Resources for the Differentiated Classroom
- Grades: PreK–K
In a previous post, I wrote about how you can differentiate your kindergarten classroom. Here you can read up on some of my favorite resources for multisensory teaching.
My friend Heidi Butkus is the creator of HeidiSongs, "Sing-Along Songs That Teach." Her songs, which cover letters, numbers, colors, sight words, spelling, and many other language arts and math skills, engage all the modalities — through pictures, songs, and motions — to reinforce the skills being taught. No other program has been so enthusiastically received by my students. The songs are short and use melodies already familiar to children, which makes them easy to learn and instantly memorable. "Alphabet Action" is by far the most fun of all the alphabet songs we've sung (especially the letter V — "Vroom. Vroom. Vroom vroom vroom"). Even counting to 100, usually a tedious task, is fast and exciting. My students beg to sing "1–100" every day.
Each song is perfectly suited to the concept being taught:
- "The B Song" is sung to the tune of "Baby Bumble Bee."
- "The Square Song" compares the square shape to a present and is sung to the tune of "Happy Birthday."
- The spelling song "Are," sung to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It," is about a seal who says "Are, are!"
And so on.
You can buy all of Heidi's highly motivating materials through her Web site, where you can also download free lyrics, hand motions, physical responses, games, and more. These materials are a must-have for any kindergarten classroom. Don't forget to check out her blog for some fantastic tips and resources.
Super Simple Songs
Super Simple Songs, created by teachers of the Knock Knock English school for children in Tokyo, Japan, produces award-winning CDs of songs made super simple for young learners. The original CD series covers a diverse range of basic concepts, and includes circle time activities, transition music, choosing rhymes, finger plays, and chants. For some songs, they have two versions — the regular one, and one where they speak and sing the song slowly and clearly, and then follow up with an instrumental for practice. The Web site includes song samples, free lyrics, gestures, videos, picture cards, worksheets, activity suggestions, and phonics games and videos, which make the learning truly multisensory. They also have Super Simple CDs for the ABCs and animals, both of which include tons of teaching materials. While I have only recently discovered Super Simple Songs, I love what I have heard and seen so far, and so do my students.
Child1st Publications covers all the bases of teaching to visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learners. Its products include Easy-for-Me Books, which help kids read in a holistic and multisensory way by teaching each sound and immediately combining them to make words, and through SnapLetters cards, which use symbols, sounds, jingles, and motions to help children snap a mental picture of each letter; SnapWords cards, which teach words in the same way; and Alphabet Tales, a collection of stories that explain how each letter came to have its shape and sound. Learning how to use stories with visual cues to teach concepts is one of the things I've liked most about reading the Child1st blog, which has many innovative ideas, such as teaching letter sounds by finger-mapping, teaching series of sounds (a, ai, a-e, ay) rather than letter spellings, and more. Reading the blog is a must, as it is very empathetic towards the nontraditional learner. You can also preview and buy a guide on how to write the visual, kinesthetic, and auditory alphabet.
In the following pictures from Child1st, you can see a SnapLetters card; a SnapWords card (the boy in the picture can play soccer only IF he makes the bed); a visual to show that if the letter J is reversed, it will pierce the letter next to it; a visual to show that OW can have two different sounds (Oh! and Ow!); a visual for measurement; visuals to distinguish plurals and possessives; and a visual for fractions.
Everything you would ever want to find for movement, you can find in the SchoolSpecialty Sportime catalog:
- Sensory balls with bumps on the outside, and balls, bells, and beepers on the inside
- Parachutes with colors, color words, number words, dots, and shapes
- Bean bags for sequencing, spelling, and linking
- Launchers and catchers
- Hoops, tunnels, and mazes
- Sensory stepping stones, balance beams, and boards (some with numbers, letters, and shapes)
- JumpPads with number and letter discs
- Action-Based Learning ladders and mats
- The CurriculumClimbers climbing wall with pockets for cards or objects, and The DiscoveryWall climbing wall blackboard
- Cards and obstacles for basic motor skills centers
- Movement dice
- Body Bingo
- Floor cue cards for body parts, direction, and movement
- Spot markers for geography, numbers, letters, emotions, animals, spatial awareness, and spatial movement
- Giant blocks, pick-up sticks, checkers, Connect 4, and Snakes & Ladders
- Instruments, scarves, ribbons, and flags
- Active sitting discs and cushions
- Team games such as TeamLabyrinth (students work together to move a ball from beginning to end), IditaHarness (teams of students harness their power to pull another student, dogsled-style) and Running Man (two players hold handles at each end, one winding in and the other winding out, to make the man run from one player to the other)
You can purchase all kinds of resources from School Specialty, including the Thinking On Your Feet Book, which has 250 lesson plans that include kinesthetic movement. There are also lots of products for visual learners, such as the Sense-Of-Timers, a set of hourglasses with color-coded sand that help children visualize the passing of time.
Songs for Teaching
If you want songs for every teaching need, subject, or opportunity, this site is for you. Songs for Teaching has music CDs and downloads, song previews, lyrics, and sheet music for thousands of songs, as well as teaching tips, resources, and printables such as coloring pages and blackline masters. A recently added section includes scripts for musical plays, operas, and reader's theater performances. If that's not enough, there are tips, resources, and a gold mine of articles that will help you learn how to use music and movement to:
- Incorporate kinesthetic learning
- Get kids active, practice coordination, or assist in motor development
- Assist in brain development
- Introduce a unit of study, activate background knowledge, make associations, or deepen understanding
- Teach content
- Make content relevant and interesting
- Improve memory or trigger recall of content
- Reinforce routines or make smooth transitions
- Inspire or motivate
- Stimulate imagination and reflection
- Set a mood or create an atmosphere
- Maintain a positive attitude
- Increase attention, concentration, and focus
- Raise energy levels
- Lower stress and anxiety levels, reduce noise levels, or produce a general calming effect
- Provide enrichment
- Problem solve
- Manage the classroom or resolve conflicts
- Foster community, cooperation, and interaction
- Celebrate accomplishments and holidays
- Have fun
You won't want to miss out on this one, so head on over.
Do you know of any other good multisensory resources for the differentiated kindergarten classroom?