I wish that I could offer you some quick and clever tricks for the teaching of sight words.But sight words, almost by definition, rarely follow any rules or guidelines. They just have to be memorized.
However, you and your students can still have fun practicing sight words and their spelling. Patricia Cunningham and many other creative teachers use activities like the ones described below.
WORDO is a variation of "Bingo" in which students practice recognizing sight words–and they love it!
- Select 25 high-frequency words that you have been working with, and write each one on an index card.
- Instruct your students to copy each sight word into a space of the WORDO template. (Each student should be writing words into different spaces, so each student’s WORDO sheet will be different.)
- Shuffle your deck of index cards, and call out one word at a time.
- Students will cover each word that was called out with a marker. As they do so, be sure to have them chant the spelling of that word!
- The first student with a row covered calls out, "WORDO!"
CHANTS, CHEERS, SONGS, AND PANTOMIMES
As students are introduced to new sight words, they should see them, say them, and spell them. Brain research suggests that as we involve more senses in acquiring knowledge, we are better able to retain and recall that knowledge. So have your students stand up and shout (when possible) as they enjoy some of these "spelling" activities:
Students pretend that they are writing on a large chalkboard. As they say each letter, they "write" it as large as they can. After each word is spelled, students say the word as they"erase" it.
Children start spelling the word while squatting. With each successive letter they stand higher and higher. When the word is said in its entirety, the children jump into the air.
Students pretend to be lifting weights, one repetition for each letter.When they have chanted all of a word’s letters, they can pretend to mount the barbell on its stand and sound exhausted as they say the word.
Students pretend to swing an ax as they chant each letter. Then they pretend that the tree is falling down as they shout out the word, rather than "TIM-BER!"
READING OF EASY AND/OR PREDICTABLE BOOKS
Activities like the ones described above are certainly effective, as they are fun. But one of the very best ways for your students to become comfortable with high-frequency words is to have them engage in lots of reading! As your students read books that are easy and/or predictable, they will be exposed to high-frequency words hundreds (if not thousands) of times. The context of the sentence will help them recognize and practice these important words.
LINKS TO MORE SIGHT WORD ACTIVITIES
SEE OUR OTHER PAGES ABOUT TEACHING SIGHT WORDS.
- High-Frequency Sight Words
- Practice with Abstract Sight Words
- Betsy B. Lee on Teaching Dolch Words
- Dolch’s List of Basic Sight Words