Big, at, can, does, go, see: these are just a few of what are commonly referred to as sight words. Sight words are those foundational words that appear frequently wherever you see words in print. Children should recognize sight words without sounding out the letters to build reading speed and fluency.
Sight words are unique. Many of them can't be figured out phonetically, and they are often an exception to the rules of letter–sound relationships. The best way to learn these words is through familiarity and memorization. This does not mean, however, that you have to sit with your child and use boring and basic flashcards. The best way children learn is by engaging in playful activities. Active learning will not only help your child retain the sight words, but will also develop skills such as critical thinking, communication, collaboration, creativity, innovation, self-regulation, and working memory.
Try these 10 fun active learning games to help your child learn sight words and more!
1. Egg Hunt
Just in time for spring! You'll need paper (cut into strips), markers, and plastic eggs you can open. Write a sight word on each of the paper strips and place one strip in each egg. Hide the eggs all around your backyard or living room. Have a fun egg hunt with your child. Record one point for each egg found and two points if your child can read the sight word. How many points did your child get? Play again and see if he can get more points the next time.
2. Word Tower
Get out the blocks and tape a sight word on each one. Encourage your child to build something with the blocks using all of the sight words. Ask her to say the words as she builds and then read each word when she is finished with the tower or structure. Knock the structure down and do it again!
3. Sight Word Smash-Up
You will need a few beanbags, index cards, and a marker. Write a sight word on each card. Spread the word cards on the floor. Shout out words and have your child toss beanbags onto them. Next, have your child shout out the word and see if you can hit them with the beanbags.
4. Classic Memory Cards
Write a sight word on the back of two index cards. Do this for 6 words creating 12 cards, or adjust the number of cards based on your child's abilities. Shuffle the cards and place them face down. Have your child read the word aloud as he flips a card up. Flip up another card and read the word. Do they match? If not, turn the cards over and try again.
5. Word Walk
You will need white paper plates and a marker. Write a sight word on each of the plates. Create a path all around the house using the paper plates. Start at the beginning of the path and have your child read each word as she walks to the end of the path. Your child can pick up the plate each time she reads a word. Repeat the game by creating a new path.
6. Spot the Word
Write 20 sight words on 20 pieces of paper. Use words you want your child to learn. Stick the words on a wall. Get a flashlight and dim the lights. Shine the light on a word. Ask your child to read the word. Switch it up by reading a word and having your child find it with the flashlight. Make the activity even more fun using black paper and a glow-in-the-dark crayon or marker.
7. Bag It
Pour paint, shaving cream, or any thick liquid into a quart size baggie. Seal the baggie. Have you child write the sight word on the baggie with his finger as you say the word. How many can he do?
8. Magic Reveal!
You will need heavy white paper such as poster board or cardboard, a white crayon, watercolor paints, and a paintbrush. Using the white crayon, write sight words in a random pattern on the paper. Next, have your child paint on the paper with watercolor paints. As the words are revealed, ask her to name the words she sees.
9. Puzzling Words
Children love puzzles! Take a 20 to 100-piece puzzle, depending on the size of puzzle your child can handle, and write a sight word on the back of each piece. Have your child pick up a piece and read the word before putting it in the puzzle. If he struggles with the word, read it to him and put the piece aside for him to come back to and try again.
10. Catch the Word
Start with 10 small balls. Tape a sight word on each ball. Play a simple game of catch, and each time your child catches a ball, she will read the word aloud. Repeat with the other balls and keep the action going.
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