Thursday, June 27, 2013

Teaching Those All Important Sight Words

Sight words are SO SO important.  If kiddos know their sight words, then it frees up their brain to work on decoding the words that they don't know.  I wanted to share with you a few ways that I teach sight words in my classroom.

   At my school, our sight word list is kind of a combination of several different lists.  We've taken Dolch words, the words recommended by our reading series, trick words from Wilson Fundations, and any other high frequency words that we felt were important for kindergarteners to know and developed a list of almost 180 sight words that we teach throughout the year.  That may seem like a lot of words for Kindergarteners, but when I did my year end assessments all of my students but one new over 80% of those words and many of them knew 95% or more of the words!

We typically introduce 3 new words each week and I have several activities that we do each week to help learn those. 

1.  Snap Cards by Child 1st Publications
306 SnapWords Teaching Cards
A few years ago, my principal purchased these cards for each Kindergarten classroom.  These cards are fabulous!  (No, I'm not getting compensation for recommending this product!)  They are pricy, I won't lie to you about that, but it's a one time purchase that you would use for years.  The cards have a picture incorporating the word on one side of them and on the back is the word and a phrase and motion to help remember the word.   For example, see the word 'help' above?  It looks like the word is drowning.  The saying is "Help! Help!" and the motion is to wave your hands in the air.  The word 'look' is written to look like the o's are eyes and the saying is "Look at that!" and you make your eyes really big!  The kids LOVE them!  I have a SMARTboard file with the cards, too, so we go through them and do the motions every morning as part of our calendar routine.  The idea is that when a student gets hung up on one of our sight words while they are reading, either I or another student can give them the hand signal and the word pops into their head.  It works, people!  Even if you don't want to purchase the cards, you could have your students help you come up with your own phrases and motions as you introduce your sight words.  It just gives them another "hook" to hang that word on in their little brains!

2.  High Five Sight Words
A colleague introduced this idea to me, and I think it's fantastic.  We hang our sight words for the week right next to our classroom door with a hand beside them.  Every time a student leaves the room, they have to "high five" the hands and say their sight words.  We talk about how you have to look at someone when you high five them or you will miss so they must put their eyes on the word as they say it and high five the hand or they will "miss" learning the word.  I didn't have a picture so here's my son kindly doing a re-enactment on our wall at home.

  Every time they use the restroom, go to the drinking fountain, go to lunch, recess, specials, or leave for home, they are reading those three words.  That's lots of practice that takes NO instructional time!  This is available HERE in my TpT store if you're interested!

3.  Stamping Sight Words
My kiddos love to use the stamps.  I felt like it was pretty unstructured and I wasn't sure how valuable it was until I found this fabulous product from Mrs. Wills. I was going to insert a picture of it here, but every time I tried it was either tiny or blurry so you'll just have to head over to her TpT store to check it out! I love that it is editable so I can put in our words for each week, plus a couple of review words that they may be struggling with.  I've also used it for short vowel work because of the word families, but that's a different post! 


4.  Magnetic Word Wall
My word wall cards are magnetic.  Nothing fancy, I just cut magnet strips and stuck on the back of them.  That way, my kids can go up to the word wall, pull off the card and take it to their writing area to copy if they need to.  Then they just stick it back up where it goes.  Sounds scary, doesn't it??  Kids messing with our beautiful word walls??  GASP!!  But they really are good with this.  They take pride in using it and I stress that they have to use it properly.  I rarely have to move words around because they aren't under the right letter.  More often, I have to turn one over that got put back up upside down!  I found that kids were recognizing their sight words when they were reading, but weren't spelling them correctly in their writing.  This magnetic word wall has really helped with that. And obviously, this is only possible if you have a magnetic white board.  If not, maybe Velcro? Sorry, no picture, because it was UGLY last year!  I just had the words written on index cards and stuck up there.  Definitely not cute.  Next year I'm going to be using these.

You can find them in my TpT store here or there is another rainbow version here.  Best part, they are editable so you can add your own words!

5.  Highlight, highlight, highlight!
Pretty self explanatory!  We highlight our sight words ALL THE TIME!  Either by just circling them, coloring them with yellow crayons, using highlight tape in big books, or using actual highlighters!  I'm sure you do that, too, but I thought I should throw it in here at the end because I think it's important!  The more exposure to those words and chances to find them and read them, the more automatic they become for the kiddos!

Wow!  Long post!  I hope you found something you can use in your classroom!

Oh, and one more thing!  I recently hit 100 followers and I put together a pretty awesome giveaway if I do say so myself!  You can find it HERE!


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