Sight words for preschoolers! Yes, you read that right. Sight words and preschoolers are indeed in the same sentence.
I know most moms focus on phonics and phonemic awareness (which definitely should be targeted, especially in preschool); however, did you know teaching sight words for preschoolers can be beneficial too?
Are sight words necessary?
Sight words, or high frequency words as they are also called, can be one of the trickiest things for young readers to master.
Some words in the English language can be sounded out in some way. These types of words are my favorite to encounter because you simply teach your students a strategy or two and BAM they can decode those CVCe or multisyllabic words!
But sight words are different, and unfortunately, must be learned by sight because they do not typically follow a phonics pattern.
Think about the most common English noun markers (articles), conjunctions, prepositions, adjectives, verbs and adverbs. These are the most basic words that readers must learn to recognize because they take up 50-75% of all words found in young readers’ books.
Sight words are also some of the most often used words in the English language, so yes, it’s vital for our students to learn to read sight words as soon as possible!
How to teach sight words
Have you ever read a paragraph where all of the words are spelled incorrectly? It was probably fairly easy for you to read as long as the first and last letters within the words stayed in their place.
If this is done, the middle letters can be jumbled and out of order; however, they can still be read. That’s because older readers no longer sound out words.
The more proficient you become in reading, the easier it is for you to recognize a group of words as you scan text.
This thought intrigued a man named Edward Dolch who ended up creating a list of the most frequently used words within children’s books. Overtime, he compiled his research into 5 separate lists of 220 words.
If your students can learn these words by sight, I promise they will jump through their reading levels! More about this below.
How many sight words should a preschooler know?
If you need to know how to teach sight words in preschool, you’ve came to the right place.
Most people think teaching sight words in preschool can be a daunting task, but it’s rather easy. I follow the rule that preschool sight words should be learned gradually (1-3 new words) at a time, while reviewing all previously taught words, to build retention.
There is no set number of sight words that a preschooler should know; however, the more the better. There are 35 Kindergarten sight words that need to be mastered by the end of the school year. In my classroom, this is what I aim to teach, but most students average around 20 by the end of the preschool year.
How do you teach preschoolers sight words?
Over my teaching years I’ve noticed that if I want to make learning stick, I’ve got to make it fun! I’m sure you’ve figured that out too. So I’ve created several fun and engaging sight word games for preschoolers to play that are extremely effective in helping kids master sight words fast.
Sight Word Activities for Kids
This was my 3 year olds favorite sight word game for the longest time. To play, all you need is a piece of paper, a few cups, and an object to hide. Simply write sight words on the bottoms of a few cups and hide an object under one of the cups.
My daughter was working on the six high frequency words seen in the picture but these can be easily differentiated as needed for your little one.
My favorite part is that this sight word game makes her read the words over and over again as she searches for the leaf. I know this will be a hit for you too!
Tic Tac Toe Spelling
Tic Tac Toe is a classic and super fun way to practice spelling sight words in preschool.
I love when tedious activities like having to memorize high frequency words can be done in a simple and effective way. This is a big win in my book because it focuses on two HFW at a time (whichever your student is struggling with).
Sight Words Printable and Worksheets
As a teacher, this printable sight word activity was always a class favorite. I love how it’s simple enough to change season by season or theme by theme.
How to Play:
- First, gather the sight words you are practicing and stick them in a pocket chart.
- Then, hide a picture behind one of the words.
- Your students will love to call out the sight words that they think the picture is behind.
Grab this Halloween themed sight word game for FREE here!
Sight word uno
One of my most asked about sight word games is Sight Word Uno. If reinforcing high frequency words is what you want to do, this card game will do the trick!
This sight word uno game includes:
- pre-primer words
- primer words and
- 1st through 3rd grade words from the Dolch sight word list
That’s over 200+ words for your students to master in small group, whole group, or spelling centers!
Clearly this is a teacher favorite too. Not only is it so fun for the kids, but you can easily differentiate sight words for preschoolers all the way up to third graders!
Dolch sight word list
For years I struggled with finding a way to continuously monitor and assess my students with their word lists that was as effective as I had wished.
This past year I decided to create a system that worked wonders for my kiddos. I printed each student one of these snazzy folders to store their sight words and each time they were at the sight word center, they spent a few minutes practicing their words.
This bundle comes with every Dolch sight word for you to differentiate to your students and their needs! This activity also comes with a teacher sight word assessment tool so you can track each student and easily assess them quickly!
You can make your life a whole lot easier by grabbing your bundle HERE!
High Frequency Word Game
How’s this for a nostalgic game? This resource is AMAZING because it’s:
- super fun
- teaches phone number recognition
- encourages letter recognition and
- sight word writing
I always use corded telephones to play this game in my classroom, and the novelty of “old school” phones is always such a hit. Old cell phones (or a finger phone) would do the trick too though.
How to play:
- First, have your students write their phone number on the top.
- If they don’t know their phone number, this would be a good time to have it written down for them to copy.
- You could also have random numbers written down on cards for them to copy and work on number recognition.
- After that, Player 1 will call player 2 and tell them their secret word.
