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Great Games for Memorizing Sight Words

written by: Sandy Fleming • edited by: Wendy Finn • updated: 1/5/2012

Looking for some exciting alternatives to flashcard and worksheet drills to help children memorize sight words? Here are eight games that will leave every student wanting more.

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    Build a Foundation for Reading

    It's vital for children to memorize sight words as quickly as possible, for maximum reading success. Sight words are those very common words, many of which do not follow basic phonics rules. This makes them tough to sound out, so memorizing them is the best option. If these words are committed to memory, the reader will be far more fluent, and develop better reading comprehension. Most children learn best when learning is fun and engaging, so make things easier for your kids by playing sight word memory games.

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    Four Quick Card Games

    Flashcards are quick and easy to make, and are a very inexpensive tool to help your child with sight word memorization. For most games, 3 x 5 index cards can be cut in half, to make cards of a manageable size. Be sure that the writing does not show through to the other side of the card, and make at least two identical sets. Remember to have players read their word cards to score points. Now, let's play!

    • Sight Word Go Fish: Use a deck of at least 50 cards, with at least two copies of each word. More copies will work well. Deal out seven cards to each player and put remaining cards face down on the table. Players take turns asking others for a match to a card that they hold. An opponent must surrender a requested card, if he or she has it. If not, the requesting player draws from the face-down pile.
    • Sight Word Old Maid: Use a deck of at least 20 cards, with two copies of each word. Remove one word. Deal all cards to players evenly. Players may pick a card from the hand of the player to the left. If it makes a match, read it and lay it down for points. One player will end up with the unmatched card, and can be declared winner or loser, as you see fit.
    • Sight Word Memory: Use a deck of at least 10 sets of matching cards. Shuffle and lay out all cards face down in a grid pattern. Players take turns revealing two cards. If they match, read them and pick them up for points. If not, return them to the face down position.
    • Sight Word Slap: Use a deck with at least 40 cards. Choose a target word. Shuffle the cards and deal them out evenly. Keep them face down in piles. Players take turns laying their top card face up on a pile in the center. When the target word appears, the first person to read and slap it gets to keep the pile. First player with all cards wins.
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    Four Active Sight Word Games

    • Sight Word Stomp: Lay sight word cards on the floor around the play area. Have players race to find the word that you call and be first to stomp on it.
    • Sight Word Hunt: Put sight words into plastic eggs. Hide them around the play area. Players must correctly read the word inside each egg they find in order to score a point for it.
    • Sight Word Fishing: Cut out paper fish and put paper clips on each. Write target sight words on the fish. Use a magnet on a string and pole to "catch" the paper fish from a bucket or bowl. The fishermen must read the word on the fish in order to keep it.
    • Sight Word Scavenger Hunt: Use old newspapers or magazines and highlighting markers. Make a list of target sight words and have players search text to find the words that match. Score a point for each match found and read aloud.
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    Engaging Practice Makes a Difference!

    Getting students to memorize sight words is much easier when they are having fun. Find the combination of games and activities that are most appealing to your student(s).

    Learn more about the importance of sight words and how to teach them at Basic Sight Words for Kindergarten Readiness and How to Teach Sight Words.

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