Sight word games can make a big difference in your child’s reading, because sight words are such tricksy little boogers. The only way kids can learn these words is by memorizing them. Sight words are different from phonetic words (such as bat, stop, or light) because they don’t follow regular rules or patterns. You can find out a lot more about first grade sight words here.
Sounding out sight words like again, some, know and could only mixes kids up (some and home don’t rhyme, and know doesn’t have a k-sound in it anywhere). The best way to learn them is to memorize them by seeing and reading them many, many times.
Games are one of the quickest and most motivating ways to give kids lots of practice learning these tricky words. Games can be quite simple, or they can be as elaborate as the great game idea in this video.
But first, you will need to start with a list of sight words. Choose either:
Dolch first grade sight words LIST, or
Dolch first grade sight word FLASH CARDS
Have your child read the words, and set aside or circle the ones she already knows. Most of the games will be played with the more difficult words.
For each game that involves learning a new sight word, choose one word at a time to work on. In sight word games that review many words, use words your child is already familiar with, starting by reviewing those in the list of kindergarten sight words.
Materials: paintbrush, words to learn, a cup of water, pencil, a pad of paper
To play, say a word and paint it on the sidewalk using the paintbrush dipped in water. Your child will copy the word as many times as possible on the paper before it dries. How many times was your child able to write the word? Get a point for each time he was able to write it before it disappeared. BONUS: If your child can write the word again on the other side of the paper, without looking, he gets an extra 5 points!
Materials: alphabet dice, index cards, counters, new word to learn
You will need 2 or more players. Give each player an index card with a sight word written on it. To be fair, all words on the cards should have the same amount of letters.
Take turns rolling the dice. If you have any of the letters in your word, cover them with a marker on your index card. Go around the table, taking turns rolling the dice and covering letters. The first to cover all the letters in their word wins.
Materials: bean bags, sidewalk chalk
Make a large grid on the sidewalk with chalk that has about 6 boxes. In each box, write a sight word your child has been learning. Players take turns throwing a bean bag and trying to land in one of the boxes. If the player correctly reads the word, she gets a point.
Variations: Put a number in each square and get that many points when the word is correctly read. Harder or newer words get more points. Or, tell kids they can only get a point for a word once; after that they have to try and get all the other words.
Materials: Index cards, list of words to review with your child
Choose up to 10 words from the list of kindergarten sight words, or first grade words your child is somewhat familiar with. Write each word on two separate index cards. (Pencil may be better as the ink does not show through the back.) Mix up the cards and turn them all face-down on the table.
Play by taking turns picking two cards to try to find a match. Read each card that is turned over to compare. When you get a match, you take both cards and can take another turn.
NOTE: This is a great game for an adult to play with a child. You have equal chances to win, and your reading the cards will reinforce the words for your child.
Play sight word games any time you want a bit of fun, or when kids are learning some new words. Mixing up the words you use will keep the games fresh, even when kids play them again and again. You can also mix things up by playing different kinds of reading games for variety before returning to play sight word games again. Let your children’s needs be your guide.