16 Ways to Build Sight Word SMARTS

Sight words are the most frequently used and repeated words found in student text. When your students know their sight words, they can then read about half their text without sounding out.

But sight words are also important because many of them can’t be sounded out. We just need to know them by sight. Have you ever heard one of your students trying to sound out the word was?

Many sight words are also hard to define and illustrate in text. Again, the word was. Hard to define and hard to illustrate. Students can’t really use illustrations to help them figure out that word. 

Here are 16 ways to help your students become Sight Word Smart:

  1. post at least the first 200 Fry sight words on the wall a few at a time each week as they are learned for student reference 
  2. teach students how and when to use the word wall (refer to it often while teaching)
  3. spend 10 minutes daily on whole group sight word instruction and practice (more time may be needed with some groups)
  4. spend 2-5 minutes daily on small group sight word instruction and practice (as needed per data testing)
  5. allow for daily written work using sight words in sentences/phrases
  6. allow for daily center work and/or games using sight words
  7. for students who need extra practice, use decodable readers that include sight word practice
  8. keep rings of sight words around the room and in centers for practice (keep a ring by the door for practice while lining up)
  9. have a ring of sight words handy for parent volunteers to use with students who need intervention
  10. have incentives for learning sight words (stickers, stars, notes home, class cheers, etc.)
  11. send home weekly lists and suggestions to parents for how to practice and remind parents regularly about the importance
  12. assess students’ sight word fluency at least quarterly
  13. when assessing 1-minute reading fluency, point out or highlight the sight words that are missed in the passage to each student
  14. send home quarterly sight word assessment data
  15. use sight word data to plan targeted sight word instruction and intervention
  16. provide 1-minute sand timers at centers for students to time their partners during partner reading to increase fluency
Students can travel through the solar system as they master their sight words!  Fry Sight Word Flashcards, Games and Centers

Students have their own alphabetical word list in a handy dictionary format in addition to a word wall.  My Own Dictionary (Fry, Dolch and Houghton Mifflin choices)

Daily sight word practice with magnetic letters during guided reading.

A sight word wall is a must. Teach your students how to use it and refer to it daily during instruction. HERE is one option for the first 300 Fry sight words.

Sight word speed drills can be used daily during guided reading. All it takes is 2-3 minutes of practice while you monitor each student individually. Send them home weekly. Parent instructions are included on each drill. HERE are some great speed drill options.


Use Sight Word Bookmarks. When students can read the list in 10 seconds or less, they are fluent with those words and ready for the next list. See them HERE.

Make sure you have at least one sight word activity center every day like this Read, Stamp, Write Center.

HERE are some other Sight Word Centers you may like.

Students practice their new sight words every day by partner reading decodable and leveled texts that include controlled vocabulary for your students’ current levels.

Privacy folders with resources on both sides (math on one and reading/writing on the other) are perfect for primary students. After a while, students automatically grab their privacy folder and search for the spelling of sight words on their folder. Such a great resource! Privacy Folder

Use Readers Theaters to practice fluency! At least 50% of the text contains sight words that your students are practicing. These are great for use during holiday time, end of unit practice, and end of the year. Readers Theater

Check out our Fry Bundles and save 20-30% off the individual product prices!

Want to create your own CUSTOM BUNDLE? Email me with 5 or more Fry products from my store and I’ll create a 20% off Bundle just for you!



Make sight word fluency a focus this school year and your students will be well on their way to reading grade-level material more fluently!

Let me know your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you! Thanks for stopping by!

1st Grade Pandamania

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I am a newly retired first-grade teacher in the beautiful state of Colorado. I taught for 32 years (17 of those in 1st grade.) Watching my students learn and grow was such a blessing for me, and I'm excited to share what I've learned over the years with you. Read More

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