Put Out the Fire

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Students will be able to read common high frequency words by sight.

Big Idea

Playing a game helps students build sight word recognition skills.


10 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are on the rug I ask the students to tell a sight word they know.

“Boys and girls I would like you to think about all the sight words we have been practicing both here and at home. When I get to you I would like you to tell me one sight word you know.”

I go along the rows of the students seated on the rug. Each student gives me one sight word they know.

“Can you imagine what reading a book would be like if we did not know our sight words? Vocabulary words we can often decode using our reading strategies, but sight words can be tricky to decode so we have to know them by sight.”

“We are going to read a book about a firefighter called Fireman Small. I will read one page without reading any of the sight words and see what you think.”


I ask the students to give me a sight word that they know because I want them to feel a measure of success before we go onto the activity part of the lesson. I want the students to really be thinking about their sight words because this will help them play the game during the activity part of the lesson. 

Why sight words?


30 minutes

“This story is called Fireman Small and it is written and illustrated by Wong Herbert Yee.”

“I open the book and what is this page called?”

I am pointing to the title page and there is often at least one student who can tell what it is. If not I simply state, “This page is called the title page. Why do you think it is called the title page?”

“Yes you are right Emily; it is called the title page because it has the title on it.”

“Okay here is the first page of the story. Now remember I am going to read it one time without reading the sight words, here we go.

“…. middle … town ….buildings stand tall

…. lives … … man called Fireman Small.

…. … firefighter … side … … bay

Fireman Small works night … day.”


“Wow. What did you think about hearing that?”

“I agree with you David. It did not make much sense at all, sounded kind of crazy.”

“Now let’s read it with the sight words.”


“In the middle of town where buildings stand tall

There lives a little man called Fireman Small.

The only firefighter this side of the bay

Fireman Small works night and day.”


“Okay now how did that sound?”

“Yes Daniel I think it makes much more sense and it sounds better too.”

“Let’s read on.”


During reading we discuss vocabulary words that we come across. Words like scoots, twig, bough, blare, etc.

We discuss how we hear words in the story that rhyme – scoots, boots, alarm, farm, well, fell, etc.  


Once the story is over I tell the students they are going to play a sight word game where they will be acting as firefighters just like Fireman Small. I use the fair sticks to select two students to come to the front of the rug with me. These students will help me model the game for the rest of the class.

“Boys and girls this game is called Firehouse Sight Words. I am going to lay out the houses and then place a flame on each house. The flames have sight words on them. I will ask each student to tell me one sight word and if they get it right, they get to “put that fire out” by taking the flame off the house. I will keep placing flames on the houses until I run out of fire. Hopefully we can put all the fires out and none of the houses will burn down. Okay here we go.”

I model the game with the two students for about two minutes.  

Once I feel all of the students understand the concept of what is being asked of them I prepare to send them over to the work station tables where they will find the pieces they need to play the game.

I have modified some of the flame sight word pieces to match the abilities of my students. I did this by simply placing a small sticker over the original sight word and writing the words I wanted.   

Now I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one go have some sight word fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Give the students about 15 minutes to play the game. Remind the students they can look at the visual timer to check how much time they have left. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.


Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me the sight word that I hold up for them. I let the students know that each student will get their very own sight word. They are to wait for their turn and not call out another person’s sight word unless they ask you for help.

I use the Fair Sticks to determine the order of the students. I do have set words for students so that each student will hopefully meet with success. For example I will have a set of easier words for my lower performing students, on grade level words for my middle group and above grade or challenging words for my high flyers.  

Once a student has told me his/her sight word they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on a sight word together.

This type of exit ticket helps the students to either reinforce or build their sight word recognition skills. The higher performing students are able to see other students words which reinforces their recognition skills, and lower performing students can see new words and be introduced to them by listening to their peers.  


10 minutes

For this assignment I will call the students over to me one at a time. I generally use free choice center time or during integrated work station time if I have enough volunteers and I am not working a station myself.

I show the student a list of sight words appropriate to his/her level and have him/her use the “Magic Window" (an index card with a small rectangle cut out of the center and laminated to make it look like a window) to go down the list of words and tell me the words he/she knows.

Sight Words Assessment 1                                Sight Words Assessment 2

I record the student’s results and place a copy in my file on student progress.  


Games are a great way to practice sight words. Students think they are just playing but they are learning many valuable skills; both academic and social.


I have the students play the game “Sight Word Memory.” I will use this set of cards to also play “Sight Word Go Fish.”  


Later in the day I play “Sight Word Hangman” on the SMARTBoard with the students.

Sight Word Hangman on the SMARTBoard


I use index cards to make “Sight Word Dominoes.” I have one set with simple words, one with higher level words and then one set with words with blend words like the, then, they, them, this, these, those, there, their, etc. This set is for my higher functioning students who need the challenge of looking at the whole word before placing their cards.  

Sight Word Dominoes game 1                                   Sight Word Dominoes game 2