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How to Teach Sight Words

written by: Jacqueline Chinappi • edited by: Benjamin Sell • updated: 2/8/2012

Teaching Sight Words is about repetition but it does not have to be boring. Here are some activities to make teaching them fun for you and your class.

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    Sight Words:

    Wondering how to teach sight words? Wondering what are sight words? Sight Words are commonly known as Dolch Words. These are the high frequency words which are made up of the 220 most common words or frequently used words. Sight Words are first taught in Kindergarten and continue to be taught until third grade. The 220 words are broken down into several lists including:

    • Preprimer List
    • Primer List
    • First Grade List
    • Second Grade List
    • Third Grade List

    These are the commonly used lists.

    So how does a teacher or even a homeschooling parent teach these sight words when most of them you can not even sound out? The answer is simple, it is pretty much memorization on the student’s part. Hence the reason for calling them “sight” words. Her we will go over a few activities which can help relieve the anxiety and stress which may come along with teaching these important words, both for the teacher and the student!

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    Activity One:

    Make flashcards. Nothing works better when trying to memorize an important item than flashcards. Give students flashcards for the group of words you will be learning that week. In the homework log for that week have students go over the flashcards with their parents nightly. Have parent sign the back of the flashcard so you know they went over the words with them. At the end of a normal school week you should have the parents’ signature five times on the back of the card. Make big flashcards for the class, which you can use to quiz the students with everyday. Stand in front of the class and flip the big card up, tell the students that if they know the word to please raise their hands. Look around to see who may not know the word, take note of this so that you can come back to the word later with these children. After noting who does not have their hands up, ask the children to say the word.

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    Activity Two:

    Play Bingo! Make up Bingo cards with this week’s sight words in the Bingo slots. As you call out a word, the children can place marker on the corresponding word. Whoever gets Bingo first wins the game. Go around the room to ensure the students are placing the markers on the correct words. Take note of which children may be making errors.

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    Activity Three:

    Read Dr. Seuss. “The Cat in the Hat” by Dr. Seuss was created using most of the 220 Dolch words. Read the book out loud to the children at the end of each week. Allow the children to say the words they may know from that week or even from the previous week’s word list. As the weeks progress and the children build upon their vocabulary they will be able to help read more of the book.

    Remember to be patient with these activities as well as with teaching these words. While these are the most common words used in the English language they are by no means easy to sound out easily using the phonetic rules children have learned. Memorization is key! Now you know a great way of how to teach sight words!