“I Just Can’t Learn and Remember Those Little Words”
Many young students have difficulty learning their sight words or high-frequency words. Sight words are words with irregular spellings. Kindergarten and first grade students have not learned the necessary phonemes to facilitate sounding them out, therefore they are unable to sound out these words. In order for these students to be successful readers, the students must memorize these words to the point of automaticity. Many times the teacher sends home a list of words so that the parents may help their child learn these words. These words make up about 75% or more of the beginning text students will be reading in first grade.
Memorization can be very difficult for some students. According to the Texas State TEKS, Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills, students must be able to read 25 sight words by the end of kindergarten and a 100 sight words by the end of first grade. Sight words are usually printed on cards and learned a few at a time. The teacher holds the card up and says the word and then the student repeats the word. As they learn to “see and say” the first 3 to 4 words, more word cards are added to the flash cards. This procedure is repeated until the student can say the words automatically. Rote memorization is not much fun and challenging for struggling readers.
I had a young student whose parents contacted me because their child was unable to learn his sight words through the teaching method of using flashcards. He was frustrated and discouraged as were his parents. He would say, “I just can’t learn and remember those little words.” He put a lot of effort in trying to remember. He worked hard but was unable to keep even four words in his memory (The, the, a, is, he). He was feeling very frustrated, so I switched directions and devised a different plan to help him. I abandoned the flashcards and began writing phases using the sight words and pictures.
a "picture of a house" The "picture of a dog"
❖ Hint to Parents: If the sight word is a verb, it is best to have a short sentence and use a pictures showing the action.
Example: He is "picture of a child eating".
Sight Word Games
1. I used several games to help this student learn his words. As he needed more practice, I used SIGHT WORD BINGO. This was one of his favorites. The sight words are written on the spaces on a BINGO card. Then I called out a word from the sight word cards and the student must find the word on the card and read the word and then cover it with a token. This is a great game for student competition as well (2 – 3 students to play together.)
2. We would also play SIGHT WORD CONCENTRATION with two decks of sight words laid out on the table. The players take turns choosing two cards, turning these cards over and seeing if they matched. The player must read the words on each card. If no match, the cards are returned to the desk face down. The next player tries to find two matching cards. Students love these games. They find learning is fun.
We would love to hear about your experiences with your children learning their sight words, as well as other word games you have used to help your children learn their sight words.
The accomplishment of learning the first ten sight words through games helped to build my student’s confidence and he was eager to learn more. Making learning fun is always a better way. I begin to see improvement in his ability to remember these words and was able to help my student transfer reading the sight words into beginning text.
At Grow thru Tutoring we meet young readers where they are in their reading abilities. If your child is a frustrated reader and is not making the growth he needs to succeed in school, please contact us: 469.726.0218
Below is a website with wordlists for first graders and suggested teaching resources.