At a Glance
• Sight words are common words kids should recognize instantly without sounding them out.
• Recognizing words by sight helps kids become faster, more fluent readers.
• Many sight words are tricky to read and spell—they aren’t spelled the way they sound.
Sight words are common words that we expect kids to recognize instantly. Words like the, it, and and appear so often that beginning readers reach the point where they no longer need to sound out these words. They recognize them by sight.
Mastering a sight word means no longer having to blend its letter-sounds together or think about spelling rules. Readers recognize the word automatically. Building up a large base of sight words helps kids become faster, more fluent readers.
Sight words appear so often in early reading material that sometimes they are called high-frequency words. Also, you might hear your child talking about word wall words. (It is because they build a classroom Word Wall with them.) Other terms for sight words include star words, core words, and popcorn words. (Why popcorn? Because these words “pop up” so frequently in reading and writing.) No matter what they are called, they mean the same thing.
Some high-frequency words sound the way they’re spelled. Examples include in, that, and with.
But many high-frequency words don’t sound the way they’re spelled. Examples include of, to, and was. Some schools use the term trick words to describe sight words that have irregular spellings.
Some teachers use color-coded lists to chunk the grade lists into smaller groups.
How can you help at home?
PLAY THE MATCH GAME
You can purchase word card sets or make your own. You just need cardboard and double sets of each word. Select the sight words you want your child to practice. …
Read the cards with your child and then shuffle them; place all cards face down on a flat surface. Have your child turn over a card and read the sight word, then turn over a second card and read the sight word. When you find a match you win.
PAPER PLATE TOSS
Write sight words on paper plates. Use them like a Frisbee to throw after reading the word. Add in some additional fun by adding a target.
Turn off the lights. Tape words on the wall or ceiling. Use the flashlight to shine on the word, then have your child read it.
Use a duplicate set of word cards to play “Go Fish.” You can easily make your own cards out of index cards.
Place the word cards on the floor, making a fun stream going across the room. Have your child walk over the stream. As they step onto the stepping stone (word), have them say the word before they move on to get to the other side of the stream.
Another fun way to practice sight words is to write words in the tac-tac-toe spaces. Take turns selecting a space to read. If read correctly, an X or O is placed on the space until someone wins.
Write the sight words onto the driveway with sidewalk chalk. Call out a word. Have your child jump their way to the sight word.
You put the sight words you want to practice on flash cards and put the flash cards into a jar. Also, you write the word SNAP on a few flash cards and put them in to the jar. The kids can play in partners or in a groups of 3 or 4 with siblings. They take turns pulling a card out of the jar. If they can say the word on the card automatically with no struggle, they get to keep the card. If they struggle, they have to put it back. If they pull out one of the cards that says SNAP, they have to put all of the card they’ve drawn back. The first person to 5 cards (or 10) wins!
Put words on the floor. Children take turns tossing a coin onto a word and saying the word. If they get the word correctly, they keep the coin. If you like, first to 10 coins wins. Or see if they can collect all of the coins.
PLAY WHO AM I?
Lay out the word cards. Then give the child clues to what the selected word is. For example, if the word was “red,” you could say – I rhyme with bed. I had three letters. I end with the letter D. Have the child locate the word.
Go outside and practice writing the sight words with chalk on the sidewalk.
Grab a tray or baking sheet with edges. Pour in salt. Write the word in salt. When your child says it correctly, they get to erase the word.