- Then, player 1 and 2 will both write the sight word and check each others spelling.
It’s seriously one of the funnest ways to practice sight words for preschoolers. Grab this free activity HERE!
Preschool Write the Room
Write the room is something super simple that your preschoolers can do independently. My favorite thing about this activity is that this worksheet can be reused week after week as your words change.
Your students will walk around the room and locate their spelling words in:
- anchor charts
- on the word wall
- their folders etc
I also like to have my students search through the books in their book boxes and find their words in text! Helloooooo purposeful instruction!
Grab your free copy of this resource HERE.
Lego Building Sight Words
If you have kids at home, I’m sure you have Legos lying around your house. (If not, you can grab this set from Amazon HERE).
Building sight words with blocks or Legos is a really fun way for kids to practice sight words. I really like using the Mega Blocks set, especially for little fingers who will be manipulating words.
To play this game:
- Give your students a set of sight words and Legos with letters pre-written on them.
- Have students build the sight words
- Record the words on their worksheet!
Get a copy of the free recording sheet HERE.
Other ways to practice sight words with preschoolers
Easter Egg Sight Word Hunt
What’s more fun than an Easter egg hunt? Not much. Which is why this Easter activity is such a hit.
You can play this in two ways:
- Option One: Hide plastic eggs filled with magnetic letters (or words scrambled on a piece of paper) around your classroom for students to “hunt” for.
- This can get kind of rowdy depending on your group of kids!
- Students will take the egg back to their desk, unscramble the sight word, and record it on the worksheet.
- When they’re done, they put the egg back in the place they found it, and continue their hunt.
- Option Two: Place a few eggs at each table (with scrambled words inside).
- Have students work together to unscramble the sight word and add it to their recording sheet.
- After a few minutes, rotate the eggs to a new table and repeat the process.
Both ways are highly engaging. You could easily play Easter sight word game in other subjects such as math or science too as well.
Grab a copy of this worksheet in my recent preschool Easter activities post.
Practice high frequency words outside
How fun is this activity? I love how simple Deena from ABCDeeLearning shows that learning at home can be.
For more great and inexpensive ways to incorporate sight words in your home or classroom, visit my friend Deena’s blog. She’s just written a post about this and it is AMAZING!
Use popular board game templates
Who doesn’t like a game of Sorry? I know your students will.
This game is completely editable and ready to cater to your students needs. Simply download the game HERE and throw it in a center with some dice and pieces for hours of sight word fun.
Jenga Word Tower
I know I can’t be the only one who absolutely loves a solid game of Jenga. Your students will go BANANAS for this one too!
If you don’t have Jenga already you can purchase it HERE through Amazon. Or you can be thrifty like me and find it for a dollar at a local garage sale. Can’t beat that!
How to play:
- Write the words on the sides of the blocks with a permanent marker
- Your preschoolers will take turns pulling out a Jenga block and reading the word.
- Everyone will write the word on their recording sheet.
- The game continues until someone knocks the Jenga tower down.
You know what they say… if you do it, say it, hear it, and write it… sight words tend to stick in their preschool brains! So that’s what we do in my world.
For more great ways to use Jenga in your class, check out this post on math Jenga.
Classroom sight word games
If you’re looking for a few sturdy and quick Amazon sight word games to add to your daily centers or indoor recess kits, these are without a doubt, THE BEST!!View on Amazon
Zingo is one of the top rated sight word games around. I love this one specifically to teach preschoolers sight words because the cards also come with a picture clue for added support.View on Amazon
This is one sight word game your students will ask to play again and again. Simply call out a word from the list, and they will try to swat it with their fly swatter.
Sight Word List
When I introduce sight words in preschool, I typically go for the smaller ones and words that they will constantly see, even in their easy readers. This includes words such as:
I, a, at, it, in, my, up, on, no, go, me, the, run not, you, can, like, see, and look.
One way to keep your pre primer sight word list displayed where all of your learners can see it, is to display a word wall. Word walls are a great tool to use in the classroom and home.
When using a word wall, be sure you teach your students how to navigate it.
It’s important to model placing sight words on the wall under the letter that they start with. This will help them be able to find it later when they need to use it in their writing.
Writing and Reading Sight Words
Writing sight words is an excellent way to help the brain memorize them. There’s something about reading, writing, and doing that makes learning click, so I always incorporate writing sight words when I teach them.
After awhile, your little learners will start to notice that these words from their sight word lists are everywhere.
If you pull out one of your child’s favorite books, you’ll probably notice that the majority of words in each sentence are mostly sight words.
Each night, I like to sit with my preschooler as we read through the book and look for high frequency words from the sight word list above. We practice daily, which is key when learning a new skill.
Another way to practice is to use my free sight word printable worksheet.
These sight word tracing pages are completely editable and can be differentiated to the sight words your students need. Download your free copy here.
With a little fun and repetition, preschool sight words can be instantly recognized quickly.
Of course, sight words are not the first thing that preschoolers should be learning though. Did you know there are 5 main pillars of reading?
Check out this post to learn more on how to teach your child to read and how to set a great foundation for reading with your little learner.
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