Teaching Sight Words to Kids: Strategies, Games, Activities, Worksheets, and Printables
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.
If you don't already have a sight word list, there are lots of word lists available online.
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.
- Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas: 10 Ways to Learn Sight Words Through Play!
Who would have thought that you could use Twister to work on sight words?
- Sight Words: Tips for Parents - Yahoo! Voices - voices.yahoo.com
- Life with Moore Babies: Squishing Sight Words
- Pinterest search / paint chip sight words
- Muffin Tin Reading Games
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.
More elementary education teaching resources from the author.
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© 2012 Rose Clearfield