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5 Tips for Teaching Sight Words

Special Ed Resource Room

5 Tips for Sight Word InstructionTeaching sight words is sometimes difficult for typically developing children, so when working with children who are delayed sight words can become a huge frustration. In my classroom I use the Dolch List to determine which words my students need to work on. If you need a list of these words, is a fabulous resource full of checklists, flashcards, power points and lots of other goodies.  

Below you will find 5 ways to enhance the way you are teaching sight words.

Words Everywhere

In my classroom I have words posted on EVERYTHING!!! I have some really nifty labels that I ordered through a teaching catalog that I have plastered throughout my room. The labels include chair, table, desk, teacher, clock, pencil sharpener, etc.

Sing it Out Loud

Every week we have a new sight word of the week. We sing a song that goes to the tune of bingo. It not only says the word but it also spells it out. I discovered the song on The Moffat Girls blog. They have it as a word for the day, but students in special education needs lots of repetition so I feel like a week allows them to be successful. You can also find lots of sight word songs just by doing a simple Google search.

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Multisensory Words

Students with cognitive delays often need to not only see and hear something, but also feel it. You can accomplish this by having your students make their sight words out of play dough, use sandpaper to make your flashcards, or write the words in shaving cream. You can also write over the sight words on your flashcards with liquid glue. Once it dries it is clear, but provides and raised surface for students to trace.

Act It Out

Sign language plays a huge role in my classroom. We will often pair sign language with our words either by using the actual sign for the word or finger spelling the word. Handspeak is a great website for teachers to learn some signs, and the company Signing Time provides videos and songs to teach children sign language. You can find some Signing Time videos on YouTube.

Sight Words Games

If you Google "sight word game" you will literally come up with hundreds of ideas.  Some of our class favorites include CandyLand, (we write our words on the cards and read the word before we move a space), Oh No! and Word Shapes. Oh no! is a game one of my wonderful co-workers introduced me to a few years ago. Words are written on cards and then put into a container. One or two of the cards day Oh No! Students take turns drawing and reading the cards. If they get the word correct, they get to keep the card.  If they draw Oh no! the student must put all of their cards back.  You can find multiple versions of this game at  To play Word Shapes we have our words written on various shapes depending on the time of year.  For example, in March, the words were written on shamrocks.  We then spread the shamrocks on the floor and when the teacher calls out the word the students has to find it.  Depending on the motor skills of the child they may just stand on it, pick it up, use a flashlight to point to it, or use a pointer to point to it.

Check out these websites to find some more great sight word resources: