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At Home Ideas to Enhance Learning for Elementary Schoolers: Sight Words

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Whether your child is back in school full-time, a combined virtual/school learner or an all virtual learner, you may be thinking of ways to build on their education at home. A lot of the resources that you may see in the classroom cost money. I would like to give you ideas that you can try with your children in the different subject areas that you can make for free, that are already sitting in your home, or that are at a very nominal cost.   

Sight words, also known as High Frequency Words or Dolch words, refer to the words most commonly found on any page of text. Readers need to recognize the word when they see it in the text because the majority of sight words can’t be sounded out. The most typical way of teaching sight words is with flashcards and repetition. If your child is resisting those sight word flash cards because they are boring, I have got good news. This blog will focus on the abundance of ways to practice sight words that are fun, creative and that need minimal set up.  

Sticky Note Fun

Also known as Post-it notes, sticky notes are a fun, easy and inexpensive way to practice the ever-changing sight word lists that are coming home. For all of the following activities, write your child’s sight words on the sticky notes. One word per note. If they have mastered it you can throw it away or if they lose their “stick” you can easily make a new one.  

Sight Word Search– Take the sight word sticky notes and place them around the house. Attach a sight word list to a clipboard and have your child go search for the words around the house. They will say the word as they find them and put the sticky note that they found over the word on the list.  

 Fly Swatter Swat– Write the sight words on the sticky notes and place them on a table spread out. Say a word and have your child swat that word with the fly swatter. See how fast they can find the words by running a timer.  

Parking Garage Play– This requires a few more materials but is doubly fun. On a large piece of poster board or paper, make parking spaces using marker and ruler. Place a word in each space. Have your child gather up all of their hot wheels. When you say the sight word, your child has to drive one of their cars to that word and park it. Continue until all the cars are parked in the garage.  

Get Moving

All you need is some sidewalk chalk or a blow-up beach ball and some outdoor space to have some fun practicing sight words with these activities.  

Hopscotch– Make a one, two hopscotch pattern on the sidewalk or drive with chalk.  In each box write a sight word. Use a small rock or object to toss onto the hopscotch board. Whatever word the marker lands on is to be skipped when hopping Your child jumps from square to square and shouts out the sight word that the marker landed on as they jump over it. Once at the end, turn around and hop back, saying the marked word again, picking up the maker as they go. The goal is to get their maker on each sight word square to win.  

Bean bag toss – Using your chalk, make a board of three rows of three squares on the sidewalk. Write a different sight word in each square. Draw a line a few feet back that can be the place you throw the bags from.  Using colored bean bags or cornhole bags, take turns tossing onto the board. Say the word your bag lands on.   If your bag lands on a square that already has a bag, pick up your bag, say the word but you will lose your turn. The first person to get three bags in a row or diagonal wins. Add more rows of squares and more sight words to make the game more difficult.  

Twister– Again using your sidewalk chalk, make a Twister board, drawing 4 large circles in 5 rowsWrite a sight word in each circle. Also write the sight words on a set of cards and body parts on another set of cards, like elbow, hand, foot, knee, ear, etcThe caller will pick a sight word card and a body part card from the top of each deck. Your child will have to put that body part on that sight word, saying the sight word as they move. Then the caller picks the next cards and the game proceeds until the child can’t hold themselves up. This can also be played with more players, having the caller go back and forth between them.  

Catch– An inflatable beach ball or any large rubber ball can be used to practice sight words in this activity. Write your child’s sight words all over the ball. Toss the ball to your child. Whatever word your child’s left thumb is touching is the word they should say before tossing the ball back. You can pick different hands and fingers to mix it up.  

Fun and Games

Who says learning sight words has to be boring? You can easily implement them into many classic games using just notecards or a blank piece of paper and writing tool.  

Tic Tac Toe– Make a Tic Tac Toe grid on a piece of paper. Each player picks a sight word. When it is their turn, they must write the sight word down in one of the boxes and also say the sight word. When they get three of their words in a row, they win! Play it a few times and change the words each game.  

Sight Word BLAST– Using Notecards write all of your child’s sight words, one word per card, two times. Make four BLAST cards. You can add some flames to these cards to make them more exciting. Shuffle the cards and place them face down in between the players. Start the game by the first player flipping the top card and saying the sight word. They then get to keep that card. Flip a BLAST card and they have to put all of their cards back to the bottom of the pile. Whoever has the most cards when the last card is picked up is the winner.  

Memory– Using the same Notecards from the BLAST game, except the blast cards, place all cards face down. Take turns flipping the cards to find the matching sight word. Say the name of every sight word flipped, even if it is not a match. Whoever has the most matches wins 

Dominos– With a stack of blank notecards draw a line down the middle to create a domino piece. Write a different sight word on each side of the line. Go through all of your child’s sight words, making sure that each word is on at least two different dominos. Shuffle the cards and deal them out to the players. The first player put down a card face up and reads both of the words on the card. The next player looks through their cards to find a match to one of the words. Play continues adding cards until all are gone.  

Food for Thought

You can use items already found in your cupboard or your local grocery store to practice sight words. Most of these can be eaten as a treat after as an added bonus.  

Cooked Spaghetti or Pull N’ Peel Twizzlers– Use these soft and flexible ropes to twist and bend to spell out their sight words.  

Whipped Cream, sugar or flour– These can all be spread out onto a table or baking sheet for easy cleanup. Have your child write a sight word. Then erase it, smoothing it out with a rubber spatula and write the next word.  

Alphabet Cheez-It crackers or pretzels– If you don’t already have them, they can be found at most local supermarkets. Using these fun foods, you can write the sight word on a card or piece of paper and they have to find the correct letters to match the word. Or to make it more difficult just say the word and have your child find the letters to make the word.  After you have gone through their words, they can eat the letters for a treat.