Adventures in Literacy Land: Sight Words

Showing posts with label Sight Words. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sight Words. Show all posts

Kids Creating: Games For Learning

How can you use games to help students practice literacy skills? In my classroom, students have been creating games to take home based on their needs.

My students love to play games, but I was struggling to keep up with them in terms of differentiation and keeping it fresh.  One morning on my way to work, I had a brainstorm: Why can't they help make games to meet their needs?!?

4 Sight Word Strategies for Emergent Readers

I believe in sight words IF they are taught carefully and consistently. Students must have a working knowledge bank of words to help when reading.
I won't drone on about the importance of sight words.  I believe even the earliest learners can be taught to recognize sight words...even before they know the letters.  I, personally, don't want them to think of the words as parts (l, o, o, k).  I need them to think of the words as a whole.

Here are 4 ideas for making sight words (word wall words) meaningful and easy for all students.

1.  Personal Word Walls

In a recent post on Virginia is for Teachers, I talked about personal word walls.  This is a great tool for students.  This personal word wall is Jamie's.  He is a struggling reader and this personal word wall is focused on just the words he has been introduced to through his guided reading lessons.

2.  Sight Word Phrases

Sight word phrases are an easy way to get students to use the words in context, not just in isolation. Having a phrase section on the word wall can help them practice the phrases as they read.  They can use them in writing and in centers.

3. Sight Word Games

Sight word games are a fun way to help the students practice their words.  The Roll-a-Word game can be played independently or as a team.  Independently students can roll the dice and color a square to build  a tower.  When they roll one word enough times to make a tower touch the top, they are done.  Adding a quick tally lesson, the class can tally which words make the tower each day.  At the end of the week, you have have a sight word winner.  If you want it to be a partner game, each student will need a different color crayon.  Each student will roll the dice and color a square with their color.  Whoever colors the square that reaches the top, will be the winner.  The Fluency Races are especially fun.  Students roll the dice and read the column as fast as they can. They have to start over if they mess up, but they think it's fun.

4. Sight Word Centers

Having a sight word component to centers makes the centers strategic, as well as independent.  Each week the Art Center and Poetry Center are the poem of the week from the week before.  The poems are familiar. They circle word wall words and color in yellow.  The ABC Center above was an activity with in/on.  The Dry Erase Center is set up with sight words and phrases.  Students can practice writing.  

CLICK HERE to get a FREEBIE set of Sight Word Activities.


ELL Students Inspire Others and Two Pieces of Advice

ELL Students Inspire Others and Two Pieces of Advice

English Language Learners are more prevalent in classrooms across the United States than ever.  
Even in my suburban east coast town, we are seeing an influx of students where English is not the primary language spoken in the home.  These situations have called for “new rules” when it comes to dealing with parents and families.  I have had conferences with siblings interpreting for the parents.  I have even given my private cell phone number to a parent to report absences when a typical procedure wasn’t understood.  At times, it’s the most frustrating thing you’ll do.  BUT, then there’s the break through moments when you couldn’t pay for the joy you feel.   


ELL Students Inspire Others and Two Pieces of AdviceLet me tell you about Dachael (Dah-shell).  One October morning Dachael came into my classroom 2 days after getting off the plane from Africa.  She did not know English, but did know 7 letters of the alphabet.  She was fascinated by hair and clothes and electronics.  My kindergarten was a half-day program, but I can’t imagine how it is to sit in a classroom for three straight hours and not understand 95% of what is said.  She would crawl up to other students on the carpet and stare at their faces or their clothes.  She’d touch their hair.  I had an honest talk with the class about her experiences and her limitations.  They were genuinely eager to help her.  During our guided reading time, she was obviously in her own group.  We spent time working on letters and sound associations.  I introduced sight words, letters and even new vocabulary all at one time.  I made up silly sentences to teach these skills.  I used the poems to work with her to match words and pictures and to read and write sight word sentences.  She enjoyed our reading time, so she wanted to meet with me.  In addition, she worked on letter matching or sound matching skills with our teacher assistant. She inspired me to help her in new ways.

She inspired the Students

ELL Students Inspire Others and Two Pieces of Advice
As the days and weeks moved on Dachael became an active member of our classroom.  When we would read letter poems in our group, I would make sure to call on her when I needed that letter or sound in our group lesson.  She interacted more and more with her classmates.  They wanted her to be successful and they’d cheer when she made a connection or answered correctly.  They would call our attention to her successes before we could acknowledge them.  She used the lessons in her writing, as well.  There were times when I would forget she didn’t know English as well as the other students and I would be surprised when she would ask about a word or a meaning.  She was making connections and using anchor charts.  Students would want to do well, so they could help her.  Her language and work exploded.  She was writing sentences in no time.  As the journal below shows.

