“What are your best sight word tips to help my readers learn them quickly?” is one question I get asked often. Well friends, I think it all comes down to how you introduce high-frequency words and how you keep reinforcing them. Once students understand how to orthographically map a word, it helps their brains learn words with similar spelling and phonics patterns.
Flash cards have been used in the past to reinforce sight words, but they aren’t the only way! The majority of little learners need a multi-sensory approach to learning. Interacting physically, using fine motor skills, orthographically mapping words, and even music are great ways to get all learning types involved.
Are you looking for some sight word tips to mix up your sight word practice? Before we jump into my tried and true tips and tricks, let’s cover a few quick basics.
High-frequency words are the most common words found in beginning children’s reading materials. Each set of words builds upon the other. Once a set of high-frequency words has been mastered and becomes sight words for students, a new set is introduced for mastery. If you aren’t sure what the difference is between sight words and high-frequency words is, I have a blog on that HERE!
The two most common sight word lists are Fry’s 1000 instant words and Dolch word lists. Which one do you use? Most schools have a preference of one over the other, or check with your grade level team to see which list they prefer. Practicing at home? Either list is great! You can’t go wrong with one vs. the other. Personally, I have used both in my classroom!
Why are sight words such a big deal?
Sight words cannot be easily sounded out. Combined with balanced literacy practices and phonics instruction, your students need sight word mastery to become successful and fluent readers! Over
50% of all reading materials are made up of the same set of words! Who knew!? Less time and energy goes into decoding sight words so that more brainpower can go into decoding the more difficult words!
How to Introduce New High-Frequency Words
Help the kids begin to orthographically map the words as you are introducing and teaching them. This is so important. As we are learning how the brain learns to read, we are learning more about this importance. If you are familiar with Elkonin boxes, then this isn’t too new for you. Here is an example of how to do this:
25 Sight Word Tips and Tricks
- Build words using wikki sticks
- Computer keyboards – print a keyboard template out or have some old keyboards available for students to type out their set of sight words (helps introduce typing as well!)
- Playdough– create your words using playdough
- Paint bags (ziplock bag with paint inside, tape at the top if you’re worried about paint escaping) – trace sight words
- Shaving cream sight word writing on table tops (cleans your tables too!)-Simply spray a pile of shaving cream on the table, let them spread it out, then call out a word and have them write it!
- Clothespins matching on index cards – match the letter clothespin to the letter on the card
- Magna doodle boards – write and write again!
- Morning meetings – include sight words in your morning meeting, cover up with post it and have students use context clues to guess the appropriate words that would fit and match your description! Sight words in morning meeting daily is a great tool for mastery!
- Side walk chalk – take learning outside!
- Sight word games – Guess My Word, Finish my Sentence, and Write it! Grab directions to play these sight word games here for FREE!
- Use music – research supports music and movement with mastery! Have Fun Teaching YouTube videos have videos for over 50 sight words! These were definitely classroom favorites for us!
- Sand trays – trace your words in the sand with your finger
- Sky writing – use your finger and write the word in the sky – great for whole group and guided reading lessons!
- Pom poms and tweezers – have a basic sight word template and use the tweezers to cover the sight word with your pom poms
- Magnetic letters – build the words, mess them up, build them again!
- Say it, make it, write it mats – these can be as detailed or simple as you’d like! Students pick a word, stay it, make it with letter manipulatives, and write it out below. A great workstation activity!
- Go Fish with sight words – partner work!
- Build words with pipe cleaners
- Matching games with sight word cards
- Sight word crayon rubbings
- Scented markers and crayons – smelly markers make writing words extra fun!
- Workstation practice – create a rotating weekly sight word station for practicing skills independently – find my sight word practice pages HERE!
- Rainbow words – use crayons to create rainbow words with your sight words (include photo)
- Whole group sight word chant – playing “Hickety Pickety Bumble Bee” is a great way to engage students in some word play! Grab the FREEBIE HERE!
- Use it in a sentence – once words are mastered, make sure students know how to appropriately use sight words in context. Practice in morning meeting and then increase workstation expectations by having them build sentences with their words!