions have been covered in previous posts, and if so, I have provided a link in case you want to read more.  And by the way, you can bring me to your school for staff development, too!  Contact us for more information.


I also had the pleasure of visiting Gladstone School, where some of my teacher friends work this week on Monday!  I got to meet their wonderful Kindergarten students, sing some songs with them, and read them some HeidiSongs books!  These children are oooh so smart, and incredibly well behaved!  I was VERY impressed with them!  These beautiful children and their teachers treated me like a celebrity and made me feel like a queen, and of course  I loved every minute of it!  Considering there were three kindergarten classes all together in one room, they were amazingly attentive for about 45 minutes.  WOW!  These teachers obviously know exactly what they are doing!  (Of course they do; they work in my very own district!)  You’ll get to see some videos and pictures of our time together below.  Fun!  If you would like to bring me to your school to meet your students, let us know!  It is something I enjoy doing, if I am going to be in your area and I have time.


Pacing for Introducing New Words and Songs

1.  Introduce your first word (usually “the”) after about 3-4 weeks of school.  (You may wish to introduce color words earlier.)  Download my Pacing Guide here, towards the bottom of the page under “Program User Guides.”

2.  Kindergartners can usually handle at LEAST two new songs per week.  First graders can do more.  If they are getting it, you are doing it RIGHT.

3.  Keep reviewing the previous songs as you go.


Tips for Using Sing and Spell

1.  Always include motions of some kind.  As Howard Gardner says, “When the body moves, the brain remembers!”

This is one of my favorite all time quotes by Howard Gardner.

2.  Establish a procedure for getting the kids to calm down when you are done singing.  I have two bells that I use.  One means, “FREEZE-  No matter what!”  The other one means, “We’re changing centers now.  Time to start cleaning up and join me on the carpet.”

3.  ALWAYS show the word when singing the song.  I use the DVD’s most often, so the words are on the screen.  But if you are using CD’s or singing alone, then keep the words on flashcards and put them on a ring in order.  Grab it each time you sing.


4. Important!!!!!  As soon as a song is over, display the word and ask them what it is.  Ask them to spell it sometimes, too.


5.  Have the children write the words while the songs play.  This helps them connect the song to the written word.

6.  Apply the skill.  A skill is only partially learned until it is applied.  MODEL how to use the songs while writing. And be sure to tell the kids WHAT THE SONGS ARE FOR!



Using HeidiSongs during shared writing:

1.  As you write, ask children for spellings and have them sing the songs to you as you write.

2.  If there is no song, then have kids stretch out the word and sound it out together.

3.  Reread as a group what you have written together.  Discuss capitals, spaces, and periods.


Use Music as a Classroom Management Tool

1.  Whenever your students are getting restless, stand them up and sing a song.  Use it as an opportunity to review a sight word!

2.  Sing a few songs in between centers when some kids are cleaning up and others are already finished.

3.  Use the songs as a transitional tool.  This keeps the review going continually without dedicating much extra time.


What should we do with kids that are reluctant to participate?

Do everything you can to “nip it in the bud.”

1. Explain that we are learning through this activity.  Refusing to sing and/or move is the same as refusing to do a worksheet.

2.  Do what you can to motivate them.  Settle on a consequence and stick with it.

3.  Get parents to help with “non-participants.”  Explain that passive children learn more slowly.

4.  Move “class leaders” that participate near the front, and reluctant or shy children more to the back.  Non-participation (and bad attitudes!) are contagious!


Tips for Motivating Reluctant Students

1. Choose one “Super Singer” who was a super singer/dancer that day and give him or her a sticker.

2. One teacher gave her “Heidi’s Super Star” a silly band to wear for the rest of the day (or until she sang again later,) and then collected it before the kids went home.

These are “silly bandz.”  Give your “best” or most enthusiastic singer a silly band to wear until it is time to sing again next time.  Then reclaim it and choose another child to be your “best” singer!

3.  If YOU do the movements and sing with the kids, they are more likely to do it WITH you!

4.  One teacher told me that she would choose a “best singer” of the day and let them push the “Easy Button” and everyone would say, “Way to go, Suzy!” etc.

