Sunday, December 7, 2014

Building Fluency with Sight Words

Nothing is quite so painful as watching a child struggle over the words: and, the or said. 
Or trying to sound out words that don't follow the rules. 
And then you wonder why the English language has to have so many exceptions to the rules and so many varient vowels, dipthongs, short vowels, long vowels, hard sounds, soft sounds. 

At yet, we are graced with the beautiful privilege of teaching kids to read, 
and some where in the middle of the year, it clicks and they get it. 
{isn't it such a relief when it does!}

It's always interesting to me how some years kids just remember sight words
{like last year}
but other years, I have to put a lot more effort and time into getting kids to remember their words.
{that would be this year}

Is it kind of the same for you?
Here are some tips I have found to help:

Over the last couple of years, I have finally found a system of sight word instruction and assessment that works for me. It revolves around a lot of games, quick checks, and home practice. 
The easier it is for me, the more likely I am to keep up with it. 
I'm not a fan of making a ton of copies. If I am going to give them a paper to use with their practice they are going to be covering multiple words on their paper, not just one.

At the beginning of each quarter, I make 2-3 sets of flash cards for that quarter's sight words. I print off each quarters words in a different color card stock . One set goes on the word wall. The other sets I use as flash cards and for games.

Favorite Games

Around the World:

Fortunately our carpet has the world on it anyways, but you can do this anywhere. The kids need to be in a big circle. Two people stand up. Whoever says the word first moves on to the next person and the other person sits back done. That person keeps moving around the world until someone else says the word faster. The person sits down where ever they stopped. The goal is to get around the circle back to their spot. I use this game for math facts and other things. It gets a little tricky when you have a couple kids who already know all the words, so I will sometimes let them be the leader who holds the cards. That way the others feel successful in actually getting to move occasionally! :) Its also important to set up some rules, such as staying seated when its not your turn and not whispering/shouting out answer if it is not your turn.

Kwoosh Ball:

If you are lucky enough to have a smart board this is a great game to play! And what is more fun then throwing a kwoosh ball at the board! ;) I have a pretty basic one, and I am sure you can find other templates on TPT. Basically the kids hit a circle on the smart board which links them to another page with a sight word on it. I have their classroom numbers on a stick and so I pull them out randomly. I have a helper who passes the kwoosh ball to the next person and another one who touches the circle to get back to the main page. They have a designated spot to stand too. I sometimes play boys against girls, but my numbers are really different and the boys don't always understand why some girls get to go twice so I usually do Students against the Teacher. I get the points if they don't know the word!


This game is great for independent centers, but we start out playing it at the beginning of my small groups until they get the hang of it. Whenever I make my flash cards, I go ahead and add in a couple of blast cards. (See the photo)

The cards are all faced down on the table and when a student picks a card they have to read it to keep it. If they turn over a blast card then all of their cards go back in the pile. You can also put the cards in a container/bag and they pull one out. 

Slap it:

We don't really have a name for this game, it is a variation of the game Karuta, that I grew up playing in Japan. The cards are face up on the table. I say a word and the person who slaps it first gets to keep it. If they keep hitting random cards I make them lose a turn. Towards the end I make them put their hands behind their back. 

Musical Sight Words:

I have foam shapes for most seasons of the year. I write the sight words on them and spread them around the room. The kids walk around on the shapes until the music stops and then they say the word or they are out. We play until there are 3-4 people left who keep getting the words right. If you wait to long the ones who are out will get antsy. We don't play this game too much, so when we do they really enjoy it, and it is perfect for those days when the kids are really wiggly because it really keeps them moving!

Roll, Read, and Write and 6 in a Row:

These two games are from my Dice Games pack and are perfect for independent work! I usually have one of these two in my work study stations. At the end of the station I will choose a couple words for the kids to read to me to make sure they were playing the game correctly! I have editable versions available in the pack. Click on the picture to check it out!

Quick Checks and Parent Involvement

Every couple of weeks, before or after school I usually try to take care of most of my quick checks with the kids. I go through the flash cards with them and make a pile of ones they know and then a pile of the words they don't know. After we run through them I circle the ones they didn't know.
I can usually get through all of my kids checked in an afternoon or two, without using up my morning workshop time.

Then, I highlight them on a paper that I send home so they can practice them at home.

I do this 3-4 times a quarter, depending on the student and how quickly they are catching on to these words. I feel like sight words are an easy thing for families to practice at home, and I tell them about some of the games we play using flash cards so they can do the same at home. Feedback throughout the quarter is important to make sure there are no surprises at the end of the quarter.

You can find my templates of those forms in the picture HERE. Hopefully you can format them to fit your words!

Once I got into the routines of quick checks and playing games weekly, I have noticed my kids do a lot better when their sight words come up in their stories. Even without a lot of writing practice, I have also noticed that this group is doing a fairly good job writing them too. That is where having a word wall comes in handy too!

Anything else you do to help your kids learn sight words in a fun and {hopefully} painless way?

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