A Practical Guide for Using Podcasts in the Montessori Classroom

A Practical Guide for Using Podcasts in the Classroom Cover Image

A 2019 study published in the Journal of Neuroscience reveals that the same cognitive and emotional areas of the brain are stimulated when reading and when listening. It’s an intriguing revelation that has the potential to challenge how educators approach the concept of literacy. As we gain deeper insight into the role of auditory skills in literacy, the importance of developing listening comprehension skills expands.

Enter the podcast.

With 1 in 4 American children already listening to podcasts in the home, it’s an approachable and appealing medium for young people.

The benefits are also numerous. For example, a recent episode of The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast discussed how listening to podcasts in the classroom can aid in developing listening comprehension skills, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and social-emotional skills like empathy.

This practical guide outlines how Montessori educators can embrace podcasts and integrate them into Elementary environments.

Practical Applications for Podcasting

The possibilities for using podcasts in the classroom are endless. Just as there is a podcast for every topic, so is there a podcast for every lesson extension.

Consider using podcasts as:

  • An alternative option for silent reading
  • Extensions for cultural lessons
  • Resources for independent research projects
  • Background knowledge for contextualizing literary studies
  • Supplemental materials for the Great Lessons

Presenting Podcasts in the Prepared Environment

How you provide access to podcasts in your classroom will depend on your school’s technological capabilities.

Most podcasts can be streamed directly from their respective websites or played via numerous podcast streaming apps, including Apple Music, Spotify, Google Podcast, and Stitcher.

If you do not already have a central place in your environment where laptops or tablets are readily available for children, consider setting up a listening corner. Much like a reading corner, this should be a calming environment with soft lighting and comfortable seating. Tablets or outdated smartphones no longer synced to a mobile plan can be available for children to use. Preloading episodes onto the device allows students to access the audio files with ease. Consider creating a card with instructions for accessing the podcast files to support the child’s independence.

Lessons introducing the devices to students are recommended. Consider showing children how to access the episodes, safely carry devices in the classroom, and properly use headphones (including selecting an appropriate volume).

Seven Elementary-Friendly Podcasts to Get You Started

The podcast landscape is ever-expanding. As always, preview all episodes to ensure that they’re appropriate for your particular students and school community.

We share seven of our favorites to get you started.

Who, When, Wow!

Subject: History

What to expect: Listeners take an auditory journey into the lives of unsung heroes, unknown heroines, and amazing humans who make us say “WOW!”

Episode length: 30 minutes

Stories Podcast

Subject: Fiction

What to expect: Each episode features an auditory performance of a fictional story. Stories range from retellings of fairy tales to original works.

Episode length: 15 – 25 minutes

But Why?

 

Subject: General Interest

What to expect: Child-generated questions explored and answered by NPR’s writing and research staff. Questions include: Are seeds alive? What happens to the forest after a fire? Why do things seem scary in the dark?

Episode length: 10 – 25 minutes

Brains On!

 

Subject: Science

What to expect: Each week, a different child guest joins the podcast host to find answers to fascinating questions about the world.

Episode length: 30 – 40 minutes 

Tumble

 

Subject: Science

What to expect: Podcast hosts, Lindsay and Marshall, tell stories about science discoveries by asking questions, sharing mysteries, and exploring what science is all about.

Episode length: 15 – 20 minutes

Short & Curly

 

Subject: Philosophy

What to expect: Each episode addresses a philosophical or ethical dilemma for students to explore. The hosts present questions and ideas that allow listeners to form their own opinions. Topics range from animals to technology.

Episode length: 10 – 20 minutes

The Story Seeds Podcast

 

Subject: Creative Writing

What to expect: On each episode, a child guest collaborates with a famous author to grow their story idea. The author then takes the seeds and writes an original story, sharing the final product on the show.

Episode length: 30 – 40 minutes 

Ready to Go All In?

The following platforms provide carefully curated catalogs of educational podcasts written and produced specifically for children.

Kids Listen

This free app provides access to pre-approved, kid-friendly audio content produced by Kids Listen member podcasts.

Listenwise

This subscription-based platform provides an extensive catalog of podcast episodes written and produced for children and used in schools. Search for content by topic, length, school subject, or grade level. In addition, many podcasts include supplementary teaching materials and assessments.

Kidcasts by School Library Journal

An online catalog of podcasts featuring a range of topics, age levels, and lengths. Kidcasts provides playlists of various podcasts written for children that focus on specific subjects.

Are you a Montessori educator who uses podcasts in your classroom? Or are you a Montessori educator whose students produce their own podcasts in the classroom? We’re looking to connect with classroom teachers for a follow-up article. If interested, contact kirahinkle@gmail.com.

About the Author


Kira Hinkle Headshot AMS Montessori Life Blog Author

Kira Hinkle (she/her) is a Montessori educator turned freelance writer. She is AMS credentialed (Elementary I). Contact her at kirahinkle@gmail.com.


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