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Teacher Strategies for Sight Words

Janelle Cox

Once students are familiar with the alphabet, it is time to introduce them to sight words. These are words that students should be able to recognize without having to decode. Sight word acquisition is an important part of a child’s ability to read. Once they are able to read all sight words, then they will have access to the majority of words that are in all children’s literature. There are many teacher strategies to help kids learn sight words. You will find a variety of these ideas listed below. In order to reach all learners, try using a combination of several of these ideas.

Here are a few fun teacher strategies to help students learn sight words in an exciting educational way.

Teach with Pictures

To help students recall sight words, add a picture to the word. When you present an illustration along with a word, it will help students connect the object and the word, and in turn help them solidify the information into their memories. To teach sight words with pictures, place colorful posters with a picture and the correlating sight word around the classroom. You can also have students draw a picture to correlate with every new sight word they learn. This will help students link the visual with the printed word.

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Teach Through Repetition 

Repetition is the key when learning sight words. Give students the opportunity to read, write and draw new sight words daily. The more a child is exposed to the sight word, the more likely it is she will remember it. Create a word wall that students can reference, place posters with correlating site words around the classroom, and have students read and print sight words at least five times each. All of this repetition will help embed these words into the child’s memory.

Idea: Have students wear a nametag with a sight word on it. Throughout the day have students tell you the word. If they get it correct, they earn a sticker.

Use the Multisensory Approach

The multisensory approach helps students learn site words by using a variety of their senses, either visual, auditory, kinesthetic or tactile. Students can benefit from using multisensory learning because every child learns and processes information differently, and this approach can help reach all children.

Ideas to try using this approach:

  • Sand Writing – Have students use their fingers to write sight words in sand. You can also use this idea with shaving cream, finger paint or rice.
  • Clay Letters – Have students use clay to form site words. After they mold each letter with clay have them say the letter and the word.
  • Magnetic Letters – Use magnetic letters to help students develop their reading skills. Have students manipulate the letters to form a sight word. Once they formed the word with the letters, they must read it.

Teach Words through Games

Games are a fun, hands-on way to reinforce sight words. Here are a few ideas.

  • Word Walk – Write sight words on big index cards and place them in a line on the floor. The goal is for students to read each word. The can only move forward if they get the word correct. If they make it to the end they win.
  • Sight Word Treasure Hunt – Hide sight words around the classroom and have students go on a treasure hunt to find them. They must be able to say the word in order to collect the word.
  • Sight Word Relay Race – Divide students into two groups. Each group must run to the board, read the site word correctly to the teacher, and then run back to their group. If you want to make it even harder, have students use that word in a sentence.
  • Pick a Stick – Write sight words on a craft stick and put them into a canister. Randomly call upon students to pick a stick throughout the day. If they get the word correct, they earn a point for the class. At the end of the week, if they have enough points the class gets ten minutes added to their free time.
  • Target Practice – Write sight words on a big index card or paper plate. Then tape the words to an empty space on the wall. The goal of this game is for students to be able to find the word you call out, read the word, and then hit it with a soft stuffed ball. Once students get the hang of the game then you can call upon a student to choose their own word, read it, and then hit it with the ball.

Teach Words through Music

Have you ever wondered why it’s so easy for you to remember the lyrics to a song but not all of the presidents of the United States? I bet if you put all of the presidents’ names to music, you will be able to remember them much quicker. Create songs that use sight words and have students sing them every day. This is an easy and fun way for students to learn and remember words quickly.

Make sight word learning fun and try and incorporate more than just one of these ideas, to ensure you reach all student learning types.

How so you teach sight words in your classroom? Please share with us in the comment section below.

Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators