HeidiSongs is the creation of Heidi Butkus, who has been teaching in California public schools since 1985 with experience in Preschool, Transitional Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First and Second grades! Combining a strong knowledge of brain research with practical experience, Heidi has created a wealth of fun and engaging teaching techniques that work well with diverse populations. Heidi is a credentialed teacher with 30+ years experience, a Reading Specialist, author, songwriter, and staff development trainer. In fact, she has written over 500 songs that are used and enjoyed in classrooms around the world! In the spring of 2005, after years of developing her own curricular materials, Heidi's peers urged her to share her methods and to present at the California Kindergarten Conference. The response was overwhelming and encouraged Heidi to publish her first music CD, "Jumpin' Numbers and Shakin' Shapes!" She has since grown her program into the ‘HeidiSongs’ product line and website, which now includes Online Streaming, CDs & DVDs, books, and many other teaching resources! As the popularity of her program has grown, she has also developed teacher training programs and presented educational keynotes nationwide.
After more than 10 years in the primary classroom, Heidi began looking for more effective and creative ways to to better meet the difficult and ever-changing state and federal education standards. In order to accomplish this, Heidi knew she had to further engage her students and enhance their overall learning experience. She always had great success using a multi-sensory music program called “Zoophonics,” so she decided to incorporate her own love of music and educational knowledge base to create some tools of her own. Heidi wrote some fun little songs and made up a unique set of hand movements to enhance her basic Numbers and Shapes classroom curriculum. Immediately, she noticed how excited the children would get to sing and move along with her little songs, especially the hard to engage and very active students. Next, Heidi added some flash cards as a visual aid and before she knew it, all of her students quickly learned their numbers 0-10 and several shapes!
Inspired by her students’ success, Heidi immediately began writing songs to teach the very challenging sight words (high-frequency words that must be memorized rather than sounded out.) She started with a couple songs from her district’s Houghton-Mifflin reading program and soon had a song for every word on the list, and the children loved them all the more. With improving test scores and a growing number of individual student success stories, Heidi began to write more and more songs! Soon she created “The Tale of the Gingerbread Man” primary play, and found that even in this unique medium, she could fully engage her students for an entire 15-minute performance that both parents and teachers enjoyed!
Other teachers in Heidi’s school began to take notice and started asking her to sing her songs onto a cassette tape for them to use in their own classrooms. Eventually she moved to videotaping herself singing with the movements she had created for each song.
When Heidi learned her musician neighbor had built a recording studio in his garage, she dragged her 3 young girls across the street and stepped into the small sound isolation booth to record a few of her songs. Neighbor Mike kindly offered to add some instrumentation to her music and before she knew it, HeidiSongs was born!
Once Heidi started to share these CDs with her fellow teachers, others from the district started asking for them as well. One of her team leaders suggested she present the program at the California Kindergarten Conference, so even more teachers and students could benefit from her classroom success. She applied, was accepted, and reluctantly went with the support of her team. The response to her presentation was immediate and requests for her music CD’s were overwhelming!
Before long, Heidi was in a professional studio polishing up her songs and was soon developing videos, workbooks and storybooks, all in support of her students’ needs. She is now a recognized keynote presenter at education conferences nationwide, has won numerous awards for her music CD’s and teaching videos, and serves as CEO of Teach and Sing, Inc., with hundreds of products that sell worldwide via her Heidisongs.com website, licensing programs and more! She also publishes a blog, giving teachers and parents ideas and support for all educational topics.