What are sight words you ask? They’re a list of words that readers just need to know. No decoding. No sounding out. Nothing. Words like a, at, he, she, it, and the appear on almost every page of every book,so, students need to know them ‘on sight.’ Students are often taught sight words through memorization but that doesn’t work for all learners. Whether you’re trying to play catch up at home because your first grader isn’t on track to master 150 sight words by the end of the year, or you’re trying to prepare your youngest for kindergarten, these tips will help make sight words fun and help your child become a fluent reader.
1. Star Charts
Your child may have a progress tracker at school, but having one at home is a whole different ballgame. Kids will be excited to show you their success in person and you’ll have a clear understanding of how they’re doing without waiting for a progress report or waiting for the next parent teacher conference.
Now, you can track progress in many ways. You can use a star chart or a bar graph to keep track of how many times your reader identified and pronounced a specific sight word correctly.
2. Sight Word Twister
Right hand on blue, left food on red! Most of us have played a game of Twister, but, I for one never thought about using it for educational purposes- until I started teaching elementary school. One day during indoor recess, one of my students decided to turn a friendly game of Twister into a math challenge. Students wrote facts on index cards (ie: 4 x 3 or 2 x 6) and someone would call “Left hand on 12.” The students would then have to find a fact that equals 12 on the plastic mat.
For early readers, you can alter this game by writing sight words on the index cards instead of multiplication facts. You then place the words on the different circles and your child will have to find whatever sight word you call out. Not only is this a fun game (great for kinesthetic learners) but it could also double a family building activity. Not to mention that this game would be a great way for your child and their friends to enjoy some summer fun without losing any of their skills from the school year.
3. Sight Word Sports
While most kids nowadays opt for screen-time over ‘green-time‘ I grew up spending my summers at swim camp, basketball camp, and soccer camps. And even though summer camps may not be an option for your family, you can always get moving at home. But with sight word sports, your child gets a two-for-one deal: practicing a sport and practicing their sight words at the same time. You can practice dribbling a basketball onto certain sight words or (if your child is particularly young) you can get small plastic balls, write sight words on them and shoot them into a bucket. For sight word soccer, you can set up cones in your backyard or a living room (my brother and I would remove all vases and lamps when we played indoors) and tape different sight words on them. Your scholar-athlete in training will shout out the different words as he or she zig-zags around the cones.
These are just some ways you can help your child become a strong reader early on. You can also play sight word games online using Starfall or use good old-fashioned flashcards. Do you have an early reader at home? How does your family practice? Share your ideas in the comments section below,