I Love You Forever, Where the Wild Things Are and Good Night Moon are some of my favorite stories to read to my kids. The only thing sweeter than getting to read these books to my little ones will be the day I get to hear their little voices reading to me.
Teaching your kids to read is a LONG journey and involves many steps. One of your first significant challenges is teaching your kids how to recognize sight words.
In case you are unfamiliar, sight words are words like that don’t follow the traditional rules of spelling or can’t be sounded out phonetically. Some examples of sight words are who, does, and come.
Did you know children will learn sight words up till third grade?! I was blown away!
To give your preschooler a great jump start to reading, I have come up with 7 easy ways that you can teach your preschooler sight words!
1. Start With 2 Letter Sight Words
Does anyone have a toddler that said no to absolutely everything?
You’ll be hearing it all over again when you start teaching sight words because the word “no” is one of the easiest sight words to recognize!
When you start out teaching a child sight words, it’s important to start small and build up to longer words. Starting with 2 letter words for them to memorize is going to be a lot easier than a 4 letter word.
Here are some 2 letter sight words that you can start with: of, to, is, in, it, he, on, as, at, be, or, by, we, an, do, if, up, so, no, go
Once the child has mastered the two-letter words, you can move onto 3 or more letter words!
Some of the words on this list can be sounded out and others can not.
It’s easier to have them just memorize the words so they can say it at a glance instead of trying to sound them out.
Want to take a look at the list of sight words for each age/grade level?
I use this sight word checklist when I am deciding what new words to teach my daughter!
2. Choose Sight Words That Are In Your Child’s Favorite Books
Here’s a quiz for you. How many sight words can you find in this sentence below from Where the Wild Things Are?
“His mother called him “WILD THING!” and Max said “I’LL EAT YOU UP!” so he was sent to bed without eating anything.”
I found 12 sight words in just that one sentence! ( his, him, wild, and, said, eat, you, up, so, he, was, to)
Sight words are referred to as high-frequency words because some of them are the most common words in the English language!
When you are reading to a child, and they are starting to learn sight words, make sure to point out the words in their favorite books.
They will be more interested in learning the sight words if it’s in a context they enjoy!
We have a subscription to Highlights Magazine, and my daughter loves pointing out which words she recognizes.
They will feel so proud when they can read a few words in their favorite stories. It will encourage them to want to read more!
3. Make Learning FUN!
If your child just had to sit and listen to you lecture about sight words, I think they will get bored quickly and pull a Charlie Brown.
It’s important to do a mixture of creative activities and also have a time where they have to learn the material for your preschooler to learn!
Here is what works best for my kids
I write the sight words that we have previously learned on a dry erase board which I limit to about 25 max.
We take some time and review those words plus add one or two new words depending on how well she does during the review.
Check out this short video of how I review the sight words with my daughter!
To ensure that she remembers the sight words we learned, I will write words that we have learned over a week or two and add one or two words from the past.
Then, we get to the fun stuff.
Need some inspiration? Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers are two sites that are jam-packed with creative ways to teach children sight words.
Here are some examples of some activities that I have done with my daughter to help her learn sight words!
A. Shaving Cream Sight Words
Using shaving cream is an excellent sensorial and learning activity. The best thing about this idea is that it’s super cheap!
B. Do-A-Dot Painting Activity
The do-a-dots paints are fabulous because they do not cause much mess. Plus, you can use them for art projects or other learning lessons. It’s always nice to get things that you can use for multiple activities!
This activity was found from: Kindergartenmom, and it was FREE!
C. Play Sight Word Games
How cute is this mini-eraser game that I found on Teachers Pay Teachers? This game was found from Literacy with the Littles.
I love using mini-erasers for math activities, but this was even better because we got to play with them for this sight word game!
How to play this game:
1. Print off the game board and all the sight word flash cards.
2. You need at least 2 players for this game.
3. Show your child the sight word cards and if they get it correct, they move the amount of space it says in the corner of the card.
4. I had my daughter read both the sight words for both her and me to move.
Don’t have enough time to search through these sites?
Here are some excellent workbooks that have activities ready to go!
100 Write and Learn Sight Word Practice Pages
Wipe Clean: Learning Sight Words
The Best Sight Word Book Ever!
4. Building Sentences with Sight Words
When teaching a new sight word, I write the word down on a small dry erase board. I say the word, use it in a sentence and then ask her to come up with a sentence using that word.
That way, the child can see how that word can be applied in everyday life.
Check out the video at the beginning to see how exactly I introduce a new sight word to my daughter!
Here is an example of the sight word “soon.”
My sentence: “We are going to go to the grocery store soon to get food for this week. Can you come up with a sentence using the word soon?”
Carli’s sentence: “We should go to Disney World soon!”
My response: “Yes, we should!” 🙂
If your child is struggling with a word, try to come up with a sentence that they would enjoy. For example, my daughter loves LOL Sisters.
If we were working on the sight word “soon” and she was having trouble memorizing it, this is the sentence I would say:
“Soon, it will be Easter. The Easter bunny may bring you a LOL Sister!”
5. Add A New Word Each Day
Once the child starts to be able to recognize one sight word, you can introduce at least one new word each day. At the beginning when teaching these words, you want to start slow.
Since sight words are based on memorization, that’s why I feel learning one word a day is perfect for this age level.
While you should introduce one new word a day, remember to review past sight words that you practiced with them before. It’s crucial to go over these sight words so they won’t forget them. Remember they are still preschoolers, repetition is key!
6. Stay Positive!
You never want to rush the learning process.
Forcing preschoolers to sit and complete work when they are not ready may cause the child to think negatively about learning.
You want your child to be EXCITED to learn. Don’t get frustrated if they don’t catch on right away or if it takes them a few days to master a word.
It will happen with time, and they will feel successful if you encourage them!
There are times that my daughter can just not grasp on to a word.
For example, she had trouble memorizing the word “find.” I asked her every day for 2 weeks what this word was and she wasn’t getting it.
I decided I was going to take a break and come back to it later on. I introduced the word to her again about a month later, and now she has no problem with it!
As parents, we have to be patient with our children while they are learning.
We are supposed to be their biggest cheerleaders! Tell your child how proud you are when they learn a new word. They will feel your excitement and in return, be more excited to keep on learning new material!
7. Join An Online Learning Program
Starfall: Starfall just updated their site and added some fantastic new activities! They have a parent-teacher center where you can find worksheets to print for practice sight words. They also have interactive stories that you can read together and discuss the sight words. Lastly, there are phonics games and catchy songs to learn about tricky language rules. Starfall does have a yearly subscription that you have to pay for, but the cost is minimal.
ABC Mouse: They have paint the sight word games, sight word puzzles and they have books that focus on what sight words children should learn at their age level. A subscription for this program is monthly, and it’s $7.95 per month. You can cancel at any time if it’s not a good fit for your family!
Personally, my family has enjoyed Starfall more, it’s cheaper and provides great educational activities for your child.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Deciding when to start your preschoolers journey into reading is a fun but challenging adventure!
It’s important to start slow, begin with 2 letter sight words and stay positive with them! Try to mix up the activities that you do with them to learn sight words to keep them engaged and excited to learn!
I would love to help you on your journey to teaching your preschooler sight words. Whether you need some creative ideas or you need more helpful suggestions please leave a comment below.
If you have any great ideas that you would like to share as well on what helped you teach sight words to a preschooler, please share them with us!