The ONLY Sight Words Activity You’ll Need For At-Home Reading

In this post, you will learn all about a reading resource for learning sight words that I use with every single one of my reading students. This is the only sight words activity you’ll need for teaching your child reading at home. I’ll show you how to create this sight word box, how it works, and ways you can use to at home with your little learner.

Why Learn Sight Words?

Sight words are the most common words in the English language.

Let me start out by explaining why sight words are called sight words. They are words that every reader should know on sight. That is because they are the MOST COMMON words in the English language. These words are also commonly referred to as high-frequency words because well, they occur in our language more than any other words. The reason we give them so much attention is because we want every reader to recognize them on sight without having to stop and sound them out or even regard their spelling rules… or seemingly lack thereof.

Sight words don’t follow early phonics rules taught to developing readers.

Sight words can be a tricky for beginning readers to master and it’s important to give these words a little extra attention. One reason is because a lot of sight words do not follow the basic phonics rules that your child learns at school or in their reading curriculum. This poses a slight challenge if your child relies on utilizing their awesome phonics rules to sound some sight words out. Why doesn’t sight words follow phonics rules? Because the English language is comprised of many other languages and our letters and sounds do not have a 1 to 1 relationship. Also, the English language has been growing and changing and adapting and molding and transforming for over 1,000 years! It’s quite incredible how English has changed so drastically even in the last 100 years.

The Sight Words Activity that Works: Building Your Sight Word Box

This DAILY sight words activity is perfect for families and teachers alike. What’s best about it is that it is curated by YOU based on your child’s needs.

What you’ll need:

  • An 3×5 index card box that can hold up to 300 cards.
  • 3×5 index cards
  • Markers
  • Stickers (optional)
  • Reusable Binder Tabs
  • Sight word lists, sight word cards, or any list of words your child is working on.

Once you’ve got all your materials, you’re ready to begin working on building your child’s sight word box.

Create Category Cards

To begin, you’ll want to create 4 category cards. Simply create these by using index cards and placing a binder tab onto the top of each one.

  1. Slow
  2. Medium
  3. Fast
  4. Graduates

Capturing Your Child’s First Sight Words

Ask your child to read aloud the first list of words. Any word your child does not read quickly and accurately, place a mark next to it. You’ve captured their first words for the sight word box! If you’re working with a printed list, I suggest letting your child create a code to indicate the words you have captured. This gives them a sense of control and autonomy in how their sight word box comes together. Let them do the marking as they read down the list.

I found my sight word lists at sightwords.com. They have both Fry Word Lists and Dolch Word Lists on this website.

Read up to 25 words on the list or when you’ve captured 3-5 sight words, whichever comes first. You do not want to have more than 5 words in the box to start.

Once you’ve captured the words, write each word onto an index card. I always have my students help me with this step because it gives them extra time with the word. I also encourage you to have a conversation about the word with them if there are any irregularities.

Before placing them into the slow section of their sight word box, have them read them aloud one time.

The next day, return to the sight word box. Have them read all the slow cards in their box. If they get it correct, place a check mark on the backside of the card and return it to the box.

If they struggle with the word, you can take a moment to discuss the sounds they see in the word along with any irregularities. You can also have them draw a small picture or create a sentence using the word that they can use to help them the next time they read the card.

If they cannot correctly state the word, the card receives no check marks and should be returned to the box.

Moving the Card Through the Sight Word Box

For the card to move up to the medium section, the word card must have 3 check marks on it. Repeat this process for the card to move into medium, then into fast, then to graduates. Once the card has graduated, you no longer need to revisit the card.

Something I like to do is once all of the cards are in the medium section (there are no slow cards), I return to the sight word list to capture 3-5 more sight words. This means that your child’s sight word box can have up to 15 sight word cards in progress at a time.

When the Sight Word Graduates

When a sight word graduates, decorate the backside of the card with a big star or stickers! Remember to keep them in the graduate section in the box. You can use these cards to work on spelling, create sentences or play “I Spy” when reading books or passages. Keeping the cards in the box also gives your child a chance to reflect on how far they have come. It’s always fun to have a student speed read through them too.

Customizing Your Child’s Sight Word Box

Make this sight word box even more fun by naming the categories based on their titles. When I first introduce this sight word activity to students, I start out by asking them to give me a name of an animal that fits the category’s description. For instance, ‘slow’ may turtle or sloth, ‘fast’ may be cheetahs or hummingbirds. Using the animals they’ve come up with, decorate each category card. I always end up calling their words by the animals they’ve selected like “turtle words” or “gazelle words”. This step gives an added boost of fun that children always love.

Other Ways You Can Use This Sight Word Box

You can use the concept of this box in many ways. It can act as a twist to the ol’ flashcard method. The daily repetitive practice is a great way for your child to work developing a concrete understanding of what they are learning.

  1. Spelling
  2. Vocabulary and Definitions
  3. Concepts and Terms found in textbooks
  4. Math formulas
  5. Biographical or Historical Information

I hope that you enjoyed this sight word box activity idea. Are there other ways you can use this method of learning with your child at home? I’d love to hear all about it.

See you later!

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