Teaching Sight Words to Reluctant Readers Part 1

Nothing has caused greater frustration in our homeschooling than teaching Zack how to read and spell. I have had to dig deep into my teaching repertoire to come up with activities and strategies that will work for him. Traditional ways of memorizing sight words have not been successful for us. And although it can be frustrating,  it is situations like these that make me thankful that we do homeschool, I know that there is no other teacher that would be able to dedicate the time to him that he needs to acquire these skills.

Despite what my wayward son would believe, sight words are relevant. Once he is able to read all of the words on the Dolch sight word list, he will be able to read up to 75% of the words printed in children’s literature. Therefore, being less frustrated and more successful with all of our school work.

There are several effective strategies for teaching sight words but the one that I have found to be the most effective for us, is teaching them in context.  When children see words used in natural ways rather than in isolation they are more likely to remember them because they develop an understanding of the word’s significance and meaning.

One of the easiest ways to do this is to find a leveled reader or a children’s book that is familiar to your child and write 5 to 7 sight words from the book on to flashcards. Review those words before reading the story and then as you come upon the word point out the matching flashcard. You can also have your child point to the flashcard as you say the word. If you are reading the story together your child will likely be more focused on the words and have an easier time reading those words in context in future readings.

I picked a book that Zack was very familiar with to explain this lesson. You can see that he has most of the book memorized. Although this was an easy activity for him and he knew most of the words. One of his spelling words this week was “some” when I asked him to read it to me he pronounced it “summy” It just goes to show the importance of me teaching him sight words in context.

If you make it to the end of the video, you will see him “spazzing” at the end and me getting his ummmm…attention Winking smile 

Another way I work on teaching sight words in context is to take the same book or leveled reader and type out the story. Take those same flashcards and as your student reads the story they can use the flash cards to mark the words in the story with a bingo marker or a highlighter. You could also read aloud the story in the book and your child could follow along on the paper. When he comes to a sight word he marks it.This activity obviously works best with shorter stories or abbreviated ones.

sight word matching (2)

Here is a list of a few popular emergent reader books

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? My First Reader Bill Martin (150 sight words)

Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read It All by Myself Beginner Books) by Dr. Seuss (700 sight words)

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown (60 sight words)

Olivia by Ian Falconer (235 sight words)

Bob Books, Set 1: Beginning Readers

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2 Responses

  1. […] I stated in the first post in this series, I believe that teaching sight words {and vocabulary} in context is the most effective way to get […]

  2. […] out Part 1 and Part 2 of the Series for more […]

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