The challenge with teaching sight words is that children need so much repetition – and that can get boring. So having a big list of fun ways to practice sight words can help you keep your students engaged longer.
If you teach kindergarten, then you probably already know that sight words are a big step in early literacy. Yes, phonics is critical too, but learning how to read some common words instantly really helps kids hit the ground running!
Of course, you want to make sure children are really ready to learn sight words so that no one gets frustrated.
Fun Ways to Practice Sight Words
These sight word practice ideas are sure to make work time feel more playful! Even better, many of these are multi-sensory activities – which we know actually help children learn better.
Write the Words in Fun Ways
- Trace the word on a sand, kinetic sand, or salt tray.
- Trace laminated sight word cards with finger paint or shaving cream (less mess than paint!).
- Go outside and write words with sidewalk chalk
- Or, stay inside and write the words on an easel or whiteboard. Dry erase markers make everything more interesting!
- Write or trace the words with glitter markers, scented markers, etc.
- Print off these cute worksheets and rainbow write the words!
- Write the words on a Magna Doodle magnetic drawing board.
Build Sight Words with Hands-On Materials
- Use playdough to build words.
- Build words with letter tiles, blocks, or alphabet beads.
- Use magnetic letters to spell out sight words.
- “Write” out the words with letter stamps.
- Create words out of dried macaroni and spaghetti, alphabet shaped pasta, or even letter shaped cookies.
Gross Motor Sight Word Practice Ideas
Active children learn well when they can move around. Plus, providing lots of opportunities for physical activity helps them stay engaged and interested in learning.
Here are some ideas that could work in a larger classroom or nearby hallway:
- Set up a sight word scavenger hunt where kids have to find the words and read them aloud.
- Make a sight word bean bag toss game: place words on the floor and try to toss a beanbag onto them. Read the words as part of playing.
- Try having kids jump over to the words on the floor instead of tossing a beanbag onto them.
- Play a matching game with 2 identical decks of word cards. Keep the first deck in a stack on one side of the classroom. Then, on the other side of the room, spread out all of the cards from the other deck. Students draw a card, read it, then walk across the room to find its match. Repeat until each sight word card has a match.
- Play a balancing game where students walk across a long strip of masking tape on the floor. Place word cards along the line for children to stop and read. Encourage them to use their imaginations and pretend they’re walking across a log bridge, tightrope, etc.
- Pretend to write the word in the air with their finger as a “pen.”
Imaginative Play Sight Word Practice
When attention is lagging, some kids may respond to using imaginative play in their sight word practice!
- Have dolls, stuffed animals, or action figures “search” for certain sight words. (Ages ago my kids practiced sight words with toy animals).
- Similarly, you can have toy vehicles drive around to read and collect sight word flashcards.
- Give the child puppets to read out words. It’s fun to ready your words in a silly voice!
- Play police or fire dispatcher: say something like “there’s an emergency at the word have“! Then the child races to find that word card and pretend to help.
- Involve the kids in inventing a simple sight word game with favorite themes or characters.
Musical Sight Words
A quick search on youtube will bring you lots of sight word songs. Jack Hartman’s high-energy interactive songs are super popular. If you want some sweet, calming sight word songs, then Molly Songs may be for you:
You can also just make up songs on the fly using familiar tunes and popular songs.
If you want your students to focus more on the sounds of each letter, and notice which words are irregular – a la Science of Reading – then you might like this newer playlist that I found from Nitty Gritty Phonics. There is more silly/engaging acting than singing, and the production value isn’t as high, but I think the educational value is fantastic.
Practice with Sight Word Apps
Practicing sight words with an app can be another easy way to keep kids interested in learning.
Some popular sight word apps include:
You can also practice with Boom Cards, which are wonderful because they can give teachers data about exactly which words students are struggling with.
Hands-On Sight Word Worksheets
Sight word worksheets don’t have to be boring. Many good ones incorporate interesting materials, such as dot markers, stamp markers, etc.
Here are a few from this site and in my store that you might like:
Easy Prep Sight Word Center Activities
You also can print off and prepare cute sight word puzzles, feed the sight word activities, and more.
- Swat the Sight Word
- Sight Word Fishing Game
- Popsicle Stick Sight Word Puzzles
- Feed the Cow Sight Word Activity
In conclusion, young children can practice sight words in so many ways! You really don’t need to bore them with flashcards and drills. They’ll learn by having fun!