1. To maximize results, start with just one, two, or three songs a week for Kindergarten. Then you can increase the number of words introduced per week depending on what your children can handle. You can increase the number of songs introduced per week for older children.
2. Practice getting your children to calm down when you are done singing. Demonstrate the behavior you expect, and practice it with the children before you begin.
3. Always include hand motions of some kind. This keeps the children motivated and engaged. If you use the CD, you can find the handmotions in the "Free Downloads" section of our website under Music Lyrics and Movements section.
4. Always show the word when you introduce a song. Have the children spell it aloud with you as you point to the letters. Have them practice spelling the word aloud a few times before you begin to sing.
5. Once the children know the songs, have them sit and write the words as you sing them. I use individual white boards. We put on a song, and everyone sings as they write. Check for mistakes and have the children rewrite the word correctly. Sometimes the children just parrot back the sounds that they think they hear, and they don't really know what they are saying. If so, then sing the song slowly with the children, pointing to the letters as you go.
6. Use the songs as a classroom management tool. If your students are getting restless, have them stand and sing a song with movements. They can get their wiggles out AND learn at the same time. Also, have your students sing as they wait for their classmates to put things away or finish up their work. This is a good way to fill up those extra minutes that seem "unteachable."
7. Demonstrate how to write sentences, using the songs as a spelling tool. Explicitly teach what the songs can be used for. This video demonstrates the method and is more about teaching kids to write a specific sentence, rather than one of their own choosing as they would if they were journalling. Later in the year when they have more skills, we move into journalling, and teaching kids to write the words that they hear. It seems to be particularly difficult for English language learners to try to write words phonetically right from the beginning, and this method gives these children a different way to go about it.
8. Practicing writing the words in the context of how they are used is more effective than simply writing the same word over and over. There are worksheets go along with the CD's that are available on the website. These worksheets include the song lyrics, but each time you come to the target word, there is a space for the children to write the missing word in. If you do assign your students to write a word several times each, remind them to sing the spellings in their heads as they go. We also have other worksheets too.
9. Use a word wall. Some kids can repeat the spellings but not visualize the word. Have them sing the song aloud, and then find the word on the wall to copy it.
10. Let the children practice reading the words as often as possible. My students enjoyed reading their own little song books that I made up for them that are available in the workbook for each CD, and then took them home to read. I also make large Sing Along Songbooks and keep them in the classroom reading center. These are also available on our website, or you can create your own.