How HeidiSongs Aligns to the Science of Reading (SOR)

 The Science of Reading and HeidiSongs are very well aligned, and in fact, they complement each other!  But do you know why?  If you’re a teacher, you have probably heard about the Science of Reading (SOR), which is a collection of research that includes scientifically proven ways to teach children to read.  This is an extremely positive direction that an overwhelming number of school districts have endorsed!  But how does HeidiSongs align with that research?

For all current and future HeidiSongs users, this is important information to keep handy just in case you are ever asked by administrators or parents.  We all want every child to become proficient readers and beyond, so we are all on the same team.  And HeidiSongs is one tool in your box to help children get there!

Changes in How We Teach High-Frequency Words (AKA Heart Words, Sight Words, etc.)

Research tells us that we should not teach reading through rote memorization because it is ineffective and leads to guessing.  The Science of Reading encourages an entirely different approach. Instead, we should teach children to look for the parts of the words that are spelled regularly (phonetically) and then teach them to memorize “by heart” the parts of the words that are spelled irregularly. Many teachers (and even some curriculums) may call these words “Heart Words!”  What you may find in an SOR classroom is educators who teach phonetic spelling patterns in an explicit order.  Children then practice reading words that include that spelling pattern.

In teaching high-frequency words with SOR, children first look for any letters that have their regular, expected sounds and then look for common spelling patterns in those words.  This is called “Orthographic Mapping.” (See below.)  The Science of Reading philosophy aims to “demystify” the irregular part of sight words and high-frequency words. In doing so, teachers go even further than most typical spelling digraphs and blends to look for rules and phonetic patterns in the English language.  Children are carefully taught how to spell each word, and continual practice is given to help them master those high-frequency words.

Orthographic Mapping

Orthographic mapping is a method used to teach students to focus on spelling patterns in reading. When a class maps out a word, they break it down to the most basic sounds, mark it, and read it. What this looks like will vary greatly depending on the curriculum you use as a guide and personal teacher preference!  Some programs mark word parts with colors, such as green for regular and red for irregular spellings.  Teachers may choose to use HeidiSongs sight word videos in conjunction with orthographic mapping. Play a song, then map it, spell it, and repeat! 

Orthographic Mapping in the Science of Reading
This is one of the many ways to orthographically map a word.

Where Do HeidiSongs Videos Fit Into a Science of Reading High-Frequency Word Lesson?

The most important question for HeidiSongs users is this:  How should we teach these high-frequency words moving forward?  Do the Sing and Spell the Sight Words songs teach children to read using a philosophy consistent with the Science of Reading?  Is it “Best Practice” to continue using HeidiSongs to teach sight words/heart words/high-frequency words to my students?  We believe that the answer to this question is YES!

HeidiSongs teaches sight words by having kids sing the spellings in songs; therefore, children are taught to pay close attention to each letter.  This complements lessons in which the children learn to map the word and pay close attention to each letter.  When used as a tool to teach children to spell, kids learn to recognize the word at the same time!  Teachers need only add the video to the lesson after explaining which parts of the word are spelled regularly and which parts are not, and then practice writing it together as directed in the lesson.  It’s as simple as that!


Is HeidiSongs Research Based?

YES, HeidiSongs is research-based!  On our website, there are four different research studies that are specific to HeidiSongs.  Each one of them was done by a graduate student who chose this topic independently of HeidiSongs.  In other words, this is not “corporate-sponsored research” done by a publishing company to ensure that districts buy their curriculum. We decided never to sponsor any research of our own to avoid inadvertently skewing the results in our favor.  This approach has the most integrity, which is another reason why the Science of Reading and HeidiSongs are aligned. 

In addition, a lot of other research supports and confirms the methodology of using full-body movements with music, visuals to teach, etc. Educators have long accepted this to be true.  Multisensory lessons are at the heart of HeidiSongs because we include musical, kinesthetic, auditory, and visual components in all videos.  Every lesson is interactive on several levels.  The methodology of using full-body movements with music and visuals is solidly based on both research and practice.  

A Long History of Successful Classroom Use

The Science of Reading encourages teachers to use things that they know work based on research.  HeidiSongs has a long history of teachers who have had great success with it since its inception in 2005.  These teachers don’t want to give it up, and some have been using HeidiSongs for nearly 20 years now.  That, in itself, is authentic research all on its own.  One teacher described herself as “in a panic” that her administration would force her to stop using HeidiSongs.  Why?  Because she already knew how difficult it was to teach young children to read without it!

Therefore, the experiences of so many teachers are like research in itself:  MANY have confirmed that HeidiSongs works successfully to help children learn in both language arts and math.  Most teachers pay the yearly fee for HeidiSongs themselves because it is effective, and the children love it.  What teacher would pay the yearly streaming service fee themselves if it didn’t work?




What About Phonics Lessons?

Phonics flashcards "cheat sheet" to help children learn to spell and read.
Heidi used this as a phonics “cheat sheet” to help children learn to spell and read. It is actually a copy of Heidi’s phonics flashcards all together in one sheet. Each card has a motion associated with it, as well as a song.

 HeidiSongs also includes songs and visual aids that teach phonics concepts, such as:

  • letter sounds
  • how to sound out CVC words
  • “Bossy E,” AKA final e 
  • digraphs th, ch, sh 
  • vowel pairs

Heidi taught both high-frequency words and phonics concepts throughout her 35-year career.  We suggest that teachers create playlists based on their class’ needs. See a sample of a HeidiSongs phonics video below and another at the end of this post.



Is there research to support the use of multiple teaching methods?

Absolutely!  As stated in this article, Unfortunately, the “one size fits all” teaching approach is flawed because it assumes all students learn in the same ways.”  It makes much more sense to try as many methods as it takes for your students to reach proficiency.  Sticking to one curriculum only makes sense if every student in your class has mastered all of the material.  

And One More Thing to Remember:

Teachers can use HeidiSongs during music or Physical Education time if necessary.  The songs also provide a great brain break anytime since they all include full-body movements.  And yes- there was a time when Heidi had to count the minutes using HeidiSongs as music and PE time.  It works in a pinch! 🤪



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