“I see the horse.  The horse is eting (eating) my flowir (flower).  I like my horse.  My horse can dans (dance).
She used mostly word wall words, but the “-ing” in eating and the “ow” in flower were both anchor charts in the room.

BUT my favorite writing sample was her squiggle.  The picture is dated in April.  Our routine for Squiggles is illustrate it, write it, color it.  The squiggle on the page was the curved line at the bottom of the flower AND the bouncing line at the top.  She wrote about the flower in her hair and her braids.  This was a masterpiece.  The perspective alone is amazing.  This was the top of her head.

"I see the rose.
I love the rose.
My rose is big.
My rose is pink.
I pot (put) my rose on my har (hair).
My beds (beads) are prate (pretty).

My two PIECES of ADVICE are simple: 

1.    Don’t give up.  Talk, talk, talk.  Even you realize you are the teacher in a Peanuts comic strip “wah-wah-wha-wha-wha” they need to her you talk.

2.   Involve your students.  They are the best teachers. 

On a side note…

As much as she was developing as a learner, she had a barrier with food.  She didn’t know the food from our country.  During parties throughout the year, I would offer her food and try to explain the taste to her: sweet like candy, salty like chips, chewy like gum.  Most of the time, she would taste things and it would be fine.  At the end of the year party I was trying to explain about chicken nuggets.  What kid doesn’t like chicken nuggets?  I explained it was crunchy on the outside, hot in the middle, and a little chewy…it’s hard to describe.  She trusted me and tried it.  After 3 or 4 chews, she grabbed my hand and spit the chewed up chicken nugget in my hand.  “No,” she said.  “I do not like this.”  I knew I was important to her.  She had treated me like her mother.  

Here's a FREEBIE anchor chart.  I made my anchor charts with the students with markers and construction paper for my room, but these are quickies for you.


Adding Multisensory Techniques

I think what makes someone a good teacher is the constant desire to learn and grow.  That is why we read, follow, and comment on blogs.  We are always looking for more ways to improve our craft, help our students, and grow as professionals.
Over the past few years, I have worked hard on my guided reading routine.  It has changed as I moved from classroom teacher to pull out Title I teacher to push in Title I teacher.  It has changed as my time allotment has increased or decreased.  It has changed as my kids have changed.

This year my guided reading routine changed again.  (You can read a full break down of my routine over at Curious Firsties.)  I saw some gaps in what I was doing; therefore, I attended some PD and completed some observations of the OG teacher in my building.  And what it came down to is that I wanted more multisensory teaching to be occurring. had to be efficient and effective because (as we all know) time is precious.

Here are a few multisensory techniques that I have included in my daily routine.  (I still have room to grow, but this is a start.)

When it came to sight words, I have always used flashcards and then we found those words in context.

Now I do a few different things:
First I introduce the word orally and visually with these sight word cards from Child1st.

Once the word has been introduced, we do a "mix and fix" with letter tiles.

As a student is "fixing" the word, the other students are finger spelling the word on the table.  Then they all write the word using a pen and a textured placemat.

These additions only take an extra 2 minutes to my group because of the way that I have them structured.  But they have made a BIG impact on my students.

I am testing out some other multisensory techniques (such as the power of scent for some vowel sounds) but I am not quite perfected these yet :)

What multisensory techniques do you include?


High Frequency Words vs. Sight Words with Jen from An Adventure in Literacy

We welcome another guest blogger to Literacy Land, Jen from an Adventure in Literacy is here to give us more information on the difference between sight words and high frequency words.

Hello Literacy Land readers! This is Jen from An Adventure in Literacy. I've had fun literacy teaching adventures in preschool special ed, kindergarten, as a K-2 reading specialist, and currently in first grade. I like to move around and gain different teaching perspectives from each grade I teach.  I'm excited to be guest blogging on Adventures in Literacy Land to share some activities I use with teaching high frequency words.

The terms sight words and high frequency words are often used interchangeably, but incorrectly, by teachers. I know, I know, it is so much easier to just call all those words our students need to know sight words, but I thought I would clarify the difference before getting started with the fun stuff .

High-frequency words are the most commonly occurring words in print. Fry's Instant Words and Dolch Words are examples of  high frequency words (the, of, and, to, in, etc).

Sight words are words that are recognized "at first sight". Any word can become a sight word once a student can read it instantly. As teachers, we want high-frequency words to become sight words so our students know those most commonly occurring words automatically.

The bottom line is we want our students to have a large bank  of words they know automatically. We want them to be able to read decodable and non-decodable words quickly and accurately at first glance. So here are a few instructional activities to learn those words.


One of the first steps in developing a large sight word vocabulary is having concept of word. Until students have a firm concept of word they cannot remember words in isolation. Carla did a great post a few months ago on developing concept of word. Many of the activities used to develop concept of word are also useful in building word knowledge.


