How to Teach Sight Words so They Will Stick
The situation: Your children are struggling readers, it is summer; they need to let go of the stress and just be kids. And you want that for them! But you are also painfully aware that ignoring the problem is not going to make it go away. What you don't want is for them to return to school already defeated about reading.
The plan: There are ways to let your children play this summer and still help boost their reading without paying for tutoring sessions or struggling with your children over spending time working on reading. The activities below are very effective, they are fun, and will prepare them for a strong re-entry into school this fall. Best of all, most of the activities will get your children moving!
Supplies: You will need a SnapWords® Kit (Small or Large) and a child or two. If you prefer to try SnapWords® with your children to make sure they work as promised, please download some free samples to try. Use the Mini-Lessons book that came in your kit to identify groups of words to use. Even if you think your child knows the first list of words, go through them anyway. This will do a couple of things: They will be easy, so your child’s confidence will get a big boost. Also, even if your child can figure out these words, he or she may not be thinking about what the words mean, they might not be instantly recognizing the words, may not know how to spell them. Using SnapWords® with them will fix all of those things.
- Look at each word in your group one at a time
- Tell your child what the word says. Please, oh please don’t ask him or her to guess the word.
- Give her time to absorb the picture and comment on what she sees. Notice the letters that are part of the picture.
- Turn the card over and read the sentence, do the body motion, and then turn the card to the front again for a review of the word picture.
- Say the sentence and do the body motion while you are revisiting the word picture.Go on to the next word.
- SEARCHLIGHT. This game will be played in the dark and you will need a good strong flashlight. Post the group of words you are learning on a wall with word pictures showing. Now with the lights off, you will take turns (or let two children take turns) turning on the flashlight, beaming the light onto a word. The second person will read the word the light illuminates. Then the second person will have a turn with the searchlight. After the first time through all the words, ask the children if there is a word you can turn over to the back of the card. They should agree on a word they are both sure they will recognize without the picture. Play again. Repeat over time until all the words are turned to the back (plain word), the children can read the words instantly, and they feel it is time for a new group.
- WORD HUNT. This game is great for a rainy day. Put your words into zip lock baggies for an added level of protection. You will need tape. When the children are not looking, hide the words around the house – you might tape one to the bathroom door, to the fridge, under the dining table, etc. (Make sure you know where they are yourself!) Turn the kiddos loose to find the words. This can be a joint effort or the children can fan out and look for words on their own. They will bring them back to you as they find each word and must read you the word before running off to find the next word. Give them extra points for being able to also say the sentence and do the body motion!
- MATCH N’ SNATCH. For this game you will need to print the words on large index cards or pieces of cardboard. So for each word you will have a SnapWords® version and a plain, hand-lettered version. Spread the words out on a flat surface: floor, big table, pocket chart – whatever works for you. The children will take turns doing this game. When you say GO, your child will snatch up one word, say what it is, then snatch up the word that corresponds to it. She will continue like this until all the cards are matched with their SnapWords® counterparts. Again give extra kudos for being able to say the related sentence and do the body motion.
- WORDS-LINE. Tie a length of string between two trees, on a fence, or anywhere you can in your yard. You will need clothespins. The goal is to get every word pinned to the line as quickly as possible. Children will take turns doing the whole group of words. Your words will be in zip lock baggies for protection. Hold up one picture word and as soon as the child reads it, let him take it and run to the words-line and clip it to the line with a clothespin. He will then run back to you for another one. Continue until all the words are pinned to the words-line. Next time you play it, or when you feel your child is ready, play the same game but show the plain word on the back. The goal is for your child to be able to instantly read the word, say the sentence, and do the body motion. Take a picture of the champion reader next to his or her line of words.
- WORDS RELAY. With your words still in baggies, affix the words around the yard in a loop so that your child can race around the loop and easily see each word. You will have the start and finish be the same spot. The game begins when you blow your whistle or yell GO. The child will start running and will stop at each word to retrieve it, yell out what it says, and then run to the next one. He will continue around the loop until he’s retrieved all the words and yelled out what the words say. A variation on this will be to display the words with their backs showing so your child reads the plain words.
More very helpful information:
Follow these links to access helpful resources that will help you help your reader gain reading fluency
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Please email us if you have specific questions about teaching your children, and please share with our readers below the games you come up with for making learning to read fun in the summer!
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