When a student is initially learning to read, instruction in phonics often plays a big part, which makes sense – a child can learn to decode most words once they understand the sounds that each of the consonants & vowels make. But there are many words, including a host of very common words like be, the, was, to, & very are not pronounced the way that phonics would suggest. These are called sight words.
Because sight words do not follow the rules of phonics, they have to be memorized rather than sounded out. It is important for a student to have the most common sight words memorized as he or she learns to read so that he or she can read fluently & avoid the frustration of getting stuck on these words.
Fortunately, there are all sorts of creative ways that you can help your child learn sight words at home! Here are some resources & activities to get you started, with links to each:
1. Check out SightWords.com & MrsPerkins.com. Go to the aptly-named www.sightwords.com to learn about the most common sight word lists (Dolch & Fry) & their history, & then utilize their printable flash cards, lessons, & games. At www.mrsperkins.com, you will find a multitude of worksheets & game ideas, mostly centered on the Dolch sight word list.
2. Make a Sight Word Kit for your child. At the Make, Take & Teach blog, you can find instructions for making your own Sight Word Kit, including flash cards, multisensory activities involving Play-Doh, and amusing activities like Fly Swatting Sight Words & Sight Word Soccer. It offers free printable sheets & requires readily available household items.
3. Sight word Jenga. Sure, flash cards are effective, but how about putting a spin on them? Education.com suggests using the popular table game Jenga & writing sight words on each on tape & affixing a sight word to each block. Players carefully pull a block & say the word on the block before adding it to the top of the stack.
4. Sight word puzzle. In another Education.com suggestion that is sure to be a good fit for kids who enjoy piecing together puzzles, you can write a sight word on the back of each piece of a 100-piece puzzle, then allow your child to flip a piece over to the picture side every time he or she says the sight word on that piece correctly.
As with anything that involves memorization, repetition & consistency are the keys to success. Stick with it, & have fun!
“The most convincing rationale for teaching sight words is that if they are well selected they will, because of their high frequency in printed materials, have high utility at all levels of reading development. Furthermore, they help to make possible a focus on meaning as well as decoding in early reading, and at the same time they can serve as a basis for analytic phonics instruction”. – The Journal of Educational Research