Scaffolding is a way of assisting students by breaking learning down into manageable chunks as they progress toward greater understanding and independence.  Research shows that without scaffolding, ELLs and DLLs often struggle needlessly to access grade-level content and are less able to perform well academically.  If you are conducting instruction using your native language, you may underestimate the difficulty of content that you are teaching.  It’s important to put yourself in your students’ shoes by looking at content in another language. Ask yourself about support and scaffolding that you would need in order to comprehend and retain this content in a language that you don’t know. Little Sponges® program enables many scaffolding strategies to help educators provide more effective instruction. 

In this blog post, we are going to explain 8 scaffolding strategies as well as tools (provided by the Little Sponges program) that you can use to help you incorporate scaffolding in your instruction. 

1. Utilize Visuals And Realia

Realia can make the learning experience more memorable and create connections between objects and vocabulary words or other language concepts. This can make it easier to recall information since it provides a visual aid to engage students.
Little Sponges program supports the implementation of this scaffolding strategy via real-life, read-along videos and skills-based activities that teach literacy skills and content.  Real-life images give children comprehensible input and enable them to make connections to their own lives as they try to make sense of new concepts and ideas.
To see an example of Little Sponges’ beautiful, real-life, read-along videos, click here.

2. Facilitate Read-Aloud Activities


Read-aloud instructional practice improves vocabulary, increases comprehension, strengthens listening skills, develops phonemic awareness, and encourages students to read.

Little Sponges supports the implementation of this scaffolding strategy through read-along videos and literacy games.  Students have multiple opportunities to sound-out new vocabulary and read a story with Mishka and Frog (the main characters of the program). If they are not sure how to pronounce a new word, they can repeat after the puppets. Children feel safe reading aloud because they have audio support when they need it. Also, they can work on their reading independently and not feel judged or rushed by others. 

To see an example of one of the Little Sponges’ read-aloud games, click here.


3.  Use Modeling and Gestures

Using gestures and modeling in combination with other scaffolding techniques is very important when teaching L2. The use of gestures with a verbal message in L2 increases positive outcomes.
Little Sponges supports the implementation of this scaffolding strategy via the use of puppets and stories delivered in video format. The program encourages students to mimic Mishka and Frog, and learn new concepts, ideas, and vocabulary. 
In the videos, the main characters act out what they are saying to help students learn new vocabulary and concepts. For example, they sing: “Let’s go to the right!” as they walk to the right demonstrating the desired action and direction.  This helps students learn not only nouns but also action verbs, pronouns and adjectives with ease! Click here to see an example.

4. Create Intentional Small Groups


Pair work and small group work allows students to share their knowledge and help their peers.  It gives students a sense of achievement when reaching a team goal, teaches students how to lead and be led by someone other than the teacher, and allows teachers to monitor, move around the class and really listen to the language students are producing.

Little Sponges supports the implementation of this scaffolding strategy through its interactive games and skills-based activities, Click here to try one of these activities that enable partner work and small group practice.

5. Use Sentence Starters

A sentence starter is a teacher-created scaffold using a fill-in-the-blank format designed to help students ask or answer questions verbally or in writing. They are very effective for all students but especially for those who may require a bit more support because it helps language learners communicate more clearly and confidently.
Little Sponges supports the implementation of this scaffolding strategy through its activity sheets and writing quizzes.
The multi-level activity sheets allow students to build upon their comprehension and storytelling skills. The writing quizzes test their writing, typing, and spelling skills as they have to fill in the blanks with an appropriate word or phrase.
Click here to see an example of our writing quizzes.

6. Connect to Background Knowledge

The only way to build new interests and capacities is by activating and building on students’ prior interests and background knowledge before instruction. Students absorb and remember new material better when it is linked to something they already know.
Most children already know the “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” and “Twinkle twinkle little star” songs in English, they may also have seen animals at the zoo. With Little Sponges, they can learn these songs in multiple languages and see the African animals in their natural habitat, connecting their prior knowledge to new concepts, content, and vocabulary.
To see an example of our skills-based activities, click here.

7. Provide Graphic Organizers

Graphic organizers are an excellent way to help students develop vocabulary skills. Vocabulary graphic organizers can help learners visualize the connections between words and their meanings. Also, it’s a great way to practice writing and spelling!
Little Sponges supports the implementation of this scaffolding strategy through its Watch & Learn videos and corresponding writing activities.
For example, in the Jungle Adventure, children learn about the butterfly life cycle. After watching the real-life video and reviewing the content, students can represent this cycle using Little Sponges graphic organizers. Click here to try Forest Adventure graphic organizers and writing activities.

8. Use The First Language


The strategic use of your students’ L1 when you are teaching L2 is a great way to provide “comprehensible input” and help your students learn faster by transferring knowledge from L1 to L2.

Little Sponges supports implementation of this scaffolding strategy by providing activities in L1 and L2 that enable students to bridge between their first and second language and improve comprehension when learning new content.  Little Sponges program draws students’ attention to cognates which builds a bridge between the native language and the target language and helps students learn new vocabulary faster.

To see an example of Little Sponges’ real-life, read-along, bilingual videos, click here.