Podcasts have been growing in popularity over the past few years, and it’s more commonplace than not for adults to have a few favorites. It’s basically radio that is personalized to a topic in which you are especially interested–what’s not to like? Kids can also join in the trend! See our list below for some great podcasts for middle school children.
1. The Allusionist. Explore the English language, with all its oddities! Filled with good humor and levity, this podcast will help you explore the roots of words and phrases that we use every day. Activity to try: Have students write their own grammatical or linguistic jokes, using these as starter examples.
2. Freakonomics Radio. A podcast created by the co-author of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, Stephen Dubner invites listeners to explore the hidden sides of everything. And, given his almost 300 episodes on topics ranging from “Millionaires vs. Billionaires” to “How to Win a Nobel Prize,” he is well on his way to talking about everything. Activity to try: Have students pick an episode and find how it affects their everyday life. These can be written or presented to the class, allowing for discussion and questions.
3. Welcome to Night Vale. Tune into the community radio of this desert town for the news on local weather, the mysterious lights overhead, announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, a dog park that prohibits dogs, and dark hooded figures with unknowable powers. Activity to try: Challenge students with this prompt: You have been hired by the Night Vale Community Radio to write a segment. It could be a continuation of a segment that already exists, like “The Children’s Fun Fact Science Corner” or “Community Calendar,” or a report of a strange happening in the town, told in Cecil-fashion. These could be performed in front of the class, written, or put in podcast form.
4. Listenwise is an award-winning listening skills platform, searchable by topic area or school subject. It advances classroom learning by providing additional content and building listening skills. There is also a focus on current events that keeps learning tied to the real world. Activity to try: Each episode comes equipped with teaching resources, so pick the topic that is best for your class and get listening.
5. StarTalk Radio. Neil deGrasse Tyson talks about all things space: stars, planets, humans in space, and so much more. He also interviews a lot of amazing people, from Buzz Aldrin to Alan Rickman. Activity to try: Have students research the science topic covered in a given episode, learning more about the topic and sharing their findings. This one is practically guaranteed to spark an interest in science in middle school students.
6. Stuff You Missed in History Class. The title speaks for itself. Learn about people and events that are often overlooked in a typical history class. Activity to try: Choose a popular unit of historical study, like the Civil War or Great Depression, then have students research the little told stories related to it. They could even write a readers theater based on their findings. Middle school kids will learn a lot from this one!
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