Great Strategies on Teaching Sight Words for Kindergarteners

Sight words for kindergarteners are a set of words that can not be classified under the rules of spelling or syllable types. Overall, they are found in 75% of reading material for students. Once students master these words they will find reading easier.

There are three benefits to teaching sight words.

  1. First, your students will keep themselves interested in reading books and decrease their chances of getting discouraged.
  2. Second, their knowledge of sight words can help children recognize which words they are unfamiliar with and focus their attention span on that.
  3. The third and final reason is that they can increase their chances of learning new words on their own.

Teaching Sight Words

We will start with the set of words you would have to teach, what kind of strategy to use, and how to reinforce what you taught to your students.

When it comes to teaching sight words, there are two sets of sight words you can use: Dolch or Fry. The Dolche Sight Words list was created during the 1930s to 40s after Dr. Edward William Dolche noticed these 315 words that are used in 80% in children’s books and 50% in adults. Meanwhile, Dr. Edward Fry’s 1000 sight words would help children spot 90% of the words found in the average book, website, or newspaper.

Teaching Strategies

Once you have chosen the sight words and created a checklist for your students, let’s me show you ways to introduce words to your students. This also include strategies on how to help them retain these word lists. From spelling words to sight words worksheets, the following strategies can help you increase student confidence when reading books to writing sentences.

Introducing the Sight Word

Create sight word flashcards. Make sure to show them clearly to each student in your class and pronounce the word clearly for everyone to hear. If you want to reuse them for other activities in class, such as treasure hunts, check if it is durable enough and easy to maintain in the long run. Sometimes when working on sight words for the class, it might be most beneficial to create a Google or Powerpoint slide as flashcards. 

Show students the word. Read it and show them the word as you read it. Make sure to emphasize the beginning and ending sounds. Sometimes, I call sight words heart words because you need to know them “by heart.” I will use this when teaching how to spell the word. Usually, the beginning and end of the sight word are phonetic and easy to spell, but we need to learn how the medial sounds are formed by “heart.” That means that we need to memorize it. This is a good way to have them understand that sight words don’t usually follow conventional spelling and need to be memorized.

Before you start teaching sight words make sure your students have had instruction in phonemic awareness and that they understand the vocabulary words beginning, middle (medial) and end. This will make reading instruction easier.

Using Music and Movement

Just look on youtube and there are soooo many songs that can be used before you start a class sight word session. Here is one of my favorites.

Write It

Once students can recognize the sight word, the next step is to let your students write the word by themselves. Writing doesn’t always mean pencils! Students can write in sand, salt, shaving cream, or with playdough! Here are some ideas that I like to use. My sight word kit consists of a whiteboard (which is just a sheet in a protected cover or laminated) with a dry erase marker, alphabet letter ink stamps and pad, playdough stamps, wikistix, play dough,  alphabet letter magnets and a metal tray, highlighter, crayons and markers, scissors and a glue stick.  The items linked are affiliate links.

Kindergarten Word Flash Card Whiteboard Activity

Sight Word Whiteboard / Dry Erase Activity

This is the easiest activity set up, just print out the sight words and attach them to a binder clip. When students are adjusting the binder clip as a stand they are working on fine motor skills again! Win-win. Students will choose their sight word and spell it on the whiteboard, erase and repeat.

Kindergarten Word Flash Card Whiteboard Activity

Wikistix Activity

Wikistix are a flexible string that molds and shapes into the form you want it. It is great for so many activities but in this case, students will use wikistix to form letters. It also temporarily sticks to a surface so students can use this any where and on any surface. You can even have them work on a wall and it will not damage it.

Playdough

Playdough is your answer to all your teaching needs! I love it, kids love it. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy playing with it. With playdough and some tools, your students can use it to practice spelling their sight words. They can use it to form the letters with the dough, if you have dough stamps, they can stamp the word into the dough, or just use a pencil or toothpick to write the word into the dough.

Alphabet Magnets

Students can spell out their words using alphabet magnets. There are many to choose from. I don’t remember where I got these yellow tiles from but I think this is a great alternative.

Arm Taps

This strategy of teaching involves adding a special physical gesture, great for your kinesthetic learners! While holding the flashcard in one hand, use the other hand to tap from your shoulder down to your hand as you spell each letter. Ask your students to follow your motion and say each letter you are teaching them. An advantage of this method is that students can associate the tapping motions to remember the word better.

Sight Word Worksheets

These sight word worksheets use different and engaging ways for your student to work on their sight words. I have the pre-primer, primer and first grade sets. Go ahead and check them out to see if your students can benefit from sight word worksheet practice. They are the easiest to prepare, just print and give them the sheet. They will need access to scissors, glue, highlighter, and alphabet stamps. Except in the first grade pack, there are no stamps needed in that pack, just scissors and glue.

How to Review Sight Words Words

When it comes to reviewing words, you should do this before introducing the next set of words. I like to actually go through each word card with the students and make a list of mastered words and words they still need to work on. If they still need to work on a word, keep that card in their folder and have them go through all of the exercises I outlined for you in this post for sight word practice activities. To review words students can also play a game with their friends virtually or in person. Students will read the word and move the card to the discard pile. I have a set that words well with google slides and you can grab them here.

Tracking Mastered Words

Aside from the many strategies to help students review words, you should also have a way to keep track of which words they remember and or still need more practice with. You could do it in the form of a checklist for each student.

Whether you choose Dolche or Fry as your word list, make sure to encourage your students to read and spell their sight words as often as possible. The more practice they have the faster they will be memorized! Just try to make your sight word sessions as fun as possible by incorporating different materials, music, and movement! 

What trouble do you notice most when teaching sight words? Comment it down below.