This post originally appeared on the blog Crystal McGinnis Kindergarten Creations.
Teaching sight words, along with all of the other foundational reading skills, is crucial for new readers. Throughout my years as a kindergarten teacher, I have found some effective strategies for teaching sight words successfully. Here is what has worked for me.
Establish sight word routines that you complete EVERY SINGLE DAY with your class. One of my favorite routines is building our sight words each day with magnets (as a whole group). After we build our sight words, and say each letter independently, we SNAP, TAP, and CLAP our sight words. My kids LOVE this! Here is what we do. (I used the word like as an example.)
LIKE L-I-K-E LIKE (Snap on each letter as you say it out loud!)
LIKE L-I-K-E LIKE (Clap with each letter as you say it out loud!)
LIKE L-I-K-E LIKE (Tap your toe on each letter as you say it out loud!)
We repeat this with each of our sight words. We do this every morning during our morning meeting, and the kids really learn to recognize and spell the words quickly.
If you want to consistently expose your students to their sight words each day, create a powerpoint slideshow of your sight words and flip through it daily when you have a few extra minutes. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but just using the projector and letting your kids chant the words will keep them engaged. I add our new words to the slideshow each week, and then mix up the slides to keep the kids “on their toes.” I use this kindergarten review powerpoint, and add my sight words to the end.
Teach Sight Words In “Text”
Use poems to teach your kiddos their sight words in text. My kids LOVE learning new poems, and I love that they are learning their sight words along with so many other important reading skills including fluency, tracking print, and rhyming. I create a poetry notebook for each student which includes my 40 sight word poems for shared reading. These poems are full of sight words. We choral read them, chant them, highlight the sight words, read with partners, and more! I add to the poetry notebooks throughout the year to include back to school poems, fall poems, Christmas poems, spring poems, and more!
Keep It Hands-On
Young learners need to be provided with hands-on activities to keep them engaged. Set up a sight word center that is devoted to your new sight words for the week. Provide hands-on materials that can be used with any sight words (to keep your prep minimal.) Using plastic cups to build the sight words is always a hit! You can also use play-doh, popsicle sticks, pipe cleaners, and magnets, just to name a few hands-on manipulatives.
Make Your Sight Words VISIBLE
Your students should see their sight words EVERYWHERE! Here is an idea…..create sight word “table names” for each of your tables. Hang one sight word above each table. Call the tables to transition by sight word instead of table numbers. Change the “table sight words” each week as you introduce new sight words. Don’t forget to save them for the next year!
You can also ensure that your kids see their sight words EVERYWHERE by using anchor charts. Let your kids help you create anchor charts using their sight words. Hang the anchor charts around your classroom for the students to use as a visual reference at a later time.
Another way to make sure that your kiddos are SEEING their sight words everywhere, is using pocket chart activities to display your sight words. Let your students build predictable sentences using their sight words during center time. Keep the sentences displayed for a future reference. Pocket charts are a perfect way to display sight words! This set comes from my predictable sentences pocket chart bundle.
Assess Your Students Often
Keeping track of your students’ sight word progress can be key to ensuring success. Assess your students as often as possible, and teach the words that your kids NEED. I assess my students when I pull them over for guided reading. It is very quick, and makes a great “warm up” for the guided reading lesson.
Your young readers can learn their sight words successfully if you establish routines, practice consistency, teach sight words in text, keep it hands-on, make the words visible everywhere, and assess your kiddos often.
I am a teacher author, wife, and mother of 3 from Missouri with 11 years teaching experience. I love to share my excitement for education by designing educational resources for the primary grades, but I specialize in curriculum for Kindergarten. I love creating resources for those little learners who are excited to come to school every single day! I have created a wide range of resources that develop early literacy skills, enhance mathematical foundations, and encourage science exploration through hands-on learning.