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Teaching Sight Words to Kids: Strategies, Games, Activities, Worksheets, and Printables

Updated on October 3, 2016
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Rose is a full-time freelance writer who frequently writes about education, special education, DIY projects, food, Milwaukee, and more.

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Flashcards are a great method for practicing sight words.
Flashcards are a great method for practicing sight words. | Source

What are sight words?

Sight words are words that must be memorized, as they cannot be sounded out phonetically, such as the, as, and and. They are also commonly referred to as site words. Additionally, many people refer to them as Dolche words. The Dolche word list includes 220 sight words and 95 additional words that are frequently used in children's literature. Finally, some people also opt to use the Fry Word List, which is a similar sight word compilation. The good news is that there are many solid sight word lists out there. The list that you have selected for your students or your own children will most likely work just fine.

Learning sight words is an essential component of the reading process. There are a number of strategies, games, activities, and worksheets that can be an asset for teachers and parents who are teaching sight words. Don't be afraid to pull resources from multiple locations. Students will appreciate and respond positively to a wide mix of materials as long as they are all interesting and engaging.

Kindergarten Sight Words

Tips for teaching sight words

  • Introduce five words at a time. Students can get overwhelmed if they are asked to learn too many sight words in a short period of time. Limit new words to five or less at a time. Wait until a student has mastered this set of words before moving on to the next one.
  • Mix up the routine. No matter how good a strategy is, it can become monotonous over time. Keep a regular rotation of activities going for teaching sight words.
  • Give students choices. As students work on sight words throughout a school year, they may develop preferences for particular lessons or review strategies. Let students vote on the games that they would like to play as a class and let them choose their own review materials during independent study times.

First 24 High Frequency Words Set to Music

General teaching strategies

  • Picture associations. Sight words some of the most difficult words to associate with images. If you have students who are may benefit from this strategy, consider using Boardmaker to create appropriate images for flashcards and other teaching materials.
  • Make connections between the print and the sound of the word. Teachers and parents will find numerous opportunities to do this naturally throughout the day. As you encounter sight words in other settings, make a point of noting them to students.
  • Repetition. Most people do not learn new words the first time that they encounter them. It often takes multiple encounters for the words to stick. The more opportunities that children have with sight words, the more likely they are to learn them.
  • Teach words in context. While flashcards and isolated word games can be important components for learning sight words, students also need to experience them in context. Give students authentic texts at their reading levels as often as possible.
  • Set sight words to music. Once you have learned the lyrics to a song, it is often impossible to forget. Many people have developed fun, catchy sight word songs.

Unique fun games and activities

There are so many creative ideas out there for teaching sight words. This is by no means a comprehensive resource. I have included just a few of my favorite ideas and resources to get you started. Once you get in the habit of thinking outside of the worksheet box and using ordinary objects for learning opportunities, you'll have no shortage of fun games and activities for any lesson.

  • Make a game out of it. Any time you can make a game out of a simple lesson plan or review activity, the more likely it is that you'll motivate a few more students. You don't need to make it complicated or time consuming. Adapt an existing game to incorporate sight words (i.e. Around the World) or search for games that other teachers and parents have already created.
  • Create a scavenger hunt. Have students work their way through the classroom or school to find all of the sight words on a list.
  • Write sight words on unique objects. There is no end to the number of objects that you can use for writing sight words. As long as the surface can withstand ink safely, go for it.
  • Don't forget about sensory and fine motor skills. You can also use sight word activities as an opportunity to work on sensory and fine motor skills. For example, you can write sight words on little cards that students have to pick up with tweezers before they read them or you can have students form letters with Play-Doh or write words in shaving cream, salt, or coffee grounds.

Justin's Sight Words Game

Worksheets and Printables

While I do not recommend relying solely on worksheets and other printable materials for teaching sight words, they can play an important role in a teaching curriculum. Seasonally themed worksheets are always an easy way to switch up the routine. Many printable materials can become components of motivating classroom games. I have included just a handful of the free materials available online. Don't be afraid to search by grade level and/or holiday if you aren't able to find what you are looking for here.

