Sight words are an essential part of the reading process. They are hard words for students to "break down" or "sound out." Sight words do not follow the standard English language spelling rules or the six types of syllables. Sight words usually have irregular spellings or complex spellings that are hard for children to sound out. Decoding sight words is hard or sometimes impossible, so teaching memorization is better.
Sight word recognition is an essential skill that students will learn while in elementary school. They are the building blocks to creating fluent readers and a strong foundation of reading skills.
Sight words are words found in a typical book at the elementary level. Fluent readers will be able to read a complete sight word list for their grade, and sight word fluency builds strong readers.
What are the differences between phonics and sight words?
The difference between sight words and phonics is simple. Phonics is the sound of each letter or syllable that can be broken down into a single sound, and sight words are words that are part of the building blocks of reading, but students will not always be able to sound out the words due to sight words not following standard spelling rules or the six types of syllables.
Phonics instruction gives students a basic understanding of how letter sounds are made and sound out a new word. The rules of phonics are clear when students are learning, but do not always apply to sight words, which is why students memorize them. Phonics comprehension is needed to have a solid foundation and progress students' reading capabilities.
Knowing both phonics skills and sight words will help students' reading progress and help them create a lifetime of reading.
Sight words are also different from high-frequency words. High-frequency words are the most common words used in texts or a typical book but mix decodable words (words that can be sounded out) and tricky words (words that don't follow the standard English language rules).
Each grade level will have a standard list of sight words and phonics rules that students will learn during the school year.
What are the types of sight words?
There are many types of sight words. Sight words are the most common words found in an elementary level book that don't follow the spelling rules or six types of syllables.
Two common sight words lists are Fry's sight word lists, created by Edward Fry, and the Dolch sight word lists, created by Edward William Dolch.
There is a foundation of sight words for each grade level in elementary school, and most of them are built using either Fry's or Dolch's sight words lists. Each list holds a unique set of examples of sight words, and is created for every level of student.
Written below are lists of sight words common to teach in elementary school.
Edward Fry Sight Word List Level 1
Edward Dolch Sight Word List Kindergarten
How to teach sight words
Many teaching strategies can help students learn sight words quickly and easily. The goal to learn sight words is to help students memorize every word.
Here is an essential guide to sight words teaching techniques. Listed below are the easiest ways to introduce students to sight words and help them become efficient readers.
Teaching sight words is a large part of the method of teaching reading that helps students become efficient readers.
1. Sight words lists
Teachers can assign a sight word list to students as a tool to take home and study. It is easy to print out a leveled list to send home with students to practice at home.
Depending on the level of students (e.g. advanced students), you can assign students new lists and levels if they have already mastered the sight word list for their grade or level.
2. Sight words games
All students love to play games. That includes sight words games and sight word activities. Students can practice sight words in a fun, interactive way. There are so many games you can play with your students, pick a game that works well for your specific class.
Games are also perfect for non-readers or reluctant readers! They are an effective strategy to expose students to sight words while having fun.
Many sight word games can be interactive, such as sensory bags to spell words, find words in the morning message or announcement, and build words with bricks and legos. These are examples of hands-on interactive games that are fun for both the student and teacher.
3. Sight word games online
There are many educational online games that help students learn their sight word lists. The best online games are usually free to educators and students. Students love playing games online, they might even be encouraged to play them at home.
Roomrecess.com has a great game called "Sight Word Smash" where students 'smash' the word they are looking for by clicking it. They win the game by showing they know and can find all of their sight words.
It is easy to find other online games, such as sight word bingo, sight word memory, and many other fun games.
4. Sight words flashcards
Students can make flashcards or you can print them out for the whole class. It's an easy way to practice memorization. Just flip through the cards to test students on their sight word skills.
Don't forget to correct mistakes while students are playing games, doing activities, or reviewing flashcards. Giving students opportunities for repetition will allow them to memorize the sight words more easily.
Sight words takeaway
Memorization is the main key to increasing reading fluency and helping students remember sight word lists.
Helping students memorize their words will assist students in their long-term reading goals. You will see student fluency in reading increase if students can memorize their sight words.