5. Do “Sight Word Solos” (or duets, etc.) if you are all waiting for something, such as someone to finish up in the restroom, etc. !

6. Mix favorite songs in with others that they need to work on.  Use iTunes to make a playlist.

Are you uncomfortable with any of the movements?  Change them!  They say that teaching is sales.  You should like it or you won’t do a good job of “selling it.” 

Of course, the more you DO with the sight words and song, the better your outcomes are likely to be.


Here is a short list of things that you can do just to extend the songs and activities and integrate them into your program.

Some are specific to using HeidiSongs, and some are more “generic” and could be used with any program.

1.  Use the CD’s or DVD’s as a listening center.  Just pop the CD’s into a listening center and make sure that you have a Sing Along Song Book printed out from our website, or type one up yourself from the song lyrics you can download free online!

2.  Play Sight Word Shuffle!  Just load your CD onto an iPod and make a playlist of the songs that your kids need to learn.  Then switch your settings over to “shuffle” on your iPod so that the songs will play in random order.
Here’s how to play:  Choose a child to be “it.”  Press “play” on the iPod.  The child that is “it” has to identify the word whose song is playing, and then run to find it on the word wall before that song is over.  If you like, then you can match girls against boys and see who finds it first, awarding points to the winning team.

3.  Put on a Sing and Spell Show!  Parents always love to see their children perform, and this is a pretty easy thing to do that doesn’t interrupt the curriculum at all!

These are ALL free downloads on different posts.  The summer themed one is on THIS post!

4.  Make a Sight Word Surprise, and drill the kids on their words using them.  There are several free ones on my blog that you can choose from.  The basic idea is that it is a white crayon resist with a sight word written with a white crayon in the middle of a paper.  The teacher or helper writes a sight word ahead of time on the page with a white crayon. Then the children water color it to see the surprise sight word come up.  Then when they are dry, the teacher uses the papers to drill the class on the sight words.  You can find the original Secret Sight Word Surprise here.  The Valentine’s Day themed “Sweet Sight Word Surprise” is here.  The St. Patrick’s Day themed “Secret Shamrock Surprise” is here.   You’ll find the “Easter Sight Word Surprise” here, and finally the “Secret Insect Surprise” is here.


And you can download my new Summer Sight Word Surprise right here on this blog post!  We had a lot of fun painting it the day after Open House, which was Wednesday night of this week for me.  Busy, busy, busy!  (It’s a good thing I started this blog post EARLY!)

5.  Use the songs in literacy centers for further reinforcement.  I like to use the Sing and Spell “Velcro Books” from time to time as a work station.  With the “Velcro Books,” the kids read the words to the songs and put the letters back in to rebuild the songs.

With the “Velcro Books,” the kids read the words to the songs and put the letters back in to rebuild the songs.

This is a very similar activity to our Sing and Spell Cloze Activity Worksheets, which are sold as a download along with the Sing Along Song Books.

In these worksheets, the children write the target word several times, but within the context of the song.  Then they try to read the song back when they are done!  They also practice their printing skills while they are at it.

The Sing and Spell Puzzles are also lots of fun and are great reinforcement, as are the CVC puzzles, by the way!  (They are also less work to put together than the Velcro books.) 


Sing and Spell Puzzles are fun!  They can be used with or without folders and Velcro.



CVC Puzzles work the same way, but they have pictures with them as well.  We used them this year with our Sound Blending Songs CD & DVD!.

My kids love making little Sing Along Songbooks, too!  They can take these home with them immediately, and they like that.  These are a part of the Workbook, Mini Songbooks, and Flashcard Books that I created for each CD/DVD.  You can download some sample pages from this workbook on this blog post here.

These little take-home Mini Sing-Along Song books are a HIT with kids and parents!

This is what the rest of the workbook pages look like.  Download some sample pages here.

Of course, there are the ever popular Hidden Sight Word Worksheets, too!  Oh my goodness!  I never would have guessed what a HIT these are!   We now have them available for all six volumes of Sing and Spell the Sight Words, too, thanks to the tireless efforts of our HeidiSongs office staff.  You’ll find some free samples to download here.

This is what the Hidden Sight Word Worksheets look like.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post!  And to all of my friends in the United States, have a wonderful Memorial Day weekend!



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