During our Covid-19 quarantine I spent a lot of time teaching Big Sis sight words. She had just learned to read through decoding, aka sounding out, and was getting tripped up on these high frequency words that didn't follow phonetic rules. I decided to introduce sight words at the age of 4 because, frankly, she wanted to read more independently, and I wanted her to be less frustrated as she read.
That being said, sight words are TK and kindergarten skill that continues on into first and second grade. I wouldn't stress about sight words unless your child is being assigned them by a teacher or your child can already CVC (consonant vowel consonant) words with ease. Reading sight words, also known as high frequency words, is really essential when it comes to beginning to read sentences.
Sight words are often taught in lists and flash cards, but that's not my hands-on style. So I've devised way too many sight word games to keep learning fresh and fun. Here are some other games on my site that you can use with sight words:
How to play Sight Word Ball Toss:
To begin this game, I would select 2-3 sight words your child is already confident reading and 2-3 that they don't know. If you're just starting out with sight words, you can use letters that they know for some bags and then sight words such as "am," "I," and "is," for ones they don't know.
Write the sight words in large lowercase lettering and cut them out before sticking them onto the boxes, containers, or grocery bags. I love reusing grocery bags for different projects and currently, we cannot bring in our own bags to the grocery stores due to Covid-19, so we ended up with a surplus of these sturdy Trader Joe's bags.
Gather some soft balls that are safe to throw indoors. Balls that bounce work the best. I placed the grocery bags in front of a couch so that balls that went to far had a chance to roll into the bags below.
Invite your child to play by showing them this exciting set-up and challenging them to making a goal. Each time they toss their ball they need to read the sight word of the bag they're aiming for. This way they'll get lots of good practice while also practicing their aim and throwing skills.
Other kids in the home? Invite them to play too!
Have a little sibling? Invite them to join in. They don't need to read the words, or maybe you add on a Post-it with the individual letters they're learning (depending on their age) so that they can build early literacy skills as well.
Have an older sibling? Try it with spelling words and make it harder to make a basket. You could even introduce a rule like only overhand throws to make the gross motor part a much bigger challenge.
Try it out! Sight words take a lot of exposure to memorize, and memorization is often the only way to learn these "rule breaker" words. So the more sight word games you play, the more exposure your child will have, and it's much more fun to learn through a game than doing flash cards!
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