Learning sight words is a critical skill for kids to learn how to read!
Teaching children how to learn sight words can be a challenge.
Because it all comes down to memorization. There is not a way to sound out these 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.
To give your preschooler a great jump start to reading, I have come up with 8 EASY ways that you can teach your preschooler sight words!
#1. Start With TWO Letter Sight Words
Does anyone have a toddler that says 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 ones 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 TWO letter words for them to memorize is going to be a lot easier than FOUR letter words.
Here are some two-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 your little one has mastered the two-letter words, you can move onto three or more letter words!
While some of the words on this list can be sounded out and others can not, I think it’s easier to have your child just memorize the words so they can say it at a glance.
Here is a list of sight words for each age/grade level?
I use the above sight word checklist when I am deciding what new words to teach my daughter!
#2. Choose Sight Words In Your Child’s Favorite Books
I have a quiz for you.
How many sight words can you find in this sentence below from the book, 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 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.
Your kids will feel so proud when they can read a few words in their favorite stories. It will encourage them to want to learn more!
#3. Practice Daily
Just like teaching your kids the alphabet, numbers, and shapes, it takes repetition for them to understand the material!
At least a few minutes of work on sight words each day will help them immensely when it comes to memorizing sight words.
Here is what works best for my daughter:
I write the sight words that we have previously learned on a small 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 make sure to include ones that we learned in the past.
Tip#4: Make Reading Fun!
If I just focused on the above activity over and over again, I think I would struggle badly getting my kids to learn how to read.
It’s essential to come up with EXCITING ways to teach your kids how to read!
Here are FOUR ways to make learning sight words engaging!
Activity #1. Shaving Cream Sight Words
Shaving cream is such an amazing sensory activity! Your kids will be so excited to use shaving cream for a learning activity, it won’t even feel like they are learning!
I use men’s foaming shaving cream because I think it works the best! But other types can be used as well.
How to do this activity:
1. Spray foam shaving cream on an art tray.
2. Spread it out so the shaving cream is all over the tray!
3. Write a sight word that you are working on in the shaving cream and ask your child if they know what it is.
4. Repeat this process over and over again! Let your child erase the words so they get a chance to play in the shaving cream!
Activity #2. Do-A-Dot Painting Activity
Do-A-Dot painters are one of my MUST-HAVE supplies to have on hand at your house.
They are so much fun to play with and they are pretty much MESS FREE! Can’t beat that right?
Do-A-Dot markers can be used for so many fun and learning activities. This specific activity was great because it worked recognizing a specific sight word while getting to paint!
(Each grade level coming soon!)
Activity#3. Play Sight Word Games
My new thing is trying to turn games into a learning activity!
My kids love to play board games, so why not add a little bit of learning into the mix while getting to play?
How to do this activity:
1. Materials you need- Don’t Break the Ice Game, dot stickers, and a marker.
2. On white dot stickers, write some sight words that you are working on with your little one. I wrote one that my daughter already knew so she could play the game and be successful!
3. Explain to your kids that they have to tap lightly on the ice with the hammer instead of trying to hit it as hard as they can because a lot falls at once that way. Tell them they can play the regular way after you practice the sight words. 🙂
4. Ask them to find a specific word and tap on it with the hammer or they can tap on a word of their choice and tell you what it says!
5. After they say or find all the words, then you can play the normal way!
Activity #4. FUN Worksheets
My daughter loves to color, so I created this Popsicle themed Color by Sight Word Worksheet for her to do.
Here are some excellent workbooks available on Amazon that have activities ready to go!
Don’t want to buy an entire workbook? I am constantly working on new FREE resources to make available for you.
Click here to grab your FREE Popsicle Color by Sight Word WORKSHEET!
Also, take a look at the other FREE RESOURCES that I have while you are there!
#5. Build Sentences with Sight Words
Building sentences using sight words is a GREAT way to show your child how the specific word is used in real life.
You can do this by verbally saying sentences or you can also do it in an interactive way.
We have a bunch of Thomas the Train, train tracks at home, so I thought it would be fun to work on sentence building with sight words with them!
How to do this activity:
1. Materials you need- Thomas the Train tracks, labels, and a marker.
2. On labels, write some sight words that make sense in a sentence that you kids know or you want them to learn!
3. Spread them all apart so they have to work on building the sentence so it makes sense. They will have to read each word then create the sentence!
#6. Add A New Word Each Day
Once your child can recognize words, you can start introducing at least one new sight word each day. In the beginning, you want to start slow.
Since sight words are based on memorization, that’s why 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!
#7. 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 TWO weeks about this word, and she still wasn’t getting it. I decided I was going to take a break and come back to it later. I introduced the word to her again after about a month, 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!
#8. Join An Online Learning Program
Kickstart Reading– This is such a fantastic reading program! I also have a promo code that you can use to get some money off of your subscription! You will receive a FOREVER plan for $39.00(normally $57.00). This is a program that focuses solely on reading, which I think is better than anything else out there. Your little ones will learn about phonetics, sight words, vowel sounds, digraphs and MORE!
PROMO CODE: ABCDEE
Here is a short demonstration of just one of the segments included on Kickstart Reading. This is my 5-year-old daughter working on word blends.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Deciding when to start your preschooler’s journey into reading is a fun but challenging adventure!
It’s important to start slow, begin with two 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!