More teachers are moving away from rote memorization as much as possible. As students learn to read and identify words, they can use logic and critical thinking to break down their pronunciation and meanings. However, when students are just starting out in the reading process, there still needs to be an element of memorization for sight words.
Sight words need to be recognized “on sight,” and are the opposite of decodable words. Sight words are commonly used in basic sentences, including like the, and, to, and you. Eventually, more decodable words become sight words as kids grow the bank of letters they recognize.
Fortunately, you can still make it fun to learn sight words without asking students to rely on rote memorization. Here are seven sight word activities to bring to your kindergarten classroom.
1. Break Out the Shaving Cream
Sometimes getting messy is one of the best ways to engage kids in the learning environment. With this activity, you can connect almost any student to the classroom experience to help them learn common sight words.
Here’s how it works: spread shaving cream on each desk. Try to create a flat surface that students can “write” in. Then walk through a series of activities where your kindergartenders are asked to write certain sight words. Most kids will love sticking their fingers into the shaving cream and moving the foam around their desks.
One of the best parts of this activity is that kids can easily erase any mistakes they make. This takes the pressure off your kindergartners to get every word right the first time. Once you are done with this activity, you can wipe off the desks with a damp rag – and your classroom will be so much cleaner!
Image Credit: Stay at Home Mum
2. Look for Other Non-Traditional Writing Tools
Outside of shaving cream, there are other ways to engage students in sight word activities with unique writing tools. Many of these activities can be used to cover other reading and writing concepts or in your math lessons.
For example, students can roll out play-dough and use wooden rods to write sight words in the clay. They can also use mini sand boxes which are sealable pencil cases or tupperware filled with sand. Students can write the sight word written on each box and then erase it for the next person.
3. Create Sight Word Scavenger Hunts
Sight words are meant to be recognized immediately without having to sound out the letters or figure out phonetics. You can put your students to the test by creating activities where they look for sight words. There are multiple ways to create these scavenger hunts:
- Bring students around the school on a sight word safari. Ask them to point out any sight words they see in the wild.
- Hand out magazines and challenge students to look through them and find sight words. You can find magazines for various interests that appeal to different students – just make sure they are kid-appropriate.
- Hide certain sight words around the classroom, kind of like an Easter egg hunt. When students return from lunch or recess, they can search the classroom to find your hidden sight words.
Through these sight word activities, you can make spotting certain words fun. Even when your students leave the classroom, they might continue to look for sight words around town on billboards and signs.
4. Play Sight Word Tic-Tac-Toe
There are multiple variations of tic-tac-toe that you can create for your sight word activities. In the most basic format, students place a traditional X or O on the board for each move, but must write a sight word in the square before they can claim a space. You can create flashcards and challenge students to write the word they draw from the pile instead of letting them write any sight word they know.
Students can play multiple tic-tac-toe games and change partners each time. With each game, ask your players to use different sight words than the ones they used before.
To save on resources, consider laminating sight word cards so you can use them throughout the year. You can also ask students to play on whiteboards instead of wasting paper. Just make sure the caps are securely on the markers after the games so they don’t dry out.
5. Grow a Sight Word Garden
If you have space in your classroom, consider dedicating part of one wall to a sight word garden. Each sight word can be a flower. As students learn more sight words, the garden grows.
Students can also create their own gardens for individual projects. They can even add critters like bees, worms, and birds with additional sight words on them. If your classroom theming wouldn’t work with a garden concept, consider modifying the project based on your current plans. For example, you can create a sight word coral reef or build a sight word city.
6. Create Puzzle Pieces
The goal of many sight word activities is to help students learn the shapes and letters associated with specific words. With this in mind, you can create multiple puzzles that can be completed in your classroom.
These puzzles can be completed individually or in groups. For example, you can use different color popsicle sticks with words written across two sticks for a solo puzzle. When students connect two sticks of the same color, they can form a sight word.
For class activities, hand each student a puzzle piece with half a word. Challenge them to find the other student in the class who has the second half of the word they were given. Students can go around the room trying to create words until they find their other half.
7. Play Where’s the Bear
Where’s the bear is one of the sight word activities you can return to multiple times throughout the year. Simply add new words as the sight word vocabulary of students grows. All you need is four paper cups and a small plastic animal (a bear, a cat, a fish, etc.).
Label each cup with a sight word and place the bear under a cup at random. Them ask your students to guess which cup has the bear (or other animal). Play this game multiple times, with the bear placed under a different sight word each time. The goal is for your kindergarteners to call out different words they can identify in hopes of guessing the bear’s location correctly.
Introduce Kids to Sight Words With Online Games
If you are worried that shaving cream will get too messy or that your kindergarteners might get bored by tic-tac-toe, look for digital games and activities that connect students to sight words. At eSpark Learning, we create grade-appropriate games and activities for even the youngest learners.
Each of our activities allow for differentiated learning so your kindergarteners can feel challenged without getting overwhelmed. Some students might only know a few sight words right now, and that’s okay. Other kindergarteners might know more and can move on to more advanced Quests through eSpark. This is a great way to make sure each student learns on their current literacy level.
Try some of our sight word activities by signing up for eSpark for free today.