Once little readers have an understanding of letters and their sounds, where they are able to identify consonant-vowel-consonant words, I usually begin working high-frequency words that simply need to be memorized because they do not follow rules (i.e. of, to, he, so, are, etc.). We call those words "naughty" for that reason. Because their naughty the only thing we can do is employ memory strategies to help kiddos identify them without a second thought.
Here are a few ideas we implement:
Go on a sight word hunt! Open their favorite literature or listen to songs, rhymes, and children's books and see if you can find them. But I also hide these words around the house on sticky notes, when one is found they have to read it to me and receive one Smartie for showing me how smart they are!
Pyramid sentences. If your word is "to" you can come up with a simple sentence such as, "I ran to bed." and provide multiple encounters with the word:
I ran to
I ran to bed.
If your word is "are" you can pyramid write it:
We keep track of how many we learn in a booklet, for every twenty-five completed a prize is given. This prize basket is full of items that inspire my children's literacy endeavors. My little people love princess stories and coloring. (I found the princess stories in a coloring book and sticker form where they get to color the pictures.) I filled it with animal joke/riddle books, story packets (filled with stickers, funny pictures, a blank book, new colors, etc. that inspire them to create a story with the materials inside), journals, $1 shopping spree at our local Goodwill (they LOVE this one because they come home with four new-to-them books of their choice), etc. I want to reward them to continue doing the very activity I'm hoping they master: reading and writing.
I hope these inspire you in your own instructional time. I find that the more time we spend playing, reading together, practicing in a variety of fashions, the more likely they are to commit the words to memory because of the awesome experiences they've had with words. That's the ultimate goal, right? To create a love of learning? Sight word instruction is no exception to this goal.
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