We have talked a good deal about teaching our children to read by introducing letter sounds, progressing to consonant and vowel blends, and then starting one-vowel words. As your child begins to feel comfortable reading one-vowel words, it is time to introduce sight words.
The most basic sight words – words such as a, the and you – can be put together with a host of one-vowel words to make short stories that your child can read. It’s much more exciting for a beginning reader to read a two-sentence story than to just read through a group of unrelated words.
You can find a list of sight words, divided into groups according to frequency of use, here or by doing a google search. I would introduce just three or four of the words at a time and be sure that those have been mastered before adding new ones.
I have found that sight words are best taught simply by having a child memorize them. I mostly used flashcards to reinforce the learning of these, but even practicing the words on flashcards can be made into a game. Here are just a few simple suggestions you can use once you have introduced the words to your child and reviewed them for a few days.
- Have him stand across the room while you hold up the flashcards. Show him a flashcard; every time he says the sight word correctly, he gets to take one step or hop toward you. Keep going until he is close enough to touch you.
- Try making a duplicate set of flashcards and playing a game of memory, including the rule that he only gets to keep the matching pair of cards if he can say the sight word.
- You could hide the flashcards around the room; as he finds each one, he can tell you which word it is.
- For another fun option, place the flashcards face down on the floor. Have him toss a beanbag onto a card. He can flip over whichever card the beanbag lands on and say the word that is on the card.
- Spread all of the cards out on a table. You say one of the words and see how quickly he can pick up that card.
You can continue adding a few sight words at a time over a period of weeks until you feel that your child knows them well and reads them smoothly. Now you can create a variety of sentences that are composed of just one-vowel words and sight words for your child to read.