Thursday, October 21, 2010

Success with Sight Words (Decoding Report Card Talk)

Reading Test for Parents. Read each word.
  • gave
  • save
  • cave
  • have
Because you are a proficient reader, you probably didn't stumble through that list, but perhaps you paused before reading the last word, have.  That is because that word doesn't follow the normal phonetic pattern of the preceeding words.  There are some words that will not be efficient for a child to "sound it out". Those words will be learned best through sight.

Know the term: Sight words are words that are either nonphonetic (like the example above), high-interest (mom, dad, and favorite Toy Story character's name), or frequently occuring.

Understand the Problem: If your child is having difficulty with sight words, meet with the child's teacher. If you are already practicing the words at home every night, let the teacher know that. It's similar to a doctor appointment. If we tell the doctor we are exercising and eating healthy and we're not, it doesn't help him diagnose the problem. However, if we are exercising and eating healthy, and we still have high cholesterol, the doctor needs to know this information. The same holds true for parent teacher conferences. Don't lie about your practice, but if you are practicing sight words at home, the teacher needs this information. This doesn't mean your child has a learning disability!! It just means there may be something confusing for your child. Perhaps he doesn't understand directionality in words and he doesn't know where to begin looking.
If  you are just stuck in a rut or need ideas for practicing sight words at home, I've gathered a few for you.

Search for a Solution
1.  Practice sight words while reading books. Did you know that studies have found that students who are the struggling with reading the most tend to spend the LEAST amount of time in class participating in actual reading? I found this article on homework but Drs. Brannigan and Margolis cite some great supporting research for using continous text to practice sight words. (By the way, their blog ( is awesome for parents, especially parents whose children may be struggling readers or struggling in general with school.) You can print FREE books to practice sight words here: Hubbardscupboard

2. Practice sight words while singing.
Excuse Me, Mrs. C is a blog written by a K teacher. She posted this idea to create a picture of a bus. One by one place a sight word on the bus and sing: (To the Tune of The Wheels on the Bus)
The word on the bus is the, the, the
the, the, the
the, the, the
The word on the bus is the, the, the,
all through the town.

See if you can fit the spellings of sight words into common tunes your child knows. For instance, To the tune of B-i-n-g-o:

and that's how we spell could.

3.  Practice sight words while playing games. Here is an example of a sight word game from The Activity Mom. Write the sight words on popsicle sticks. Draw a stick and read a word. I thought it was good that she didn't make it into a competitive game, either. Go here to read all about her game. (By the way, you can buy premade games with sight words. I recently saw one for about $15. But just think, this will only cost you a few dollars for the sticks and you can personalize them. She even included names of characters from Toy Story 3!)
You can also play sight word bingo, sight word concentration, sight word go fish, etc.

4.  Practice Sight words in writing. Give your child lots of opportunities to write. When they get to a sight word, practice it on a dry erase board before putting it into the writing. Have your child practice copying the word first, then write it alone. Have them write it quickly.

4. Celebrate your child's successes. Write words that are known on index cards, punch a hole, and place on a ring clip. Your child will love watching the pile of known words grow larger. You can take it with you in the car for sight word practice on the go. (Have your child try to read the whole pile. Try to read it faster. Try to read it with a funny accent. Try it with a high/low voice). Repeated practice will help.

Recommended Resources:
Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction, 4th Edition (Book, CD & DVD)Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction.

Success With Sight Words: Multisensory Ways to Teach High-Frequency WordsSuccess with Sight Words: Multisensory Ways to Teach High Frequency Words

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the great resources... we are having a hard time with 'said' at the moment so this has been really helpful