Amazingly Easy Ways to Empower Students Utilizing Sight Words!

3:00 AM

Happy Valentine's Day!

Lots of Love to Great Teachers Out There!

Valentine's Day is a wonderful way to have students reading.  They love looking at their cards, reading them, and having fun with them.  Students  actively engaged in reading is what teachers want.  A simple, and easy strategy.

When I started teaching in 1969, (yes, I am closing in on 70 years young) reading was taught using sight words, and very little phonics.  

In the ensuing years, I taught Language Experience, in which we would engage students in an activity, and they would write and read sentences about the experience.  This was fun, but challenging at times.  

Example, they had to learn the word want, so every child wrote a sentence about what they would want to get for Christmas.  Then, I had to make copies of the story, and they would spend time finding the word want, circling it, highlighting it, and spell it using clay or other materials.  It was fun for them, and they learned the word want. 

Years passed and the focus became teaching reading with the 220 Dolch Words, plus 95 nouns.  Then, phoneme awareness became the norm.    Words their Way was a great way to teach reading using word families.

So, I continued on, utilizing these methods, and then, Dr Edward Fry developed a list of sight words.  In 1996, he published a book with   1000 sight words for students to learn through elementary school, commonly known at the Fry Words. 

As good teachers, you knew all of this, but sometimes it can become a little overwhelming!  

What do I teach and how!

How do I integrate sight words, with the phonics and word families? 

 Students learn at different rates, some easily, and others struggle. 

 But, having the command of sight words, helps all of them feel confident in reading.

What are easy ways to practice sight words. 

First, it has to be fun!  

Second, Students need to be able to use all their modalities. 
 See, hear, feel, and move to be able to  own the words.

Here are some suggestions you might try in your class for the study of sight words!

  • Write the words in color using crayons, colored pencils, and pens.
  • Write the words using water and a sponge.  Great outdoor activity.
  • Act out the word, such as jump! Say the word, spell the word, and JUMP!!!
  • Use different voices to read the words, loud, whisper, high, low, angry, happy, etc.
  • Clap and Tap out a pattern using several words.  Have the words in a line, so they can read as they tap and clap a pattern.  Such as:  down, down, around, down, down, around.  Let them make their own patterns.
  • Use technology to flash the words quickly for them to read or highlight.
  • Have a set of words, and put them in alphabetical order.  (This is one of my most successful methods.  Easy to use, and they practice reading while arranging the sequence.)
  • Cut out letters to make the words you are focusing on that day or week.  This helps to pattern their brain to remember the word when they see it in other print material.
  • Make up songs, rhymes, or chants using the words of the week.
  • When they come in each day, have words around the room that they need to walk to, read the word, and jump or clap after each word.  It doesn't have to be many, but get them moving.  (This could be a job for two students to arrange new words each day in the selected spots in the room.  They can do it for a week, then two more students can be the ones to make sure the words are posted.)
  •  Homework, have index cards for parents to put around their home, and every time the child passes the word, they have to touch the card and read the word.  Only do three to five words at a time.
  • Let them look in books to find the word.  If it is a word in your reading series, they can use the various tones of voice every time they see it in the story.
  • Remember, when standing in a line for lunch or the bathroom, always have some flashcards with you to for them to read.

Technology is wonderful, but students still need to use their hands and bodies.  Let them come up with new ways to learn their sight words.

  They might want to paint the word, make it in clay, draw the word, write it on paper, read the word, then scrunch up the paper into a ball, and throw it into the trash can, like basketball. 

These are just a few suggestions, I know you have many more ideas. 

 Get with a colleague and actually take ten minutes to make a list of ways you can get the students reading, while being engaged.

To help you along, here are two activities you can use for beginning readers.  Just click on the link, and enjoy!

Have a Great Valentine's Day!  


by Learning Whimsically at Mickey's Place

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