Thursday, 15 March 2012

Getting kids excited about sight words

Learning sight words is an important part of learning to read in the early years of school, but for some kids it's hard work (for both the kids and their parents). Here are some ideas for teaching sight words (and making it fun).

Make it achievable
Teach a small number of sight words at a time. If your child is sent home a list of 5 words or 10 words, take your time learning them over the week. To start with, introduce only 2 words. Once those 2 words are mastered, add 2 more. Kids can feel overwhelmed by a whole list of words that they don't know. It's great to build their confidence by having them master a small set at a time.

Make it fun
Kids are often tired after a day at school (particularly at the beginning of kindergarten/prep). To help gain kids' interest in learning after school, it is worth putting some effort into fun activities for teaching sight words.

Draw up hopscotch squares in chalk and write one word in each box. Play hopscotch, reading the words as you jump on each square.

This is a very "school" activity (they may play it in their classroom), but lots of kids love it. It's a good way to review words when they already know quite a few (a standard bingo board will have 25 words). There are websites that let you enter your own words into a template and they will create bingo boards.

Dig for rocks
Write the words on stones and bury them in the sandpit or a bucket of sand. Dig in the sand to find the stones. Read each word as you find them.

Car race
Get a group of matchbox cars. Write one word on each matchbox car (use a thin permanent marker to write directly on the car, or write onto a label/sticky tape, or use a label maker). Push two of the cars and see which car "wins". Read out the winning words - eg "go" is first, "can" is second (this is also good practise of ordinal numbers!). If your child is not interested in matchbox cars, you could do the same activity with marbles, tennis balls, ping-pong balls, etc.

I wrote the words on sticky tape & had no problems removing the words at the end
Word match
Write a group of words in large print and put them around the room or backyard. Give your child a small card with one word written on it. When you say "go", they run around the room finding the word that matches the card. Ask them to read the word to you. Continue giving them the small cards until they have found all the words. Once they are more confident with the words, you can increase difficulty by not giving them the small cards - just call the words out and let them find them around the room/backyard.

The "cards" don't need to be flashy. I just hand-wrote these words on a piece of paper.
Go Fishing
Write the words on paper fish and attach a paper clip to each fish. Make a simple fishing rod from a chopstick, a piece of string and a magnet. Pick up the fish words and read each word aloud. You could make this a 2 person game by making 2 rods and seeing who can collect the most fish in a given time period. Once all the fish have been collected, each player reads aloud the words that they caught.

I used a magnetic clip as the magnet

How are you going with teaching your kids sight words? Do you have other sight-word activities that your kids enjoy?

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