© 2012 Rose Clearfield

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    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, noenhulk! I appreciate the feedback.

      Cyndi, you're absolutely right! Great point.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      4 years ago from Western NC

      Interestingly, many of the techniques for teaching sight words are also the same as when you're teaching a foreign language. In foreign language, the emphasis is on context, but reinforced through various other activities including games, worksheets, stories, flashcards and the like. Well done here and it's really interesting to see how this kind of teaching is connected to what I do. :)

    • noenhulk profile image

      noenhulk 

      4 years ago

      This could be very well great for children. To see them learning is fun. Thanks for the sharing too

      .

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      I'm glad that the tips here are helpful for you, moronkee! Best of luck.

    • moronkee profile image

      Moronke Oluwatoyin 

      4 years ago

      I think the mistake I make often is giving them so many sight words to learn in a short period.

      Thanks for the tips.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Lady Guinevere, yes for sure!

      cygnetbrown, that's great. :) Thanks for sharing!

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Cygnet Brown 

      4 years ago from Springfield, Missouri

      We started using 3x5 flash cards to teach the first 100 sight words to my daughter in the beginning of summer before she started kindergarten. She knew all of them by the time school started. (I had previously taught her how the letters sounded out). I simply added one or two more words every time we sat down to practice the words. She never had the difficulty of sounding out words.

    • Lady Guinevere profile image

      Debra Allen 

      4 years ago from West By God

      This is great for those raising children and pre-schools an kindergarten. I do not have any children at home anymore.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, Vicki!

    • Victoria Lynn profile image

      Victoria Lynn 

      5 years ago from Arkansas, USA

      Great tips! So well laid out and attractive, too!

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks so much, Carter!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 

      5 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      Brilliant hub random, and so helpful for teaching young children...well doneVUUABI & shared

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, Adrienne! You're right that there are a lot of great resources here for both preschoolers and kindergarteners.

    • adrienne2 profile image

      Adrienne F Manson 

      5 years ago from Atlanta

      This is a great hub for those teaching children sight words. Very informative. The US have a huge problem with literacy, and teaching

      children by using different tools is a great way for preschoolers, and kindergartners to learn how to read.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Paul, it's great to hear that! Setting sight words to music is a great strategy. Not only do students love it, but the knowledge really sticks.

      Boulism, thanks!

      Thundermama, I'm glad that this article is helpful for you! Best of luck.

    • Thundermama profile image

      Catherine Taylor 

      5 years ago from Canada

      I found this hub very useful. We are struggling to teach one of girreason read and your resource lists and links have helped me find some great tools. Voted way up and sharing.

    • Boulism profile image

      Boulism 

      5 years ago from Short Beach, CT

      Great ideas, nice work!

    • Paul Kuehn profile image

      Paul Richard Kuehn 

      5 years ago from Udorn City, Thailand

      randomcreative,

      Thank you very much for your great ideas and resources for teaching sight words. They will be very helpful to me as an EFL teacher. I have had a lot of success in the classroom by setting sight words to music. My students love learning through songs. Voted up as useful and sharing with followers and on Facebook. Also Pinning.

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      That's great, Stephanie! Thanks. Best of luck to him. :)

    • stephanieb27 profile image

      stephanieb27 

      5 years ago from United States

      My son is in kindergarten and we are working on his sight words. Great suggestions!! :)

    • randomcreative profile imageAUTHOR

      Rose Clearfield 

      5 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      Thanks, FreezeFrame! I don't know that I'd say that we're failing at it in our schools, but the number of kids who graduate from high school in the United States without basic literacy skills is really scary.

    • FreezeFrame34 profile image

      FreezeFrame34 

      5 years ago from Charleston SC

      Great ideas and resources! Literacy is extremely important and unfortunately one thing we are failing at in schools. Thanks for sharing!

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