Sight words are words that appear frequently in most of the text children read, but are difficult to sound out. They can be considered the foundation for learning to successfully read. In fact, learning these words is so important for students, not only to build reading confidence, but they are also a very necessary life skill for safety and awareness of one’s environment outside the school walls. Unfortunately, students with special needs who are also ELL especially struggle. I have therefore designed numerous fun and child friendly sight word activities that provide a higher degree of success due to repetition, visual and verbal exposure.
1) Picture Word Cards
In my classroom, I introduce sight words using a picture that explains the meaning of the word along with a sentence using the word describing the visual on the card. This approach helps my students make a connect and understand the importance and meaning each word.Throughout time I slowly take the picture card away and just keep the written sight word cards. This strategy has been super successful with my classroom.
2) Hop! Hop! Hop!
Nothing keeps students motivated and involved than activities with movement!! This activity may be used at the same time the students are learning the words from the “Sight Word Wall.” A bunny containing each of the sight words is spaced on the floor in a fun random pattern. The students have to start at the beginning and hop on each bunny and shout the sight word on its tummy. If the student is unable to read the word they go back to the end of the line and start over. Students get to watch their peers and hear the sight words over and over again which helps to reinforce learning through both visual and auditory repetition.
With more confident students one can take this game to a more competitive level. Use the same game format except when a student gets stumped and cannot hop to the next space allow them to remain standing on their current bunny. Then next student begins and tries to bypass the standing student. A rotation continues until a student successful completes all the sight words on the Bunny Hop.
3) Building Silly Sentences
Learning how sight words are used in sentences is the next step in reading comprehension. In order to simplify this task I designed the beginning of simple sentences using the sight words we are learning that week. Each student selects a sight word he/she recognizes and together we read the beginning of the sentence using that word. The student then gets to add their own personal “silly” ending to the sentence by adding to the end a picture card from the selection on the board. Then the student has to point to each word as they read the creative and silly sentence they just created.
4) Pyramid Comprehension Sentences
With young learners it is important to build skills through repetition and simplicity. Using Pyramid Comprehension Sentences is perfect for such skill building. This method allows students to build confidence with reading as well as to elevate comprehension awareness.
A sight word tops the pyramid and then one new word is added to each of the three following lines to form a simple four word sentence. Each student reads aloud one line at a time which builds on the previous word/words until the sentence is completed. When the student has successfully read his/her pyramid sentence he/she gets to select a picture that symbolizes what was read. This is an excellent way to chart comprehension since the student must understand what the sentence means in order to select the correct corresponding picture.
5) Sight Word Journals
Each student is given a journal to record the sight words they have learned throughout the year. Similar to they Pyramid Comprehension Activity, each student records not only the word, but builds a simple sentence using that word. In addition to promote creativity and motor skills, the student is to draw a picture that best shows what that sentence means. As the year progresses and ability to improve, I have found the student enjoys picking a partner and sharing their Sight Word Journals. This is also an excellent tool to share at IEP meetings and parent conferences.
6) Where’s the?
Another fun learning game that is especially popular around holidays, birthdays, and important events is the “Hide & Seek” game of Where’s the…? A picture is selected that illustrates something that is special to the students in the class, such as toys, birthday cakes, or even the name of a new classmate. This picture is first put behind one of the sight word squares on the Sight Word Board by the teacher. The teacher then asks, “Where’s the…(picture on the card)?” Students eagerly take turns selecting and saying one of the sight words so they can look behind that word to see if they found the picture. The student that successfully find the word then has the opportunity to hide it him/herself for other students to find.
It is important to keep the picture cards at the top of the board for those students who struggle. This allows them to participate and gain confidence in recognizing words that are difficult for them.
In my illustration there is an example of a cupcake (between “do” and “the”) that was hidden when our class celebrated a birthday. SO MUCH FUN!
7) Ice Cream Sunday
Ice cream Sunday anyone? This is a fun hands-on building sight word activity or center while you are busy working with other students. The students are given the brown bowls with sight words on them. They need to spell that sight word using different colored ice cream scoops. Once the sight word is built the ice cream Sunday is done. The students have fun pretending they are working at an ice cream store and race to see who can make the most ice cream Sundae’s.
8) Word Building Blocks
Most of my students are boys and what do young boys like to do best? BUILD!!! I took connector links and taped each block with a lowercase letter. Each letter uses 10 blocks to eliminate letters running out. I also have sight words written on monthly pictures such as flowers, pumpkins, snowflakes, etc. that the students use to build each sight word.
Sight Word Tracker
Learning sight words is an important part of early reading. I have developed a sight word tracker using the Journey’s Word List for Kindergarten and Dolch Word list for Pre-Primer and Primer. This allows for quick easy tracking of progress on sight word development.