I always tell my students "The best way to become a better reader is to read, read, read!". Reading and rereading text at a student's instructional or independent level provides repeated exposure to words in context . Children begin to remember words they have seen in context.  Reading A to Z is a subscription site that has a wealth of printable and projectable leveled books including high frequency word books. There are many other publishers with great high frequency word readers too. Repetitive text gives students repeated exposure to high frequency words or phrases.  Highlighting targeted words or playing "I Spy" with engaging pointers is always a hit and really helps students focus on that word in context.


Poems and songs offer many opportunities to read high frequency words in context. My students have a poetry notebook where they add a poem or song weekly.  They keep these in their book boxes for rereading and to help promote fluency.


Patterned writing with repeating phrases helps put the words in context and gives them meaning. Students always enjoy reading class books they have made. (I usually have the students do the writing, but these are some cuties from my days teaching preschool special ed.)



Teaching words through music gives students an auditory cue to go along with the visual. In kindergarten we had a class book called "The Words on the Bus" sung to "The Wheels on the Bus". As we learned new words we would add them to our song book and sing the words whenever we had a few extra minutes.


As teachers we do all of these great activities to make the words stick, but behold, there are still some students that just simply cannot remember the words. Or they may get stuck on just a few words.  It can be so frustrating!!!! High frequency words are tough for students because many of the words do not have concrete meanings that help students make learning connections. One of my favorite (and most successful) word activities is to have the students put those tough words in context on a word ring. This is individualized so it can be time consuming. However, the benefits far outweigh the time spent!

Choose a few words that the student is having trouble with. Write one word on the front of the card. I like to use these fun colored strips from Dollar Tree, but cut up sentence strips or index cards work well too.

Have the student come up with a sentence using that word. This part can take awhile, but DO NOT give the student a sentence-it must come from them so they construct their own meaning. (This is also a sneaky way to get them to practice constructing complete sentences.) Write the sentence on the back of the card making the target word bold. A double sided black sharpie is the perfect tool for writing the cards.

Punch a hole in the corner of the card and place the word cards on a ring. Read the word to the student and flip the card over and read the sentence. Repeat for the remaining words. Next, have the student read the word followed by the sentence for each word. Help them out if they get stuck. You will be pleasantly surprised at how well they are recalling the words because they have given them their own meaning.

I have my students keep the word rings in their book boxes so they are always handy to practice.  For extra practice I call them to read me their word rings frequently. Once the rings are made, it only takes a minute to read the cards so I can grab them at random times during the day. Even my struggling readers enjoy practicing the word rings because they had ownership is making them.
As students begin to learn the words you can have them transfer the known words to another ring or a word bank. Keep adding new words to the ring.

I'm a fan of the word rings because the custom sentences give students exposure to many high frequency words they may not have learned yet.  Reading the sentences also helps promote fluency, so double bang for your buck!

Thanks so much for letting me hang out in Literacy Land and share some of my reading adventures! I hope you've grabbed a new idea or two. Please share your thoughts and ideas for teaching high frequency or sight words in the comments. We'd love to hear from you!


Phonics or Sight Words? The Verdict is Out!

Hello, everyone!  It's Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars here with some thoughts about using phonics AND sight words to help with reading instruction.

The other day at our library's story time, a friend of mine who homeschools her children and I started talking.  She wanted to "pick my brain" since I am a reading specialist.  I love moments like these because it gives me a chance to help parents out who are in need of it.

She said that she was struggling with teaching her kids reading and could barely get through 15 minutes of a lesson and would love to know how we did it as teachers!  The question that hit me the hardest was

Phonics or Sight Words?

My answer was "a little of both!"  Both have importance in learning to read and need to be taught for students to be successful in learning to read.  Though there is so much more to reading and writing success, these are two aspects that many teachers argue are both important.

Learning to read with phonics instruction helps with the following:

1.  Left to right progression ~ When students attend to all parts of the words, they realize they read words from left to right.

2.  Sounding out unfamiliar words ~ Many times when students come to an unfamiliar word, they make something up if they have not had solid phonics instruction.  With phonics instruction, the students have a chance to learn letter sounds and can work through words to sound them out.

3.  Blending sounds in words ~ Readers who do not have a solid foundation in blending words will struggle with reading.  My son is the perfect example of this.  He was not taught to blend words and still has a hard time with that when reading.

4.  Fluent reading ~ We may think of students who have to sound out words as being disfluent, but once they learn the onsets and rimes of words, they can use them to read words more fluently.

5.  Spelling words more accurately ~ Using a word study or similar approach helps students to see patterns in words and then use them to spell words more accurately.  Come back tomorrow when Carla tells us all about word study!

The picture below shows some examples of phonics instruction I use that helps students with learning phonetic principles.

