I won’t drone on about the importance of sight words. I believe even the earliest learners can be taught to recognize sight words…even before they know the letters. I, personally, don’t want them to think of the words as parts (l, o, o, k). I need them to think of the words as a whole. That’s why we call them “sight” words.
I actually had a teacher say this to me…”Why would you put word wall words in the first 9 weeks of kindergarten. They don’t even know their letters. I can’t teach words until they know all their letters.” Please, please, please say it’s not so. Please expose them to how letters work AS they are learning them. Sight words are not usually decodable, so they don’t have to know the letter/sound relationship to know sight words…they should be known by SIGHT.
Here are 4 ideas for making sight words (word wall words) meaningful and easy for all students.
1. Personal Word Walls
In a recent post on Virginia is for Teachers, I talked about personal word walls.
This is a great tool for students.
This personal word wall is Jamie’s.
He is a struggling reader and this personal word wall is focused on just the words he has been introduced to through his guided reading lessons.
We introduce 2 word wall words per week in kindergarten and up to 10 words a week in first grade.
That can be overwhelming to a struggling reader. By using a personal word wall, we reduced Jamie’s sight words to “critical” words introduce directly in guided reading. He is able to manage a fewer number of words.
As part of small group instruction, we read his word wall at the beginning of each lesson.
2. Sight Word Phrases
Sight word phrases are an easy way to get students to use the words in context, not just in isolation.
Having a phrase section on the word wall can help them practice the phrases as they read.
As a word is added to the word wall, we try to make phrases with existing word wall words.
In the example above, the teacher adds these phrases to the left side of her word wall.
Students are directed to use them in writing and in centers.
I want to blog about Word Wall Mistakes, but I don’t know how to do it without posting pictures of awful word wall practices, and offending some people…one day.
3. Sight Word Games
Sight word games are a fun way to help the students practice their words.
The Roll-a-Word game can be played independently or as a team.
Independently students can roll the dice and color a square to build a tower. When they roll one word enough times to make a tower touch the top, they are done.
Adding a quick tally lesson, the class can tally which words make the tower each day.
At the end of the week, you have have a sight word winner.
If you want it to be a partner game, each student will need a different color crayon. Each student will roll the dice and color a square with their color. Whoever colors the square that reaches the top, will be the winner. The Fluency Races are especially fun. Students roll the dice and read the column as fast as they can. They have to start over if they mess up, but they think it’s fun. Make grids with frequently confused words. Words such as have and has, or in and on can trip up students. Playing with these words can create automaticity with these words.
4. Sight Words in Centers
Having a sight word component to centers makes the centers strategic, as well as independent.
Each week the Art Center and Poetry Center are centered around the poem of the week from the week before.
The poems are familiar. They circle word wall words and color in yellow.
The ABC Center above was an activity with in/on.
The Dry Erase Center is set up with sight words and phrases. Students can practice writing.
Writing, reading, manipulating, building, breaking and doing whatever else I can think of at the moment is only making your emergent reader a better reader. I hope these ideas help.
Click the link for Sight Word FREEBIE or click the picture above.