16 Helpful Ways to Build Sight Word SMARTS

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Sight words are the most frequently used and repeated words found in student text. And building sight word smarts is so important especially,

But they 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. That’s why,

Here are 16 ways to build sight word smarts:

  • 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 
Check out all of our fry sight word, word walls here!
  • Teach students how and when to use the word wall (refer to it often while teaching)
Students have their alphabetical word list in a handy dictionary format in addition to a word wall. 
  • Another great activity is my vocabulary notebook! Easily record science, social studies, or reading vocabulary terms in this versatile vocabulary notebook or journal.
  • Spend 10 minutes daily on whole group sight word instruction and practice (more time may be needed with some groups)
Daily sight word practice with magnetic letters during guided reading.
  • Spend 2-5 minutes daily on small group sight word instruction and practice (as needed per data testing)
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.
  • These speed drills are amazing for many different skills students need to learn.
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!
  • Allow for daily written work using sight words in sentences/phrases
Make sure you have at least one sight word activity center every day like this Read, Stamp, Write Center.
  • Allow for daily center work and/or games using sight words
  • For students who need extra practice, use decodable readers that include sight word practice
Students can travel through the solar system as they master their sight words!  Fry Sight Word Flashcards, Games and Centers
  • Keep rings of sight words around the room and in centers for practice (keep a ring by the door for practice while lining up)
  • Have a ring of sight words handy for parent volunteers to use with students who need intervention
  • Have incentives for learning sight words (stickers, stars, notes home, class cheers, etc.)

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.
  • Send home weekly lists and suggestions to parents to show how to practice and remind parents regularly about the importance
  • Assess students’ sight word fluency at least quarterly
  • When assessing 1-minute reading fluency, point out or highlight the sight words that are missed in the passage to each student
  • Send home quarterly sight word assessment data
  • Use sight word data to plan targeted sight word instruction and intervention
  • Readers Theaters is another great way to practice fluency with partners! 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.

With everything said above, start building those sight word smarts this year and make sight word fluency a focus so your students will be well on their way to reading grade-level material more fluently!

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