Knowing sight words is also important for success in reading instruction.  There are two commonly used lists:  Dolch and Fry.  Either way, both word lists have the high frequency words students need to know.  Sight word instruction helps with the following:

1.  Many high frequency words cannot be sounded out phonetically.  Since words like "have" and "gone" do not follow normal patterns.  Knowing those words are beneficial for children as they learn to read.

2.  Much of what children read are sight words.  50-75% of what we read is comprised of these high frequency words, so it helps with fluency as students learn to read.

3.  Confidence building ~ Children who can read sight words in context feel better about what they can read.  Knowing those words automatically helps with reading more confidently.

4.  Fluency ~ Being able to read and spell  those high frequency words automatically helps them to read more fluently.

5.  Chunking words ~ When students know sight words, they can use them to help them read longer words. While I was working with the student I tutor the other day, he got stuck on the word "onto".  He can read both "on" and "to" automatically, so I helped him find those words within the word.  The next few times he saw the word, he read it with no problems!

Here are some examples of how I use sight words when I teach reading.

So, which do you use ~ phonics or sight words ~ when teaching students to read?  And what are some of your methods for teaching them?  I would love to hear your ideas!



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Today 4 experienced teachers are sharing insight into...
Hi friends! I'm Wendy from Read With Me ABC.

I'm a first grade teacher turned reading specialist.  While I loved my experience as a classroom teacher, I'm thrilled with my role as a reading specialist.  I spend my workdays doing what I love best, teaching children to read.

I am super excited to be joining my reading friends in this new adventure.  I do hope you will follow us on this journey.  We have so many exciting literacy ideas to share with you!  So let's get started...

An important component of reading instruction is fluency, or the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression.  We can improve students' ability to read fluently by providing them with opportunities to practice reading sight words for automaticity.  Students can practice sight words individually or in phrases. By practicing sight words in phrases and short sentences, the reader is able to create meaning from the words in context and use expression.

I created an activity, Chat, Chat, Trade: Fluency Phrases, to share with our new Literacy Land followers.

This activity will get students up and moving while practicing their sight word phrases.  It uses words from the First 100 Fry Sight Words and is inspired by the research of Edward Fry and Timothy Rasinski.  I hope you'll enjoy using these fluency phrases with your students!

Hi everyone!  I am Jennie from JD's Rockin' Readers.  I taught First Grade Reading Recovery/Title I Reading for the past 11 years and currently made a change to a regular First Grade teacher.  
I am very excited to be a part of this new literacy blog.  We would love to have you follow us on this journey as we will share our literacy knowledge with you.

I have included a Sight Word Beginning Reader for you today.
This reader is called The Pirate and focuses on the sight words I, see, a, and my.  It is very imperative that beginning readers collect a good number of sight words that they know how to read quickly.  This sight word reader is a little different than most you might see.  Many early readers have a patterned text (which I do agree is a needed skill for beginning readers).  However, what I do find is that many students learn the pattern of the text and then they don't focus on looking at the words.  This reader uses sight words but the pattern changes.  Students learn how to self-monitor their reading right from the start and learn that it is important to look at the words all of the time.  The book also allows students to practice writing the sight word "my" into their own book.  I hope you are able to use this book with your beginning readers!  Happy New Year!

Welcome to Literacy Land! I am Wendy D. from Ms. D’s Literacy Lab.  In the past, I taught Head Start, Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, First Grade and implemented Literacy Coaching within classrooms. Currently, I have been a K-5 Reading Specialist for thirteen years in Boston, MA. I am very excited to be a part of this new literacy blog!

It is very important that beginning readers collect a set of sight words that they can read quickly.   Sight words help a reader to self-monitor and cross-check when they are reading emergent and fluent texts. In addition, a lack of sight words may be a reason that readers plateau and seem to make slow progress. Games are one of the ways that I create fast, fun repetition and learning with my students!
My exclusive freebie for you is Knock Out Those Sight Words!  
(Teacher Directions are included)
Enjoy! Happy New Year!
Fluency: It's Not Just About Speed!

We all know what a fluent reader sounds like. They sound smooth and automatic with the delivery of their words. The speed of their reading changes, speeding up at times and slowing down at the right time. The fluent reader also uses a variety of expressions to convey the feelings of the character. Fluency is all three areas working together to promote the comprehension of the text.

Although it takes all 3 of these components to make a fluent reader, sometimes we get too concentrated on speed. But just teaching a student to read fast or as fast as they can does not help with comprehension. In fact, it can be a deterrent. Students need to know this too.

Model for your students a good example and a poor example of each of the 3 areas of fluency. It helps them to hear and see both good and poor models of each fluency area. Students benefit from concrete examples!

After teaching students about the 3 areas of fluency, give them fluency bookmarks to help them to remember to work on their fluency as they practice reading.

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