See it. Say it. Hear it. Touch it.
The more senses a child uses when learning a new sight word, the quicker they’ll begin to instantly recognize that word by sight. We’ve been using 4 of the 5 senses almost simultaneously each time a new sight word has been introduced. Let’s watch this in action with a new sight word AND special guest…my mom (and KC’s GiGi)! She has so graciously hopped onto bart to come to SF and work on some new sight word activities with us. My mom is a retired teacher and reading specialist and has been monumental in guiding me as I work with KC on early literacy.
New sight word “is”
See it. Your child sees the sight word.
Hear it. Model for your child by tracing the letters yourself and sliding your finger under the word to read it aloud to them. This way they will also know the correct way to form each letter and where to start.
Touch it. Have them trace a finger around the letters.
Say it. Your child should then slide their finger under the word while reading it aloud.
Now practice, practice, practice using all of the different senses. You may get tired of me reminding you that repetition is key when committing words to memory and recognition by sight. Our game ‘Read the Room‘ is such a great way to review all of the sight words. Continue to play it as new sight words are introduced and be sure to move the words around to different parts of the room each day you play. This game involves seeing, saying (spell and read it), and touching (write it) all in one.
‘Build a Word’ Exercise
Another great exercise involves magnetic letters and an adjustable storage box. My mother has gifted her ‘Build a Word’ kit to us that she made for her school classroom. Scroll down for easy steps on how to make one for your own home!
First offer your child a magnetic board or blank piece of paper and let them play with the magnetic letters for a few minutes. To our surprise, KC grabbed the letters (t, h, e) and spelled out “the” for fun!
Next, place the lowercase magnetic letters “i” and “n” next to each other to spell “in” and place the letter “s” at the top of the board or page.
Along with this exercise, here is a great sample conversation to have with your child for the sight word “is”:
“What word is this? (in) Yes.”
“You know ‘in’. Now move the ‘n’ and replace with ‘s'”
“What word is this? (is) Yes.” Or if they don’t quite recognize “is” yet, refer back to See it, Hear it, Touch it, Say it as outlined above.
Change “is” back to “in” and continue to swap the letters “n” and “s” in and out while saying each word aloud several times together.
Note: As a child is learning new sight words we recommend not sounding them out. Also, with words like “in” and “is” remember that vowel sounds are hard. Because of this it’s especially important to practice words that begin with vowels enough to recognize them by sight. We started to introduce “it” and decided that it can be too confusing and to focus on only one sight word beginning with a vowel at a time. If my daughter struggles with a particular word then rather than have her sound out the entire word, I ask her what sound the first letter makes and that often sparks her memory. If she continues to struggle then I go back and model it as outlined (See it, Hear it, Touch it, Say it) above.
Similar to how we changed the letter at the end of “in” to create “is”, we will eventually add letters in front of sight words to create new words!
How to make your own ‘Build a Word’ kit
- Create 24 boxes of the same size within your adjustable storage box. (The last two boxes will double up on letters wx and yz to fit all 26 letters of the alphabet)
- Write (a/b/c/d/e/f/g) etc. on individual round labels and label each of the 24 boxes (as pictured). I happen to also have a set of capital magnetic letters at home from a Melissa & Doug chalkboard set and will be adding them to this kit of lower case letters. If I were to go back, I’d label each box with both capital and lower case letters like this (A/a) (B/b) (C/c) (D/d) etc.
- Place your lowercase (and capital) letters inside each labeled box.
Note: Most of what a child reads is in lower case letters. This is why we begin with and practice so much with lower case, however by the end of Kindergarten your child will be expected to recognize and write both lowercase and capital letters.
We’d love to hear how this or any of our past sight word activities and preparation for our big Easter Egg hunt is going for you! Send pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org for a chance to be featured at lifeasus.com.