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Teaching kids to read is so much easier (and fun!) with hands-on activities like these sight word activities.
Before my children were born I was a kindergarten teacher in a public classroom. Teaching little ones to read was a huge part of my job. I loved it. I was blessed with an administrator that was happy to let me teach how I saw fit – which was through hands-on play. At any given time one group of kids was purposely moving around the classroom for an activity, another was sitting on the carpet with me for direct instruction, and another group was sitting at their table quietly working on a hands-on activity.
It is amazing what children can learn while they are playing.
Years later, I began doing these sight word activities with my own children while teaching them to read. I believe that a balanced reading program includes phonics and sight words. Phonics teach letter sounds while sight words are high frequency words for kids to memorize. The sight word folder technique is a great way to work on memorizing sight words, but hands-on sight word activities are important too.
Quick and Easy Sight Word Activities
Find letters to build the words in a sensory table or tub
This is one of my favorite sight word activities because you only need to set it up once for the entire year (or longer!). Set up is incredibly simple too:
- Choose a lidded bin to act as a portable sensory table.
- Fill the bin with a sensory filler such as rice, dry pasta, or dry beans. Dying rice and noodles can make the sight word sensory bin more appealing, but isn’t necessary.
- Add letter tiles. The Dollar Store or the Target Dollar Spot are great places to find inexpensive alphabet letters. You will need multiples of each letter, so you might need to buy several packs.
- Set up a list of sight words to build next to the new sight word sensory bin. There is a sign up box below to receive a complete list of Dolch sight words.
Kids dig through the sensory bin to find the letters needed to build the sight word.
Toss a cotton ball into a muffin tin labeled with a sight word
This was always one of my son’s favorite sight word activities. Throwing something inside the house seemed to ramp up the appeal. A muffin tin usually has 12 spots, making this a great game for sight word review.
- Write one sight word on each muffin tin paper liner.
- Kids toss a cotton ball (or balled up sock, mini eraser, small plush animal – anything that will fit in the hole without breaking or bouncing out) into the muffin tin.
- They read the sight word on that muffin tin liner.
- Repeat until all of the sight words are read or interest is gone.
Sight Word hunt around the house
A sight word hunt is a great way to get kids moving. Active lessons have even been shown to increase learning.
- Write sight words on post it notes and hide them around the house. You can practice as many sight words as you would like, but only put one sight word on each post it note.
- Give the child a clip board, a list of the hidden sight words, and a pencil.
- Kids search for the hidden sight words. When they find a word on their list, they write it next to that word.
This can be done in just about any space – one room, whole house, even outdoors. Switching up the location and hiding spots keeps this activity fun.
Build the words with magnetic letters
Sometimes the simplest activities are the best. This hands-on sight word practice only requires a list of sight words, magnetic letters, and a magnetic surface.
I liked to keep this sight word center available at all times when my children were little. The letters and a few cards at a time lived on our refrigerator. This gave my kids something educational to do while I was cooking or cleaning up the kitchen – which felt like all the time!
- Put magnetic letters on the work surface (refrigerator, dishwasher, baking tray, or magnetic white board all work well)
- Put a few sight words on the work surface. Magnetic business cards work well for turning note cards into magnets. Sometimes I just wrote the sight words on index cards, but other times I used themed notepads. The themed notepads always caught their attention if they were becoming ‘activity blind’ and ignoring this sight word activity.
- Kids build the sight words with the magnetic letters.
Swat the sight word
This activity can really be customized. It can be done alone or in teams. It can be quiet at the table or active outside.
The only necessary items are a fly swatter and sight words.
- Write the sight words wherever you want to play. This can be done with sidewalk chalk outside or on note cards at a table.
- Hand the child a fly swatter and ask them to swat the word that you are about to read.
- Read a sight word.
- The child finds the correct sight word and taps it with the fly swatter. If playing in teams, the first team to correctly swat the word gets the point.
Stamp the words
There is just something about spelling with stamps that makes it more fun that just using a pencil.
- Set out a list of sight words, blank paper, alphabet stamps, and ink pads.
- Kids will stamp the words.
Write the sight words in shaving cream
My kids write words in shaving cream to practice handwriting all of the time. It is such a simple activity, but they always enjoy it. This activity can be used to practice sight words too.
- Give each child a dollop of shaving cream on a baking tray. I just use whatever shaving cream is cheapest. A baking tray helps keep the mess contained and makes for easier clean up.
- Either place a sight word list at the table for your child to copy or read a sight word aloud for your child to spell. Remembering how to spell the word is usually a little more challenging than simply copying.
These quick and easy sight word activities will get your kids learning without even realizing it.
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