In teaching children to read, building a store of sight-words can give them some quick wins as they work on perfecting their phonics skills. It makes it possible to read some more interesting stories that include words that may be quite common in a child’s world, but not necessarily phonetically simple.
For even more fun… play with bicycles!
The problem is that sight-words must be drilled. They must be used. You could label various things around your house — or better yet, let your child help you do that. You could also point out a particular sight-word as you read, and let the child “read” that word. (One of these days, we will go into that in detail in another blog post.)
While these methods can be helpful, on their own, you may end up with a child who is a master of guessing. That works fine for the first few words, but as the variety of somewhat similar words continues to grow? Yeah, that can be a problem.
So, what is a homeschool teacher to do? Flash cards! Now don’t run away too quickly here; we’re not going to follow the same old sit-and-flip-a-bunch-of-cards routine. We’re going to make it fun, like learning should be!
Ready? Here we go!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Any time you can manage to mix in fun physical activity with mental exercise, you’re bound to have a win with the children.
One of mine and the young children’s favorite school games to play has been our Sight-Words Flashcards “Toll” Game.
To play, you will need a stack of sight-word flash cards. Be sure to use words that your children are ready to learn. Start with a small stack, even just two or three cards if your child is just beginning.
As your child gains confidence, you can add words, and even some phrases.
First, prepare your stack of sight-word flashcards.
The first time you show a new card, tell your child the answer and let them repeat it. (Later, if your child is struggling too hard with a card, you can do this, as well. Don’t let them throw out a bunch of wrong answers. Simply re-state the correct answer, let them repeat it, and move on.)
The Play Space
Once you have your cards chosen and in a stack, you will need a place to play. Indoors is acceptable. Outdoors is awesome.
The most important thing about your play space is that it have a clear path for traveling. That might be around the edges of your living room, or in the path that circles that central wall in your house. It also might be around that small grove of trees in your yard, or right around the outside perimeter of your home.
You’ll have to decide how the children are going to travel in your designated path. They could just walk — but it’s so much more fun to change it up from time to time.
You could call out a change once in awhile: “Walk!” “Run!” “Skip!” “Hop!”
You could let the children decide how they want to go.
Or, if you want to make it really fun? Let them go on bicycles!
As for you … you get to walk … but in the opposite direction of the children.
From there, it is very simple. You walk around one way, holding your stack of sight-word flashcards. The children travel around in the opposite direction.
Be sure there’s always a card ready to read.
Every so often, you are going to pass each other. Let the children know that when you do, the child has to pay a “toll” to get by. I imagine they can guess what their toll will be: reading the next sight-word flashcard, of course. 😉
If you have more than one child in the game, most of the time you might keep the same word up until all of the children have read it. Sometimes, though, switch the cards before the next child so that they cannot just repeat the other child’s answer without paying attention.
Once the “toll” is paid and the child passes by, immediately switch to the next card.
Always keep a card held up so the children can see it as they are about to pass by. Their goal is to never have to stop.
As mentioned earlier, if a child struggles too much with a particular card, give them the answer. Also, put the card near the top of the stack so they get it again soon.
You can play for a set amount of time (say, 10 or 15 minutes), or through a set stack of cards. However you decide, be sure to stop while it is still fun, and the children will look forward to playing again next time!
►► Do you have a fun way to practice reading sight-words? Tell us about it in the comments!