Learning to read and spell by teaching sight words. Includes hands-on and printable activities to help students learn Dolch sight words.
Teaching Sight Words
Today I am sharing my experience of teaching sight words in the primary classroom. I have always included sight word instruction and practice in my day to day plans for my primary students.
This post will take you day to day on how I run my sight word program. A weekly plan with a variety of activities and lots of sight word practice, materials that are differentiated to meet learning needs, and activities that are fun and engaging. I will explain how to use different teaching tools and materials throughout the week. I will also provide you with 1 unit for FREE to try out in your classroom, which will include the materials seen in this post. I have seen huge success with their ability to learn, enjoy, and recall sight words using the program I will share today.
Why You Should Be Teaching Sight Words
I am a firm believer of a language arts program that teaches and reviews sight words. Sight words are those words that have a high-frequency presence in printed materials that children read. As children build their sight word recognition, they are able to read more books.
I have seen how beneficial it is to my early readers once they have learned new sight words. As they learn more words, they can read more books. Their confidence goes way up, they enjoy reading books, and they feel successful!
When teaching first and second grade, we learn 4 to 5 new sight words each week, on top of our spelling words and word family words. This is a component of our word study program. To read more about how I run and what I include in my word study program, click HERE. To read more about how I introduce, teach, and run my word family program, click HERE.
For sight words, I use the Dolch lists of sight words. We start by learning the Pre-Primer and Primer words in first grade and work up through additional lists throughout the year (First Grade and Second Grade). I know that technically Kinders should be learning Pre-Primer and Primer words. Even if my first grade students have learned sight words in Kindergarten, they many have not retained enough and reteaching or reviewing is necessary for those students.
At the beginning of the year, I assess all of my students on their sight word knowledge. If they know most of the words within a list, they will start on the next list, and so on. If they are not able to read the sight words fairly quickly and need to sound them out, I will start them on that particular list.
Sight words should be read relatively quickly with some fluency. This FREE sight word assessment pack from Unique Teaching Resources will help you record and keep track of your student’s progress. I take those results and make groups of students with similar sight word knowledge. The different groups will have different words they are learning and activities they are completing to go along with the words.
Materials for Teaching Sight Words
I print out the materials needed for each week the week before that I will need for the upcoming week. I make sure that I have differentiated work for each of my groups so they are getting the practice they need. I keep a separate folder for each group to keep it organized.
I print each list of words onto different colored paper, laminate, and cut. I place the words for each week inside a small envelope and label the outside with the words inside and the unit. The word envelopes go into a basket and then it is ready for each week. Before we begin our sight word instruction on Monday, I post our weekly sight words onto our word study poster.
Each student has a small Ziplock bag with their name on it. This will hold the weekly word cards that they will color and practice throughout the week.
I keep those bags in a basket or sometimes students keep their bags in their book boxes to practice each day.
A word list is sent home at the beginning of the week for students to practice at home. Parents appreciate having the list of words at home that they can review and practice.
Occasionally I will send home printable activities for students to complete throughout the week. If we have a shortened week for whatever reason, I find this helps. I also like to give parents a list of fun ways to practice sight words at home.
These read and trace mini books are great for small groups or to send home for practice.
New sight words are introduced during our morning meeting. I start by asking if anyone can read the words. Then we repeat after that student. We spell the word out each letter at a time using our fingers. I use each word in a sentence and ask if any students can give examples.
My students love to color and cut out their new words each week. They rainbow color each word and cut them out. They take out all the sight words we have been learning up to this point from their bags and they read each word 3 times out loud. They come and read them to me next.
At the end of a sight word list, I use the word cards in their bags and do a final assessment. I staple the words they know together and they bring those home. The words they cannot read fluently stay in their bags for further practice.
During our morning meeting, we review our sight words one at a time together. Our star of the week points to each word and we chant and clap them to find out how many chunks they have. We hold up fingers to show how many syllables.
We focus on spelling and forming each sight word. Students complete a sight word printable during morning work. Students complete sight word letterboxes where they fit the words into the correct boxes.
Students also practice printing each sight word, a sentence, and draw a picture to go with the sentence.
During centers, we form each word using Play-Doh and practice printing words on each mat.
During our morning meeting, we sing sight word songs. Kids love to sing and do actions! We complete a morning message that has tons of our sight words in it. At times, I will write sentences and leave the sight words out and students have to figure out the missing words.
We learn the meaning of each word. We complete activities to help build our understanding throughout the day. We complete a sight word activity for morning work and word work.
We use the Find & Highlight activities to find sight words within sentences and draw one of the sentences after.
We use Fill-In’s and Fix-It’s to review the meaning of our sight words and how they fit into sentences correctly.
We review our words again during morning meeting. We close our eyes and spell words together or one by one aloud.
We work on our reading fluency. We print, stamp, color, and draw our words. We do things where we are reading these words over and over. My students enjoy these activities because they stay busy and have fun too! My students love using our magnifying glasses to find sight words hidden in our Find & Color sheet.
They use the key to colour each area according to what it says.
They are searching and reading the words repeatedly during this activity.
During centers, students create their sight word bracelets. They get to make and put them on with a partner and then help each other practice the words.
Students use stamps, fancy pens, and pencils to complete their word work. They are reading, tracing, and creating words over and over to build fluency.
During our morning meeting, students sit with a partner to review their sight words one last time before I give them a quiz. I give them their sight word sticker books and stickers to put on each word. They read the list aloud to their partner and if they can read them all correctly, they put a sticker next to each word. This is a quick assessment for me to check how they are doing. This could also be a part of your small group time.
We do one final review of our words on our chart before adding them to our word wall. We also have a spelling quiz where I give my students a mix of our spelling words, sight words, and word family words together. They do an excellent job after all this review!
Each day, students are practicing their sight word cards to build fluency. By the end of the week, most have mastered each word, can read it fluently, and spell it aloud.
At the end of each week, our sight words are added to our word wall. I use a lower word wall that goes along the wall where we sit during our lessons.
FREE Unit to Try
I would love it if you tried this curriculum in your classroom. I have one entire unit absolutely FREE to my readers. I am convinced that once you’ve tried this comprehensive program and used it in your classroom, you will see great results.
Your students WILL read and spell their sight words!
If you would like to try this program today, click the image below to download one entire unit for FREE.
Dolch Sight Word Curriculum
If you have seen this program and are convinced that it is something you need in your classroom, click HERE to see it in store.
You can purchase the bundle which includes 4 separate resources together (Pre-Primer, Primer, First Grade, & Second Grade), or purchase them individually HERE.
FRY’s Sight Words
The same great sight word curriculum is now available for the Fry sight words. Click HERE to see the complete bundle!
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