Teaching Sight Words


Teaching sight words is hard work if everyone in your classroom has a different list.  I get it!  I have a couple of students who know 10 sight words and one student that knows 350+ (I got tired, but she wanted to keep going). It’s tough to manage, but I have a few tips for you today that might just make you feel a whole lot better about managing sight words and teaching them in your classroom.

Teaching sight words - Activities and lessons for teaching sight words.

Teaching sight words - Activities and lessons for teaching sight words.


I am currently testing my first graders three times a week on sight words.  Crazy?  I know!  Here’s why though…did you know that an average first grader, according to growth rates, should be learning anywhere from 7-10 new words each week to add to their sight word vocabulary?  That’s insane!  So how can I give students five words for one week and not tap into the potential of them learning even more words each week if I just find the time to test more frequently?

I am using my Data Folders to set goals and track our progress, but I am also using flashcards and check off lists for our sight words.  I pull students during breakfast time, during recess, lunch (if necessary), snack and dismissal on Mondays, Thursdays, and Fridays.

I did my first sight word check last month.  I marked all the words they already knew, and then started each student with five words to learn.  If they learn their words by the next time that I check them, I put a check and the date on the back of the index card.  I also record the same information on my sight words lists.  Then, I add words depending on how many words they passed off on.  If they learned three words, they get three new words.  If they learned all five, they get five new words.  Some of my students are learning the words in two days.  Some students are still stuck on a word they received the very first time.  They are all learning and mastering the words at their own speed.  I’m cool with that and very proud of the progress that I have seen already this year.  I send the flashcards home.  Parents can see which words they passed off on and continue to review those.  They also see the new flashcards.  They return the sight word flashcards EVERYDAY!!!  This is critical.  I call home every time a ring is not returned.  This way they know how important it is that those cards come back and forth every day.  After about two weeks of calling, I no longer have to call.  They bring their rings every day!  Tomorrow that might change…  Click here to learn more about my Data Folders.

Sight Words during Morning Work

Morning work is pretty simple in my classroom.  Students have three responsibilities:  1.  Eat Breakfast  2. Complete the front side of a morning work sheet.  3.  Write in their agenda for the day.  (We do this first to get it out of the way).  Any extra time that they have, they can review sight words independently.  If they don’t know a word, they raise their hand.  I either help them, or do you remember the one student that already knew 350 words? Yep, she gets up and walks around the room to assist when her responsibilities are complete.

Sight Words during Guided Reading

During my guided reading lessons, I always give us two minutes to quickly run through everyone’s sight words. They go over them independently and if they don’t know the word, they ask their neighbor or me.  I practice with each student one on one TWICE…that is it.   Then, if we find our words in the book we are reading, we write it on the table with a dry erase marker.  Highlighting that it is a word that we are focusing on.

Teaching sight words - Activities and lessons for teaching sight words.

Sight Words in Our Writing

Have you checked out my Interactive Word Wall?  Well, students can come and pull a ring for a word that they need help spelling, but their sight word rings are just as helpful!  They can use their sight word cards to help them spell as they are writing during writer’s workshop.

Friday is for Sight Words

Fridays are for sight words!  We really focus on our words for this entire day.  We kick off the day by playing the Hunt and Find game.  I have tons of versions of this game.  You can click here to check out a few.  Here’s how it works…a word flashes on the screen, they read the word (or I do on audio) and then, they find the word on their worksheet.  Here’s a quick video.


During centers, we focus on sight words too.  My station is drill and kill along with finding sight words in guided readers.  We review the sight words individually 5-10 times and also read a book together as a group. In word work station, students build their sight words with Play-Doh, lining cubes, stamps, rainbow words, etc.  During independent reading, students read and mark pages with sight words with a sticky note.  Technology station for Fridays is Endless Reader sight word app.  The kids love this one, but I save it for Fridays.

For Writer’s Workshop, we go through our writings and celebrate students that spelled words correctly by either using their flashcards or the interactive word wall.  Then, together we help our writing partner to correct or edit their work if sight words are misspelled.

Key Take Aways

Organization is a challenge with sight words.  Like anything with data, you need a good system. I have found that these file folders with clasps work best for me.  I have our goals in one section, and then my checklists or documentation in another.  Here’s a quick video to show how they are organized.

Be sure to checkout my Data Folder templates that are editable so you can change and customize the tabs and goals to fit your classroom needs.  Click here to learn more about the Data Folders.

Setting goals  - student goal folder and data organization

Keep the learning fun!  Anything you can do to make the students stay engaged and focused is a win-win!  My Sight Word Hunt and Find games provide whole group practice without you having to lead the lesson or game. The powerpoints are self-paced and play and transition automatically.  Click here to see more.  



One Comment

  • I was wondering where you got your sight word check list from or if you made it. I would love a copy if so, or if you could point me in the right direction to find.

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