Hello! I hope everyone is staying safe and healthy during the quarantine. Today I wanted to share some tips and tricks for teaching sight words to early elementary students. I am writing this from a classroom standpoint, but if you are reading this as a parent, you can certainly take the ideas and use them for your child.
In our school we teach the Fountas and Pinnell high frequency words. There are 25 words in kindergarten, 50 words in first grade and 100 in second grade. If a kindergarten student masters their word list before the end of the year, I will start to teach them the first grade word list. These high frequency words are important to teach students because they appear often in the leveled books they will be reading. If students are able to recognize some words, they can focus on sounding out the words they don’t know and still have some understanding of the text.
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1. Introduce Each Sight Word
I like to introduce 2 sight words a week. We discuss how many letters the word has and how many of those letters are consonants /vowels. I also ask students to use the word in a sentence. If a word has more than one spelling (for, four) we discuss any misuse of the word as it comes up. While flashcards aren’t my favorite, I do use them for a quick, daily practice the sight words we have already learned.
2. Word work practice during small groups
I have a variety of word work activities that students can choose from during small groups. I have all of our kindergarten sight words printed out on cards and put on a binder ring for them to flip through them. I provide rotate through these different activities and always give students a couple of activities they can choose from each day.
- Write words on mini whiteboards, magna doodles, chalk boards
- Build them with magnetic letters or letter tiles
- Make the words with playdough
- Stamp them into playdough with letter stamps
- String letter beads on pipe cleaners
- Build words with mini erasers- have the words written and have students put mini erasers on the lines to create the word.
- Rainbow write words- Sometimes just giving students markers or colored pencils is a fun, new way for students to write their sight words
- Color by sight-words worksheet- There are some pre-made worksheets that can be found on Pinterest
- Type words on an old keyboard
- Flashlight find- This is more of an idea for parents at home, but tape sight words on the wall or ceiling and have students find the word that is read to them, or have them read the word they find.
3. Guided Reading Groups
During small groups I have a station where I work with each group according to their reading level and specific needs. This is a time when I will reteach any sight words that the group doesn’t have a solid grasp on.
- As a guided reading group, do a word work activity (listed above) together with your guidance and conversation.
- Search and highlight sight words in a reading passage.
- Choose guided reading books with the sight words you are practicing in them. If we are working on the word on, I will choose a book with that word a few times in the book.
I encourage students to include their sight words in their writing. Students have a print out of their kindergarten and first grade sight words they can refer to in their writing folders. The words are also on our classroom word wall, so I hold them accountable for spelling the word correctly. As I am writing a sample story in front of students, I make sure to include sight words we are working on and model referring to the word wall.
Swat is a favorite game in our classroom that can be played as a whole class. I have our sight words projected on our whiteboard in random order. I have students in 2 teams and one person from each team comes to the board. I say a random sight word and the first person to find that word on the board earns a point for their team.
6. Write the Room
Write the room is another favorite activity in our classroom. On Friday’s, instead of doing a normal word work station, we do a write the room. I have words printed on cards that I tape up in the front of our classroom. When students get to that station, they will walk around with a clip board and search for the words. When they find the words they will read and write the word on their paper. Sometimes I will have fun words like kinds of pets or fairy tale words, but sometimes I will also have sight words. There are a ton of pre-made write the room printables available on Pinterest.
Teaching sight words is an important part of learning to read, but there are so many ways to make it fun.
How do you teach your students sight words?