Top Ten SOS: Primary Edition

Top 10 SOS in the Primary Classroom

Welcome to our special Top Ten series on SOS in the classroom. This month we’re putting our youngest learners in the spotlight by sharing how you can engage primary students in active learning with digital media.

Discovery Education STARs Beth Matusiewicz (North Lakeland School District, Wisconsin) and Stephen Steele Jackson (Auburn City Schools, Alabama) one reason they love using SOS in their primary classrooms is because the short attention span of their students often requires flexibility on the fly, and having an SOS in their back pocket can help  address just in time teaching moments while continuing to develop critical thinking skills and  apply learning.

Here are some of their recommendations as you consider how to effectively use SOS with your primary students:

  • Use strategies with a variety of digital media types to promote hands-on experimentation and movement.
  • When an SOS calls for students to write responses, have students to draw what they are thinking.
  • Select strategies that encourage students to practice speaking and listening skills.
  • Simplify the steps by adapting the strategies to your students needs. Primary students develop rapidly, which means an adaptation that was needed in September may not be needed later in the year.

Here are our community’s favorite SOS for primary students:


Table Top Texting (CDN Version)

Call it Table Top Drawing and have students work as partners rather than passing the paper to the right each time. (Beth Matusiewicz)


See-Think-Wonder (CDN Version)

Use visual thinking strategies and modify how students share their thinking, providing lots of opportunity for discussion, sharing, and drawing. (Francie Snyder)


6 Word Story (CDN Version)

Emphasize the importance of every word in a sentence by narrowing down a 10 or 12 word sentence, word by word, until finally getting it down to just 6 words. (Dana Johnston)


Surround Sound Plus (CDN Version)

Have younger students form friendship pods. Students work together to sketch sounds on chart paper and the teachers help them connect words to their sketches. For students ready for an additional challenge, they can learn to search Discovery Education for images that match the sounds.(Dacia Penley Jones )


Visual Walkabout (CDN Version)

Introduce abstract concepts like government and community through images. This helps give students context and encourage them to have academic conversations, ask questions, and make observations and inferences based on what they see. (Ania Vivi Figueroa)


The Question Is (CDN Version)

Vary how this strategy is used by sometimes reading the question verbally, sometimes providing just a numeral, other times providing a picture to look at. Students are given time to partner talk about their question to help the ones who are not ready to come up with their own idea gain some insight and support from a peer.  (Beth Matusiewicz)


Silence is Golden (CDN Version)

Have students come up with their own narration for a video segment and then watch the segment a second time with the audio on. Students then compare against the actual narrator. Later in the year, incorporate writing into the strategy. (Stephen Steele Jackson)


Reminds Me Of (CDN Version)

Engage students in connecting connect prior knowledge and experiences to new learning. Keep track of the connections by adding a link to a plastic chain every time a student can make a connection to previous knowledge/experience and relate it to the current topic being studied. (Beth Matusiewicz)


Paper Slide Videos (CDN Version)

Motivate students by having them produce paper slide videos showing what they’ve learned.  Create math stories, check comprehension, focus on sequencing, and so much more! (Stephen Steele Jackson)


Picture It! (CDN Version)

Encourage students to make connections and find similarities by using image sorts. Sorts can involve categories the teacher has selected, or they can be open-ended with students generating the sorting criteria.   (Susan Bowdoin)


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