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Developing Sight Words

Support your child with their reading and writing by supporting them to learn their sight words. Below you will find some information about the benefits of learning sigh words in addition to the sights words themselves and ideas of how to support your child in learning and applying them.


How do sight words help us?

There are a number of reasons for teaching children to develop sight words. If they are well selected they will, because of their high frequency in printed materials, have high effectiveness at all levels of reading development. Furthermore, they help to make possible a focus on meaning as well as decoding in early reading, and at the same time they can serve as a basis for analytic phonics instruction.

Knowing a few words in a new book provides confidence for an early reader. If a child sees a few words in a new book that they are certain of, the task of reading seems easier. When an developing reader is reading a new book and pointing to each word, sight words that they know provide a base for making sense of the text.

Many of the words that are repeated over and over again in beginning reading books do not follow the rules of phonics. Words like the, said, come, and of, would all be pronounced differently if a pure phonics application was used. Other words on a sight word list, even if spelled phonetically, help children decode new words by applying phonetic rules. For example, if in is a learned sight word, it will be easier for a new reader to decode pin, tin, fin, and even pan, tan and fan. Children learn that by manipulating the beginning and ending sound they can change the word.

A child often learns best when he/she is having fun, this rule applies when learning sight words.

There are a number of fun ways (for the adult and child) to practice sight words. A common way is to use magnetic letters as these can be used on the fridge. For example, if you are working on the word the, say, “This is the word the.”  Have him look at the word and draw his finger slowly under the letters as he reads the word the.  Mix up the letters and say, “Make the word the.”  Do this many times after each time he makes the word have him draw his finger slowly under the word as he says the word.  Follow this procedure for other sight words.  Mix them up.  Don’t forget lots of praise.  

There are a number of other creative (i.e. fun) ways to learn sight words.  Here are some:

  • Paint the words.

  • Use pudding or shaving cream to finger paint the words.

  • Use alphabet cereal to spell and eat the words.

  • Make Rainbow Words -Write them using different colour markers.

  • Do some Bean/Pipe or Pick Writing – Use black beans, pipe cleaners or toothpicks to spell the words and glue them onto index cards.

  • Make Stamp Words – Use letter ink stamps to make words.

  • Make Sand Words – Use white glue to write the word then sprinkle with sand.

  • Make Word Rubbings – Take your Sand Words and make word rubbings by placing a piece of paper over your Sand Word and colour until the word appears.

  • Use chalk to write on the ground (outside!)

Although repetition is required to succeed, change helps speed up and increases success.  Mix up the different exercises listed above, or come up with some of your own to keep learning fresh and fun but also remember that it important to remain encouraging throughout.


Furthermore please follow this link where the high frequency words are available to be downloaded as flashcards (absolutely free!)